This article represents the second installment of a multi-part series documenting one woman's unexpectant journey from daughter to full time caregiver. The series records the roller coaster of emotions a family caregiver experiences when roles are suddenly reversed.
"Kidney Transplant Experience---Part 2" By Teresa
Mom was discharged from the hospital after just a few days following kidney transplant surgery. We were all amazed at her progress and reassured by the lack of any complications. On the way to a local hotel, where mom planned to continue her recuperation, we stopped for a celebration dinner. Mom was surprisingly quite hungry. After a huge meal, we checked into the hotel and mom promptly turned in for the evening, finally exhausted. I got us organized, unpacked and set up all the medications that were to be administered at precise intervals. I reviewed multiple binders of detailed care instructions provided by the hospital. The visiting RN stopped by for a brief visit, took vitals and confirmed that all was on track. I finally retired for the evening, feeling great about how smoothly things were going.
At around 2AM, mom awoke with major gastrointestinal distress. The ensuing mess was beyond description and something I never planned for! I was not equipped for a major clean-up effort so I was forced to hit the local 24 hr. drug store for supplies. Mom and I had our first post surgery disagreement over the use of "Depends". For the first time I realized the magnitude of what I had taken on.
The next day was spent keeping track of the numerous meds mom needed to take in order to prevent infection and to keep her system from rejecting the new organ. My organization skills were certainly tested. While mom slept most of the time, I was busy getting ready for the next pill dose or trying to figure out what food she could tolerate.
Our first follow-up appointment was scheduled for a Monday morning. It was exhausting just getting mom ready to go out....personal care tasks, medication administration, breakfast. I never imagined that I would have to assist my mom with hygiene tasks but here I was. Just as we were about to get into the car, mom passed out on the parking lot, collapsing in my arms. After getting some help from some other hotel guests, off to the hospital we went. It was then that the thought occurred to me that my dad never could have coped with all of this. He simply was not equipped emotionally or physically at his age to handle the amount of care mom needed. At the hospital, staff confirmed that she was a little dehydrated and after some infusions would be fine.
While meeting with the transplant coordinator we learned that the kidney donor had been a 4 year old little girl. Her generous parents donated her kidneys and heart. We were overwhelmed by their compassion. We left the hospital and returned to our hotel feeling grateful and optimistic.
Home Care for Atlanta Seniors | Easy Living Services
Teresa, friend of Easy Living Services, recounts her journey from daughter to caregiver in the following multi-part series. Teresa found herself suddenly and unexpectantly thrust into the role of primary caregiver for her mother who had undergone a successful kidney transplant procedure. Theresa experienced the roller coaster ride of worry, fatigue, stress along with personal satisfaction that family caregivers often experience.
"Kidney Transplant Experience...Becoming a Caregiver" By: Teresa
My mother's kidney disease had reached a critical point and doctors agreed that a transplant was essential. I was prepared to serve as a donor but my physician determined that it would have a negative impact on my own health Her only option was to be placed on the national transplant list and wait for a suitable kidney. We felt fortunate that mom was even eligible for a donated kidney due to her advanced age of 79 years. She remained on the list for almost 1 year. On January 25, 2012 she received the call that my family had been anxiously awaiting! A match had been identified! My parents traveled to the transplant hospital and prepped for immediate surgery.
The surgery went smoothly. We were all amazed at how quickly Mom recovered and how great she looked. The posted photo was taken one day after the surgery. The transplant team planned to discharge her 3 days following surgery and recommended that she stay in a nearby hotel where she would receive daily RN visits. Dad insisted that he serve as Mom's primary caregiver.
I had reservations about Dad taking on the role of post surgical caregiver from the beginning. My Dad was in good health at the time but was 80 years old. I was concerned about the stress that he would face in taking care of all of her physical needs and managing the strict medication regimen that had been ordered. Reluctantly, I left Dad in charge at the hospital and went to handle some logistics. I didn't plan to return until discharge day. It turns out that my concerns about Dad were well founded. I received a panicked phone call from him shortly after my departure. He was overwhelmed, in pain from a gout flare up and his blood pressure was sky high. Dad was wisked away to the ER for an evaluation and I found a new full time role, mom's caregiver!
Three days following surgery, as planned, Mom was discharged and we moved into a nearby hotel to continue recuperating. Look how fantastic she looks in this second photo taken at discharge time. I was optimistic. Mom was doing great; caring for her would be a breeze...
Home Care for Atlanta Seniors | Easy Living Services