Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Coffee and a pecan pastry

I thought "Fiat!" would be the last posting, but I guess not. As they say, it ain't over till it's over.

I went back to the AMC in Amsterdam today for my six-week check-up with the surgeon, Dr. Idu. I have only one more check-up at the end of January, and that will be with the transplant team. After that I come in once a year to make sure that my single-cylinder engine is working properly.

Dr. Idu checked the incision scars (two tiny ones for the laparoscopic equipment, one eight centimeters long -- about 3.25 inches -- for the hand-assisted part). No problems. He said I can go back to the gym and even run the marathon if I am so inclined. Can't do any damage now, he said. He suspected I had probably lost some weight, which is normal, and he told me I'd probably gain some of it back. But in kidney transplants, he said, the expectation is that the donor will not suffer any permanent setbacks in any way -- complete recovery is the norm. And it's true. If I didn't know I only had one kidney I'd scarcely believe it.

I asked him exactly how long the operation had taken. He said it took them longer than usual to get the anesthesia right (about 45 minutes), but from the first incision to the sewing up was about three hours.

After the check-up in the out-patient section of the hospital I went to get a cup of coffee and a pecan pastry in the cafe located in the main part of the hospital. The cafe is in a large open plaza, brightly lit with natural light from the ceiling, which is essentially a huge skylight. Today it was filled with stands for a Christmas fair. I found a free table and ate my pecan bun as people milled around the stands and popular recorded Christmas music filled the plaza. I felt an odd nostalgia there. Despite the fact that the AMC is a huge complex, there's a kind of cozy warmth about it. I guess my fondness for the place has to do with the very positive experience we had there. All during this past year, every time I had another test in the long series of qualifying donor tests I would reward myself with coffee and a pecan bun in this cafe, hoping that the test result would be positive. And incredibly it always was.

(I did a little web research on Dr. Mirza Idu. He's an MD PhD -- a medical doctor with a PhD -- or, as medical students sometimes say, a Mudd-Fudd. These tend to be over-achieving doctors of amazing skill who are as interested in research as they are in their particular field of medicine. He has written quite a bit on donor nephrectomy.)

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