Tuesday 2nd March 20.30
Just my luck after a day out and about with the kids shopping and a large mixed kebab I was feeling worn out had a bad stomach and had dragged myself upstairs to the bedroom. Rather than go down again I decided to stay upstairs. My wife had called up to me she was going to work but then walked up the stairs and kissed me before she left for her night shift. I had been lying on the bed and started to watch a program about customs in Australia. I was remembering my eldest daughters trip to Australia, and wondering if I would ever be well enough to travel again.
The home phone rang at 20.30 and my immediate thought was it is the kids wanting me to referee one of their arguments or it is Liz to say she had forgot something. The voice on the phone was not the one I expected it was a voice that I knew and Could place immediately, hello Mark how are you? This is one of the transplant coordinators at Harefields Hospital we have the offer of a possible set of lungs.
The words hung in my mind for a second or two,”I have to call my wife as she has gone to work”,I said it will take a while for her to get home. She told me she would call me back in fifteen minutes .
I rang Liz on the phone no answer then rang again,” What!!”she said. We have had a call to go to Harefields. Liz realized what that meant and said she would ring the Hospital and come back. The coordinator rang back and asked if there were any problems with me, I told her about my bad guts and she said she would talk with the surgeon and get back to me in another fifteen minutes. I started to go thought the process that I had done on a few occasions and pack the bag up with anything I would need and collect my medication,my heart was racing and I had butterflies in my stomach, the kids were shocked Amy son was reassuring me but my daughter was in shock and crying. I told them to try to calm down and talk to me my daughter sat down for a while on the bed and I tried to comfort her.
No matter how many times you go though this is still is a shock when it happens and I found myself shaking and having problems focusing my thoughts Then Liz got back and the kids ran to meet her for emotional support. The coordinator rang back to say that they were happy for me to come so we all sorted ourselves out with what we needed and got in the car for the now familiar journey to Harefields Hospital. Out into the night I looked around at people going about on their evenings business and felt very disconnected and separated from normality. The journey took less time than I thought it would, soon we were pulling into the hospital ground to the sound of Wish you were here by Pink Floyd.
We went to the same ward that we had been to on the last visit and were shown into a room to wait for the process of checking and writing to start. This started quite quickly with the doctor turning up and removing bloods and inserting a canular in my arm with great skill. Then the forms and checks started and the transplant coordinator turned up and told us that they had a young donor waiting to be checked and she would let us know in a while what was happening.
The Nurse turned up and took my Temperature, Pulse, Blood pressure, and Oxygen saturation. The temperature was up to 37.6 slightly up from normal. I recognized him as the same Nurse who had shaved me on a previous visit ,swabs were done and then things started to progress quite quickly the Doctor who took the bloods did a history.
Then the surgeon turned up went though the ifs and maybes of the operation while the kids listened and I thought they will be really worried as the tone concentrated on the possible negatives.
I was told that I could suffer stroke, esophageal damage, bleeding, nerve damage in my back from epidural, organ rejection, general infection or chest infection ,kidney damage and the possibility of tracheotomy and protracted stay in intensive care.” But most patients do well and don't have these things happen and do well” he said this seemed slightly less reassuring after the list he had been though. So I signed the form as it seemed like quite a good deal given the alternatives ,ie None, slow progressing to disability and Death.
After he had got my signature I went of for a X ray and returned quickly to the ward to talk with the anesthetist who was much more positive and upbeat about the operation. Unfortunately a question had been raised by my temperature spike and this was to return with a vengeance upon the reporting of my white cell reading.
The surgeon who had been talking with us returned with a face that indicated he was not bearing good news sure enough the results were not good. I had a elevated white blood cell count that combined with the raise in temperature and upset stomach indicated there may be a problem developing and the decision had been reached that I was not fit enough to transplant that night. He said he was sorry about the decision but I was gutted!! Gradually I could feel myself sinking down to earth from the ceiling where I had been drifting while the process had been going on .I put my head in my hands as he told me it would be good for me to stay in till the next day so they could investigate my problem.
I asked him to confirm there would be no transplant as it wouldn't sink in I had taken the dangerous step of thinking that things were going to proceed which I shouldn't have and I was finding my way back to the land of the maybes hard.
After he had left I talked with Liz and decided that I would return home and see my GP and get some rest in a familiar environment as I knew that I wouldn't be able to rest at Harefields.
We left at 1.30am after talking with the transplant coordinator who said she would ring me at the end of the week to see how I got on she asked if I wanted a break but I said no and we got home at 2.33am to a quieter village than we left from the night before.