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Last but not LEAST

I have my very last appointment on Thursday (2-8-07) and then I've completed all of my requirements for a transplant.  Of course I saved the "best" (NOT!) for last, and put off my visit with the hoo-hoo doctor for my regular annual PAP/well-woman exam.  Darn I hate those visits!  If all goes as planned then my case will be presented to the transplant board within the month, and if all THAT goes good, then we'll be ready to schedule my transplant by March.  I'm thinking I'll probably schedule it for May so my son will be visiting his dad for summer break while I'm in the hospital.  That way I don't have to worry about him while worrying about myself, and of course my brother, who will be my living donor.

I'm getting excited at this point - a new kidney!  Three years on dialysis has taught me a lot about myself and about life and I think I'm as ready as I could ever be for a transplant.  I am glad I waited for a time, though, even if some others don't understand why... it was my decision, anyway.

I'm most looking forward to feeling not so tired all the time so I can spend more time (and energy) with my son.  I feel he's missed out (me too) on so much with me having kidney troubles all his life and for so many years before.  I will always have to be mindful of my kidney(s) and I know a transplant is no cure - but I'm hoping it will buy me a lot more time to feel better and be with my son.  I also want to travel more (I still travel a lot in the US but not overseas on dialysis) and go back to places like Ukraine, Poland and Germany.  I'd also like to take a vacation to Hawaii and actually feel well enough to enjoy it (the last time I was there I felt miserable).   And, I can't forget all the things I want to have the energy to do with Ken, too ;)

Its getting closer.  It makes me anxious and excited all at the same time...

Power Failure! @ Saturday Dialysis in Flagstaff, AZ

I had a unique dialysis experience at today's treatment... something that has never happened to me before during any treatment, anywhere! The electricity went out and stayed out for about five minutes. A nurse was standing right by my machine when everything went dark so she handed me the hand crank and went running off to help other patients. All the nurses ran around like crazy making sure everyone was OK (everyone was.) I've never had to hand-crank my machine, before, not even during any of our hurricanes in Florida! "Hand cranking" is one of those things every patient knows how to do in case of emergency, (or at least they should know) but actually doing it was something else. It was an interesting few minutes, but I wasn't too worried. It was a little hard to hand-crank and gave my left arm a bit of a workout, but I could've kept at it for another half-hour if need be. When the 'lectricity came back on my machine wouldn't re-boot or ever power on - everyone else's came back on just fine. The nurses had to unplug the machine and I think they plugged it into a completely different outlet before it would come back on. Everything recovered and the machine (thankfully) hadn't lost all my treatment settings during the outage. No one ever did figure out why the power went - it was a beautiful sunny day, today and not storming.

Other than the power outage, today's treatment @ the Flagstaff Dialysis unit went much better than the previous two. As soon as I arrived they took me to my chair and I didn't have to wait even a minute in the waiting room. There was a slight hickup about what dose of Benadryl is prescribed for me - I discovered why the last two treatment's Benadryl did next to nothing for the itching... they had only given me half a dose! Today, however, I called my nurse back home and she talked to the charge nurse in Flagstaff and then faxed over a copy of my doctor's orders. Also, it seemed that all the 'good nurses' must've been working today because I didn't feel so unsure of my treatment.

I also met a few more patients today. A nice older lady sat next to me and we chatted at the end of my treatment. She has 6 kids and 36 grandkids! She also shared with me that she had just been approved for a transplant and that her son-in-law was going to be her living donor. I told her about my transplant journey, too. I also saw Ed and talked with him for a few minutes - he is such a character! I look forward to seeing him every year.

I had driven myself to my treatment today using Ken's mom's truck and of course I made a "wrong turn" on the way back and ended up on the freeway. Ugh. That particular part of freeway doesn't have another exit for quite a ways so it took me awhile to get back home... I wasn't lost, just temporarily misplaced.

My last dialysis here in Flagstaff will be on Tuesday. We fly home Thursday and my first treatment at home will be Friday.

Yes, it really does snow in Arizona (here's proof)

I love Flagstaff... and I hope you'll enjoy looking at a few of our vacation/holiday pictures :) If you're interested in the entire set, you can find it on Flickr HERE.


Thursday Dialysis - Flagstaff, AZ

Flagstaff Dialysis

My Thursday treatment didn't go much better than Tuesday. I showed up right on time, about 15 after 11, but still waited in the lobby until 12:30 before I went to sit down. Twice someone came out to say everything was almost ready and then something else would come up. I had a chance to meet and talk with another patient in the waiting room - she'd been there for two hours waiting for her regular treatment. I was also told that no one could find my paperwork, AGAIN, and that had I left a phone number with them on Tuesday they would've called me in to come in sooner - DOH! I left them my phone numbers on Tuesday... but they couldn't find them? Sheesh.

The treatment itself was not too bad, I was a little light-headed at the end. The elevation here kinda hits me hard (7,500 feet vs. sea-level @ home) and makes me short of breath. I was offered oxygen but didn't bother since I only had about fifteen minutes left by that point.

I guess my advice to anyone who travels on dialysis is to be able to remain calm when things don't go as planned. Also, plan extra time for everything (including waiting) since you will be the "new guy" and on the low-rung of priorities.

Two treatments left... Time to go play in the snow!

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