Friday, 21 March 2014

17 days and it happened!! Transplant story pt1

22nd of February 2014, 11.55pm home phone rings. I'm literally climbing into bed so Glen picks up the phone in a huff. (gruff voice) 'Hello...... uh, yea I'll just get her'... And my life is forever changed!

The moment the phone started ringing, I knew what was happening. It was MY call. Glen came into the bedroom, meeting me in the doorway, passed me the phone and said it's 'Paul, the transplant co-ordinator from Papworth'. Me "I know". Now, I didn't know exactly it was Paul (at this point I didn't even know Paul) but I knew it was the tx team. (I have to say now, a LOT has happened, I've had a LOT of drugs and my memory is shoddy at the best of times, so if I get things in the wrong order or slightly different to how it really happened I'm sorry, I'm trying to piece it all together in my head still)

Paul " Hi Karen, this is Paul from the transplant team. I don't think we've met yet, but we soon will. We think we have some lungs for you. We're organising an ambulance car to come out to you, it should be with you within an hour so you don't need to panic. I suggest you pack some overnight things and your tablets and get whoever you want to ride in the car with you ready.... (stunned silence from me)... it's ok to be scared, go on, have a swear if you want.... how do you feel?"

Me " I'm not much of a swearer... oh my god. I don't know what to think... what should I pack" Meanwhile Glen was floating about the doorway and started mouthing 'should I call your mum?' I nodded and he scooted off to call her from his mobile.

Paul went on to explain that the team was just starting out on their journey to where the donor was to assess the lungs. Initial reports were that they were good and the team were hopeful that this would be a go-er. He told me to keep calm and he'd meet us when the ambulance arrived. If there were any updates between that time he would call me.

I came off the phone and just dropped the F Bomb in Glen's face... it just came out! It didn't make me feel any better but it just slipped out. We hugged for what felt like minutes but was probably only a few seconds. I couldn't stand still. I reasoned I should probably get changed out of my PJs so that was my first job. Glen made it his mission to find me an overnight bag. Those jobs down I knew I needed my tablets sorting and some overnight stuff. The drug cupboard got ransacked and emptied into a baggie then I sat in front of my PJ drawer. I must have sat there for 5-10 minutes just picking up 1 set then another. All of a sudden picking just the right set of pajamas for after the operation seemed the most important thing in the world. I couldn't possibly come out of the operation and wear the wrong set! How warm would I be? Would I want long or short sleeves, cotton or fleecy? I didn't feel suitably advised to make this decision! (Looking back, this was my mind having it's meltdown trying to process the phone call and the situation... and I don't think I picked the right set given all my deliberation!!)

Mum arrived, we hugged. (No-one had cried at this point, which looking back I'm quite surprised!) We discussed whether I should call Dad yet, but we figured it would be best to wait until the ambulance was here as I knew from other people's experiences, you can get a call to say its not going ahead at any time. Seeing as he lives over and hour from me we figured it was best to wait until we were on our way before disturbing him.

I got everything in my bag that I thought I would need, then realised I wanted a picture of Glen and Judy for by my bed for when I woke up. This upset me, as it was something I was going to get done specially. Coming so out the blue I didn't have a picture so we then had to hunt for separate pics for me to take. Luckily I had one of each that got put in my bag.

We then realised that with mum and Glen coming up with me (and the potential of being up there a LONG time) we had an issue with all our dogs. I was in no state to think about things, so mum and Glen figured it all out. Mum went to our next door neighbour (who luckily had only just got home so we didn't have to worry about waking them up) with both our key and her door key. She explained what was happening and said that someone would be round in the morning to get the keys so they could sort out all the dogs. The neighbours were rightfully shocked but happy to help.

Around 1am the ambulance car arrived. Mum and I got in and Glen drove my car so we had means of getting home. The lady was having issues with the sat nav (she was new to this area too so wasn't too sure of where to head) As we went to leave our estate, Glen turned left as you should, but she turned right. a minute later Glen was phoning to find out why we'd gone the other way. I said the sat nav was taking us a different way to the A12, just go the normal way and we'd meet him there. Turns out the sat nav was playing silly buggers so she switched to using her i phone and we went via Chelmsford and Stansted before heading to Papworth! Scenic, but not the time or situation to be enjoying looking at the stars through the sunroof.

I called Dad to let him know. He was pretty damn surprised to have me calling him around 1.30am on a Sunday morning... he asked what I wanted (normally I would have been daft and said just a chat or something) I firstly told him I wasn't drunk and it was something big. I explained and he said he'd get himself sorted to leave, but wouldn't leave until we had arrived at the hospital and knew more.

Around 2.30am mum and I arrived at the hospital and things started to feel real. Glen was only about 5 minutes behind us so I didn't panic too much. We found our way in and was met by a blue scrubbed man (Paul) he knew who I was and guided us up to the ward and into a side room right away. I said Glen was just parking up so would need guiding up, off mum went to find him. Paul explained I would need to have some bloods done, do a urine sample and do a few other little checks. The tx team were with the donor and assessing them. They would know more within the hour.

I had the bloods done and started being prepped by the nurses etc. Around 3.30-4am Paul came back looking pleased. He said the lungs were looking great, and they were now on the way to us at Papworth. It was going ahead! He estimated that I would go down around 5am. I called Dad and told him to get here asap. He estimated he'd arrive around 5am too.

4.30am I gowned up, and did the obligatory thumbs up photo with Glen. I figured I needed to broach the negative scenario and explained a couple of songs I wanted and what I wanted people to wear! That negative side over, we fell into silence.

4.55am having spoken with the anaesthetist and surgeon etc and everything been accepted and signed Paul came in with a wheelchair and said it was time. I hugged mum then Glen. Told them both I loved them and would see them soon (still no tears!) Got in the chair and was wheeled out the room. We went past the nurses station and they all smiled and wished me luck and said they looked forward to seeing me back on the ward after. We went down the corridor and turned into the theatre area. At this point I was more shocked to see it was the same place that I'd had my peg done last year... as we were going through the maze of corridors it was all so familiar because I ended up in the exact same theatre room! I got into the prep room and hopped up onto the bed. A moment or two later Paul came back in and told me my dad had just arrived, did I want to see him. I said I was happy to, but as the team were already attaching wires and all sorts I said it might freak him out too much so probably not (the team looked relieved as I think they wanted to get on and didn't want to wait for a family moment!) he asked if I had a message and all I could think of was 'I'll see you when I wake up' hardly profound, but it was the best I could do! They took my glasses off me, and I don't remember any more!!

Just before I was taken away!