Saturday, January 19, 2008

Miracles do happen!

All is going well. Neal's kidney continues to work better everyday. He is in the best medical health he has been in for probably 15 years. The surgery did not impact the kidney at all. He was still in some pain today and did not get around much, but tomorrow he should be up and moving. It was so nice to hear the guys from dialysis call him the other night and he was bragging about how good he felt and how he loves being able to eat whatever he wants and not constantly take drugs!

I stopped over Ryan and Leslie's and they are doing good. Ryan has been able to get up and down the stairs. Ryan was visiting with his brother in law so Leslie and I got to head out for a little while. He will have some follow up, but prior tests that were done show he has nothing to worry about.

Overall this week has changed all of our lives. It will take some time for us to absorb everything. I do believe we will all lead healthy lives and have a great time together! This summer I am sure we will be making quite a few camping trips. We are all very thankful. I cannot say enough how strong these guys are. Here we come Ellen!

Friday, January 18, 2008

And history is made....

Surgery was a success. All of the cancer was removed and the kidney was not harmed. The surgeon was able to remove the cancer without clamping off the blood supply. The kidney is still producing urine. They had to remove less than the 5% anticipated. Neal was in some pain after the surgery, but within an hour he was brushing his teeth and reading the newspaper. Neal should be discharged Monday or Tuesday. Here is a picture of Neal after the surgery with his kidney pillow that the hospital gave both of the guys. He is much happier than he looks!

Ryan stayed at the hospital until we heard the word that Neal's surgery was a success. Ryan was feeling much better today and was getting around quite well. He was discharged shortly after Neal's surgery was complete. He was able to make it up stairs and is resting in bed. Ryan has follow up appointments scheduled, but the doctors anticipate he will make a great recovery. Here is a picture of Ryan and Leslie leaving. Ryan decided he looked so good in the hospital gown that he would take it home. It was too cold out for his to show a little leg!
Leslie has been a real trooper going through all of this. I have been through a lot and know how difficult it is. She has handled everything amazingly. Without her support this would not have happened. We also need to thank both of our families. We have had tremendous support and I believe we all feel like a big family. People really can be amazing. Thanks also to Kathy and Harry and Patty and Ed for helping with Connor. I cannot imagine going through this with a child. He has been in good hands. His visits helped to put smiles on a lot of faces. When Connor grows up he will be proud to have 2 very brave and selfless parents and a very healthy Uncle to spoil him!

This was only the second reported case in the world of a kidney with cancer being transplanted. The other reported case was in Germany. The team did an excellent job solving the problem and does not anticipate any further problems. The kidney should have a long life. A unique case for two very unique and special men. Two people saving each others life in this degree is exceptional. We will be bonded for life. Neal has already requested a framed copy of the article that will most likely be published regarding this case! Hopefully we will be on Oprah some day and win a free trip around the world!

One step forward and two steps back

Neal went back into the OR today. Everyone is optomistic that the cancer will be easily removed and the kidney will be functioning. I will post when he is out.

Ryan is doing much better today. He is looking and acting like himself which is good to see. He will be discharged this afternoon.

By next week everyone should be feeling much better.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What a long day. We did get a good visit from the oncologist. Tomorrow Neal is getting a partial nephrectomy. They will go back through the transplant incision. This is very rare, but the doctors believe everything will go smoothly. They do not believe they will have to disconnect the kidney. The cyst is in the perfect location on the edge away from the blood source and bladder, therefore it should have no impact. About 5% of the kidney will be removed. The kidney is not anticipated to be impacted and should be working immediately.

Ryan and Leslie were able to meet with the oncologist. We were all relieved that he was an excellent, compassionate doctor, which is hard to find. They will be running some further tests on Ryan to be sure the cancer did not spread, however they do not anticipate finding anything. The cancer is extremely slow moving, therefore the treatment would be to simply remove the cyst. In a normal case, the removal would be the cure. No radiation or chemo is necessary. So Ryan is cancer free. Ryan's other kidney did not show any signs of cancer. They will do a repeat scan to ensure this is still the case and he will be monitored going forward.

The doctors are confident both men will be home and healthy shortly. A long day, but perhaps a gift was given between two best friends. One will return to a normal life with a healthy kidney and the other will be cancer free.

No visitors

No visitors at this time.

Cancer. It is a horrible word. Probably worse then the F*@! bomb. Unfortunately we had to hear this word today. I never in a million years could have seen this curve ball. The doctor tried to convince us that it is not such a bad word, but who is he kidding.

There was a cyst on Ryan's kidney, which is very common. The cyst was studied and they concluded it is multilocular cystic renal cell carcinoma aka cancer. You are probably asking why did they not test this first. According to the surgeon, a good percent of people have cysts, so they were not surprised when they saw it. The cyst was removed before the kidney was put into Neal, however there could still be some remaining on the kidney. We are both going to meet the oncologist to talk further. Luckily Les' brother is a doctor and had just recently read an article about this same case. What we know is that it is extremely rare and does not spread aggressively. Ryan's other kidney looks good, but he will need to have some further follow up. As of right now, Neal is scheduled to have surgery again tomorrow for a partial nephrectomy. They do not believe this will affect Neal long term, it is simply another bump in the road. The kidney should remain working after the partial nephrectomy. They also think Ryan will be just fine. The cancer is rare, but since it is not aggressive many people never even know they have it. The doctor stated that if Ryan had not donated his kidney, he may have never known he had this type of cancer. Neal should still be home by next week and Ryan should be home in the next day or two.

Ok so again I ask why. Neal has been through enough and we do not want to drag Ryan and Leslie into this mess. I just want them to get to move on with there life and not have any effects from this. It has soaked in now and we are feeling optimistic, but it is a bit much.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

After surgery...

Before surgery.....

All is going good. Ryan got some medicine for nausea this morning which made him pretty drowsy. Les and I got a surprise when we saw him since he was pretty out of it and we were not expecting it. Within an hour he was sitting up and walked over to Neal. It was a miracle! Ryan walked around a little more the rest of the day. Neal was able to sit up and eat his lunch and then walked over to his new room. Both guys are having some pain, but are doing fine.

Visitors are welcome. Neal has moved to room 912.

Thanks for giving me my life back

Those were Neal's first words to Ryan over the phone. Today the guys should get to see each other as they both will be moving around. That will be a Kodak moment if I have ever seen one!

Ryan got his catheter out and is doing well. Les and I stayed at her place and got some rest. We are headed back to see our guys shortly.

Visitors are welcome. Neal will be immunosuppressed, so no sick people and only 2 at a time. The guys are still pretty tired.

Someone once told me there are angels all around us on earth. Neal and I were lucky enough to find our angels...Ryan and Leslie.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

This is it!!!

The guys are in. They were actually wheeled away at the same time. The surgeon is very optimistic that the kidney will work well given Neal's last transplant. We are all sitting in the atrium doing the only thing we can do....wait. We hope to hear some news by early afternoon.

Neal will be on a lot of drugs over the next five days. He will be getting high dosages of steroids for five days, so he will most likely gain quite a bit of water weight. He will only be able to have 2 people in his room at a time. He will also be getting large doses of medicine to kill off all of his T-cells (the cells that essentially attack/ our immune system). Last time he received this medicine, it made him pretty sick, so the first couple of days will not be fun. Neal will be on immunosuppression drugs forever. We were informed the drugs cost about $1,200. Luckily our out of pocket max is $2,000.

Ryan has moved to Room 916. They have a private room!!! Ryan will have 3 or 4 1 centimeter incisions in his front side for instruments and one two inch incision by his belly button (enough to get the kidney out). His restrictions on lifting Connor are not as bad as we originally thought. Basically he needs to be sure his incisions are healed. Ryan should be out by Friday. He will have a morphine pump, so the first day he should be pretty happy. They will try to get both of the guys up and moving today!

I will try to post pictures tonight if I can figure out our new camera. If my internet hook up sticks around, I will post when we hear more. I am just going to keep updating below.

10:50am - We spoke with Ryan's surgeon and he is doing just great. We should see him in his room around noon. His head will be a little swollen because they loaded him up with fluids for the kidney to be jump started. It sounds as though he was in a funny position. The surgeon said the kidney looked great. Neal will be about an hour longer. The doctor said he usually discharges his patients 2 days after surgery if they are feeling well.

12:45 pm - We heard around 12:00 that Neal is doing fine. The kidney worked immediately, which is great news. We just saw Ryan and he is doing great. He said the worst part is over. His only pain now is his throat. They put a tube down his throat during the surgery, so he is pretty dry. We are just waiting to see Neal now. Both of the guys will need a lot of rest. Everyone is happy this day has come and the worst part is past us.

5:00 pm - Neal is doing great. The kidney is working like crazy. They are loading Neal with fluids and his output is 2 Liters an hour. Compared to zero, this is a miracle. Ryan is doing great. Both of the guys need rest. Tomorrow they should be moving around. We will be headed up there shortly. The guys both received a kidney shaped pillow and we were all able to sign Ryan's! We had quite a crowd. Neal's surgeon looked at all of us as if we were crazy! Because I can.....Mom, Mike, UJ, Denise, Stacy, Matt, Dad, Dorothy, Les, Patty, Ed, Shawn, Mike, Connor and Kathy were all there. Thanks to all of you for everyone in this decision/day! It was a success!

Monday, January 14, 2008

All is going well. We are checked in to the hospital. Ryan is in room 905 and Neal 968 Rhodes. Basically today is for meeting with all of the doctors and getting lab work and a chest x-ray. So far so good. The day could go a little faster, but at least we are here. Surgery is on for 7am. Ryan will probably be taken around 6:00 or 6:30 and Neal shortly after. They plan to get both of the guys up and about fairly quickly. It certainly was weird for us to be checking in instead of rushing to the ER. It is very strange for Ryan actually being a patient! The surgeon feels very good about the success of this operation, which is nice to hear. Until tomorrow....

One kidney and one day to go!

I am at work (bad decision on my part) and the tears have begun. Finally some good tears! I am so excited the day is finally here! We were able to spend last night with some of our family. It was nice. Neal is at dialysis this morning and we are meeting Ryan and Les at the hospital at noon. We are packed and ready to go. I cannot believe this day is here.

Sunday, January 13, 2008