Thursday, 15 April 2010

“See you on the other side!”

Faced with driving myself down I took the route over the Cairn o’Mount which slowed me down and made an anxious journey a pleasant one. It was a swift but relaxed drive that saw me arrive at the Edinburgh RI Transplant Unit at 12.30. At the same time Caz had been up in Nairn with some of her pals on a spa weekend and had just made it back too the house where Kali was returning from a walk with a near friend.

I went upto Ward 206 and was met by the surgeon and the main Transplant team. Signing consent forms, I was informed the liver was in good condition. I changed into the gown and gave Caz the final call, saying “See you on the other side!”.

I was wheeled into the anaesthetic section and I don't recall anything else after that. According to report, I had an 8 hour operation that went without anything special happening. I was recovered but left in a sedated state until Wednesday morning. In the meantime Caz had made here way down and collected my stuff and simply had to hang around and stress.
I awoke on the Wednesday morning to the sound of a near patient shouting. If you read the Nov 08 operation you’d see the significance of this as it was a similar situation. I remained in ICU till that evening before moving into the HDU.

The HDU was quieter and you had a dedicated nurse. I was walked, washed, given dialysis, fed and given the concoction of drugs to make sure the Liver was not rejected. Dialysis was required to kick start the kidneys which had closed down in shock.

This was particularly harrowing as i was hallucinating heavily both visually and aurally. There was a picture by Van Gogh that was very much in my focus and caused some distress. I had an oxygen feed to my nose and this ran past my ear lobe causing a ‘rushing’ sound that led me to believe i was listening to he radio or music when i attached myself to a note!

On the Saturday evening i was moved up to the ward, a room shared by 4 of us. Whilst this gave me an outlet to communicate more, it was a very strange and hostile change. The first night I heavily hallucinated neon lizards climbing around the walls whilst I made a reality from the noises i heard, creating a madness that lasted all night. This happened for three nights and I was comforted only by talking to others who also said that they hallucinated because of the drugs.

I had no energy, trying too get up was nearly impossible and my thighs burnt as if after a long cycle sprint, simply from standing up. I needed to get more O2 into my body and they gave me The Bird which was featured on the previous video. This soon got my lungs working and I started to build energy in a very limited supply.

I knew if I wanted to get home that I had to start ticking the boxes, and since home means self medication I took control of my medication quickly. Not a hard task for me as I had self medicated for over a year on Cancer treatment.

Sleep was scarce as the nature of the hospital is that of a busy place. I rested when i could, exercised by walking around the wards, ate well and drank loads of fluid essential for the kidneys to operate.

I had a few visitors which helped break the monotony and Im eternally grateful to Caz for being there as well as the support to her from Rob, Steph and Julie. Visits from Perry, Wendy, Angie, Henry and even Justin who was over from NZ. As i was emotionally exhausted i kept away from the phone and the internet.

Two weeks after this major operation I was allowed home, well in advance of some who’d had their transplant a week before me. Coming home was a test in its own right and I went into a sort of shock but with the restful sleeps I could now have I have over come. After two years of fighting cancer and several more on top of that of poor health, I’m exhausted and relishing recovery time.

Today, Caz drove us down to Edinburgh for the weekly clinic I will attend for quite a while. They have taken blood in order to see if i need to adjust the medication but are in general very positive about my progress. There will be no doubt trials I’ll yet have to face and I haven’t even touched the emotional side of what has happened yet, so this episode is far from over. I do remind myself every now and then that I have beaten Cancer where many expected me to give up or be another statistic.

Instead the Cancer specialists are arguing over the liver as it could hold the key to getting Sorafenib more readily available on the NHS. I may be the first in the UK, definitely in Scotland to have responded in Liver Cancer with this medication, but as readers of this blog I am sure you’ll agree its more than just the drug, Its the whole attitude!

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