Wednesday, June 6, 2012

One year ago...

Hello friends, family and prayer warriors!

I can hardly believe it is time for the "One Year Update"!  That's right... one year ago today 2 of Denver's 4 kidney transplant surgeons were simultaneously operating on my dad and I trying to give him a new lease on life.  IT WORKED!

This past year my dad has been dialysis free.  It was nice to have him in attendance of our last year of elementary school musicals, Christmas Programs, sporting events (Tanner's 8th grade basketball team went undefeated and won the championship this year under the guidance of his very capable coach Loren Otte!) as well as sporting events at Lutheran High School for Kelby.

This year was not without it's challenges and worries - but what year this side of heaven is?  My dad's body began doing what God made it to do - reject foreign objects - twice in this past year.  Both times the doctors were able to stop it right away and his new kidney suffered no damage... Praise God for that!  In fact, the doctors are pretty sure that they can keep this from happening so often just by tweaking the anti-rejection meds my dad is taking.  That is what we are working on currently.

There was a 4 day hospital stay for my dad as well.  As his immune system is being suppressed... he is open to all sorts of germs that his body won't fight off.  His hospital stay was for that reason.  He was told to stay out of big crowds on a consistent basis.  He and my mom have done a nice job with that order.

Speaking of my mom... this is a MUCH less stressful day for her than it was last year.  I remember the anticipation of having two very close family members in surgery at the same time causing terrible anxiety.  Thankfully it was all over and both of us were in recovery in just about 3 hours.  My mom continues to keep my dad pointed forward and moving in the right direction... She deserves a lot of credit here - it isn't always an easy job!

I am doing just fine.  I have found that the kidney surgery I had last year was much easier and less traumatic on my body than back surgery was six and a half years ago.  I still feel the effects of the back problems almost every day... not so with last year's surgery!  If I drink enough water each day... there are no effects - AT ALL.  There was one day I didn't drink enough water and I became a believer... it made me very sick the next day.  I won't be doing that again. :-)

I'll continue to post occasionally, but I want to say thank you to all of you who faithfully keep us in your prayers.  We need them and we don't want them to stop!



Monday, February 13, 2012

Prayers were answered! Thank you!

Hi friends and family,

I just wanted to post an update to my last blog to let you know how my dad is doing.  He had 3 days of infusions (strong steroids) last Wednesday - Friday.  Today when he went to have his creatinine levels checked they were lower and better.  They do not feel that he is in a rejection state anymore.  He will continue to take oral steroids and wean slowly off of them.  The doctors will be keeping a closer eye on him.

From what I can gather, we should prepare ourselves for some degree of rejection occasionally throughout the rest of his life.  They feel that this time it was a very mild rejection and they caught it early.  I'm so thankful that it was something fixable!

My family is thankful to all of you faithful prayer warriors who send up prayers on our behalf.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!  Keep up the great work! :-)

I will continue to keep you posted.

On another subject for you to keep in prayer... our son Kelby found out today that he has a stress fracture on his L5 (spine).  He will be going in for an MRI sometime very soon and we will find out then what the treatment plan for that will entail.  For now though... no more sports until we get the doctor's okay.  He is in a lot of pain.  Please pray that we can get this managed very soon.

Blessings on the rest of your week!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

8 months - yesterday... don't stop praying!

Hello friends and family!

I felt it was time for an update since my dad and I have reached the "8 months since the surgery" mark.

There has been somewhat of a "glitch" in our progress.  I debated on whether or not to post this but I want you to keep praying ... but not worry (at least that is what I am trying to do!)

My dad had a biopsy done on his kidney yesterday because when he went in last week his creatinine levels were off.  The biopsy showed that his body is going through a mild rejection of his new kidney.  While this is news that can freak an entire family out in one fell swoop... the doctors and transplant experts assure us that more than 70% of kidney transplant recipients go through some type of rejection during the first year after the surgery.

My family and I think this might have been worth mentioning in all of the preparation and thought that went into this transplant surgery.  We also agree that if they had told us everything involved... maybe we wouldn't have chosen this path.  We may never know.  The important thing to know and remember here is that THIS IS FIXABLE! The doctors are not worried and they have a treatment plan that will start tomorrow.  It will involve some infusion of various medications and some tweaking of the meds that my dad already takes.

I try to rest in the knowledge that God is totally in control here and He knows what He is doing... and that none of this is up to me... and I have no say.  This is hard for teachers to swallow as we, as a collective group, like to have control and have a say.

As for myself... I have learned that the transplant people know what they are doing and that drinking enough water each day is VITAL.  I only had to learn that one the hard way once.  It will not happen again.  Our bodies are such an amazing creation... I marvel every day that for the most part... almost every day - I feel no different than I did when I had 2 kidneys.  I also thank God for that!

Thank you for your continued support and prayers!

Specific Prayer Requests:

-  Successful treatment of my dad's kidney and body so they start working together and   not against each other.

-  Both Rod and Monica need to continue to drink MUCH water every day (and pray that Rod starts to actually LIKE drinking water!)

-  Please pray that worry is set aside and confidence is given to the doctors who are treating Rod.

I think that is it for now... thanks for sticking with my dad and I on this wild adventure. We both value the prayers offered up on our behalf!



Friday, December 9, 2011

It's been six months... can you believe it??

Hello faithful friends, family and prayer warriors!

I thought today would be a good day to post a new blog on the progress of the kidney transplant family. :)

While Tuesday marked the six month, half a year anniversary of the kidney swap my dad and I participated in this past June... there is a MUCH more important anniversary I wanted to mention today.

49 years ago today, my mom and dad married each other in Alamosa, Colorado.  They were very young and, as we know... life is not always easy - but my mom and dad have been a constant reminder to me that putting in the effort is SO worth it!  I - for one, am very glad to see this day!  I know they both are as well.

They are in Estes Park for the weekend on a much deserved break.  My mom and dad have both told me that being retired is much busier than working... in fact - I think my mom used the words, "crazy busy". :-)

My dad got good news from his team of kidney doctors this past Tuesday.  Right after the surgery he had to report in twice a week at the hospital for a check up.  As we know from past blogs - he kept the doctors on their toes during those first few weeks.  As he gained health and strength... they told him that once a week was all they needed to see him.  Then he went to having appointments every other week (which was huge!!).  Next was once a month and this past Tuesday, he was told he only had to come back every other month.  This was the BEST anniversary present anyone could have given him!

He has also gotten the okay from his doctor to return to the gym to walk on the treadmill and other machines... to gain even better strength.

I sleep better at night knowing that he is doing well and getting better all the time.

Thank you so much for your prayers.  We would be nowhere without them!

My health is good.  I came down with strep throat early in the school year and wondered how my body would react since we reduced it to only one kidney this summer... but to be very honest - I don't feel any different than I did before this surgery.  I healed from the strep throat with antibiotics in the same amount of time as before.  God has truly blessed us!

I could go on and on about the blessings but it is getting late and this week was
L O N G for my class and me.  I'm on my way to bed.

Prayer Requests... Please keep praying for continued strength and good health for my dad and I.

Blessings on your Christmas season.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Musings from Monica & Rod - 10-20-11

Wow... my apologies for the delayed posting!

One of my coworkers and good friends told me today, "I checked your blog and I can't tell you how happy it makes me that there isn't anything new to blog!"

It got me to think... and motivated me to post something new because you need to know how well things are going on the whole "Kidney Transplant Experience".

As many of you know... my mom was a travel agent before her retirement.  Being from another country and having many experiences in other countries (including being
tri-lingual...) travel means a lot to my mom, and my dad has had many awesome experiences traveling with my mom.

One of their dreams for retirement was to be able to travel and experience different places.  When my dad fell sick almost 3 years ago - the hopes of my mom and dad traveling were all but dashed.  Dialysis kept them tied to a - 3 times a week at 4 hours each time - schedule.

Last week my folks ventured out for the first time on a real vacation... for 5 days!  No hospital visit was required - this is HUGE guys!  Here my dad talks about it in his own words...

Hey Guys:

So, Heidi, Shadow and I are in Glenwood Springs at the Ramada Inn this weekend.  We came Wednesday and will go home late Monday.  This is the vacation we wanted to take for years, but could never get out of town long enough because of medical appointments, dialysis etc.  We are gradually freeing ourselves from them.  We are at the Ramada because they will take our dog and they give us a free full breakfast every day.  It is about 2 blocks from the Hotel Colorado.  We plan to spend a lot of time in the soothing hot mineral waters, take a little trip to Grand Junction and Palisade, check out a couple of new wineries, attend an all Mozart concert and just crash.  It is so good!


When I called them during their trip - my dad was so happy and told me they wanted to move in... right there into the hotel room... they were having such a good time!  

It was FREEING for me.  I have no other way to express it.  FREEING - it was awesome!

As for me - I had an appointment for a 4 month (anniversary of the surgery) blood draw last week and my doctor told me that the blood work shows that my kidney is growing and taking on the role of both kidneys, even though there is only one of them.  This is GOOD news as I was pretty worried about how much water I could possibly consume AND maintain control and peace in my classroom (bathroom breaks can wreck a sense of peace!) ... as my dad said - "It is so good!"

So there you have the very latest update.  God has blessed us in so many ways!

In the last blog I wrote I asked you to keep my dear friend Kari in your prayers.  She had been battling  stage 4 breast cancer for the past 9 years.  She fought the good fight and showed courage like none other.  Two weeks ago - she passed away and now is throwing awesome parties in heaven (I know this because I went to some of her college parties... ;-)  Kari was an awesome mother, wife and friend.  She knew God and just before she entered heaven she said, "I'm in heaven now."  This was such a profound piece of information for me to hear!

Please keep Kari's husband Eric and 9-year-old son Tanner (we call him "Little Tanner" since we also have a "Big Tanner" living here in our house) in your prayers as they figure out how to live with this loss in their lives.   When I look at the people who are following my blog - Kari is one of them.  It makes me very emotional. 

Thank you for your faithfulness and your prayers.  They mean a lot to all of us.  I will keep you posted as I can.  Thanks also for your patience!

Prayer Requests:

  • Continued health and healing and strength gain for my dad.
  • Thanks and praise that the surgeries were a success!
  • Prayers of peace and healing for Kari's family (this includes her mom and dad and brother!)
Thanks you guys... 




Monday, September 12, 2011

Rod's awesome news! 9-12-11

Hello friends and family!

All is going well here in Denver for both my dad and myself!  School is keeping me pretty busy.  Weekends have much more meaning now than they did this summer! :-)

When my dad and I had our surgeries on June 6, 2011... we were told that it would take a good 3 months for my dad to be back on track - so to say.  Last Tuesday was our 12 week/ 3 month anniversary of the surgeries.  Those doctors really know what they are talking about!  My dad has some awesome news which I will share in a moment.  I did want to tell you that his arm/ which had been so swollen (remember the "Popeye arm"?) and which the fistula was closed off a couple of weeks ago... is not swollen anymore - in fact, it is looking almost normal!  :-)

Here is my dad's good news in his own words:

Monday update.  

We had the very best, most productive clinic today.  Without boring you with too many details, here is what happened.  We were cut to clinic once a month (right after surgery we were going twice a week),   We still have to go for blood tests every other week (but they are short - into the lab, draw the blood, out again in about half an hour, not half a day.)  

They took me off 5 of the medicines I was taking, two were expensive anti-infection drugs - one was the one with a $600 co/pay that the insurance was paying over $1,700 for.  The insurance company will be as happy as I am about this day.  

We are moving toward a clinic appointment every 6 months - that will be heaven.  The Lord is answering those prayers, keep them coming.  Rod

Prayer requests:

  • Thanks and praise that my dad is doing so well.  His cardiologist even told him that his appointments were... boring!  THAT is awesome!
  • Prayers for continued strength gain.  My dad and I have a goal to walk 5 miles together now that the surgeries are in the past and recovery is in full force!
  • Since I have you as a captive praying audience... my good friend from college, Kari, is in the hospital battling cancer.  She needs prayers for healing and her family needs to be uplifted in prayer for strength, rest, peace and wisdom!   It means a lot to me that you guys are such diligent prayer warriors... Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Blessings on the rest of your week!


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday's update 8-28-11

WOW!  Two whole weeks since I've updated my musings!  Can you tell school has started and I have become suddenly very busy?!

We completed our first full week of school on Friday.  Some of the second graders were dragging by Thursday... definitely their teacher was tired at the end of the week.  We had a faculty party at our Principal's house Friday night and as I was listening to my colleagues tell about how exhausted they were after the fist full week... I realized that I think I'm back to almost normal.  It wasn't just me that was tired!  Life is good - I love my class this year!

My mom and dad just left our house.  They came over for dinner tonight as I was making a dinner that my grandmother (my dad's mom) used to make that my dad, Chris, Kelby and I just LOVE!  My mom and Tanner won't touch it but we make other stuff for them to eat.  It is always a nice tribute to my grandmother who passed away a couple of years ago.  After they left Chris commented on how good my dad looks and how well he seems to be doing especially after the minor surgery he had this past week to close off his fistula.

My dad has a bit of blog to add since his day patient surgery this past Thursday.  It reads:

Thursday's surgery went well.  We had to be at the Hospital at 6:30 A.M.
We were home by noon.  Our Vascular Surgeon, who we like very much (same guy who put the fistula in) was assisted by his son (who is an anesthesiologist) they were impressed by our father daughter transplant story.  

The surgery has not made a big difference in the swelling of the left arm YET.  They say it will over time, but that was not the real purpose of ligating the fistula.  We knew that, but had hoped there would be a miracle.

Well, it has been said here before, it is, what it is.  Tuesday, the 30th we have two doctors appointments and transplant clinic - essentially three doctors appointments. This has to stop, they are eating us alive.  

Well, three of the four grandchildren are now busy with school.  A junior in high school, playing good football at Lutheran High, an 8th grader enjoying being top king pin before he becomes a lowly freshman next year.  And, look out kindergarten, here comes the Princess.  Sometimes it just makes me cry watching them.  Heidi and I have to scramble to keep up with their lives.  It is what we do, we would have no other way.


We continue to praise God for the miracle he gave us in making this whole experience work in a positive way!

Thank you again for your continued prayers and support!  We know we couldn't have done this without you!

Prayer requests

  • Continued strength gain for my dad.
  • Swelling and water retention in the arm with the fistula to go down.
  • Strength and stamina for me as we are back full time in school now.
  • Blessings on the new school year for all students and teachers!
Blessings to you all!... until next time. :)