Here’s the schedule for today’s medical evaluation, which is potentially the last test I need to take to determine whether I can be the donor for Derek. (They may ask for additional tests depending on how these tests go.) I will update this post when I get home from the appointments. But here’s what I think is going to happen.
Now updated to reflect what actually happened! (12/18/13 8:00pm-ish)
9:00 am – Pharmacist
This meeting will cover all of the various drugs that will be administered to me before, during and after surgery. Nope. She basically just went over all the medications I am currently on and said, “We can provide all of these for you! No need to bring your own.” Ok, that was easy.
9:30 am – Nutritionist
The nutritionist will likely go over the diet that will need to be adhered to during recovery. A high protein and low fat diet helps the liver grow, and they will give me information on foods high in protein and some suggestions for sample meals.
Yes. This is what she did. We also drilled her on complete proteins and whether or not rice and beans need to be eaten at the same time or just in the same day. (She said it was better at the same time, but the same day was ok. Derek silently disagreed. His research tells him it is ok as long as it’s within 24 hours.) Derek also told her and the student that was with her that whale meat is the food with the highest protein. They looked at him like he was straight-up crazy and then wrote “whale meat” in their notebooks.
10:00 am – Quality of Life Survey
Dr. Pomfret is the head of transplantation at Lahey and has apparently been conducting surveys of live donors since she started the program back in 2001. They administer the survey before surgery, one week after surgery, 1 month after, 3 months after and 1 year after. There are questions like, “In the past 4 weeks has your pain prevented you from doing activities you would normally do?” That survey should be a hoot a week after part of my liver is removed.
10:30 am – Gastroenterology
Probably a discussion along the lines of: “Hey! You’re not going to have a gall bladder after this surgery happens! Here’s what that means.” Wrong again! The GI doctor acts as my surrogate primary care doctor while I am at Lahey. She went over some basic health questions and then kicked Derek out of the room. Then she reiterated that she is my advocate throughout the process and that my health and well-being are her first priority. Then she went over the potential complications and gave me a a physical.
When she put the stethoscope on my chest, she listened for a long time. Surprise! I have an irregular heartbeat. I have known about it for probably 13 years now, and I mentioned it on my questionnaire. However, she was the first person in this process to actually hear it. She didn’t say it ruled me out. She did say that the team is very fastidious when it comes to any kind of abnormality and there is a good chance they will look into it and request further tests for me. Harumph. She did tell me that at this point she sees no need for me to have a liver biopsy which is great! It’s a rather invasive test and if it can be avoided, all the better. She wished me luck and sent me on my way.
12:00 pm – Financial Advisor
I won’t be able to work for a while after the surgery, so they want to make sure I will be okay financially.
12:30 pm – EKG
Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. The tech who did my EKG, her last name is Logan! SO fun! She stuck a bunch of electrodes on me and then attached a electronic squid thing to all the electrodes, recorded my heart beat, removed aforementioned squid thing and electrodes and then sent me on my way. Easy peasey.
1:00 pm – Psychiatrist
If this is anything like Derek’s interview, they’ll ask me all about my mental history. Buckle up Doc, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride! Couple of things about this meeting. The doctor was quite possibly the most soft-spoken man I have ever encountered. The window in his office has a gap and when the wind hits it, it makes a pretty loud howling/whistling noise. At one point he asked if I ever experience ringing in my ears. I told him I could hear a pretty loud noise in his office and he said, “Oh that’s ok. I hear that too.” After about 45 minutes of no holds barred questions he said, “Well. there’s nothing wrong with you! I’ll let them know.” When I told Derek, he immediately asked if we could get a second opinion. Hardy mc har har.
2:00 pm – Chest X-ray
Pretty self explanatory. The lungs go through a lot during a long surgery, what with the breathing tube and what not. They need to make sure they’re prepared for the big day. I’ve had a few of these before. Quick and easy.
2:30 pm – Social Worker
The social worker is my official advocate. He operates within and outside the transplant department to make sure I understand everything and feel safe throughout the process. This meeting was virtually identical to my meeting with the psychiatrist, he asked all of the same questions in fact. He told me he was going to do that so I was somewhat prepared but if you’ve ever been to therapy you know that a 50 minute session is pretty exhausting. Two 50 minutes sessions in one day is downright debilitating. We did talk about meditation for a little while and my strong desire to avoid drugs to calm me down. We agreed that I would call my beloved former therapist who is in Boston and set up a few appointments to prepare for the surgery and my recovery. Excellent advice.
So that’s it for today. They will likely call or email in the next few days to say you’re good to go, let’s get you in to schedule this rodeo, or…so sorry, you need more tests so let’s get that squared away. Either way, rest assured I’ll keep the blog posted!