Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Post Transplant

A few weeks ago my step-dad had a liver transplant.  I wasn't there for the surgery.  I wasn't even there for almost a week after the surgery.  I was there in mind and spirit, but I wasn't there.  It bothered me that I wasn't there, but I knew there wasn't anything that I could do and with school starting for T and work, I really couldn't manage going over sooner, although my mom said she didn't want or need me there. 

Things seemed to be progressing well, from afar.  Reports from my mom were positive and later I learned, vague.  I had planned to spend a couple of days at the hospital with my step-dad and mom and to relieve my mom in anyway possible, especially since she had been practically living at the hospital. Two days before I went, my mom called to let me know how he was doing.  She gave the positives and then she said..."he is blind".  She told me not to cry and that it would be OK and she hung up to avoid the fact that we were both sobbing uncontrollably.

I still tear up recalling that phone call.  Of the sobs that coursed through my body immediately after I hung up.  The whys.  The hows.  And after about ten minutes of crying, I stopped.  I couldn't feel sorry for him, for me, for my mom.  While we weren't prepared that he may be blind, he was alive.  He received a "beautiful liver" that would give him a new lease on life.  Different.  New.  About an hour later, my mom called back and we were both collected and she said someone wanted to say HI.  I was able to talk to my step dad.  I was able to hear him.  To laugh and recognize that he was still the same, despite things that would be different.  Everything can't remain the same.  With change, we shall grow and live and embrace.  I have to accept that we will never be given more than we can handle and we are so very blessed that he has been given the opportunity for a transplant and a long life.

I spent over two days in the hospital.  I never left.  I have to admit I was rather disappointed that I didn't lose any weight during my hospital stay, but I suppose I have to be the patient for that to happen!  My step dad looked good.  He made significant progress while I was there.  His blood pressure was stabilizing with medication.  He was beginning to see objects and movement.  He was thankful for the new liver.  He wasn't always sure where he was, but he was appreciative of my mom, myself, family and friends.  I helped him with eating and he was able to stand and walk to the bathroom.  The catheter was removed.  His spirits were high and his attitude was pleasant.  Then, it was time for me to come home.

I am not sure exactly what has happened since I left.  I feel like for my sake, my mom wants to guard and protect me from the reality of what is happening or maybe if she doesn't verbalize it, it isn't real.  They believe that he suffered a massive air embolism during the transplant which is causing the blindness.  They also believe he may have suffered one or several mini strokes which has resulted in his reduced strength on one side.  He may have also had a lack of blood flow and elevated blood pressure during surgery that caused additional issues.  Actually, no one is exactly sure what happened or why.  What I do know is that the longer he stayed in the hospital ICU the more irritated, agitated and frustrated he became.  Doctors reported that he may have a full recovery.  My mom reported that he doesn't understand why he is there, why he has to take medication and why he needs physical therapy.  The plan was to discharge him to rehabilitation; however, a bed was not available where he was.  My mom was told to check out nursing homes.  Fortunately the hospital located a rehabilitation hospital and he was transferred. 

Within days of being transferred to the acute rehabilitation center, he returned back to the hospital where the transplant occurred.  The liver is reportedly doing well; it is the anxiety and pain that is not.  He is being elevated to a higher level of care than when he was initially discharged.  I just received a text from my mom that he will move to that floor after an operation and I have absolutely no idea what the operation is for.  His white blood cells are elevated and his pain medication has been greatly increased.  It is so difficult to be away from the situation waiting on information and updates.  I wish that I could do more.  All I can do is pray and be thankful for my step dad's transplant.  Baby steps.  One foot in front of the other.  One day at a time.

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