How do you start off a blog you've been waiting, hoping but never quite thinking you'd be able to write?
I want to shout it from the rooftops "I GOT MY TRANSPLANT!!!" but that seems obvious, but I DID, I actually went and got my transplant!
So lets set the scene for you: It's 4:30 am on a lovely Saturday morning I have just finished a evening of revising, probably the only decent bit of revising I had done for a week if I'm being completely honest with you all, I decide it's probably time for bed I shut my eyes and the next thing I know it's exactly 5:00am and a weird mobile number is ringing me. I'm going to let you process that a mobile number. I miss it because I think "Oh it's just a mobile number" next thing I know is I hear the ping that tells me I have a voicemail and then in my brain I just know what it is. I listen to the voicemail and it says "Hi it's Helen from Papworth, we have a match Stacie, you need to ring me back as soon as possible please" Well we can all imagine my thought process at this point it involved a lot of swearing. I ring her back and she tells me I have 30 minutes probably less to get ready for the ambulance and I Have to be there by 8am.
Okay so in all my previous false alarms I have never been told I have to be there by a certain time they just say they're sending a car and I get there when I get there. I shout to my mum that I have just had my transplant call and she gets mad at me because she's just about to start washing or ironing or something and then what does she decide to do? Jump in the shower :D It was really funny. I do my usual make sure I've got all my stuff meds in case it doesn't happen phone, kindle that kind of stuff that I know I'm going to want when we're waiting. I call Bernice who doesn't answer, Kath who does, gina who doesn't and text various other people message people and prepare my Facebook status.
Whilst on the way I think I called Bernice about a million times and eventually I got hold of her I also posted my Facebook status which read:
Okay... so... I'm kind of on my way to Papworth. In the sort of way that I potentially may be getting my transplant. We are going to be calm and rational people though, okay? We're going to deal with this like it's a false alarm. So no getting our hopes up okay? Just keep those fingers, toes and everything crossed and more importantly just hope that I don't have to go 24hours without eating like last time that was a form of torture I'm sure "
Now me and mum could feel this one was different, we were being blue lighted there which hadn't really happened before and I could just feel it but I refused to get peoples hopes up especially my own. So I was just saying to myself it's another false alarm and mum was going "Well at least this is you false alarm for the year" LOL, only mother haha. I was texting people because I had forgotten the nausea inducing anxiety riddled person I become when these things happen and was basically saying how fucking petrified I was.
When we got to the hospital it was the usual, bloods, ECG, lots of paperwork and the waiting didn't even seem that long, they told us we wouldn't hear anything till about noon and in hospital speak that means about 1 or 1:30 next thing I know it's about 1:35 and David my transplant co-ordinator comes in with a wheelchair and says
"EXCUSE ME?! WHAT?! To theatre?!"
"Yep time to go..."
"Do I have time to ring anyone?"
Luckily at this point David had lost a piece of paperwork and it literally gave me one minute to ring Bernice and Kath both calls lasted exactly 26 seconds each and I basically just yelled down the phone
"It's happening, it's happening, it's happening" and "I love you."
I knew mum would ring everyone else that needed to know and Candice would let everybody else know but Me, Bernice and Kath have been on a very long journey together and I felt like I had to be the one to tell them. Next thing I know I'm in a wheelchair saying goodbye to my mum at the doors to theatre where she can't go. I don't cry here but I'm petrified, the most scared I have ever been in my entire life and I'm doing it by myself with just a man by my side that I don't know that well. I lay on the table I grip onto David's hand for dear life (I'm later told that I nearly broke his hand lol) I cry my eyes out and tell him "You need to talk to my mum because she's by herself" and that's the last thing I remember.
So the Surgery.... I obviously haven't got much of a clue as to what happened whilst I was under so can only relay the information I was told. My surgery only lasted around 6 to 6 and half hours which is very, very good. I'm told my lungs were in much worse condition than originally anticipated and that therefore meant they couldn't bring the heart and lungs out in a block like they normally like to and basically pulled my lungs out in bits, this freaks me out a bit because how much longer would they have lasted?! My heart however was a bit better than expected but still obviously in need of a transplant. The surgery went smoothly and I went to ITU/Critical care. I was kind of a star patient I managed to come off of everything really smoothly, I don't remember a thing the first thing I remember is eating jelly and ice-cream and drinking coke which apparently I was lucid enough to request diet coke as we all know full fat coke is gross! I'm led to believe this was Sunday morning. I remember my mum and sister saying "Stacie" a lot because they were trying to keep me awake but honestly guys I think I must have the most boring transplant story in history. I had no hallucinations no horror stories to tell everything just went really smoothly.
|less than 48 hours after my transplant.|
I remember being moved to the less critical part of critical care where things became a little less hazy, I got to eat strawberries which were amazing! I got to stand and walk which was much easier than I had anticipated and I suspect that's because it had been less than 24 hours since I went down.
Something I kind of forgot to mention to people was that I have always recovered well from surgeries, always, and I suppose I never mentioned it because transplant is such a massive operation I thought I'd be down for weeks but I suppose my body was like "Nope, you aren't staying down for long Stacie!" I was on a normal ward within 40 hours of having my transplant.
I would go through every milestone with you guys but it was all so quick. I had 3 of my drains removed pretty much immediately 1 left in just to make sure no more gunk wanted to come out of me. I had my Catheter removed within 24 hours of that due to my stubbornness and refusing to use a commode and I was up and walking unaided within that time too because I just didn't really have the patience to wait for nurses. One thing I must say is Pilates totally worked and working on my core meant I could sit up without having to use my hands and arms which I really think helped me.
My time has kind of become blurred but I know whilst I was on that ward I saw Carla who was kind enough to come visit me, I felt really bad because I missed her Birthday party as it landed on the day my call happened. My doctors told me that Bernice wasn't allowed to see me for at least 2 months due to a certain bug that can be passed between our lungs. I cannot tell you how furious that has made us both! But we're being good and abiding by the rules. Later on the Tuesday I think it was I got moved to a side room because I was potentially "infectious" and this is where I remained for 2 and a bit weeks.
I honestly feel like I'm telling you the most boring story because I have had the smoothest recovery and I'm still just waiting for something to happen because I can't quite believe it. I was running around the ward within days being told off for not wearing slippers even though we all know I'm more unstable in slippers than actually on my own feet. I was eating really well and I've literally had no side affects to any of the drugs except this weird heat thing in my hands which is really hard to describe LOL.
Lots and lots of people messaged me asking me if I felt different and the answer was yes and no because I did in the sense that I just wasn't in pain any more not the crippling pain I was in before transplant. On a day to day basis I ran at a pain scale of 8/9 everyday and that's the thing with chronic pain, you learn to live with it because if you don't it'll take you down and I refused for it ever to do that but when I woke up it just wasn't there anymore so when people found out I was off morphine within hours of having my transplant and just on paracetamol they didn't quite believe it but it's because the pain I was in was absolutely nothing compared to the pain I had been in for years. If anything it was a relief to wake up and not be in that pain anymore. Breathing was hard and I could just tell the bottom parts of them were gunky but I was more than willing to work on it.
I just kept going from strength to strength and I have enjoyed every moment of this experience. I think I was made for transplant either that or I was just so prepared and ready for it to happen that whatever happened I was ready. Being so ill before transplant it's like my body just welcomed the relief of new organs and it's like it's breathing a massive sigh of relief that it doesn't have to carry that burden anymore.
I had so many visitors whilst I was there and I'm so grateful to them all for coming to see me they kept me quite sane where I could possibly have got lonely and bored. My mother was an absolute saint she stayed with me every single day I was there and kept me company, brought me all the Ribena I could ask for and kept me entertained with stories about other patients that she had found out from the people she was staying with. Mum was like a fellow inmate just without the bonus of having a new lease on life that I had currently received I don't know how she managed the 20 days. That's why I love her though she'd do anything just to keep a smile on my face :).
I made friends with literally everyone, the nurses, the matrons, the cook people, the physios, the HCA's especially one particular HCA called Shannon who was just the loveliest person ever and did my hair when it was really gross and I still wasn't allowed a bath, she made me feel a little bit more human. Seeing my transplant doctors every morning was a absolute joy it was just like chatting with friends I think it took them a few days to get used to my chipper self in the mornings but they got there in the end.
I would have been allowed out a week earlier than I did but because I live so far away we thought whats a few extra days in the grand scheme of things and driving back for a biopsy after 2 days just didn't seem like it would be worth it. I had my biopsy though and it showed no rejection and that meant I could officially go home so after 20 days I was officially allowed home.
I have to say thank-you to my older sister Candice for keeping everyone informed over the past few weeks because I know she got a overwhelming amount of messages that I'm only just starting to sift through. My mum as well for literally staying by my side the ENTIRE time I can only imagine how stressed she was the whole time.
I think the biggest thank-you I have to say though is to my donor, they'll never know what they've done for me and the only thing I can ever say is thank-you to them and their family for agreeing to donate their organs. I wish I could say more and for it to really express how thankful and grateful I am but how do you do that?! I think the only way is to try and not disappoint them and live my life to it's now full and unending potential. I just really hope I don't let anyone down.
There is going to be a few more blogposts within the next few days guys but at the moment my concentration skills suck. It's the meds. But there will be more to fill in the gaps like coming home and me going on Good Morning Britain and other exciting things that are happening! So stay tuned!