Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's still exciting to be on call....

Despite the sleep deprivation. I no longer take broken people off helicopters or spend days in the ICU trying to mend them, but being on call when you get a kidney offer is still pretty exciting. Or maybe I just need to get out more.

So, Thursday night into Friday, I get a call around midnight for a kidney offer. The surgeon says we'll take it as long as the biopsy and anatomy are good. For you non-medical types, that means that when they recover the organs, they'll write down if there's any noticeable injuries or disease that might effect its function, along with the size of the kidney and the veins, arteries and ureter. Then they take a chunk (a little chunk) and send it to a lab to be looked at through a microscope by a pathologist, again to see how good the function is. If neither suck, we'll take it. The OR is scheduled for the a.m., so we won't know 'til then. Now I have to call our potential recipient and make him NPO (don't eat or drink).

Then I realize that I've left my on-call book, with the wait list that includes everyone's phone numbers, in my office. So after I tell the hubby, I head on out to the hospital, fortunately only 5 minutes away by car(no, I did NOT ride the bike). Anyway, on my way to the office, I get another offer, this one for a teenager. So I grab the book, leave the office and get another phone call. This time to tell me that the intended teenager recipient does not have a blood sample on file and will need to come in ASAP to give one so that cross matches can be run. They run a blood sample of the recipient against the blood sample from the donor to see if there is any cross reaction to certain antibodies. Folks that are on dialysis have a sample sent every month automatically from their center, but this kid's no on dialysis yet. Plus, there's a special form that needs to be filled out and sent with the specimen to the local OPO and it's only-you guessed it-in my office. Well, maybe there was a reason I had to come in, because I don't routinely have this paper on me(although it's probably not a bad idea). Even if I did, though, this family doesn't have a fax machine, so I'd only have to meet them here anyway.

So what I do instead is head up to the transplant unit, make all my phone calls. I wake up to sleepy and now very excited families and tell them that they may be getting a kidney, not to eat or drink anything from now on except meds with sips of water and I'll call back when I know anything. With the second family I make arrangements to have them come in a few hours from now to give a blood sample. Then I head down to the lab, explain my plight to the one of the techs and he takes all my papers, along with instructions and leaves it on the desk of the person who does those tests. I have written at the top: "Patient S______ is coming in to have a specimen drawn for (the OPO). There is an available kidney for them and it must be sent to (the OPO) ASAP. Thanks." With my name and number at the bottom. Then I head for home.

Except I can't sleep. And I don't feel like blogging. So I watch some Anthony Bourdain and read a little and then toss and turn until 6:15 when, if I don't get out of bed this instant, I'll have to wait for The Teen to get out of the shower and she takes slightly less than forever in there. So I haul my carcass out of bed, get washed and dressed in my most-comfortable-but-still-appropriate-for-work outfit and, this time, bike to work. On my way in I get a phone call from the teenage recipient's dad, saying the lab can't find the paperwork. I say to have them look on So-and-So's desk. They come back on and say they have it. Sometimes, just sometime's, things work out the way you need them to. I get to my office, have a quick coffee and it's time for rounds.

5 comments:

Nancy said...

It's exciting for those of us waiting for our call to hear about how the wheels turn........

Thanks for sharing...

Nancy in California
waiting for a liver

Sex Mahoney for President said...

People are still using fax machines? I would have thought that technology had completely gone out the window. Why not just send a telegram instead?

BreathinSteven said...

Hey Nancy!!!

It's exciting for so many of us, even those who have long since received our gifts, to hear how the wheels turn... And see the dedication involved in getting these gifts to us...

And Sex -- step back into the 80s, dude... Fax machines are still in use all over the place... Sometimes policy and procedures want specific documents completed (and often signed) and to be able to pdf-itize that and email can be more burdensome than fax -- and sometimes the reliability of all of the email servers in the chain can be questionable -- fax will probably be in use in a lot of industries for quite a long time...

Thanks for giving us a little snapshot of "a day in the life of...", TC... As Nancy alluded, it means a lot to a lot of us to understand so many of the things that go on to keep people like us on this beautiful planet...

Hey!!! Have you been following Annika?!? Isn't she just beautiful? I'm so happy for her and her family...

Love,

Steve

Sadaf Trimarchi said...

Hi there,

I have to agree, it's these glimpses of your "day in the life" moments I find so enjoyable. Since we know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of one of those phone calls, I can picture how your recipients felt.

A post like this deserves one of those "you did more before nine am than most people did all day" kind of mentions.

Great work!

S

Edgar said...

Hello. My name is Edgar and I'm an editor at OpposingViews.com, the debate website. Since we both cover health issues, I thought I'd drop you a note. I would've e-mailed you but I couldn't find an address.
See, we're currently having a discussion about whether the U.S. should have universal healthcare. See it here: http://www.opposingviews.com/questions/should-arkansas-pass-the-unmarried-couple-adoption-ban/
Although vetted experts are the ones doing the debating, anyone can contribute by choosing a side and posting comments about the experts' arguments.
Check it out and, if you have the time, let me know what you think at edgar@opposingviews.com
Thanks!