Saturday, June 8, 2013

Kidney Quest: Blood Tests: AKA The Vampire Syndrome

After Mt. Sinai sucked my blood dry like a vampire falling off the wagon, my brother-in-law flew me home in his Piper. Autumn had settled over the Adirondacks and the land below me danced in orange and red and green. Dying, in the natural world, is beautiful.

Neil picked me up at the airport and drove me home. There I had a message waiting for me. Mt. Sinai had not drawn enough blood for all their blood tests. Would I please come in at my earliest convenience?

Hmmm--I took a day off to have these blood tests done. Now they needed more. Done in NYC. Not Malone. Told me Malone wasn't good enough.

Okay, I showed them the error of their ways and they faxed a script to Alice Hyde Medical Center. Once there, the phlebotomist came in with labels for nine vials of blood.

NINE! Donating keeps vampires in business.

So what is tested through blood tests?
  1. chicken pox
  2. rubella
  3. electrolytes
  4. white count syphilis
  5. toxoplasma
  6. hematoligical systems
  7. clotting mechanisms
  8. glucose intolerance
  9. liver function
  10. pancreas function
  11. HIV
  12. herpes
  13. hepatitis A, B, C
  14. CMV--cytomegalovirus
  15. CBC
If you are planing on donating, be prepared for an alphabet soup of blood tests.

Oh. And the last indignity? They handed me a urine specimen cup. Apparently, the twenty-four hours worth wasn't enough!

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Kidney Quest: Hurry Up and Wait: Interlude

Mt. Sinai Hospital is renowned for making clients wait.

Lugging my gallon jug of urine, my mother and I arrived for my 8:30 appointment. That's a.m., as in having to leave the house by 6:30.

Other patients already filled the seats in the reception area. We approached the desk, gave our names and were told, "We don't schedule 8:30 appointments." The receptionist pointed us back to the room of other people apparently not scheduled. "Take a seat."

We waited.

And waited some more.

And more.

Finally, at nine-thirty, someone freed me from my gallon of urine, and I was called in for my psych eval. All donors will have to meet with a social worker to determine if they are mentally competent to share a kidney.

"Why do you want to donate a kidney to your brother?" She asked.
"Because he's my brother."
"But why?"
Why? He's my brother, and he'll die if he doesn't get a kidney. "He's my brother."
I guess they assumed I loved being dissected and my superfluous body parts apportioned out. I'd seen people like that on the TV show ER. But, I simply loved my brother and didn't want him to die.
"Do you have any concerns about the surgery?" Her question interrupted my musing about her repeated question about why I thought Alan should have a kidney.
"You seem pretty relaxed. Any worries?
I wondered if I was supposed to be more worried. But so far, no fears arose about the course I was taking. "This feels right," I said.
She asked a couple more questions and my interview ended.

After three hours of getting to the appointment, my psych eval lasted about ten minutes.

Thank heavens they were also taking a chest x-ray to check for tuberculous and an EKG to make sure I had a heart. Otherwise, lugging a gallon of pee for a ten minute interview would have been a long ordeal.

But you don't need to know the ordeal the rest of the day proved to be:
  1. Mt. Sinai wouldn't accept the information I gave them about Alan's insurance (his would pay for my testing because this was for his health).
  2. forgetting to fax said insurance request to my brother
  3. waiting hours for this to not be done
  4. walking cross-town for the EKG--which wasn't done at Mt. Sinai
  5. being told the address on the appointment form was the wrong address
  6. returning to Mt. Sinai to find the fax-lady was out to lunch
We were sent to a another receptionist. He looked at my chart, told me everything was there, had been there from the start and that we should have had no problem.

I went to another exam room, stripped, got x-rayed and finally could head home. (Remember, home was seven hours away--I'd head north the next day.)

Oy vay--and the testing wasn't done.
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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Kidney Quest: Save the Urine--Part 2

Deutsch: Milchcontainer mit fahrbarem Untersat...
A container suitable for the 24 hour urine test!
One of the tests needed to determine the viability of a donor is the twenty-four hour urine test. You can see all the details in the previous blog--just scroll down.

This came with several undoable stipulations:
  1. all urine had to go directly into the prescribed bottle
  2. it had to be refrigerated
  3. non could be discarded
So forget about your morning java.

Several problems reared their heads--such as being unable to fit the jug under me, fitting everything into the  prescribed jug. And how do you leave the house? Go to church? Eat out for breakfast and drink IHOP out of coffee?

The solutions (this all involves violating the letter of the law):
  1. For about eight bucks, you can buy a "specipan urine hat." This is a plastic measuring cup (so to speak) that looks like a top hat. You place it on the toilet. The rim holds it in place.
  2. For living a life outside of your home? I simply found a plastic container with a secure lid. Instant Porta Potty.
And with this complete, and on my way into Manhattan, I thought the worst of my testing was over.


Stay tuned to tomorrow's installment.

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