Monday, November 22, 2010

Test Day #1

This morning after 12 hours of fasting I bundled myself up (its -30 with the windchill!!) and slip-slided my way across town to Foothills Hospital for my first round of screening tests.

I started out getting some lab forms and heading down for blood and pee tests.  Yahoo!  They seemed irritated they had to enter so many tests into the computer first thing in the morning! I had to laugh at the eight step instruction poster on how to pee in a cup posted over the toilet-eight steps!  In addition to that I had 14 vials of blood taken out which I think is a record for me.  They tested everything from cholesterol to glucose fasting to HIV and Hepatitis.  I know its the most thorough testing I have done which in some ways are nice-good to know how healthy you are without having to get sick to have tests ordered, right?

After that I headed up to chat with the transplant coordinator.  She was really nice and answered a lot of questions I had (which I will likely get into in later posts).  Because I am a non-directed donor, its likely that I could end up saving someone who had a high chance of not receiving a kidney. This is especially true for people who end up being matched over the National Registry.  She said last year the registry matched and performed 80 living donor transplants...a few years ago that never would have happened and a large number of those people would still be waiting or would have passed away. She said the registry is really helping ensure that more people get what they need and that the sickest people or those who are hard to match have a better chance at being helped.  She had a lot of great information and really made me feel good about the process but not pressured at all. She said right up until they put me to sleep to take the kidney I will be asked by everyone I talk to if I really want to do this.

I then had to head over to Emergency to get an X-Ray.  There was surprisingly no line up which was nice.  The tech was a little irked about the lack of info on my requisition form. He asked what the X-Rays were for (as in what they were looking for) and I told him I am a possible kidney donor.  He immediately became about 100% nicer and they got me in and out of there very fast.

After that it was off to Cardio in the main building.  I have a feeling I am going to be well acquainted with Foothills by the time this is all done.  I checked in there and was told to go sit in the "blue" chairs.  I was almost thrown off by some aqua coloured chairs in the same hall but spied some truly blue chairs a bit further down.  I wonder how the colourblind folks do with those instructions.  I don't think I was sitting on the chairs more than a few minutes when they came to get me for my ECG (which measures the electricity in your heart/body I believe).  The lady who ran that test was really nice.  I told her why I was there and she seemed very impressed by the willingness to donate an organ.

She mentioned that despite working in a hospital, most people there never give it much thought. She lamented that they probably should more.  She spoke of an accident that happened in the last 6 months (it was all over the news) where a young woman had died when a transport truck brake drum on the highway was kicked up by another vehicle and flew into the woman's windshield. The ECG lady told me that the woman (who was brain dead) donated everything. She said that they were busy over the following few days even in her department, I assume doing heart tests etc on recipients for the organs.  She said she met several of the recipient patients and families and she realized how much of an impact that one woman's (family) choice to donate her organs was making on so many lives.  She said she regrets not thinking about it more herself before that. I think its something we're all guilty of-you just get caught up in your own day to day and don't think about stuff like that. And realistically not everyone is going to choose to be a living donor but at least we can let our families know what to do in the event of a brain death.

My next steps are to do some "homework"-blood work to do on my own steam which I will try to do this Saturday, and an ultrasound.  That's been booked for next Tuesday.  After that, once they've looked at all my results, I will know if I've passed phase one or not.  Assuming I did pass phase one, I would then be scheduled for a Renal Scan which is a 4 hour test involving dye and peeing in a cup a lot.  After that I would go for an MRI to map the anatomy of my kidneys (how many blood vessels and arteries going in and out).
The whole morning quite frankly made me more excited about the idea of this.  Nothing is for sure of course and even the timing of it could be anywhere from say February to next summer but it definitely seems more real.  I am really glad I opted to explore this further.

On a happy note, Charlie has really turned around on this whole topic.  He called me today at work to see how the tests went and listened to some of the stuff I had learned.  What a relief.  I know I need his support on this and it looks like I have it.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so happy to see the last comment here! It's great to have support close by you will need it if you end up going in for an operation.