Friday, March 30, 2012

Damn you, Cipro!

Since I had my urinary stent removed yesterday, I have to take Ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic, twice a day for two days. I have taken my two doses for yesterday as well as my first dose for today.  I have one more dose to take in the evening.

I was warned by my pharmacist when I picked up my prescription.  This medication can cause an upset stomach, and this can be remedied by drinking lots and lots of water. I drank a lot of water, but perhaps not enough...because my stomach is upset :(.  Thankfully, I only have to take it one more time and then that'll be it.

Let my upset stomach be a warning to you; if you have to use Ciprofloxacin, one of the side effects is an upset stomach.  I was told to drink 1.5 litres of water... I think I needed more! Wahhh!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Urinary Stent Removal

Today I finally had my stent removed. My kidney transplant was on March 1st, so I've had the stent in for about 1 month.  I was glad to know that I was going to get it out...but I will admit that I was deathly afraid!

So this morning I went to the hospital to get blood work done.  Luckily, my Mom was off from work so she was able to come with me. I did my blood work and took my antibiotic (Cipro) afterwards.  We still had a lot of time since my appointment was for 9am, so my Mom and I went to Tim's to get some tea, coffee, donuts, etc.

As my appointment time came up, we went up for my appointment.  Up there already was one woman I recognized as being a kidney transplant recipient who was on the same hospital floor as me when I had my transplant, as well as the wife of another recipient. I later figured out that she was waiting for her husband who was already in the procedure room getting his stent removed.

I checked in, changed, and chatted with my Mom as well as the wife of the kidney transplant recipient. Shortly after, the husband/transplant recipient literally came strolling from around the corner with (I kid you not) a huge smile on his face, like "That didn't hurt at all!" Man I was still scared as ever!

The female/transplant recipient who was there before me went in to get her stent removed.  She is much older than me, perhaps in her late 50s or so. She was in and out of the procedure room in about 15 minutes. "Piece of cake!" she exclaimed as she walked by myself and my mother and headed to the change room.

Wow so I guess it will be a piece of cake! Nah I'm not gonna lie, I was STILL nervous as ever.  After a few minutes, a very nice doctor who's name I cannot remember came out and had me sign a consent form. Shortly after that, a nurse came and called me into the procedure room.  My stomach was swimming because I was so nervous.

The nurse asked me general questions, including whether I had taken my antibiotics, I told her about my hip replacement, and I told her my allergies.

After that, I got onto the procedure table and the nurse put my legs into the stirrups. Eeep! She used a sterile/disposable cloth to cover pretty much the whole area.  It reminds me of when I was getting my fistula and they used sterile cloths to cover my entire arm except for the area the doctor was going to operate on.

The nurse had a needleless syringe full of some sort of numbing gel that she applied after cleaning up the area (use your imagination lol). The doctor came in shortly afterwards and removed all of the tools that he needed and got started.  He told me to take a deep breath as the nurse came and took my hand for support.  He told me to expect perhaps slight discomfort.  It wasn't painful, just slightly uncomfortable and weird. That discomfort lasted about 3 seconds which was the time it took for the scope to be inserted. There was a screen on my right that showed everything that was going on as the scope obviously had a camera on the end.  When the doctor asked me if I wanted to see what was going on, I quickly told him no, as I had no intention of opening my already tightly squeezed/closed eyes!

*gasp!* That was the sound that I made when the actual stent was removed.  It was uncomfortable for about 2 seconds...and unexpected.  He took it out quickly.  I asked the doctor to see it and he replied "No."
"No??" I said and laughed. He laughed also, and showed me the stent.  I did not take a picture of it obviously as I was in no position to do so (haha, position :s ) but I did find something similar online:

That's soooo weird! That thing was there for one month?! Yikes!

The doctor said goodbye gave me a tap/rub on the shoulder just like he did when he first came into the room, and off he went. The nurse let me out of my stirrups and gave me a pamphlet about things I might experience after the removal of the stent.  The symptom I have experienced is more frequently needing to go pee.  I have not experienced some of the other symptoms listed, including slight bleeding as well as burning.  I hope it stays that way.  I have also been told to make sure I drink my 1.5 litres of water daily.

So that's it! On the pain scale, I'd say it was maybe a 3.5-4 out of 10.  It really wasn't bad, but I'm also a big chicken.  I'd say that, as usual, I really worked myself up for something super painful and really it wasn't. It was more weird than painful. I knew what to expect when my stent was removed after my kidney transplant, so that helped too.  I like to know things...not find out after the fact :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Can't Wait to Try Green Smoothies

I'm trying to remember what, exactly, I was looking at that prompted me to want to try green smoothies...oh yes, now I remember.

As someone with natural hair, I regularly read an online webpage/blog called "Black Girl, Long Hair".  When I was reading it about a week or so ago, there was a post that was called "5 Nutrients for Healthy Hair Growth in One Smoothie". Since I've stopped relaxing my hair and wearing extremely stressing hairstyles, my hair has gotten much better.  But I've always wanted to use or take something that would be good not only for my hair, but for all of me. First thought? Vitamins. I took vitamins while on dialysis, but after my transplant, those vitamins were stopped.

When I asked the doctor who was looking after me in the hospital about it, he said that I could take a multivitamin if I wanted to, but he'd much prefer to see me get my vitamins through foods. I kind of forgot about my doctor's advice for a bit until I read the above article.  What I like about this article is the fact that it not only gives you a recipe for a green smoothie, but it tells you why certain ingredients are used and the benefits that it offers.

It just so happens that my mom told me a week ago that her blender broke.  Well, now's my chance to buy a blender that would be good for smoothies!  I did not want to spend too much money, as some of the blenders I  researched online cost upwards of $700 and more! I wanted a blender that would blend fruits/vegetables relatively smoothly (for example, I don't want huge kale chunks in my smoothie), seemed to receive good reviews, and something that I could buy locally as opposed to buying online.  After doing all of the research that I wanted to do, I finally settled on the Ninja Professional Blender from Canadian Tire.

From what I've seen so far, it has gotten pretty good reviews.  I'm quite looking forward to making smoothies, and hopefully they're delicious! I look forward to hopefully achieving the many benefits that drinkers of green smoothies state in their testimonials, including better hair, skin, and overall energy and health. Right now, I'm waiting on an order I placed online from for almond milk as well as flax seeds. When they come, then I'll go out and purchase my fruits and veggies. Hurry up! (luckily they ship really quickly! :) )

Does anyone out there make green smoothies?  If so, any good recipes? I'm considering going out and buying a book but...I hate buying information that I can find online for free or word-of-mouth from others :)

Finally Fewer Blood Work Appointments

On Monday I went to see/meet my nephrologist for the first time.  His name is Dr. Kim.  He's really nice and really funny as well.

I'm happy to say that my blood work looks really good.  It's actually a funny story. Dr. Kim looked at my creatinine and asked me who my donor was.  I told him that my brother was my donor.  Then he asked "is your brother a big/tall guy?" I told him that my brother was around 6'1, 6'2-ish.  When I asked him why he asked, he told me that it was because of my creatinine. My creatinine as of Monday's appointment was 69.  Dr. Kim said that creatinine that low is not usually seen in transplant patients, which indicates that my brother was a much bigger person with bigger kidneys. My brother is a big guy who lifts weights/goes to the gym very regularly, whereas I'm 5'5 and weigh like 115...probably near half what my brother weighs.  So I'm pretty lucky to have a big, strong kidney I guess!

Now that the transplant team has seen my recent blood tests, they seem to be happy with what they have seen and therefore they are allowing me to do my blood work twice a week instead of three (yay!) And, as I mentioned in a previous post, I'm able to get my blood work done at the local blood lab as opposed to going to the hospital just to get my blood work done. I'm pretty pleased about that.  It all indicates that things are continuing to move in the right direction.

The only challenge I still have is my hemoglobin. It's not bad...(for me) as it is in the 90s.  I cannot remember the exact number.  The transplant team would prefer that my hemoglobin be over 110 (as would I!). Just two weeks ago, my hemoglobin was 112.  It seems to go up and down, rise and dip.  It just seems to be my pattern for some odd reason.  Dr. Kim told me that it may take a little bit of time for my hemoglobin to go up, as my new kidney is still getting "accustomed" to its new environment, and as it does, it will aid in the increase of my hemoglobin.

Since coming home after the transplant, I have noticed that I do get mild stomach upset/stomach grumbling, so I mentioned this to the doctor as well.  He explained that it sounded like my stomach was just getting used to all of my new meds, and this should subside in time.  Very reassuring for me.  Speaking of meds, Dr. Kim also expressed his desire to, slowly, over the next few months, slowly taper my prednisone until I'm no longer on it.  Oh pleasssse take me off of prednisone! I just hope that all of these other immunossuppresant  medications will be sufficient in keeping my lupus at bay, as the reason I've remained on prednisone all these years is due to the fact that my lupus seems to rebel anytime my prednisone dose gets overly low.  At the same time, I was not on these anti rejection drugs that I'm currently on now: tacrolimus or mycophenolate sodium. I hope they will do the trick, as I am told that the probability of lupus occurring in my new kidney are very slim.  Fingers crossed!

Anyhow, I'm getting my urinary stent removed tomorrow, so I'll need to mentally prepare myself for that one! I'll report back later..*cries*


Sunday, March 25, 2012

'The Hunger Games'- The Novel :)

While I was in the hospital, fresh out of surgery and still in the ICU, my friends Christine and 'She (pronounced Shay) came to visit me. Christine was nice enough to bring me a three book series: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and The Mockingjay. They both insisted that I read it and swore that I'd love it.

I'll be honest. I never gotten into this whole...mass hysteria, everybody has to read twilight and harry potter thing. Nothing wrong with it...I just never got into it.  Some people read novels or whatever while they're in school so they can take their minds off of school and simply read something that is completely separate.  Well...I cannot do that.  I cannot seem to get myself to read something that is non-school related when I have school related readings to do.  I just can't. I tried...and I had no idea what I was reading.

But anyhow, I digress. The girls told me that the Hunger Games movie was coming out and it was imperative that I read at LEAST that specific book in its entirety so that we could go and see the movie.  Wow...okay!  I honestly did not see myself being all that interested in the book, but I read anyways. I was actually quite glad that they brought the books for me as I did not want to spend tons of money on the TV.

Let me tell you.  When I wasn't with visitors or family chatting, going to the washroom, eating, attending transplant classes, or being wheeled to and from various tests like ultrasounds..I was reading The Hunger Games. I really enjoyed the book. I really felt connected with the characters.

To me, this book is reminiscent of The Running Man- that old movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger.  There is also a Japanese movie called Battle Royale that seems to have a similar premise as well.  I haven't seen Battle Royale yet as it was only just released on DVD here in Canada this year even though it was released in 2001.  The Hunger Games seems to have similarities to both.  Take into consideration that Battle Royale is said to be extremely violent, whereas The Hunger Games is aimed towards a more teenage audience and therefore will not be anywhere close to as violent as Battle Royale.  I plan to see The Hunger Games in the theatre, perhaps in a few weeks when I feel a bit more up to it.  I also just purchased Battle Royale online so I'll watch that soon also...I think I'll wait and watch the Hunger Games FIRST and watch Battle Royale sometime after that.

Anyhow, I do give The Hunger Games two thumbs up.  I already finished reading Catching Fire, and will soon begin reading The Mockingjay.  These books are easy reads. They are under 400 pages and the print/font is pretty large.  Chapters are about 10 pages each on average.

Have a read if you haven't already! :)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Post-Transplant Part 2

It has been about 3 weeks since my transplant! When I touch my stomach over my kidney (or shall I say lightly press) it is still sore. This is mostly where the incision is, though. The incision is fully closed, though...and it looks good.

I don't believe I mentioned this on the other Post-Transplant post, so I'll mention it here. After the transplant, I noticed that I had to go to the washroom several times a day (and night). This was after the catheter was removed, of course.  When I did go, the amount of urine seemed to be very small.  This made me a bit nervous. When my surgeon came to see, I asked him about this.  When my own kidneys still worked, I don't remember having to go to the washroom/bathroom/toilet every 30 minutes!! (Well, perhaps a slight exaggeration, but it was quite a bit. Perhaps every hour at night...and even more frequently during the day).  What my surgeon told me made perfect sense.

Our bladders are essentially muscles. Like any other muscle in the body, if it remains unused for a long period of time, it will get weaker...and smaller.  I had been on dialysis from 2004 to 2012, so my bladder remained largely unused for that entire period of time.  My surgeon told me that as time went on, things would begin to normalize. My bladder would get stronger, so in the future I wouldn't feel that urge that I have to go to the washroom and I have to go NOW!! On top of that, the bladder will get bigger and be able to accommodate a larger volume of fluid as time goes on.

Now that I am 3 weeks, almost a month in, I can say from experience that this is obviously true.  I still go to the bathroom quite a bit, but not as much.  I do feel that this will improve even further as time goes on.  The volume of fluid that I am able to hold is much more as well.  Before, when I was in the hospital and the week after I got home, I was producing maybe 100mL/ a little over 3oz of fluid when I went to the washroom.  Now, i'd say that amount has tripled (this is a guess, as I had to measure/write everything that I drank and everything that came out when I was in the hospital...I don't have to do that anymore).  So, if you just received a kidney transplant and are wondering "Why am I producing so little urine/pee after my kidney transplant?" I hope the above will answer your question.  As always, if you are concerned or confused, definitely ask your doctor.

I still have a urinary stent in place.  That will be removed at the end of the month.  Also, I am still going to the hospital 3 times a week for blood work.  So far so good, as I haven't had any message left for me on my "easyline" telling me that there are any issues.  I will be seeing my doctor on Monday.  As long as there are no issues, I will be given a blood requisition and will be allowed to do my blood work at a local blood lab instead of travelling all the way to the hospital, which, as I mentioned previously, is about a 30-40 minutes drive.  My local blood lab is about a 5 minute drive away :)  I have also been taking my temperature frequently and my temp is under control as well.  

The number of meds I have to take is a bit daunting. I plan to do a post in the future where I take pictures of all my meds individually, just so you can see what they look like.  

I've gotta say that I'm glad that the transplant happened in March, as I now have the warm spring weather and even warmer summer weather to enjoy. I can go out with friends and such and not have to worry about rushing home to do dialysis. Can't wait to slather on some sunscreen and enjoy my summer!! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Kinda Symbolic

As I may have mentioned before, I am quite pleased at how things worked out in terms of my schooling.  I'm glad that I managed to finish school prior to the transplant. To me, the transplant is like a new beginning...and I'm glad that I don't have to look back and finish something that I had started prior to the transplant.

That said, something so..strange, so symbolic happened. I had the kidney transplant surgery on March 1 which was a Thursday.  The next day, my parents came to visit me and everything...but that evening when my parents went home, in the mailbox was my college diploma. Talk about timing, huh?

I asked my father to bring it to the hospital so that I could see it.  So, on Sunday, my mother brought it. I was just looking at it of all, the timing of this is crazy. Secondly..I can't believe I finally finished...and WITH honours.  I swear...sometimes I felt like I'd never finish, like I was on some sort of an endless road.  But, thank God that was not the case.

Now that the transplant is done and I've earned my diploma..I'm feeling so...anxious and excited.  Like.. I want to go out and get a job in HR right NOWWW! (I know, I know..wait and recover before you start applying for opportunities..!)

I know that I still have lupus and my struggles certainly will not disappear, but I'm happy that one major thing in my life (dialysis) has been eliminated.  Don't get me wrong-if I had to be on hemo dialysis, i'm glad that home hemo was an option.  But, now that I have my transplant, that (dialysis) will be one less thing to worry about.


Monday, March 19, 2012


It has been almost 20 days since the kidney transplant.  I had the pleasure of getting my staples out 3 days ago...all 20 of them.  My transplant coordinator took them out.  She told me that my scar is quite small compared to others she has seen, but at the same time my torso is quite small. I'm still surprised at the fact that my surgeon was able to cram my brother's kidney into my stomach, considering the fact that my brother is 6'2 and VERY large as he works out quite a bit.

I did psyche myself out for a huge amount of pain.  It's not like I haven't had staples removed before..but I did still prepare myself for something much worse than it was.  My coordinator told me that it wouldn't hurt much since the nerves in that area were cut along with the incision.  She was right; except for a the last few staples close to the bottom of the incision, I barely felt anything. This really helped in terms of sleeping at night..I don't like to be limited in terms of whether I sleep on my right, my left, etc.  Also, with the staples in, the incision was sooo itchy! Now that they're out, the itch has not completely disappeared, but it is a LOT better.  My coordinator told me that there's an old wives tale that states that itchiness= time to remove the staples.  I always thought that it meant that the wound was healing so it will soon be time to remove the staples...who knows!

I am still quite sore.  I'm also kind of afraid to over stretch.  Being afraid to stretch has made me realize how often I probably used to stretch pre-surgery LOL.

I'm also working on gaining some more weight.  Pre-surgery, I was 52kg (115lbs). Now, I'm 48kg (106lbs). I will admit that my appetite hasn't quite gotten to what it was pre-surgery.  I fully expected to be on large doses of prednisone which would in turn cause at least a moderate amount of weight gain.  This assumption was based on the experience of a friend of mine who had also gotten a transplant, though it was a deceased donor kidney.  Perhaps because I had a living related donor, those high amounts of prednisone were not needed. Right after the surgery, I was put on 55mg of prednisone. By the time I was discharged from the hospital 7 days later, that dose was dropped all the way down to 5mg, the same dose I was on pre-surgery.

I'm thankful that I did not have to be on a large dose for long, especially with my history of having high blood glucose readings while on high doses. I will admit...I was looking forward to getting some "weight on my bones". I am confident that much of my weight loss was muscle mass.  As I get up and about more and gain some of that muscle back, I'm sure the weight will come back on, and hopefully a bit more. I'd prefer to be about 54.5-57kg (120-125lbs).

I'm still going to the hospital 3 times a week for blood work. Thankfully there haven't been any major concerns in my blood work. I have an appointment next Monday.  If all is well, I will be allowed to go to my local blood clinic to get my bloods drawn as opposed to going all the way to the hospital, which is sometimes a 30-40 minute drive depending on traffic.

Well that's about it for now.  Here's to keeping with the positive news! :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Kidney Transplant

I know it has been a while since I posted, but I'm sure you'll understand why! I'm still recovering from having had a kidney transplant exactly two weeks ago. Thankfully, I get my staples removed tomorrow. I'm sure a great deal of discomfort I am feeling will be relieved once I get them out.  I have exactly 20 staples on my right abdomen and they are quite sore.

Right after the surgery, I had a catheter, and therefore I did not need to physically get up to go to the washroom.  I was also receiving large amounts of IV fluids. My new kidney worked well right off the bat, and my creatinine was within normal range just 24 hours after the surgery.  Unreal!

I really looked forward to getting the catheter out. When I was in the transplant ICU, I had to keep calling my nurse as I kept getting this "I gotta go pee" pressure feeling even though the catheter was in.  My nurse would remedy this by lifting and turning the tubing which would relieve the pressure.  I stayed in the transplant ICU for two nights and was moved to my regular room after that.

I stayed in the hospital for a total of 7 days.  I'd have probably went home even sooner if not for the fact that my hemoglobin went down to 64 (or 6.4). I received a transfusion and it went up to 78 (or 7.8).
Since going home, I've been going to the hospital 3 times a week for blood work, with one of those days being a clinic day. So far, so good.

Besides the incisional pain that I mentioned above, I haven't had much pain. On the side of the incision, in the corner where my stomach and my leg/thigh join, I've had a little bit of pain there as well, mostly when touched.  Hopefully that will subside. I am also trying my best to eat well and eat LOTS.  My fear pre-transplant was that the transplant drugs, especially prednisone, would make me gain weight by increasing my appetite. I was only on a high dose for a short amount of time, so weight gain did not happen.  In fact, I have lost quite a bit of weight.  I bought some 'Ensure' in order to give myself a 'jump start'.

I am doing my best to increase my water intake.  It is pretty difficult for me.  When I initially was diagnosed with Lupus Nephritis back in 1996, I was told to only drink one liter of water a day. This was very difficult for me.  I was used to drinking what I want, when I wanted.  Then, my restrictions loosened and I was able to drink more. Some days, I drank a lot, others, not so much. Now, I'm being told to drink at LEAST 2 liters of water daily. I struggle with this as water can get very boring. I got on google and found a website with ideas on how to increase my water intake. I bought some cucumbers yesterday and put them in an empty water jug and added filtered water. It really helps me to drink more water and it tastes great.  If you're having trouble drinking more water like I was, or if you simply want to jazz up your water, check out this blog post that I found online: 32 Natural Ways to Flavor Water

So I'll put a few pictures below of my time in the hospital. Both myself and my brother are doing great :)

The day after surgery. I'm doing well! *thumbs up*

My bro came to the transplant ICU to visit me. He's such a trooper!

Meds galore! Some of those meds include mycophenolate sodium, tacrolimus,   and pantoprazole, just to name a few.

Passing the time by reading "The Hunger Games"!

Ouch! This line was used to deliver my patient controlled pain meds as well as used by blood techs and nurses to draw blood.

Whoa Mama! This is the same line in the previous pic as it appears when it is no longer in my neck.  That whole light blue part was in my neck!

Pressure bandage used to make sure I don't bleed.

Patient education video that I had to watch. Based on this woman's haircut...I'd say the video is 100 years old.

Failed IV insertion.  I still loved my nurse Hamed spite of the pain inflicted here.

Matthew, IV wiz, managed to insert this IV into my arm near my wrist on the pinky finger side of my right hand.

Profuse bleeding of my old IV after it was removed.

I complained to one of my nurses, Karen, how we used to get stickers while at Sick Kids hospital. Well, two minutes later, she came back to my room, and....

Window in my room shows a foyer on the 4th floor. Today a band, possibly  high school, played their wind instruments. There was also a choir there too.  Fun to watch/listen to. Takes me back to my concert band/concert mistress/clarinet playing days.

Saturday, March 3, 2012 did the transplant go?

The transplant went excellently! The normal range for one's creatinine is between about 0-110. It is quite phenomenal how my creatinine went from 668 on feb 22, to 513 on march 1 right after the surgery. It was checked 3 times on march 2-one day after the surgery. In the morning, it was 513. By the afternoon, it was 110. By the evening, it was 75. Can you believe that? My creatinine is in a NORMAL range!!

I cannot begin to describe how normal I felt by March 2. I felt amazing. Although I still had (and have) some incisional pain..I feel great otherwise. I feel like getting up and doing cartwheels. I thought I felt amazing on home hemo (which I did) but...geez..I think I have gotten so used to feeling "unwell" to a certain degree that I simply just got used to it. This feeling is worth a million bucks.

What touched me even more is the fact that the donor usually feels a little bit "worse" than the recipient. Although in a bit of pain, and this being his first surgery, my brother insisted on being wheeled down from his room an a separate floor down to the transplant ICU to see me. The next morning (this morning), at around 8-8:30am, my bro walked all the way down from his floor to mine to see me. Hemo assistants from the hemodialysis unit have come to visit, as have one of my home dialysis teaching nurses Lizzy (her name is Elizabeth...but everyone gets a nickname from me haha)

I have taken a few pics, so I'll put those up when I'm on my computer again. Just wanted to post a quick update!


-Florence T.

Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Friday, March 2, 2012

So..I've been keeping something from you..

I wrote this blog entry on January 23, just a few days after I learned that the date of my transplant would be on March 1.  I did not want to mention it on my blog until I was already in the hospital and the transplant was complete! Call me superstitious...but if you've been reading my blog for a long time, you'll know that I've had so many situations whereby I was just SO close to getting my transplant and something happened...and it did not come up.  For both myself and those that love and/or care for me, it's such a let down knowing that I am so close to getting this transplant and something happens that essentially cancels the surgery.

Well, this time, I decided to keep the surgery date and plans to myself until after the date has come and gone.  By the time you read this post, the transplant will have already taken place.  I am post-dating this blog post to March 2, 2012: one day after the transplant is to have taken place. This way, I guess you can say that I don't "jinx" myself.

Hopefully everything has went well and my brand new and shiny kidney work well quickly. I'll tell you how it went soon! :)

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