Alas - In Two Parts

7/4/13 - Alas Part 1 - Kathy's Take: At the end of June, Candy had her left kidney removed. She had a cyst growing right through the middle of it & it was getting larger. Her only symptoms had been blood in the urine. The doc had been monitoring it for 10 months with CT scans, MRIs and ultrasounds. Once the kidney was removed, the doc was able to get it biopsied & the biopsy came back as a benign cystic tumor. Whew! No additional treatment needed.

The surgery went well - it took a little over 3 hours, laparoscopic with three small & one large incision to get the kidney out in one piece. Candy was wheeled in at around 7:30AM and was in her room by 1:00PM. She was on a morphine pump right after surgery which allowed her to self-administer small doses of morphine at timed intervals. Well, Candy has always been very sensitive to drugs and apparently too much build up in her system over 24 hours. While I was watching her sleep the morning after surgery, her eyes began to twitch and she slumped over. When I shook her she was unresponsive. The nurse called a code on her & 25-30 people converged on the room to revive her. They moved Dusty & me out into the hall & whipped her roommate’s bed out of the room & across the hall. Candy’s heart never stopped but her breathing did - it had become very depressed from build up of the drugs. The antidote wasn't too pretty either - it made her whole body shiver and convulse for about 15 minutes. Needless to say, they stopped the morphine.... It was a terrifying experience for me, but Candy felt like she was just sleeping and was confused by why people were yelling at her.

Our dog, Dusty, was allowed to visit Candy in the hospital. They find it helps patients recover more quickly if they can see their pets. Some friends, Nancy & Harold, kept her for the surgery day & she enjoyed a play date with their dog, Sweetheart. After that Dusty & I stayed at a hotel near the hospital (it was about an hour away from our house) & every day Dusty came to lay on the bed with Candy. She got lots of pets from all the nurses, docs and aides who stopped in too. Only once did she growl at a doc who went to touch Candy after he had finished petting Dusty. She was just doing her job…

Candy came home after 4 nights in the hospital and is recovering well - walking around the house with a walker (with Dusty trailing behind), eating less but well, exercising the remaining kidney with a lot of fluids and napping/resting a good deal. I gave her a kidney-shaped Anipay seed pod as an admittedly poor substitute for the one she lost. Going forward she has to take good care of the remaining kidney - we know quite a few very healthy people who only have one. She needs to stay well-hydrated, avoid high protein diets and avoid NSAIDS (only take Tylenol). Not a bad ending to a scary process.


Alas Part 2 - Candy’s take: Actually, the title is spelled wrong, it should be A Lass; but I’ll get back to that in a minute. First I’d like to thank my family and friends for all the thoughts, wishes and prayers you sent before, during and since my surgery. They cuddle me like a warm chenille blanket. By reading the first part of the blog you know that this all began last year when I found blood in my urine and peaked this June when the doc said that the cyst grew and that the kidney needed to be removed. It was a long journey; the good news is that it’s over and I’m now looking forward to our next trip.

Let me say that the doctors, nurses, techs, volunteers, etc. were awesome. All were very caring and kind. However, during one shift the RN asked us about our relationship. (I was nervous responding because she was coming at me with some wicked-looking equipment!) We told her that we were partnered. She quickly asked how long? (Jeez, I’m starting to sweat now.) We responded 37 years. There was a very l-o-n-g pause and a BIG sigh. (Eek! She’s gonna hurt me!) She then came out to us and said that she is in a 3 year relationship and that she was not out in work. (Whew, I’m safe!) The conversation continued throughout the day. It was a nice connection.

The first 2 days in the hospital were very much a blur to me, but here’s a recap of my experiences (really, this is how it went down for me!):

• Arrive at hospital and check in for surgery

• The Anesthesiologist tells me that he’s giving me a “little something” to take the edge off just before rolling to surgery

• The next thing I know I’m being awakened by several yelling voices in the midst of a huge commotion

• A smack on my arm and someone yells “who is she?” I think, is she talking to me? What is she talking about? I respond “my wife”. I then hear “get her back in the room."

• I’m freezing, shaking, shivering … so much so that I’m nearly lifting off the bed. I hurt terribly … what the hell is happening? Then I hear Kathy near my ear saying “you’re ok”. I think the hell I am.

• I then hear someone quietly say "OD’d on morphine". I think, Me? Are you crazy? I don’t do drugs. I completely lost about 30 hours, I have no recollection of the recovery room or being moved to my hospital room.

After the “episode," as it came to be known by the medical staff, I declined pain meds for approximately 18 hours. I slowly started taking a different kind of medication due to the patience of an RN explaining to me the benefits of pain management. I was completely focused on the negatives after my experiences during “the episode”. After that, thankfully, my hospital stay calmed way down.

So, why is the blog title spelled wrong, - A Lass vs. Alas? Because my blog is not referring to my kidney; it’s referring to “my lass” - Kathy. Kathy saved my life in the hospital. …Kathy saved my life in the hospital… Wow, such a simple statement but one that holds huge meaning for me. To have her there at the hospital, alert, questioning and decisive … and to have her there, at my side for all these years. Lucky me. How do you thank someone for that?

A song by Chaka Khan comes to my mind, it’s called One Million Kisses. Here are some of the lyrics:

If I could only shake the hand of time, Cause time has been good to us, Bringin' us closer together. I know our love is of a special kind. A real everlasting love, that keeps getting better and better. Night after night, night after night, day after day. The closer we get with every minute just tickin' away. Our love has come to see maturity, And from the very day we said hello I watched our love grow. One million kisses later Our love is so much greater. One million kisses after We share more love and laughter. We've been through a lot together you and I, But time has been good to us. Givin' us so much to treasure …

Here’s to our next million…

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