It is now 2 days before the 6 month mark of my daughter receiving her Kidney Transplant. It was a very long time coming and you can’t even imagine the emotion that goes along with it. The joy, the excitement the unknown, the fear, the realization and that is just some of it. As a parent who is been through an enormous amount of life changing events throughout my not so long yet life. I am quickly approaching 45. In the beginning of this journey with my daughter her Kidney disease was just a part of her very complicated little life. She has VATER Syndrome. This is actually an acronym for some anomalies that seem go together in similar way when a child has a Neural Tube defect. Many times this results in Spina Bifida, which has 4 different types 2 of them being non important life factors. For the most part people don’t even know they have it. They may have a dimple in a certain spot on their back that will signify that they have what they call Spina Bifida Occulta. My daughter has that and so much more. Back the the Acronym the refers to the non-random co-occurrence of birth defects Vertebral anomalies, Anal atresia, Cardiac defects, Tracheoesophageal fistula and/or Esophageal atresia, Renal and Radial anomalies and Limb defects. There are many variables and depending on the doctor reading her scans they will refer to her condition as Sacral Agenesis or Caudal Regression. Recently I saw Sacral Dysgenesis, whatever that means. I have tried to look it up and it only refers me back to the words I have learned along the way.
My daughter has the V the A the C and the R for Renal, she also has other issues that are all part of it like the fact that she does not have a bladder or what she has is not functional. It has not been known if in fact she has a uterus so I suppose as she develops that will either become apparent or not.Some of her Cardiac issues have been resolved just about one year ago this month when they corrected her WPW(Wolfe Parkinson White syndrome) Her Renal issues have been attended to her entire life, she was on Hemo-Dialysis for just about 8 years, during that time she had a failed kidney transplant when she was 5 years old. I have written about that before in some of my other posts if you would like to hear more about that. When she was 1 day old she had surgery to create a colostomy as she had nowhere to release her bowels, it was mixing with her twisted up insides causing it to come out in her urine. She had several reconstructive surgeries and eventually when she was 4 she had the colostomy reversed. I always knew the issues with her spine where complicated. I always focused on what was the immediate need for her to survive and be ok , that has always been the Kidney issues and dialysis, that became our lives and just yesterday we got lucky enough to run into one of our very favorite dialysis nurses and visit for a few minutes. When your life is a complicated as my daughters you see what brings out the best and worst in people. She has shown me the best in so many people.
I laugh sometimes as we walk through the hallways in the hospital of how many people know us. How many people wish my daughter well on a regular basis. How many people do we have the same conversations with Have a nice weekend see you next Tuesday and so on. It is truly amazing that this little tiny just turned 12 year old can worm her way into people’s hearts. I hear stories all the time, I remember when she was 2 or 3 and she had the Pink Birthday party, or I remember when she was NPO(nothing by mouth-belly rest) for weeks on end and would cry for water or any of the so many things that went on in the hospital over the years. We get a lot of I remember when your Daddy was alive and he used to bring you , you look just like him and well basically what I am getting at is the only people who truly know and understand what our lives are about have interacted with us in that hospital.
Now that it is 6 months Post Kidney Transplant we are ready to start moving forward with some of her other health issues. I am waiting on a call from the surgeon’s office of when they are going to remove her Dialysis Catheter. This has been a part of her since she was just 4 years old. A tiny little thing with a line that can not get wet. She has spent her entire childhood in Florida not swimming, bathing with saran wrap as to not let that part of her body get wet as it was truly her lifeline. That line has been babied as we know how easy infection can set in a that is life threatening when you need that access to live. Over the years we did take a chance here and there one time we got the doctors to give us giant tagaderm’s and we tried cover it and go to the water park. We had a blast but it did not work out and we only stayed a short time. Once we got home had to change everything which is a sterile procedure. I am trained to do this but I struggle so bad with getting the gloves on without getting un-sterile. Luckily nothing happened. As far as I understand it , this will be outpatient surgery. As she has had the same access spot the entire time she was on dialysis(lines changed out over wire) there is likely a lot of scar tissue so even though it’s nothing compared to her many other surgeries it is probably going to hurt or be sore a few days.
In about 4 more weeks we go back to see her Neurosurgeon that will be doing her next spinal surgery her tethered cord. That should likely be scheduled during that appointment. This surgery can not be done in our Hospital. They prefer to do this one in the other local hospital as they have a specific laser there that is the preferred tool I guess. This will be the 3rd time she is having this procedure. Last time she had it done the day after her father had a brain biopsy that resulted in Glioblastoma Brain cancer. The most aggressive kind of tumor. This was a very difficult time for our family and the details of her pain after seem to have escaped me. I remember the first two days she was in extreme pain and did not want to move at all. Then on the 4th day she popped up in the hospital bed and wanted to play with makeup. She came home on the 5th day using a wheelchair for about 2 weeks. I remember the day they both came home from the hospital. I remember her crying most of the way home and then the next two weeks are a blur. We met the cancer doctors for my husband they stated this was terminal and his time could be days to weeks, he survived 9 months. Losing their Dad affected all three of the kids differently. For the girls they lost their biggest fan. He was Dad and for all intent purposes they lost a huge part of their support system. The older two seem to prefer not to talk about him at all it just makes them sad. Currently we live on the second floor and we are working on transferring apartments so that after her surgery it will not be so hard for her. Moving is a huge hassle under the best circumstances but we have no resources. We have no finances at all. I recently lost my job and quite frankly my little girl needs me right now so I am in an impossible situation. We already live in an income restricted apartment complex and we are doing our best to live on as little as possible. I am sure that somehow we will figure it out. We will find a way to get our stuff moved and all will be as it is meant to be. I just have to pre worry because that is what I do best.
I can’t say that I am not concerned about this surgery, I just know what to expect more or less and now that she does not need dialysis anymore I can be confident that doing this in the other hospital will go smoothly. They did her heart surgery there and my Dad’s pacemaker and both went as expected. Well my Dad is becoming complicated but in any event the hospital did what you want them to do and they were nice to both of them so we will go into it with positive thoughts and know that Dr. G has been on the cover of magazines as a top pediatric neurosurgeon. She has done this surgery many many times and she has been involved in my daughters healthcare for most of her life. She was not the surgeon who did it the first time but she was part of their practice.
I am actually a lot more concerned with the next two surgeries. We have to make an appointment with Urology. Currently she has a Urostomy because she has no functioning bladder. Although it is nice to see her urine output (since she never peed when she had no kidney) I would prefer if she could have that in the inside like most of the rest of us. She is just a little girl and having a big bag attached to her is not that comfortable. She does make the best of it and is very excited to know that they make swimsuits to hold the bag in place so that she can actually learn to enjoy summer activities without of the constant stare from people who will inevitably look at her and make her feel uncomfortable. After they take her line out in the next few days, we will be shopping for that suit just so she can go to the pool and not just sit out and tan for a bit. Now we take a book and sit out at the pool sometimes just because it’s part of our community and we don’t like always being inside. The Urologist will be planning to do some type of bladder augmentation as soon as she is medically cleared to do this. Because it is dealing with her new kidney the rule was nothing for at least 6 months so at 6 months we make the appointment and start figuring it out. My guess is it will involved some type of exploratory surgery first, but with technology it may just pictures and scans to figure out their next move. I was hoping her pediatric surgeon would be the one to make these calls as he is the one reconstructed everything for her. I guess I just have learned to admire his expertise and believe that his guidance has always come in agreeance with Nephrology and they have been boss when it comes to her overall health care. I am not sure when these surgeries will take place and I don’t know if they will come before or after her second spinal surgery.
The other Neurosurgeon involved in her healthcare is for her Scoliosis issues. Her curvature is around 63 degrees right now. In most instances doctors intervene in the 30’s some where. If possible they use braces if not surgery is required. In my daughter’s case her spine is so twisted that it is actually moving her rib cage and causing all kind of problems that will continue to get worse and could kill her if we don’t act. They are going to use stabilizing grow rods for now this will probably be sometime in place for about 2-3 years depending on how much she grows. Children with poor or no renal function do not produce the hormones that make them grow. In my daughter’s case we used growth replacement hormone shots for about 6 years they truly helped as she is about 4′ 4 now and that is small for a 12 year old but she probably would have been 3 foot something with out them. It is not likely she will grow to 5 foot but we will keep our hopes up anyway. In a couple of years she will need some serious spinal fusions to correct this curve and twist stuff she has going on. All of this and that is what we know of never mind what we don’t know of.
My daughter has shown that she is just like every other kid only way more complicated. She likes to read, watch tv, play games, go for walks, go to shows and paint and do arts and crafts and play with friends just like any other kid. She also does typical kid things, mumble under her breath, say sarcastic comments when not getting her way and fussing with her cousins or brother. Someone is always trying to get someone else in trouble and they do what typical cousins do, fight and argue and play and laugh and fight and argue. Although she has all these health issues today she is looking forward to going to the mall and spending her birthday gift card to her favorite store Hot Topic. She needs a really cool rock and roll t-shirt as she is going to her first real concert in a real theater in 4 more weeks. She loves music and has been to some concerts at the park type events but this is going to be much more grown up and she can’t wait.
With all that is coming up this year, I have some serious decisions to make for myself. I have been trying to lose weight for quite some time. Part of the problem is I was so stressed out that I was not paying attention to diet. The last year of my husband’s life was complicated. Finding time to cook was just about never and he only wanted to eat fast food. (it has been proven that people with that cancer all do the same thing, eat mostly sandwiches and fast food) (probably because it is easy and does not require use of utensils) During that time, I was going back in forth 45 minutes each way to the hospital two or three times a day. Dialysis, Radiation and sometimes appointments. One day while getting ready for work I slipped on the mat out front and hurt my knee. I did not know that that I tore the meniscus after three months of suffering I finally saw a doctor, did an mri and had surgery. My husband’s illness got worse during that time and he lost the ability to use his whole left side. He could barely see or walk but he was a very energetic person and fought it with everything he had. This resulted in several falls and me and the kids would struggle to get him back up. This did not help my knee and eventually the other one wound up in the same if not worse as the other. Over time I have had surgery on both of the knees and my right knee is shot, Doc told me just earlier this week that I need a knee replacement but due to my age insurance will not pay so basically I will be in pain for the next so many years. Being poor sucks, having crappy insurance sucks but no matter the downfalls, My daughter needs me. Having only one parent left she(my other kids need to know also but they are older and have different needs and understandings) needs to know that her needs are priority to me and that I will be there for her as long as life permits. Yes I would like a nice home, a nice car and money in my pocket to do regular normal things but the reality is she can’t do for herself right now so whatever anyone thinks or does not think is not really our problem. as long as we can keep the necessities we will find our way. So between the depression and the knee my metabolism went down to its slowest possible. I was sedentary and not eating well for far too long. Now I am consciously eating better, consciously exercising and hoping that this weight will eventually be a burden of the past.
I am hoping that during this upcoming year, that my daughters surgeries are not only a success but that they don’t bring her any undue harm. I have seen both sides of the way all of this stuff can go and I will just continue to think positive thoughts as to not screw with the JuJu as my old boss would have said. It has been a while since I updated anyone on my daughter’s health. Her blood work amazes me. Her Parathyroid problems are gone, her lab work looks as perfect as can be considering her bodies very complicated way. Thank you all for always sending positive thoughts our way and let’s hope that we figure out a way to make it all work out.
My daughter’s condition is considered rare but over the years we have found a few online support type groups and sometimes we learn from other families and sometimes they learn from us. If you are interested in learning more about her health or simply like hearing about our journey’s please feel free to read my other posts and if you are part of the wordpress community please feel free to follow me.