When I had the kidney/pancreas transplant, the kidney was slow to start working so I had to have hemodialysis treatments at the hospital until it started working on its own. Fir this, a port was attached to the blood vessels in my neck. There was a serious complication with the first one, which was done on Good Friday and led to a terrifying incident I write about earlier in the book. It had to be removed and the second port was placed there later that evening.
For three weeks it clung to my neck. The lines of the dialysis machines were fastened to it at each treatment and I couldn’t move my neck or head. It was like having an octopus grab me by the throat. Whiskers grew around it where it was too close for me shave. The port had a few dangling parts where the lines attached to it and where nurses injected medications. When I was able to start wearing my own clothes instead of a hospital gown, I had be extra careful putting on or taking off a shirt or else it would snag them.
It was still on my neck when I was released from the hospital because the kidney still wasn’t up to speed and I might need more dialysis treatments. Fortunately, the kidney started working soon after that and no additional treatments were needed.
Here’s the excerpt from What Didn’t Kill Me Made Me Stronger.
At one appointment at Dr. Henry’s office, Judy, his nurse, removed the port from my neck. On one hand, I was eager to have the thing off me. On the other hand, I was still very nervous about letting anyone touch my neck. The trauma of Good Friday was still fresh in my memory. She gently cut the sutures holding it in place while I sat as still as I could, wincing now and then from the slightest tug and gritting my teeth.
Is this what it’s like to get rid of a leech? Am I going to end up with a scar on my neck?
When I got back to my parents’ house, I finally got to take my shower. It was May 5th – exactly one month since my last shower. It made me a little nervous standing in the wet bathtub on my wobbly left leg, water cascading over the long surgical scar, which was still covered by a row of butterfly bandages. But for the first time in thirty days of doing the best I could with a wet washcloth, I really felt clean. After very carefully stepping over the edge of the tub, gently patting my tender torso dry, and getting dressed, I felt a hundred times better.
Read more excerpts from Jim's book What Didn't Kill Me Made Me Stronger: How I Found Hope While Surviving Diabetes, Vision Loss, and Organ Transplant, published in April, 2013.