Friday, 16 December 2011

Recovering from a transplant - Intensive Care

I went to sleep at 2pm on Saturday 20th August 2011 holding onto my mummy and Scott. I had spoken to my dad and my little brother. Scott went home straight away as he said he couldnt just wait he went to the pictures with his friends to see the inbetweeners film haha!! My mum said it was the calmest she had been for weeks and she went back to her room at Harefield and read her book, watched the television and waited for the phonecall. My operation took 7 hours and they said they were some of the worst lungs they had seen and that there was not much of them left. I know they had to scrap the left side out as it was stuck to my chest wall - nice! Mum got a phone call just before 9pm to say it was a success and that I was being taken to recovery/ICU. I was left sedated for that night and sunday so I could give my body a rest and then was woken up on monday morning.

I remember waking up and not wanting to move, feeling bit confused and then panic set in as i realised i had had a transplant and that I was still on a ventilator with tubes everywhere. Through-out the day I was slowly weaned off the ventilator and by about 4pm that day I had the tubes taken out my throat and I was breathing on my own!! I was given a small amount of oxygen through nasal specs to help me in the early days as I was weak and not breathing deeply (I wasnt used to it and it was sore)!

I was in intensive care for 2 weeks. I was hooked up to machines and pumps and had lots of tubes everywhere. Once the ventilator was out, I was left with my PEG tube feed, a neck line so I could have drugs put through it, 4 chest drains; 2 each side, a catheter for my wee wee, an artirial line in my wrist to take blood from, and an epidural needle in my back to numb the pain. My diaphram was not moving and my voice had gone as my vocal chords were damaged during the operation. I was banned from eating and drinking for 2 days incase the contents were going into my lungs instead of my stomach. Because of these above reasons, the drs wanted to insert a tracheostomy, which is a tube that is inserted into the windpipe through the front of your neck to help aid breathing or to create access for removing build up in throat or lungs. I begged them and fought my way out of having it as I really did not want it so we compromised and I had bronchoscopys everyday.

Bronchs are when a camera is put down your nose or mouth (in my case it was my mouth) to look into your lungs and sometimes they will suction out anything that is down there. I had about 3 or 4 of these in a week and had to be awake because my lungs were still weak and recovering from transplant so it was too much for them to be sedated. I had a numbing spray in my mouth which they always say tastes of bananas when it clearly tastes more like hairspray and is vile! I was allowed to hold a registrar doctors hand and apparently nearly broke it as I couldn't handle a few parts during the Bronchs. The food was not going into my lungs and there was only a few little bits of secretions down there so I was given the go ahead to start eating and drinking little amounts. Yay!

Next up was getting back up on my feet. This was the hardest bit of transplant for me mentally and physically. The physios started getting me to sit up the day after I woke up. I had a machine which I held onto whilst sitting on the edge of the bed and it raised up and I had to pull myself up and lock my knees straight. Well that certainly didn't happen! The physios (all 3 of them) had to hold my legs, hold my chest and my drains and help hold me up. Basically I had to learn to walk again. The last 2 months I had been bedridden and unable to move hardly and I was weak for ages before that too so it had taken its tole. I cried alot when I was with physios due to frustration, being scared at moving about attached to everything and being tired!

During the 2 weeks in intensive care, I was numb. Not in the touch sense but in my feelings. I didn't know what to feel, what to do or what to think. I admit I didn't feel happy that I had a transplant straight away as I was still feeling ill but in a different way. I could breathe easier but still not great but I was unable to move very well, still weak and sore. Having these sad, negative feelings made me then feel guilty that I had been lucky enough to get a transplant and that someone else had died and given me this chance but I was not smiling, however, I was still very grateful if that all makes sense?

I left intensive care to go to E ward which is the transplant ward in the 3rd week. At this point, I had my arterial line and epidural needle out. I had finally washed my hair which automatically made me feel more human again. It was weird being transferred to the ward as I had been in the same 4 walls for over a month and it was scary coming out of that little safe secure bubble. Whilst in the room, I always had a nurse in the room 24/7 so to be moved to a ward was abut unsettling. Scott went back to work in the second week so that was also strange but I spoke to him all day and everyday. I know he hated to be away but he is self employed and he knew I was getting better and of course mummy was still by my side all the time.

Will write about the rest of recovery in the next blog to break it up abit. Plus sorry for lack of pics, they aren't bloody uploading but I will keep trying later!

X Lots of love x