Wednesday, January 9, 2013

October 10 through 15, 2012 - Feeling the thrill in the hospital

This post will cover the rest of Mom's hospital stay, which started the evening of October 9, 2012.

October 10, 2012 (Wednesday):  My sister Amy posted the following on Facebook this morning, and our cousin Steven shared it on Facebook shortly after that:

My mother, Linda Jennings, has a rare disease called amyloidosis that has affected her liver and has caused chronic kidney disease. WOULD YOU LIKE TO SAVE A LIFE? Here's how . . . There are significant benefits to living kidney donation. Living-donor kidneys tend to work better, and they have a longer projected functional life than deceased-donor kidneys. The procedure to remove the donor kidney is minimally invasive. The donor typically spends 2 - 3 days in the hospital and resumes normal activities in 2 - 3 weeks. Donating a kidney does not cause long-term health problems. If you are considering becoming a kidney donor, don't hesitate for one second. The blessings far outweigh any temporary discomfort! For more info, please go to

Mom had the surgery to insert the permacath around noon today. The permacath is a catheter that is inserted into a blood vessel in the chest, then threaded almost all the way to the heart. This is what they will use for hemodialysis until the fistula is ready to be used. (More on the fistula in the next paragraph.) As soon as she recovered from that surgery she had her first hemodialysis treatment, and she was back in her room before 5:00 PM.

An arteriovenous fistula (AV fistula) is a connection between an artery and a vein that is surgically created for hemodialysis treatments. They typically prefer to put these in the patient's non-dominant arm, which in Mom's case would be her left arm. However, she had a lumpectomy on her left side years ago and isn't supposed to have her blood pressure taken on that arm or have any blood drawn from that arm. The surgeon, Dr. K, came to talk to Mom about it after her dialysis treatment. He said he'd prefer to use her left arm since she's right handed, but they'll do a vein mapping tomorrow to determine which arm is better.

October 11, 2012: My sister Laura posted the same thing on Facebook that Amy had posted yesterday, regarding living kidney donation. Laura and Amy each have over 500 Facebook friends, whereas I barely break 100 (even with three cats and a fully functional R2D2 as friends), so maybe their posts will generate some interest.

The only procedure today was the vein mapping. The tech who did the procedure told Mom the veins in both arms look fine, so it shouldn't be a problem to use either arm. Let's hope the surgeon agrees. Cathy and Laura visited Mom at different times today, and they both said this is the best they've seen her in months.

October 12, 2012: While Mom was in dialysis this morning, she sent me a text message to look up Dialysis At Sea and see if Royal Caribbean has any cruises on their Allure or Oasis ships scheduled for next summer. To back up a bit, we had been talking about taking a cruise next summer (2013) to the Eastern Caribbean, but with Mom going on hemodialysis now we sort of assumed the cruise wasn’t going to happen. All we knew about was a cruise line that caters specifically to dialysis patients. I looked up Dialysis At Sea ( and discovered they have teams of doctors and nurses that go on certain scheduled cruises and do dialysis right there on the ship. Sure enough, they are scheduled to be on a trip to the Eastern Caribbean on Allure, June 23-30, 2013. I texted Mom back, and later in the day Mom told me that she learned about this from her dialysis nurse Friday morning, because she goes as the dialysis staff on some of those cruises. So our cruise next summer may happen after all.

Mom had the surgery to have the AV fistula put in and the peritoneal dialysis catheter removed this afternoon. The surgeon (Dr. K) talked to Laura and Cathy after the surgery and said everything went well. He was very pleased with the results of the fistula surgery, which he ended up doing in her right arm after all.

I went to visit Mom after work. She was initially a little groggy, but not in any pain. I stayed until about 9:45 PM. Before I left, she did ask for some Tylenol for the pain at the site of the fistula.

October 13, 2012 (Saturday): Mom was informed today that she would not be discharged from the hospital before Monday because they don't have her set up with a dialysis clinic yet. So she'll have dialysis in the hospital on Monday and then hopefully be discharged.

Cathy, Cliff and I went to see Mom this afternoon. She had taken a shower and was dressed in street clothes, including a UT football shirt since she was watching the Texas-OU game on TV. (Texas got slaughtered 63-21.) I got to see and feel the site of her fistula. It's on the inside bend of her right elbow. If you put your finger on it like you're checking for a pulse, instead of a pulse you feel what I would describe as a constant "buzz." That's called a thrill, and it's due to the high rate of blood flowing through it, since an artery is connected directly to a vein.

October 14, 2012: This was kind of a lazy Sunday for Mom, since she was just waiting for Monday to arrive so she could have dialysis and be discharged. She did walk up and down the hall in the hospital a little. I tried to tell her how lucky she was to be able to relax and just order room service all weekend. She did not agree.

October 15, 2012 (Monday): Dr. K checked Mom's fistula this morning and said it looked good. She had dialysis this afternoon, and I took her home around 7:15 PM. She was feeling a little light-headed going into her house and had to sit down quickly. I'm expecting her to be tired after dialysis, at least until her body has had time to adjust. But overall she's doing much better than she has in awhile and it's certainly a relief to all of us that she is on dialysis now.

Next up, we'll see how the first week of dialysis at the clinic goes.

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