The surgery takes place in two days. My dad and I went in for our pre-op physicals today. It was much easier for me than it was for him.
I had eight vials of blood drawn. (As usual, I didn’t watch.) Dad had eleven drawn. This is, in part, to reconfirm the match.
Dad and I got some lovely, matching hospital jewelry. The orange one can come off. The red one stays until the day of surgery, unless I want them to re-draw those eight vials of blood.
I was informed (again) of the risks and benefits of kidney donation, as well as my options.
“You know that if you want to back out for any reason, your dad can remain on the transplant list and may receive a kidney from an unknown donor.”
Thanks, but no. I’m going for it!
I signed lots of paperwork and agreed to be part of a research study which means three more vials of blood will be drawn the day of surgery (and I still won’t watch.) I was presented with a lemony cocktail for consumption the night before surgery for the purpose of… you know…. cleaning out the intestines.
A resident who appeared to have recently graduated from the eighth grade reviewed my family health history and confirmed with me that I don’t have an illegal drug habit. I was tempted to tell him I just gave up my meth habit a few weeks ago in preparation for the surgery, but decided this wasn’t the time for such jokes.
After talking with the resident, we were told that it would be forty-five minutes or so before the surgeon was ready to see me, so Mark and I went down to the lobby and enjoyed lunch together in a little restaurant. My dad, meanwhile, was still being poked and prodded and couldn’t take a break.
After lunch, we met with the surgeon who will remove my kidney. I immediately felt comfortable with him and felt a sense of confidence in his ability. He told us he was old enough to have made all the mistakes and young enough to remember not to make them again. Tears threatened to fall when Mark asked him to make sure he brought me back to him. The surgeon promised he would.
That’s all there was to it for me. After shaking hands with the surgeon, we sat down in the waiting room to wait for my mom and dad as Dad’s physical was finally completed. Next, we walked with my parents to another office where my dad would meet with his surgeon. As we waited for my dad to be called in, my mom divulged that they had been told this would be a very high risk surgery for my dad. I had assumed this. Dad has had heart problems. But apparently, no one had made it clear to my parents just how much of a risk this would be. My mom didn’t have a chance to say anything more before Dad was called in for his appointment.
I sat, contemplating the worry that had been in my mom’s voice and wondered if I had even underestimated how serious this will be for my dad. While we waited, the receptionist came over and asked if we would tell my dad that he would not be finished after this appointment as anticipated. He was wanted upstairs again. My head began to fill with fearful thoughts. I was sure that something in his tests today would make it impossible for him to have the surgery. I prayed about everything and anything I could think of… for an ease to my parents’ fear, for skilled surgeons, strength within my dad’s body. You name it, I prayed it.
When my parents finished with the surgeon, we told them Dad had to go back upstairs and we got back on the elevator, heading for the transplant clinic once again. We waited to be told what was next and I had a few minutes to ask my mom more about how the “high risk” warning made them feel. She told me that it is a risk dad is willing to take. He can either continue to live in misery or take a chance at a better quality life by having the transplant. I felt better knowing there was no question in my parents’ minds.
We were soon met by a woman named Rose who told Dad they simply wanted an EKG and chest x-ray and we had to go to another building. My mom was worn out by this time and needed to rest, so I told Dad I’d go with him. It was a long walk… too much for my dad’s arthritic legs and we had to stop a couple times before we finally got there. The EKG went quickly and I enjoyed a friendly chat with Rose while we waited. After the EKG, Rose walked us to the hospital for the chest x-ray and that’s where we parted ways with her.
Dad and I sat for a couple of minutes before he was called in for his x-ray. He told me he was scared.
“I know,” I said. I had no other words. I wanted to offer him strength and confidence. I wanted to remind him that his God, in whom he has always had so much faith, would be with him; with us. I didn’t know how to say the words. They wouldn’t come. So I just sat with my arm in his and hoped he knew what I wanted to say but couldn’t.
The x-ray took only a few minutes and finally we were back in my parents’ van and heading for home, Mark behind the wheel, me in the passenger seat, navigating, and my parents in the back, holding hands and talking quietly. I sensed their readiness. I felt at ease in my own. It’s all in God’s hands now.