Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hello, we have the kidney you ordered.

The day started like any other Monday; woke up, check the weather on the news, get ready for my doctor's appointment, get Tiffany ready for school, gave kisses good bye and out the door. I was very excited to go to my 5th chiropractor appointment. Two weeks ago I went to the office to see if they could do anything with my migraines and daily headaches, after taking X-ray I was happy to know it was not a tumor but the fact that my neck was curve in a reverse form to the point that my nerves were being pinched. I was happy that after my last adjustment I had 2 days headache free. I came into the office and already knew the routine, they placed electrodes and ice on my neck for 15-20 minutes, then ultrasound for 5-7 minutes, then massage (my favorite part)for 10-12 minutes, then adjustment for 15-20 minutes. I had just had my ultrasound and waiting for my massage therapist when my cell phone rang. The caller id showed it was from home and since it wasn't the first time that Kenny had called when he couldn't find an item I just assumed he was looking for something now. "Hi sweetheart, what do you need?" His respond was short and confusing, "They called." I know that I was behind on a loan and keep meaning to call the office to make payment arrangements but the bill collector had started leaving messages at home before I made the first call, I put calling back on my mental to do list. "They who?" I asked pretty sure I knew. "The hospital" he answered. I was lost I didn't owe any money to the hospital and his voice wasn't upset to make me believe someone was hurt, unless...he was in shock. "What did they want?" "They have a match." he said. The impact of his statement hit my chest and stomach at the same time it wasn't something I expected at 10:30 Monday morning, in fact I wasn't sure if I expected it at all this year.

Our relationship started almost 3 years ago; our relationship could fill many pages all by itself so I will try to give a quick review of the beginning. I met him at work, not as a co-worker but as a patient, my patient. I know what you are thinking, bad Ann crossing that patient-health provider relationship line, but to my defense that was not my intention and we were only dating about 2 months before he was on dialysis and no longer directly my patient. When I say he was 'my patient' I don't mean he was one of the office patients and saw one of the doctors, no that isn't it, he was My patient in My clinic. I ran the anemia management clinic in the renal division of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. I educated the patients on anemia in kidney disease, I started them on IV iron and/ or erythropoietin stimulating agents, and I went through the insurance for authorization, I had an Epo clinic, I had over 200 patients in my clinic either at home or coming into the center, I even had an assistant. There are times that I miss having that title that responsibility however that feeling fades fast when I go to work and get my first coo, smile or giggle. Mr. Franks, as I knew him for a while was a renal patient for years and then one day he too became anemic and was sent to my clinic. He came to the Epo clinic every 2 weeks to receive his injection, at times draw blood and review further information. The visits usually lasted 15 mins but as we got to know each other better the visits lasted longer and longer. The visits were twice as long by the 4th month of his ESA care and I like to say our friendship still remained pretty professional. I remember when the change first occurred, when our friendship became something different. It was one of his usual visit, I called Mr. Franks over and discussed his medical problems, as we chatted he mentioned that his investment club was hosting a white party at a local club. For those of you that are not aware of P. Diddy famous white party, this party is when you wear white from head to toe. I smiled and took the invitation and said 'thank you' with no intention of going. He then said the sentence that changed everything, "You can bring your fiancee too, unless you are too busy with wedding plans." The wedding was suppose to take place 2 weeks prior, the relationship ended 8 weeks before then. It was still a sore subject which I didn't talk much about especially not to one of my patients. "No more plans, the wedding is off," my simple respond wasn't good enough for his curiosity, "For the summer?" he prodded. "Forever," I assured. Before I knew what happened Kenny went into his wallet and handed me his card with his personal cell phone number. "He is so stupid, stupid to let you go." he said. 'Let me go?' I thought 'He practically threw me out' "I guess" was all I could say. "If you need anything from me or would like just an ear to talk feel free to call me," he started as I placed the card in my wallet, " and I want to take you to the party, I'll take care of your ticket, you really would have fun and is good to go out, okay?" I couldn't find my words and my mind went blank, I found myself nodding but knowing that I didn't mean it. "Mr. Franks..." I started when I could finally think. "Call me Ken or Kenny please" I stopped and nodded again as he left the examining room and I was in shock. A few nights later I got the courage to call his cell phone and was fortunate enough to get his voice mail; I informed him that I didn't feel ready to be out and think that right now isn't the right time for me but thank him for the offer. Kenny tells me now that that message broke his heart. He continued coming to his 2 week appointments and the message, party or card didn't come up in conversation. He did once ask where is a good place to met nice people our age and we both decided to give the online dating a chance and let each other know how it goes. Six weeks after the voice mail message incident I was working late and reviewing messages sent to me by the doctors. One message had Ken Franks name on it, I retrieved it and saw that it was regarding lab results, nothing urgent and it was 6:30 pm, this could wait until morning I thought to myself and still picked up the phone. I called his home number and was disappointed to hear the answering machine, I left a message and then stated I would try calling him on his other number. I took the card out of my wallet and dialed the cell number. It started ringing and ringing and I felt myself feel down at the thought of leaving another message. After the six ring I had my message speech prepared and was thrown off by the simple hello. "Umm, hello Mr. Franks...Kenny, Hi," Crap Ann Think, " Hi this is Ann calling from the hospital of the university of Penn, renal division, is Kenneth Franks available." Finally, I thought. "Hi Ann, this is Ken," I'm sure he looked at his watch and realized that the office had closed over an hour ago, "working late?" That question lead into a 30 minute conversation none which had anything to do with his lab results and ended after I gave him my personal cell phone number. It wasn't long after that before we became a couple and I didn't tell most of my co-workers until 6 weeks in, and soon after that he started dialysis and was going to the transplant department so no longer was he my patient and our relationship was out in the open and fine with everyone, I think.

"A kidney, they have a donor!" I didn't realize how loud I was until I was off the phone and the other patients at the chiropractor office asked about it. I was too excited to care who knew and before I left on my way to Philadelphia most of the office knew the situation. I was a renal nurse for 3 years and heard of these long waits but this was ridiculous. Our first spot at 11:30 am was to the hospital to give blood for a second work up. They informed us that the labs would take about 5 hours and we should go home and Kenny should have a dialysis treatment. He hadn't prepared for a treatment, it took 7 hours for the machine to make the special water, he told this to the transplant coordinator who didn't seem concern, "That will be fine, it will give us enough time." We took the time to go shopping for pajamas, since boxers in the hospital was not a good look, and other essentials. He went home took a shower, packed his bag and got on the dialysis machine. I went with him, I wanted to be there to ask all the medication questions and make sure everything was going to be okay, doctors and nurses do make the worse patients because we are paranoid. At least that is how I felt when I asked for him to call the transplant coordinator back so I can hear about the donors' medical history. Around 7 PM, when Kenny started getting ready for his dialysis treatment, we received another call and were informed that he was definitely a match however it would be a little longer since the family wasn't ready to take the donor(it makes me feel less connected if I refer to him as the donor) off life support. I sat on the bed and was reading a book until I drifted off to sleep. At 11pm I woke up and still no word. We ate dinner making sure we finished before midnight because we were sure the anesthesiologist would delay the surgery if he knew he ate after midnight. I was pacing by midnight, hoping to get a call so he could have his surgery before I had to go to work, I soon realized that it wasn't happening. I was lying in bed when his cell rang, it was 3:30 am Tuesday morning. The kidney was on its way, make your way to the hospital was the coordinators message. At that moment it occurred to me that the donor was not at the Hospital of the University of Penn and that having the job of a transplant coordinator must suck, really 3:30 am, that is a time from the movies and she was wide awake and chipper. We made it to the hospital only to be informed that there were no beds in the transplant unit, because of this he would be sent to the intensive care unit until a bed became available most likely after his surgery. We went to the unit and again waited, the evening shift nurse took his information but didn't know what was next since they didn't have patients that came in for transplant surgeries. An hour later the morning nurse came in to find Kenny and I in the room talking. She looked from him to me and then back at him and simple asked, "Where is the patient?" She too wasn't sure what to do with a 'Walkie-Talkie' the term many nurses gave to patients that were all with it. Soon she knew all the details and started to set him up for surgery, before she could get an IV started the surgeons came it. Dr. P, A, and R went through the procedure step by step, the awful what ifs and side effects, and they were very patient with the crazy nurse girlfriend and her questions. Soon he had the proper charts, signatures and documentations for the procedure and I asked as transport came to get him if he would be changed to a gown. The nurse was mortified that she didn't think of this first and apologized for that and rushed to get him ready. I didn't mind and I could tell Kenny was super nervous because of how slow he answered all the questions so he couldn't think clearly about taking clothes off. He was finally ready and talking to the anesthesiologist about what would happen next, he then escorted me to the surgical waiting room which had TVs, coffee and computers :), along with a board that gave your love ones locations, for the family members to keep entertain while they waited. I gave him a hug and kiss and wished him luck. Ordered the doctors to take care of him and called the family and friends that were awake at 8 am for the update.

It is now 1 PM and not happy that the family waiting area doesn't have a bed. I received one update an hour ago telling me that he went under with no problems and the surgery is going as predicted. I will probably be here another hour or two before I see him, and praying for no complications, along with many of our family and friends. Thanks for all the support and looking forward to keep you all update on our good news.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the wonderful post! Don't worry for a minute about Emily. She missed you, but she's fine. ;) So happy for you and Kenny!