151 Band

Monday, May 14, 2018

Part 2: Post Transplant Weirdness

Dr. Kohli, one of my surgeons.
When I was wheeled into the operating room, the last visual was that of my family and friends, all cheering me on and hopeful that all would be good.  I admitted to everyone there that I was scared beyond description; no room for pride or shame at that point.  They understood and were very encouraging.  The last thing I remember about the operating room was being transferred to the table and the anesthesiologist telling me that he was injecting the anesthesia into my IV.

I have a great deal to be thankful for.  My family, the surgeons, and all of the doctors involved in my transplant.  They are amazing people with incredible God-given talent and they saved my life.  

The next series of events are a blur because I was pretty heavily medicated and it was tough to distinguish between what was real and what was imagined.  I do remember waking up with a respirator, a catheter, and some weird tube thing that went down into my stomach.  I was a bit panicked because for a few moments, I couldn't remember why I was there.  I also remember a 7' tall, German woman named "Hilda" standing at the foot of my bed laughing and making jokes with me about my health and circumstances.

It was bizarre.

Apparently, I tried to take out the respirator but the nurse stopped me and at one point, I made the decision to follow my wife into the hallway of ICU and succeeded in ripping out an IV.  I don't remember it at all, but I do remember the blood stains all over the sheets and my blanket.  I was told later that they had to restrain me because I was being, well, bull-headed and determined to get out of the bed.  I was also informed that I wouldn't believe them when they told me that I had made it through transplant surgery.  I didn't believe that I had received a transplant so quickly and that I had survived.

When I began to gather my wits to some degree, I realized that I had actually received a transplant and that the events of the previous days were not imagined, but real.  The hallucinations stemmed from the fact that I was loaded with steroids from the procedure and the different types of pain medications contributed to my confusion.  Yes, I was confused and bewildered.  At times, I felt like I was in a video game like MW3 and trying to identify spies and enemy infiltrators.

Drugs are bad, mmmkay?

The staff at Integris are phenomenal.  The ICU is intense and the nurses are exceedingly professional and business-like without losing a personal touch.  The nurses and staff on the floor I was transferred to (7 East) were like angels.  They explained what had happened, what to expect, and the plans for my eventual discharge.  They fully explained the milestones that needed to be reached, they were responsive to my questions and concerns and I have to tell you, they made me feel as though I was in good hands.  And I was.

My wife was a champ; overseeing the madness that had ensued and scheduling folks to come stay with me (I wasn't supposed to be alone) and make sure I didn't fall or anything.  She stayed on top of the medication questions, she developed a plan for after-care, and she is nothing short of phenomenal.  I am blessed beyond measure to have such a wonderful human being in my life.  She has been able to juggle her work, my issues, and keeping everyone on track and she does so gladly.  She is a giving spirit, a kind soul of which you don't meet every day and I'm proud and humbled that she is my wife.

My kids were all there except for my oldest who plans to come out to visit within the next couple months.  It was a revelatory experience and each day brings new insight and a different perspective on life itself.

Of course, I will share those with you too.

Until next time...

Ron "Gorilla" Black