Kidney Transplant - A Caregiver's Dose of Reality
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.
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