Sunday, August 1, 2010

My New Roller Coaster

Roller coasters are generally thought of as entertainment – fun, exhilarating rides that delight children and adults alike. To many however, these same piles of steel symbolize danger and evoke great fear. I think all of us can relate to the ups and downs experienced on a roller coaster – the mounting terror as we slowly ascend the biggest hill, followed by the excitement of the free-fall and then the relief of safety. I think a lot of life can be related to a roller coaster, but post-transplant life seems to provide an even closer metaphor.

The first few days post-transplant were no fun at all. Forget the roller coaster, I felt terrible. I was exhausted but too jittery to sleep. I was weak and thirsty but too nauseated to eat or drink. I was in a lot of pain, and I was terrified that something had gone wrong with my surgery. And I had some moments of serious doubt, wondering if I had made the right decision. Fortunately, this period of misery and despair was short-lived, thanks to the responsive care of my physicians and nurses and the constant reassurance of my parents.

A couple of days after transplant, the roller coaster began. I had a great couple of hours one day, followed by a miserable night. I had a good full day, followed by many hours of pain and discomfort. I have struggled to appreciate the good times for fear that another bad period will soon arrive, but I’m trying to get better about that, trying to stay positive and to appreciate the ups for what they are. I expect weeks, maybe months, of these major ups and downs. But fortunately, I seem to have turned a corner in the last couple of days – I’m definitely spending more time on the up parts of the roller coaster and less time on the downs. And for now, that’s good enough for me.

To be clear, along this roller coaster, I have also made great forward progress. To illustrate, I’ll include a couple of pictures below. The first is when I first came out of surgery and was still intubated and hooked up to twelve different IV medications, the second is when I was up in a chair the next day talking to my surgeon (still with many of the drips but breathing on my own), and the last is my first or second lap around the nurses’ station in the ICU (unhooked temporarily from my last one or two IVs). At this point, I am better enough to be too self-conscious to plaster my picture online! Maybe once I lose these 10-15 pounds of fluid…


  1. I continue to be so proud of you AF, keep it up and you look great. love, Denise

  2. Keep it up, Dreddie! I know looooong stretches of good days are on their way!


    elizabeth and david

  3. We continue to cheer for you from afar and to be in awe of your courage! You look great and we are confident you will soon have more ups than downs! Our thoughts and prayers are with you!

    Bob & Melanie

  4. You are a champion! To think that after a little over a week, you are home - you are making great strides. Keep up the great work.
    Can't wait to see you soon!
    Love, Marion

  5. Your insight nearly matches your fortitude. I believe you made the right decision, as usual.Here's hoping for more up days than down days!

  6. Andrea,

    The days will get better and eventually things will level out for you. If you are on prednisone, be ready for some potential side effects .... mine was crying like a school girl.

    Tweaks ~ Over the next year, especially the next 3 months they will make LOTS of changes to your meds. You can ask why, but the bottomline, this is VERY normal. They will go down (or away), and once in a while they will raise a dose here and there. They are trying to find your balance as you adjust to these medications.

    Pictures ~ Simply put, YOU LOOK INCREDIBLE.

    If you need someone to lean on, I'm as close as an email.

    Sending hugs!!

    Your heart friend, Don

  7. I'm so glad you posted pictures, although I hope you'll post more recent pictures soon so that everyone can see how incredible you look. After visiting you in the hospital, I was AMAZED at how great you look - your skin is pink and you radiate an energy you haven't had since October. I'm so encouraged for you, and definitely think you've made the right decision. Keep on truckin' - you're doing AMAZINGLY well.

  8. Yay, Andrea! Glad to get reports of your continued progress. Keep up the posts, as your energy levels allow, and know that we're rooting for you!

  9. You look awesome Dreddie and thank you for sharing with everyone. As someone who fears roller coasters, I am amazed by your strength! Keep on keepin' on and much love to you! Linds

  10. Andrea -- I love reading your updates. Your personality is shining through your words. Here's to many more long-lasting UPs. You are brave, strong, courageous, and incredibly resilient. Perhaps some Jbaby Bedtime bath + lotion routine could help soothe you to sleep at night?!?!?

  11. Andrea, keep up your incredible spirit! The pictures of you are amazing....honestly, can't believe how quickly they got you up and out of the hospital. Give your mom a kiss...I am thinking of her also!!!

  12. Andrea, Good to see you up so soon after surgery - modern medicine is amazing. Marguerite says you are doing well - great to hear that.
    I have one question. In the picture of you walking post op there is a guy with blue shirt and shorts. I have a hard time believing he just happened to radomly be there - on his way to the bathroom or cafeteria or just standing in that spot. He has to have some official role in that scene. What is it? It looks like he is holding some sort of remote control device.
    I must know. It is keeping me up at night.
    Thanks/Bobby D.