Monday, November 29, 2010

Settling In

We arrived at the airport in Burlington on Tuesday night to a crowd of 20 smiling faces with signs, balloons, flowers, and hugs! It was a wonderful greeting from family, homeschooling friends, and church family! Thank you to those of you who came out on a late night and to those of you who wanted to come, but couldn't make it. What a sweet surprise!

Samuel had to be up at the hospital on Wednesday morning for labs and to check in with the doctor. The morning stretched out as we visited and shared our exciting news with friends at the hospital.

Despite his original intentions, Samuel wasn't up for a road trip on Thursday morning so half of us stayed home and the other half traveled to southern Vermont for Thanksgiving. I was very sorry to miss the time with extended family, but Lydia and I managed to throw together a respectable Thanksgiving dinner and we enjoyed a fun evening of card games and Wii. By the way, among the traveling group was Hannah. She is doing great and healing up well!

It was great to be back fellowshipping with our dear church family on Sunday. So many have been praying. What a testament of God's faithfulness to see Samuel walking into church! I'm only sorry Samuel's smiling face was hidden behind the mask he has to wear for a season while out in public. He only lasted through the first half of the service, but it was wonderful to have him there at all.

This morning I wept for joy and then cheered, screamed, and chased Samuel around the kitchen for a hug when I realized it was Monday and we didn't have to go to the hospital for dialysis! Oh, what a relief! What a joy!

Please continue to pray for us as we settle into a new normal. There is processing, adjusting, restoring, reordering, and cleaning that needs to be done after living in varying degrees of survival mode for 3 1/2 years. Lots of work ahead, but by God's grace we will take it slow and make it through!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

We're heading home!

Samuel and Hannah have had a few days to recuperate and get used to their new bodies plus and minus kidneys. They weren't up to doing much, but we made a point to get them out of the hotel room at least once a day for a walk. We found a nearby cinema with 24 movie theaters and learned that tickets are not expensive if you go before noon. That was just their speed so we went a couple times. Shuffle in, sit for a couple hours, shuffle out.

Samuel has also developed a hankering for Whataburgers and mango smoothies from Panera. Smoothie and burger runs have been an almost daily activity. Add to the schedule lots of naps, the history channel, and some dinners out and you've got a pretty good idea how they've spent the last few days.

Yesterday in clinic Samuel and Hannah both got official clearance to head home! Labs are good, incisions are healing. To celebrate, we decided to drive into downtown San Antonio. Along the way, Samuel needed a snack so, of course, we had to stop at Whataburger. Up until now, we had only been using the drive-through, so yesterday's visit inside an actual Whataburger restaurant was a big event. We all sat and took great pleasure in watching Samuel enjoy food!

Here is Samuel schmoozing with the Whataburger manager. We'll have to make one more trip to Whataburger today before we leave town because the manager gave Samuel a voucher for a free burger and you sure won't find a Whataburger in the Northeast!

We eventually made it downtown and did some shopping at the Market Square and had a late lunch at a Mexican restaurant, Mi Tierra. We had the full experience complete with Mariachis singing at our table!

We also went to the bakery at Mi Tierra and got a box of traditional Mexican goodies for the dialysis nurses back home. It's not chocolate, but hopefully they'll still enjoy the treats! I can't believe I actually got the box into my suitcase!

Well, I still have some things to do before we head out. Can't wait to see the other kiddos! We are scheduled to land in Burlington at 10:30 tonight.

If you don't hear from me for a few days, you should assume that all is well. We are coming home and jumping into a busy schedule. Samuel has an appointment up at the hospital with Dr. Guillot bright and early Wednesday morning and, of course, that will include a visit with his beloved dialysis nurses! Then those in our family who are able and available will be driving down to Brattleboro on Thursday to celebrate Thanksgiving with family. It truly will be a celebration! We have so much to be thankful for!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Lydia!

Today my baby turned 13! What a lovely young woman she is becoming! I know Lydia is being well-cared for and loved on by family and friends (thanks, everyone!), but it is hard not to be there to celebrate with her.

While not a member of our family's kidney club, Lydia has suffered in other ways through our kidney adventure. She was 9 years old when this craziness started. I am trusting that the Lord will use these difficulties in her life just as He is doing in mine and Tom's and Katie's and Samuel's and Esther's and....

Happy Birthday, dear Lydia! You are loved!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hallelujah, He's Out!

Samuel was discharged from the hospital this afternoon, only five days after receiving a new kidney! To see him walking around, laughing, eating, and teasing his sister, you would never guess that he just had surgery. It is unbelievable! Hannah is a little envious of Samuel's newfound energy.

Samuel and Amanda, the exchange coordinator, say goodbye as Samuel checks out of the hospital.

Today just happens to be my birthday and I couldn't have asked for a better gift! The more we learn about Samuel's sensitivity level, his chances of finding a match, this exchange, and how it came about that Samuel was included, the more we are in awe of what the Lord has done! What a miracle! What a gift! We are so thankful!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

One out, one to go!

After beginning the day feeling like she was going to die, twelve hours later Hannah checked out of the hospital!! She is now settled comfortably in the hotel and is looking forward to a night of uninterrupted sleep.

Much to Samuel's dismay, we had to leave him and Tom behind in the hospital. The "problem" is that he is feeling too well and doesn't think he needs to be in the hospital. The lab results confirm his progress. His creatinine this morning was........wait for it........1.1! That puts him in the normal range for people with two kidneys!

Samuel has had enough of the foley catheter. It is really bothering him and he wants it out - now! He is scheming of ways to bust out of the hospital. His nurse assured him today that the doctors will not let him leave before day #5.

We'll be doing our best to keep Samuel distracted for the next couple days. Grandpa Ed is doing his part by teaching Samuel how to play poker!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

His Mercies Are New Every Morning

It has been a great day so far! After a few rocky hours last night, Samuel's fever went away sometime in the wee hours of the morning. When I came down to see him at 7:30, he was sitting up in a chair looking fantastic. By 8:30 he was moved up to the transplant floor. At 9:30 he had a bowl of rice krispies. By 11:30 he had walked the loop around the floor two times on his own initiative. At 12:30 he ate a hamburger! By 2:00 he had done three more laps. All this in less than 24 hours after getting out of surgery! Unbelievable!! But wait, there's more....his creatinine was 2.4 this morning!

Hannah is feeling like she got hit by a train and is having some pain from the leftover carbon dioxide that was used to inflate her abdomen. Her foley catheter was removed and her IV was disconnected, though not removed from her hand. Those changes are making it easier for her to get around. She still has a tiny catheter inserted into her incision that is delivering some steady pain relief to the surgical site.

Samuel was determined to visit Hannah before she visited him, so as he was being transferred from the ICU to the transplant floor, he took a little detour to the 5th floor to surprise Hannah. Amanda Weichold, our wonderful exchange coordinator here in Texas, happened to be there with Hannah and we all had a nice visit.

Hannah later returned the visit and claimed the title of the first to walk to visit the other. That's Tom's cousin, Nancy Copeland Kelley on the left. Another cousin, Katherine Copeland Blume is pushing the back-up wheelchair and following behind. Both ladies arrived yesterday afternoon to join in the fun.

Here are my two amazing children. You would never guess from looking at them that they had both just had surgery.

News of the historic paired exchange is spreading. A local TV reporter, Wendy Rigby at KENS5, interviewed Samuel while he was in pre-op yesterday. Her story was carried by our Burlington station, WCAX. This morning at breakfast in the hotel, family members were surprised to see a clip on CNN.

Samuel's only compliant about the video was that he thought he had said a lot of great things about the exchange, but they only included him saying, "I think it's really cool." He was also disappointed that they didn't include his shout out to his dialysis buddy, Josh. :)

If you haven't seen the video, here is a link you can copy and paste.

This exposure is great! The more people who know about the option of paired exchange, the better! Let's get a kidney for Josh and Molly and Chelsea and Stephanie and Mary and Katie G. These are just a few of the 87,000+ people who are waiting.

If you would like more information about becoming a living donor for someone who needs a kidney, please find the nearest transplant center and give them a call.

If you are in Vermont or northern New York state, you can call the toll-free donor hotline at Fletcher Allen Health Care. The number is 877-467-5102.

It could make a world of difference for someone who is waiting.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Small hurdle

Samuel has a fever that is making him restless and more uncomfortable. It is likely a reaction to an immunosuppressant drug that was given during the transplant. They are doing blood and urine cultures just to eliminate other possible sources. He is still getting great output from the new kidney. Hopefully, some time and some Tylenol will help with the fever.

Some rest probably wouldn't hurt either. We are all in need of a good night's sleep.