So It’s Been a Month

Filed under: @ 6:32 pm

Thirty one days actually. Lessee, that’s nineteen trips back and forth between here and First Hill, 10 or so medical doctors, 20 or more nurses or medical assistants, and countless needles collecting buckets of blood.
It’s $150-ish in parking, two separate and very tightly packed parking garages, one carefully engineered sneaky back route that got us past the traffic most of the time, most of a tank of gas for my Forrester, and a $237 speeding ticket for driving 24 MPH in a 20 MPH school zone. Don’t forget to watch your speed when you’re driving in school zones in Seattle!

We saw Dr. Reddy today. We’ve been seeing Dr. Vadivel, the medical director for the transplant center, and last week we saw Dr. Gravetz one of the surgeons. Dr. Reddy, who looks an awful lot like the Dr. Reddy who was my freshman anatomy professor at WSU, but who isn’t related, is a nice dude with a very comforting manner. Andrew has gained 20 plus pounds since the surgery, all fluid weight. Since I’ve got to go back to work on Monday and, of course, since my medical knowledge says “Hey, you probably shouldn’t be gaining 20 pounds of edema this far post-op!” I’ve been a little wound up about the whole situation.
Dr. Reddy, however, spoke to me doctor to doctor and managed to get the information through my head that while this isn’t something that they expect a post-transplant patient to have, it’s not an UN-expected occurrence thus I don’t have to fuss about it too much.
Doesn’t mean that I won’t, of course, but it does mean that my level of fussing can be ratcheted down a notch.

Which should be a relief to *my* MD since I won’t need a refill on that Xanax as soon as I might have otherwise.

I’m sorry to have to go back to work. Sorry, of course, because I enjoy puttering around the house and spending time with my husband, but also sorry that I won’t be going to Andrew’s appointments with him. We’ve met some truly stellar examples of the human medical profession. I’ve been very impressed with the level of dedication and care that everyone has shown and I’ve been thoroughly gratified at how those people to whom I have revealed my profession have adapted their language. Because we’re “just” animal doctors veterinarians often get a lot of disdain from some human medical professionals, but not from any of these folks. Having a highly specialized medical professional speak to me with the respect they would another human medical professional is a little unusual in my experience. Most “RDs” (“real doctor” being a mildly pejorative term amongst veterinarians for those human medical professionals who look down on us as less medically educated than they are) are a little snooty or a little irritable about dealing with veterinarians, but I’ve not gotten a whiff of that in all the time we’ve been doing this. I’m thoroughly impressed.
I’m also sorry to be at a point where I won’t be able to keep up with some of the other transplant patients we’ve met. Dirk, for instance, got a kidney and pancreas transplant 3 days after Andrew had his surgery. Nice guy, formerly a type 1 diabetic and he’s still getting used to the idea of not having to check his blood sugar all the time. Dirk lives in Tacoma but he and his fiancee have been living in an extended stay hotel during all of this. Oh, and he shares Andrew’s birthday. To the point where the lab tech at the transplant center yesterday had to come out and confirm Andrew’s name to go with his sample because she’d just looked at the birth dates on the paperwork and wanted to be sure that the right paperwork went with the right samples.
And I’m also sorry that I have to go back to work and leave Andrew at home with this cat who will be ramping up his neediness by at least half. Andrew says that his co-workers already stop during phone conversations to ask which of his stuffed toys Pogo has killed this time (Pogo having a rather penetrating “I just killed this for you please come and praise me.” call) and I rather imagine that he’ll just get louder and/or more frequent for a while.

But we’ve got this pesky mortgage and there’s this pesky need for health insurance. The last real vacation we had was May of 2017. I do *not* count last spring’s trip to Hawaii as vacation since it is *not* vacationing to be doing what we were doing during that trip. By the time Andrew’s surgery came around I was ready to run amok slaughtering everyone in sight just to get some me time so having had a month of us time has been refreshing. Still not a vacation, but at least refreshing.

Chapter 3: How to Become Un-Listed

Filed under: @ 5:44 pm

To be fair, you don’t actually get removed from an organ transplant list unless you die or get a transplant. You just get “suspended”. How you can become suspended depends on your transplant center.

In the U.S. when you say “I’m on an organ transplant list.” it really means “I’m registered with UNOS through my transplant center.”
Here’s what UNOS has to say about themselves: United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is the private, non-profit organization that manages the nation’s organ transplant system under contract with the federal government.
They’re a class act. They’ve got really strict rules about fairness and equality, they’re pivotal in promoting both deceased and live organ donation, a lot of their staff are volunteers, and they are awake and running every hour of every day of every year.
UNOS provides the organs and the basic guidelines of which organs go to whom. For instance even if an adult is a perfect match for an available child’s kidney, the organ will go to the child who is the best match on the pediatric list even if they aren’t as good a tissue match. The transplant centers provide the rules for everything else.

It’s the rules for qualification for the individual transplant centers that can trip you up. Each center has their own rules about who they’ll take on. Everything from your health insurance (will you have the same insurance for at least the next two years?) to physical health (do you meet that center’s “medically eligible” standards?) to financial and family status and whether or not you live in an area where you have access, or can get it, to the unusual pharmaceuticals that you’ll need for the rest of your life.
And the vaccines! Doux Jesus, the vaccines!
Just a wee tip for anyone out there who may be leery of vaccinations for whatever idiotic reason: You cannot get an organ transplant if you’re an anti-vaxxer. Period. Andrew got a TDaP and MMR booster, he was vaccinated for hepatitis A and B (and maybe C and E, I don’t know), he was vaccinated for shingles, pneumococcus, and a couple others that I lost track of. For a couple of months after Andrew was listed through the University of Washington’s transplant center every single damn time he came back from a doctor’s appointment he’d been vaccinated for something else.

Spoiler alert! Not all transplant centers are the same.

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