Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Labs, Labs, and More Labs

Lately Jim has been getting enough blood drawn to open his own blood bank. He has been going downtown, with the help of his mother driving, to transplant clinic 3x/week. This is apparently suppose to decline to 2x/wk soon however I feel more comfortable with him going so often to make sure that things are going in the right direction.

So far his creatinine has stayed at 2.0 which isn't as good as it was in the hospital but they are telling us that as long as it doesn't go up anymore then they are happy. Some of his pancreatic enzymes are going up and down which takes a bit of getting used to, at least for me. Jim takes everything in stride, however I get a little worked up over these things. His dehydration has been improving and they have started him on a medication which helps him retain water, which is slightly ironic since we have been trying so hard to produce urine for the last 8 months.

His blood pressure continues to plummet every time he stands which is also fun. I told him that it he is just getting creative on coming up with reasons for not taking a walk outside. (: They have currently taken him off all blood pressure medications and are hoping that his body is just taking a little extra time to adjust to a working kidney and that this will soon even out.

All things considered he is doing really well. Apparently all of these are just small speed bumps on the transplant road. I think that I may write a book for the over-dramatic, hyper-active, over protective family member to make an experience like this a little easier for those kind of people. (I am just taking a guess that there are people out there like that-haha)

Prayer Requests: Jim's labs begin to even out, peace for the donor family, blood pressure begins to stabilize

Bible Verse: "Pray for one another, that you may be healed." James 5:16

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas!! I hope this post finds you healthy happy and celebrating the Christ Child's birth!! For the first time in a long time we are all three of those things, healthy being the one in which we have struggled with. Since our dehydration on Wednesday, Jim has received another bag of fluids and is now being forced (by me) to drink more water than he can stand. Apparently the dehydration is not a sign of rejection but a sign that the kidney is actually working too well and that it is probably still in a bit of shock so we are just waiting for it to calm down. The doctors do not seem to concerned and told us that it is not typical but that it does happen so no need to worry. We have our next appointment downtown tomorrow and he will have more labs drawn and we are hoping that his creatinine is decreasing again.

We have so much to be thankful for that I can not even find the words!! First and foremost we are thankful for our Savior, who was born today, lived and was crucified so that we may have eternal life. Secondly the Lord has sent us another precious gift in the form of a double transplant, to give Jim a second chance. Thirdly, I am thankful for our family and friends who have been such a blessing to us.

Please enjoy a safe and healthy Christmas day! We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers!

Prayer Requests: Jim's labs look better with his dehydration decreasing, and everyone enjoys a safe holiday season

Bible Verse: "For unto us is born a child."

Monday, December 20, 2010


Jim had his first post-transplant appointment this morning and overall it went well. His kidney function went backward by .1 but they are attributing that to him being slightly dehydrated. His output is surpassing his input therefore we were instructed to drink more water and less tea for a few days to see if we could improve the creatinine. Our goal is .8-1 and he was at 1.6 today.

They changed his blood pressure medication from 3 meds down to 1 and it seemed to work pretty well all day. We will see how the evening goes (Jim's BP has a tendency to become elevated in the evening). It would be pretty exciting to reduce the amount of medication he would need to control this.

No other medication changes were made today. Jim's tummy is having a little bit of a hard time managing some of the meds tonight so at his appointment on Wednesday we may get some changes. We have lab and doctor appointments frequently every week for the next 5-6 weeks. This will reduce as time passes.

We spoke with a social worker today which was enlightening in regards to insurance, medication co-pays and the like. I thank the Lord for social workers. I have no idea how they understand insurance, medicare, and co-pays. Those are the things that make me want to crawl in a hole.

I want to send out a special thank you to all the women I work with. They have been so supportive, caring, and selfless. I am very blessed to work with each and every one of you.

Prayer requests: Jim's tummy settles down, labs improve, remain illness free, and a safe happy Christmas season for all. (God Bless Us Everyone!)

Bible Verse: "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12

Friday, December 17, 2010

Home Sweet Home

We have made it home safely! We finally arrived home around 5:30 this evening. Initially they had mentioned discharge around eleven this morning however they did not get us ready to go till about 4pm. Trying to leave downtown Dallas at 4pm on Friday is always an adventure and today was no exception. It took us a little over an hour to finally get home which pretty much wiped Jim out. We stopped at a local pizza place and picked up Jim's celebratory dinner which put him in a carbohydrate coma on the couch.

It is so nice to have Jim home! We had him get into our very tall bed before letting Millie in the door which turned out to be a great idea because Millie was so thrilled to see Jim that she ran around crazy for about 10 minutes straight. It was adorable to see how much she missed him.

Needless to say I think we are both emotionally and physically drained. It has been a jam packed week with so many wonderful experiences that I don't think that either one of us have been able to fully soak everything in.

Prayer requests: Jim continues to do well-no rejection/sickness, we get the medications correct, peace for the donor family, prayers of thanks for friends, family and neighbors!!

Bible Verse: "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

Thursday, December 16, 2010

We're Breaking Out Of This Joint!!

Tomorrow, manana, less than 24 hours from now...we will be leaving the 14th floor and going home!! Can you believe it!?!?! Because I can't!!! I can't help but singing "I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again." The plan is for us to be discharged tomorrow morning. We have follow up appointments starting next week. Who would have thought that only one week after he gets out of a life changing surgery we would be on our way to start that new life. Of course, the first 3months I will turn our house into a lockdown facility and he will feel like he is confined to our 4 little walls, but hey, you win some you lose some. I think of it as a small price to pay for trying to stay healthy for the first 3 months.

We just received our medication/transplant run down and maybe it is because we were on so many medications prior to surgery or just the fact that these feel more like "Happy" meds that we didn't really get too overwhelmed. I mean "happy" in the sense that they are for such a good reason and not such a hard one like before. We have been told that a few of these medications will be decreased in dosage or discontinued all together after awhile. Jim and I have been given a transplant diploma so to speak and are ready to graduate.

Prayer requests: We get the medications correct, a healthy next 3 months with no complications, peace for the donor family, thanksgiving for so many things going well

Bible Verse: "The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey." Deuteronomy 2:7

Monday, December 13, 2010

NG Tube...In?...Out?...I'll Choose OUT!!!

So as you may have gathered, Jim had his NG tube removed today. Apparently many people have an increase in nausea with tube removal however I think it was making Jim so uncomfortable that he actually had a decrease in his nausea. He has a small sore where the tube was taped but other than that he looks great!!! Since the tube was removed they have graduated him to thin liquids. He tried about 5 bites of chicken broth and was full. Can you even imagine, my husband, Jim, FULL after 5 bites. I guess that is what happens after 3-4 days of not eating anything by mouth. Since the tube removal I have been seeing more and more glimpses of my husband. He is definitely beginning to feel better!! I have missed his smirk and gentle laugh!

He also received a large dose of anti-rejection meds today via IV. Apparently this is standard for 3 days post surgery. Since the medication is such a large dose he also had to receive fever medication as well as meds that assist in preventing a known virus called CMV. This virus is one you are susceptible to when in the hospital with a good immune system let alone one that is being compromised.

His blood pressure is really starting to level out. The nephrologists are playing with the medications to try and reduce the number of meds he needs in order to stabilize. Today he only received 2 blood pressure meds all day, with fairly controlled numbers. He was running slightly on the higher side but nothing that was too alarming.

Jim's stomach continues to cause some pain and discomfort with his intestinal track continuing to remain slightly lethargic. His abdomen continues to remain a little distended. Per the doctors and nurses the intestines and bowels always take a little longer to "wake up" after surgery than most other organs.

Thank you to Mike and Weita who have been such a huge support system for not just Jim but for me as well. We have been a well oiled "changing of the guard." Thank you so much for everything you do for us! We love you!

Prayer Requests: Peace for the donor family, labs continue to improve, no rejection, blood pressure remains stable

Bible Verse: "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Psalms 23:4 (for Jim and his abdominal discomfort)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Very Important Request

One more prayer request- please keep the donor family in your prayers. They have given us a gift that merely saying thank you is not enough for. My prayer is for them to have peace and comfort knowing that they have helped save a life! Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers!

How About A Walk?

Today has been a pretty quiet day here at the hospital which in our circumstance is a good thing. Jim has gone for two short walks around the unit today so far and I'm hoping to get him up one or two more times before bedtime.

They have decreased the amount of fluid that they are infusing and have disconnected the suction through his NG tube several times. The doctors want to keep the NG tube in for the rest of today and will re=address it tomorrow for possible discontinuation. If the NG tube is removed I think that I will have a much happier and comfortable husband. He is a little "puffier" today in his abdomen secondary to his bowel being so lethargic. The doctors are going to try a couple different strategies for "waking" up his bowels this afternoon and hopefully Jim will have some discomfort eliminated.

They have allowed him to begin drinking water and it has stayed down. No other food or drink has been introduced yet at this time. His nausea has also subsided a great deal which is fantastic!

His labs and blood sugars continue to remain stable. His creatinine has decreased to 2.6 today which is down from yesterday. His blood sugars have been anywhere from 115-140 which are normal. He is continuing to receive breathing treatments which are helping him cough up some very colorful substances (thank goodness I work in healthcare and I like colorful substances). His blood pressure is beginning to come down as well with a new regimen of medications. I know that I may be a little bias since I work for Baylor but I have to give them credit, they have taken my input with different medications and timing of them to help lower his blood pressure. It really helps you not feel so helpless when they listen.

I ask for prayers for Jim that he will feel the Lord's presence and your love throughout this process. I think that the feeling ill is starting to damper his spirits. He has endured so many things over the last 2 years that I think he is getting to point that he just wants to feel better. This day is soon approaching however to him I think it feels as though it is moving in slow motion. Jim has been such a solid model of endurance and strength that I don't want him to become discouraged or frustrated with his progress.

Prayers Requests: strength, blood pressure continues to remain normal, bowels wake up, and swelling decreases

Bible Verse: “The LORD is my strength and my defense ; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him." Exodus 15:2

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ready Or Not Here We Go!

Jim was moved out of the ICU and up to the transplant floor today. He had three IV's pulled and oxygen discontinued which is helping him feel less like a pin cushion and more like a human being. He continues to have an IV in his neck and an NG tube (tube going in his nose and down into his stomach). This tube is the culprit of significant discomfort and has quickly turned into Jim's nemesis. Jim has an easily provoked gag reflex therefore any movement or speaking makes him gag or vomit. Needless to say it is very uncomfortable and I think he is losing his patience with it!! Another source of discomfort would be the constant nausea he is experiencing. Due to the surgery it has slowed his bowels down considerably so he is experiencing significant nausea. These both were doing a little better this morning but after all the commotion of moving up here and changing beds they both came back with a vengeance.

Regarding his numbers and labs: his creatinine level (kidney number that was 7.1 on admission-very bad) is consistently dropping and this morning was down to 3.3!! Normal is 1. They have decreased his finger sticks to every 4 hours instead of every 2 since his sugar is remaining stable. These are both wonderful signs of properly working and accepted organs.

Although the above labs are wonderful we are having some difficulty with Jim's blood pressure behaving itself. I spoke with the nephrologist today who is monitoring it and he would like to slowly introduce the medications to try and find something that works without over doing it. I like the idea for the hope of reducing the number of medications he has to be one but I hate seeing him get a headache and not feel well. I know these are all bumps in the road and that they will be remedied in time, but, knowing me and my patience motto (fast food should be fast!) I do not handle waiting well.

All of these above areas of discomfort are temporary and small in the grand scheme of things. He is very blessed to be progressing this quickly. So on one of the many positive notes we are consistently amazed and overwhelmed by the support we have in all of you and in the Lord! We can not thank you enough for your prayers. Nationwide prayers are being sent up to the Lord and I know He is protecting and blessing Jim daily.

Prayer Requests: Creatinine level continues to drop, nausea decreases, blood pressure begins to level out, NG tube comes out soon give Kris patience.

Bible Verse: "being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience" Colossians 1:11 (for Kris)

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12 (for Kris)

"Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked" John 5:8 (for Jim)

Friday, December 10, 2010

You Can't Rush A Miracle

This is the exact statement Jim made on Wednesday night, and although WE can not rush a miracle, the Lord can. On Thursday morning Jim and I received a phone call from Baylor with a possible kidney pancreas transplant. Jim answered a scripted set of questions and we waited for a return phone call. The second phone call came an hour later after which we packed a bag and ran out the door. We arrived and were checked in by 10 at Baylor Dallas. We were placed in a room on the transplant floor and within 10 minutes of entering we were surrounded by a flurry of white coats taking labs, x-rays, and history. The tornado of white lasted about an hour and then we began to wait...

...and wait

...and wait.

Around 4:45pm they took us to the pre-op room which we thought meant that the last test came back positive, however this was not the case. The organs were not even in the hospital yet so we again began to

...and wait.

At 6 the surgeon arrived with the organs and the last test was completed. At 630pm they wheeled Jim off into surgery. The surgery began at 630pm and ended a little after 1AM. Secondary to being surrounded by family and friends the next bout of waiting was full of stories, laughter (to calm the nerves) and candy. I can not thank everyone enough for staying with me and Jim's parents during this waiting period- you truly were my little miracle that night.

Around 120AM or so the surgeon came out and spoke with us about the surgery reporting that there were no complications during the procedure. He was transported up to the ICU and we soon followed up to the waiting room. We were able to see Jim at about 230AM. He was still under quite a bit of anesthesia therefore he didn't speak much. When I checked on him at 5AM he was sleeping soundly. Around 830AM he was able to speak however was gagging and vomiting often secondary to the NG tube. Jim has a very hyper-active gag reflex therefore he has had a really hard time with tolerating the tube. The nurses are wonderful and are trying to manage his pain and nausea.

Today he has continued to improve and his labs are holding strong. His sugar levels have been staying around 102-120 which is perfect! He is urinating well and has a catheter in his bladder to avoid stress on the new kidney. He hasn't been able to eat or drink anything yet and has been just receiving fluids through an IV all day. They have mentioned moving him to the floor tomorrow however this is dependent upon how his blood pressure behaves. It has begun creeping back up and so they are closely monitoring this as well.

Sorry for lack of creativity, I am really tired. I do want to say a big thank you to all that came out yesterday and supported Jim and I. You truly are amazing people!! I am constantly amazed at how the Lord works and how He has intricately laid out His plan for Jim in this whole process.

Also thank you to Betsy who has been my ICU waiting room pull out chair neighbor for the past two nights. You ARE the definition of friend!!

Prayer Requests: Jim's tests continue to be positive and his nausea subsides.

Bible Verse: Hebrews 12:28 "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Santa...I have one wish for Christmas.

I say one wish but it is realistically more like two or three.

First wish- Jim gets his transplant soon and he comes out healthy!
Second wish- If first wish doesn't come true quickly, then default to second wish, with wish being that Jim stays feeling decent through the holiday season.
Third wish- A wish for all my love to be carried to Minnesota this Christmas season since Jim and I can't be there in person!!

I hope my above wish list finds you all happy, healthy, and uncomfortably full from a joyous Thanksgiving. My parents were able to come down and spend a week with Jim and I so we were blessed beyond measure. I'm sure Jim secretly wishes that I took after my father in the kitchen, but sadly this is not so. (sorry Jim) We spent Thanksgiving day at our house with my parents and Jim's parents, with us all eating enough for 12 people. On Saturday we went up to Jim's parents home in Denison and had a large family get together... guns, pit bulls, and brisket... I reckon we initiated my parents into a Texas Thanksgiving properly!

Jim continues to feel decent. He is showing a little more fatigue lately, as such, he has decreased his work schedule down to 3 days a week instead of 4. It was not worth running his body down for one more day of work. Keeping himself healthy is now his other part time job! He has begun to have a few days of nausea here and there which we don't really know if it is related to his kidney failure or if he is fighting off a bug so we are trying to keep a log of those days. Jim's blood pressure is beginning to behave itself although it likes to throw us for a loop as soon as we get a little too comfortable. It is a constant battle that I plan on winning!

Although Jim is currently feeling alright, we have decided to not make the trip to MN this year for Christmas to see my family. There are many many "what if's" that could happen and right now we are not gambling people. As Jim likes to tell me "stay the course Kris." Well, we are going to do just that and stay home for Christmas. I will be eternally grateful to the inventors of Skype as this will be my first Christmas away from my family.

Prayer requests: Jim gets a successful transplant soon and comes out healthy. Everyone has a safe and happy Christmas season! Prayer of thanksgiving for our families! (we are truly blessed!!)

Bible verse: "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you...therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:33&34