Friday, September 10, 2010

What to expect when I go home

Earlier this morning, a few hours after dawn, I sat by the window in my hospital room and gazed at the beauty of my view. Across the street is Murray Park, close to where Chris and I used to live. Beyond that are the vast Wasatch Mountains which look like something from Lord of the Rings. I had to take a photo. And here it is.

"This is like Christmas!" I exclaim after the nurse pulls the tube out of my nose. "Oh my God! I can breathe. I cannot express the relief. Oh! This is the best thing that's happened to me since I've been in here! ...besides the transplant, of course."

Now that the tube is out of my nose, they will start feeding me clear liquids. This includes water and a small cup of orange jello. I'm not one to eat a lot of jello, but because this is the first "food" I've ingested in over the past week and a half, each tiny spoonful tastes like heaven. It takes me awhile to eat because I am instructed to attempt two small bites every half hour. They want me to take it slow in case I am not able to keep it down. But I am. In fact, it goes straight through me.

"Once you start eating, recovery will go very fast." One of the transplant surgeons tells me. "I'm guessing you'll be out of here by Friday or Saturday. How does that sound?"

It sounds great!

The next day, they move me up to solid liquids, which includes hot potato chowder soup, pudding, Boost energy drink, apple juice, and milk. I eat everything except for the boost energy drink and the milk. The carbs for the meal are listed on a meal ticket on the tray. I add them up in my head and I realize I've eaten close to 65 cards for lunch without any insulin. Two hours later, they check my blood sugar and it's normal.

From the age of three, I've had to count the carbohydrates in everything I eat and determine the amount of insulin to give myself. Three hours after I ate, I would check my blood sugar to see if I gave myself the correct amount. If I did, my blood sugar levels would be normal. If I didn't give myself enough insulin, my sugars would be too high and I'd have to give myself a little more insulin to bring them down. If I gave myself too much insulin, my blood sugar would be low and I'd have to drink orange juice or some kind of quick acting sugar to bring my levels up. This is when being diabetic is scary because if my blood sugars drop too low, I could become confused, lose consciousness, experience a diabetic seizure, etc. Every time I ate, I went through this balancing game with insulin. But not anymore. Not anymore. Now I simply eat. And that's it.

A transplant pharmacist talked to Chris and I about all of the new medication I will be on for the rest of my life. Some of the meds suppress my immune system so I might be prone to illness moreso than I am now. However, I am on a whole mess of pills to stop me from getting certain viruses, bacterial and fungal infections. In other words, I am trading off insulin for pills. Worth it? BIG YES!

My transplant coordinator also talked to us about what to expect after I leave the hospital. Basically, I will be on home rest for the next 6 weeks. I will come back to the hospital 3 times a week for the first few weeks to do bloodwork. The transplant team will review my blood levels and make changes to my medication as needed. It was emphasized that I should not attempt to self-medicate myself by adding or subtracting ANYTHING to my pill intake without checking with the transplant team first. For the first two months, I am to stay away from children and not play in the dirt. No closed spaces like movie theaters or public buses. If friends come to see me, they must be healthy. If they are sick, I have to turn them away. Also, anyone who comes to the house should use hand sanitizer as soon as they walk through the door. These are all precautions to prevent me from becoming sick due to my suppressed immune system. Fair enough. Most of the people I know already understand this and have no problem with it.

Speaking of friends, I am feeling so much better that I had a sudden urge to see people, so I invited a few people to come see me in the hospital before I go home. Tonight, our good friends Brian and Sarah stopped by. We talked and joked it up just like we were at home. It was awesome to see them again.

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