Chopped Liver - A Community for Live Organ Donors and Recipients

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Its me - alive and one-lobed!

The warmest of all possible greetings, everyone! After seven days of some relatively severe "incisional discomfort" (who I promise you'll get to meet a little more formally below) and almost no internet access or logging energy to speak of, I am thrilled to be back. I returned to Chopped Liver by reading Sharon and Dan's updates and all your comments, had a good happy cry, and then dove straight to the posting page to submit the first of many entries describing our recovery so far and yet to come.

First, the most important bit: Joe and I are going to be great! We are over the worst of this. The surgery did work; my liver is functioning in him (and managing just fine in me). In time, we'll look back on this miracle fondly as we frolic as a family in proverbial fields of flowers and wafting dandelion seeds, or, less metaphorically, as we get back to our regular lives and stop lying around in fetal positions.

But second, the reality of today: I haven't pooped in five days. This is not comfortable. Joe was readmitted to the hospital yesterday for the same reason, except his uncooperative bowels were causing unbearable searing pain, not just irritating cramps. He was released again today but is still in pain. These lovely TMI facts are a few of many I could share to illustrate that we are certainly on a recovery roller coaster. We have been through -- and will continue to go through -- a series of frustrating and sometimes disheartening ups and downs.

Yet third, the beauty of our reality: We are going to be okay, and we can handle a roller coaster. Any of my short-term self-pity can be chalked up to a probably over-optimistic impression of what the first two post-op weeks would feel like. And while Joe's pain is more severe, it's overwhelmed (most of the time) by joy over the progress he's already made and the promise of more to come.

And now, on to bloggy stuff.

Meet my incisional discomfort
Straight up, its name is "Pain," people. But like Sharon reported, my scar itself is teeny. Think of this guy at left, at a microscopic level, repeated like falling Matrix 1s and 0s in a pattern that, once backed out to the perspective of the human eye, looks like a faint red line four inches long by 1 millimeter wide. There are also two tiny cuts inside my belly button. (Get THIS: Dr. Koffran tried a first-time ever technique he'd been considering might work to reduce scarring... he did all the actual cutting through scopes inserted through my belly button, and then used the incision only to pull the section he needed out of me!) But fear not -- the navel ring gets to stay! Alex, eat your heart out, tee hee.

Mmmmm, drugs...
So if you've been wondering what sort of drug cocktails a girl gets to enjoy after liver resection -- morphine? sedatives? medicinal marijuana? -- let me end your suspense. I get Tylenol. Extra Strength, of course. Oh, yes, and laxatives. I am exaggerating slightly, because I did leave the hospital with prescription-only Tylenol 3 (laced with codeine). But the docs suspect it's the culprit behind the constipation, so I'm trying to grin and bear it with OTC remedies.

A couple of personal notes
Ingrid: Send any Redbook editorial contacts you might have.
ISU people: Does anyone know John Loecke's contact info in NYC?
Terry in Mississippi: Keep me posted! I'm excited for you and so thrilled to be able to give you good news to serve as hope!
CSOM Strat Mgmt group: Your flowers made my day!
CWT sales, CWT marketing: Your flowers made two of my other days!

The gift of life, continued
Today at my first post-op check-up, I met with a woman who is getting worked up to see if she can donate to her 21-year-old daughter Michelle, a perfectly healthy college-bound woman who suddenly experienced inexplicable liver failure, which will be fatal if she doesn't receive a transplant soon. Her condition merits her a Status I ranking on the UNOS donation list, meaning that as soon as any cadaver liver that matches her blood type becomes available anywhere in the U.S., it's hers for the taking. But she's been on the list for more than a week and a half, significantly longer than the typical two- to three-day wait for Status Is, and she's hovering in a life-threatinging situation. The family had to try the live donation route, so they can take that step if no organ materializes in the next few days. I bring this up for two reasons:
  • First, if you have prayers left to give, put one in for Michelle and her family.
  • And second, with this encounter I officially began the second most important part of my healing process. I got to see my gift pay off in a new and unexpected way, as I was able to listen to this sad mother's story, understand her fears, offer any insight she might want to receive on the procedure, and just tell her I understand. My God, I am looking forward to a lifetime of that sort of healing.

That's it for now. Shorter posts will continue now that I'm back online. I miss you all!

6 Comments:

  • Boy, reading that is good for the soul. Thank you.

    By Anonymous Alan, at 10:53 PM  

  • It's good to see your words here again Becky. Joyful days are here again!
    Deanna

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:30 AM  

  • Great to hear from you Becky! Do you feel a little jipped? ...only getting a fraction of the scar you planned on? When you do return to work, we will admire your scar as the giant, inexplicable pain it represents... not to mention, the amazing gift you have given. Thanks for keeping us posted. You continue to be in my thoughts.

    Laurie

    By Anonymous Laurie A., at 9:59 AM  

  • Becky, I am especially pleased to see you back up and your usual (mostly) self again. By the way, someone from CCI Legal called today and asked where you got that unauthorized picture of Curtis before his morning ritual, and why you keep referring to him as "Pain" when everyone knows his middle name is "Danger".

    By Anonymous Brett, at 11:10 AM  

  • Becky - so glad you got my flowers!! I wrote "Strategy Group" on the card because of that one time you and I were strategizing about men and stuff. So it wasn't your CSOM strategy people...it was totally me. I am a good friend. You're welcome. :-) Oh - also, great to read that all is well!!

    By Blogger Mindy, at 8:49 PM  

  • Becky,
    I am the father of Michele and the husband of Sherry. I just wanted to drop you a quick note to you let you know your time with my wife was very meaninful to the entire family and help to get thru this time. Michele received part of Sherry's liver on the 27th. Both the girls are recovering according to the doctors plan. Everyday is a beutiful day now!!

    By Blogger John, at 6:52 AM  

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