Last week was start of the Tim Hortons "Roll up the Rim" contest. My brother and I were talking about winning coffees and stuff, when I asked him "Hey is there a roll up for winning a pair of lungs?" We laughed about it, and then he edited a pictures to make it look like it said "LUNGS" under the rim. The next couple of days came and went, just average every day kinda things. Thursday night (FEBRUARY 24, 2011) he was at home and I was at home, and we were chatting online. He was telling me about this episode of "Greys Anatomy" that he was watching. The basic story line was that there was a CF patient in need of a double lung transplant. So while I go to set the show to record on my PVR, My Phone rings. Its about 9:30 p.m. The number that comes up is my Mom's. This takes me by surprise because My mom rarely calls out of the blue, and never at night. I knew something was up. I even said to Steve "Oh I wonder what's going on? Mom never calls this time of the day!" So when I answer the phone, the first thing she says to me is "Sean's Pager just went off! Are you ready to go.?" Lucky for me I live in Barrie and it takes them time to get to me. So I had time to get some stuff together. So this is where the adventure begins. Much like the first time his pager went off, I being to stress out and start running all over the house like a crazy person! Steve has to tell me over an over to calm down. For me though, it was impossible. So like before, once I get all my stuff together and I am ready to go, I let my brother know that I will meet them up the highway so that its quicker to just go and we can avoid the Barrie roads.
Our friend Dan, drove us all down to Toronto General Hospital. When we got there, at least this time we had some idea of where we were going. So after Sean checks in at the Emergency room we proceed through the hospital. First we go to X-ray and then from there we head up to the 7th floor West side, via the East side elevators. Upon arrival to the ward they direct us to a room. This time it's a little different than before. The placard outside the room door already has a label in it " EDWARDS " so we're thinking, "Oh this is it this time!" He had to share the room with someone else. So we get into the room, and Sean gets situated. There is a bed in the room and only one chair. Mom takes the chair, Sean lounges on the bed, Dan sits on the edge of the bed and I lean up against the door frame.
The nurses come in and start doing their thing, they check his vitals, they bring him a gown. They said that they had to do some other things and that it would be best if we went and waited in the lounge down the hall and that they would come and get us when they were done. By this point I am a nervous wreck and I don't want to wait anymore. So we go in the lounge and there is one other person in there. She is in her wheelchair and she is watching a movie. She is also yelling at the movie, which was more than a little creepy. And Dan kept thinking that she was talking to him! HaHa!
So we waited for quite a while and finally the nurse came back and said we could go back into the room. We get in the room and Sean is all decked out in his hospital gown stretched out on the bed. Dan goes and sits on the far side of the bed and leans on the table. My mom sits in the corner in the chair and tries to relax against a small counter. Me I take turns between sitting on the edge of the bed and standing in the doorway. At that point I was just too stressed out to try and relax. We were really not sure what was going to happen at this point. The way everyone was talking though, it seemed like this time around it might be the real deal and Sean was finally going to get his lungs!
I was finally able to get another chair brought into the room for me. Shortly after a Doctor came in and took a list of all the medications that Sean was taking at home. And he was told that she should "Take a Sleep" lol. The surgery was scheduled for 8am Friday morning. So the four of us, all crammed it to this tiny area all nervous, scared and excited were supposed to rest. Fat chance that was going to happen. We sat awake for a while, Dan decided he was going to sleep and decided it was time to take his contacts out. This is a big deal because without his contacts in, Dan's vision was useless. Blind as a bat! So I had to take him down to a bathroom, and then guide his blind ass back to the room. Once he got situated and stopped trying to text when he couldn't see his phone he leaned over and fell asleep with his head resting on the table over the bed. My mom had brought a couple of home made pillows from home. She had one out on the countertop and was attempting to sleep. I had the other pillow my mom brought, and I was doing everything in my power to find a comfortable position to sleep. IMPOSSIBLE! I tried behind my head while I slid down in the chair… nope. I tried propping my elbow on the arm of the chair and holding the pillow in my open palm… nope. I even tried resting the pillow against the small sink by the door and stretching my legs out.. That didn't work either. The only position I found any comfort with was to sit with one leg crossed over the other and sit my back pack in my lap, placing the pillow on top of the backpack and leaning my head onto the pillow. It worked a little bit. I think I was able to get an hour or hour and a half at most.
That's when the doctors and nurses started finding their way back to us. They came in and hooked Sean up to some IV meds, they had him take his first dose of the Anti-Rejection drugs. Soon after that they told us it was time to move him down to the Surgical Waiting area!
Another person showed up outside the room with a bed for him. So they got Sean out of the bed that he was in and stuffed him into the one in the hall. From there they took us to the Waiting area.
In the waiting area we met the anesthesiologist and she went over some of the procedure that would happen when they prepped Sean. Sean asked her about using his disposable cameral to take pictures of his old and new lungs. She promised him that a colleague of hers would do that depending on time frame and such. The Surgeon came over to speak to us and told us a little about what to expect and how long it would be.
It was all happening so fast all of a sudden. You wait for this moment for months and then when it comes, everything moves at lightning speeds! We were told Sean would be in surgery for the better part of the day, and that we could wait in the lounge on the 3rd floor. They told us that when it was possible someone would be up to give us any updates as they arose, depending on time constraints and the amount of people available to leave the surgery. We went up to the lounge/waiting room to wait for news. It was not easy that's for sure. We left Sean at about 8:20am in the morning, and we finally got an update from a nurse around 11am. She came in and told us that everything was going as it was planned. The new lungs had arrived and were very "Pretty". She said the Surgeon had cut Sean open 20 minutes ago (10:40am) and that everything looked great. She told us that if at all possible someone would come up and give us another update around the time the first lung was put it. She also told us not to be too discouraged if no one came up, as they would all be very busy tending to the surgery. She said if no one could make it up to see us that someone might call. But for sure the Surgeon would be in to see us as soon as the surgery was done and Sean was closed back up. Again with the waiting game. We lounged for what felt like forever, some of us tried to sleep, but I found sleep was escaping me. I didn't want to fall asleep in case someone showed up with some news about Sean. I didn't want to miss it. Dan and I went for a few walks, which always turned into coffee runs. I found that I had to keep going to the far side of the lounge area to find myself an electric outlet so that I could charge my iPhone. Apparently when everyone is constantly messaging you and you are trying to make constant facebook updates, the battery doesn't last very long. I had to charge my phone quite a bit. At one point in an effort to get some sleep in a comfortable spot, Dan started taking the cushions off the waiting room chairs so that he could make a make shift bed. We waited another 5 hours from the first update before we heard any news. This time it was the surgeon himself. He came in and handed my Mom Sean's disposable camera and told her that he was able to get three pictures of Sean's lungs. One picture of both bad lungs, and then one picture with one of the good lungs transplanted and then another picture of both healthy lungs side by side. We have yet to have the pictures developed.
The Surgeon told us that everything went great and that Sean pulled through the procedure very well. Said there were not any major complications. He told us that Sean would be brought up to the MSICU ward in an hour and that we would be able to go in and see him. He told us it would probably be a good time for us to go get something to eat. He wished us all well, he hugged my Mom and shook mine and Dan's hand. I shook the hand of the man that gave my brother his life back. Amazing!
We went to the food court in the hospital and we got something to eat, killed an hour there and then headed up to 10 west, the MSICU ward to see if Sean was there. We went into another room with lots of chairs. Common theme over those past couple of days. There was a desk with a phone, you were supposed to call the nurses station from the phone and ask about the patient you were there to see. So we did, and they told Mom that he had not arrived on the ward yet. They told us that we should take a seat and the phone would ring when it was time to come see him. Again with the waiting game and lack of more sleep. We sat around in this waiting room for about an hour too. Finally the phone was ringing and no one was answering it. So I walked over and picked it up. When I said "Hello" the voice on the other end said "Edwards?" and I said "Yeah, is he ready for us to see him now?" She told me the room number told us we could come on down.When we got there I could see Sean through the glass. It's hard to explain all the emotions that were involved at this point. I could see that he was ok and that he was breathing. There were nurses still all around him hooking up various IV's and sensors and all that stuff and getting him his necessary meds. I was relieved to see that he pulled through. But the sight of my brother, laying there unconscious with all those tubes and wires…. It was tough for me at the time. I kept saying to my Mom "I can't look at him like this." We said our short goodbyes to him, as were going to leave him rest for the night.
The nurses told us that we should probably go and get some sleep. She also said that he would probably be out like a light all of the next day as well. She said it would be better if we just went home and came back to the Hospital on Sunday. He would probably be awake by then. So that was our plan. We left the hospital and we all went home for some much needed sleep. Although were all still kind of stressed, we were also so relieved.
The next morning my phone rang an 9am. It was my Mom. She said she had just heard from the hospital and that Sean was awake. They told her that he still had the ventilator hooked up with his breathing tube, that Sean was agitated with all the tubes and what not. Being unable to talk with the breathing tube in he was writing notes. Mom said that Sean was asking for me. When she told me this, my heart broke in two. I felt so bad for leaving the hospital, I thought I should have been there for him as soon as he woke up. We had some stuff we had to do early that Saturday so we went off and did that, but we planned on heading to the hospital as soon as we were done. I was told I could bring Sean's Blackberry down to him so that he would be able to talk to people. So I brought his phone and some toiletries down with me. Before we got there my Sisters Geri and Penny were there to see him, as well as my Niece Lynn. While they were there, Sean had his ventilator removed with the breathing tube and was able to sit up and talk. He was making remarkable progress. I could't wait to see him. My sister took a picture for me and sent it to me. It was like night and day the difference between the last time I saw him and the next morning!
TO BE CONTINUED...