Diagnosed with ESRD - End Stage Renal Disease in 2010 with 28% kidney function left. In January 2013, it dropped to 5%. Started twice a week Hemodialysis in February. My beautiful and courageous wife, Ninette, came forward willingly to be my donor and we started with the work-up in March. We finally finished everything and got approval 08 July 2013. We had the procedure the 25th of the same month.

Our journey continues...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Setback

Image courtesy of harrisonmedical.org

They woke me at 4 o’clock this morning. A nursing aide with a razor and a towel. So I lay there exposed while she shaved away. She took them all off. This was part of the preparation for my procedure today. They also started an IV line and extracted some blood as well as a finger prick to check my blood sugar. I’m at Cardinal Santos Medical Center where I had an angiogram. A diagnostic procedure to identify obstructions in the arteries of the heart. My cardiologist’s original plan was to do a stenting/angioplasty if they found occlusions. Stenting is an intervention where a splint is placed inside a blood vessel to relieve an obstruction. But since I wasn’t financially ready(see last post) for the cost of an angioplasty, the procedure today was purely diagnostic.

They gave me a Valium at 6:00am just a few moments before they wheeled me out to the cath lab. Upon reaching the procedure room, more preparations were done. I am not sure what they are since the Valium started to take its effect. I remember joking around with Robynne(my niece & today’s hospital companion), telling her I was high. The doctors came and told me that they are hoping the ischemia seen in my recent nuclear profusion imaging stress test was a false positive. 

It was a short procedure. Maybe about half an hour. I was asleep and awake at the same time. I could hear their voices. They did confirm an occlusion, possibly two. They told me that I needed to be brought to hemodialysis. This is due to the dye that was introduced to my bloodstream increased my creatinine levels and needed to be flushed out. So I was brought to the ICU recovery room with a dialysis machine. They packed my groin/femoral area(where the catheter was inserted) with pressure dressing. It was so tightly packed. Like a hand was continuously pressed on the area to stop the bleeding. On top of that, a heavy sandbag was placed on top of the dressing to add pressure. It was so heavy. I felt that my thigh was pinned under a very heavy object. What’s worse, I was given strict instructions not to move that leg... FOR 6 TO 8 HOURS! More than all the preparations, more than all the needle insertions, more than the procedure itself, the 6-hour stay in the recovery room was hell. That sandbag weighed like a log.

The doctors were very kind. I have told them before hand that I could not afford an angioplasty at this point. They told me they would help find alternatives. Maybe arrange the procedure to be done at the Philippine General Hospital(PGH) where it is cheaper. Dr. Rody Sy, my cardiologist, said he will try to seek help from some sources. Dr. Choa(interventional cardiologist) said he was going to talk to the stent supplier to give a discounted price. God bless these compassionate souls. They said that I needed the angioplasty before they could give me clearance for a kidney transplant. 

If the angioplasty will be done, this will set back the schedule for the transplant. Maybe even up to 6 months. After stenting, I would be given blood thinners to make sure that the blockage will not recur in the same area. They will not be able to perform the transplant on someone who is on blood thinners. The transplant will have to wait. That is how it is. We try to do the best we can. But we shall never know what is to come. So one step at a time. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise. Of course I have asked the question, countless times, why me? Why this? Then this again? Countless times. But that is how it is. 

Still ‘round the corner, there may wait, a new door or secret gate. -J.R.R. Tolkien