23 January 2009

One month post-transplant!

On December 23, 2008 I received a slightly used kidney from my friend Shark. Two fine surgeons and their teams at Ohio State University hospital performed the wildly successful operation. I spent just a week in the hospital. This was my second kidney transplant; the first was in 1991. Today is the one-month anniversary of my second transplant.

Everything is going extremely well (knock on wood)....

My incision is essentially fully healed. I had my staples and stitches removed yesterday. The wound is completely closed, just a little bruising and scabbing left. I honestly no longer feel any pain or even discomfort from the incision or from the extra organ, except sometimes if I twist or bend the wrong way. Even then it never hurts, I can just feel it.

One strange side effect of having had two kidney transplants, one on each side, is that my abdomen from belly button down to my beltline is now completely numb. To some of you this may be confusing; let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. When you receive a kidney transplant, they do not remove the old kidneys, and they don't put the new kidneys anywhere near the old ones. They actually place the new kidneys in the lower abdomen in front, just above the hipbone. They go on either left or right, depending on the preference of the surgeon and the anatomy of your veins and arteries. They hook the blood supply up to the vessels serving your leg. I now have 4 kidneys, only 1 of which does anything: 2 in the normal spots, 1 on the left side of my belly, and one on the right. Because of where the transplants have been performed, I have considered getting commemorative tattoos. Note that the image is not to scale.

All my blood tests are normal. My blood pressure is averaging 135/80. My weight is stable, I'm not retaining any water. I can drink all I want (alcohol excepted) and I can eat a normal diet. My strength is returning; my hair, nails, and skin are growing like a man of 25; and my mind is sharp again. Ask anybody who plays Lexulous against me if you don't believe it ;)

My only remaining restrictions are lifting heavy weights (like my 4 year old), driving, and swimming. I plan on breaking the driving restriction tomorrow. I have about 2 more weeks of my disability leave from work which I intend to use to ensure I'm fully recovered, but I'm feeling pretty much like Mark again. Ready to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and I'm all out of bubble gum.

I'm already starting (in my MIND) to plan out our future activities: the sort of things we like to do are travel, hike, and camp. I bit my kids with the hiking bug a few years ago and they are now severely infected :). I'd also like to finally take Monica on that romantic trip to New York I'd been planning before I got waylaid by these demons who periodically torment my innards.

To all of you who've been following this adventure, whether publicly or as lurkers, thanks for supporting me and taking the time out of your lives to read this drivel. I'll wax philosophical now. I am in a curious position as a human being. In a state of nature I'd be long dead. My continued existence depends every day on the society and economy composed of millions of others around the world. Every day I've needed treatments and/or medicines that are performed and adminstered by thousands of specialists with years of education and experience, which were developed by thousands of scientists, researchers, doctors, businesspeople, and patients, and which depend on the medical infrastructure created by a chaotic coalition of government, academia, and industry. You see, I don't hate Big Pharma. I can't look myself in the face and say that they're in it just for the money, because that's just a tautology. When someone's in it for the money, they call it a business. If money motivates pharmaceutical and medical instrument companies to develop and market the miraculous things they do, I'm good with that. This depends also on the healthy roles of government and academia as well. It's notable that both my transplants have been performed at major research universities. I've been extremely lucky to have been born in a place that has the economy and society that has allowed me to survive and even prosper; places like US, Canada, western Europe, Japan. There are many many places in the world that sadly don't have this kind of infrastructure and where a Mark Beadles would have been dead at 22.

Okay, crappy armchair philosophy over.

Per aspera ad astra!