Post Number: 10524
|Posted on Sunday, October 11, 2009 - 09:05 am: ||
Dan Doucleff Transplant Story
My story started about three years ago, I was sitting at my desk at work and heard the woman in the cube next to me (Katrina) counting out what seemed like an awful lot of pills of some sort. I noticed she took the pills every day at about the same time. One day she did not take the pills, so I asked her about it. She thanked me for reminding her and took her pills. She said she can’t afford to miss her medicine. She said she had received a donor kidney and took the pills to keep her body from rejecting it. I did not think another thing of it. I was at work and made a comment about my blood sugar level and that I had experienced several low blood sugar episodes recently. Katrina said she was in the hospital with someone who had both kidney and pancreas transplanted at the same time. I wondered why? I had no idea that a pancreas could be transplanted from one person to another. I had even less idea of what had to happen to make that type procedure possible for anyone. Katrina gave me the name and phone number of the coordinator from IU hospital that had helped her. It turned out that Katrina’s coordinator and I were acquaintances. We have friends in common. Her name is Mary and we see each other at events we are both invited to and know each other fairly well. I did not know anything about her job.
My spousal equivalent Shirley and I discussed my condition and both agreed that my condition was bad and getting worse. I monitored my sugar levels several times a day and never had control. My blood tests always came back with poor results. I was suffering from out of control diabetes and I was feeling the effects. Shirley was concerned, to say the least. I barely woke up one morning. The bed was soaking wet. I could not speak clearly. Shirley brought me some orange juice. We struggled with the glucose monitor and my level was 21. We checked it again it was 23. The previous night, about 6 hours earlier it was over 200. I had another event that included driving and work. I had low sugar and was mumbling to myself. People started to gather around me to see what was wrong. Luckily, Shirley was there with me and asked a co-worker (Casey) to go get me some juice. The juice brought me right out of it, for the moment. I was scared when I realized I had driven my new car 85 miles per hour on the interstate and had to catch myself from passing out on the way to work. I was afraid I would die. I was afraid I might hurt someone else. I have two teenage sons who ride in the car with me. Shirley rides in the car with me driving all the time. I was putting the three people I cared most about in danger every time I got behind the wheel of my car.
Shirley and I decided to talk to the people at IU about transplant. We set up some preliminary tests to see if I might be a candidate. My insurance agreed to pay for the tests. The tests showed that I was in pretty good shape other than the diabetes and registered less than 1 percent on a C peptide test. I went for more tests and to meet the director of the transplant program at IU, Dr Fridell. He’s a Great Guy. I petitioned my insurance company to see if they would approve such a procedure, they wanted more tests, more doctors, more tries at other treatments. Finally they agreed to fund the procedure and the medication. I got a call about the middle of May 2006. I was approved to go on the waiting list for a donor organ. I was scared, hopeful, anxious and relieved.
So, now I’m on the national transplant list. I made arrangements with a close personal friend to handles matters for me if there was an unforeseen problem. Basically I asked a friend to make decisions on my behalf in the event that I became incapacitated. In a life or death situation I did not want Shirley to have to pull the plug on me. I did not think it would come into play, but it did. Not sure whether to sit by the phone or live my life and be ready to go at any time. I waited around for a while then started to venture out with cell phone always ready to take a call. I was advised that there may be several false alarms, not every donor has a pancreas that is healthy enough to transplant. Shirley and I had a plan in place and I packed a big bag to take to the hospital. The bag was a big mistake. Not long after going on the list I got a call. There was a potential donor and the transplant team went to harvest the organs. The donor’s pancreas was not healthy so I was sent home. I learned my lesson that night not to get too excited or upset when the phone rang.
August 30th in the early evening, I got a call to see if I was available and could get to the hospital. I thought no big deal- another false alarm. I called back after a few minutes and the coordinator said to come to the emergency room. Blood was drawn, tests were run, phone calls were made. Someone came into the room and said get him ready for surgery. I thought WOW it’s going to happen. Am I ready? It did not matter, I made the decision and I was going through with it. The transplant surgery happened on the 31st of August 2006. I came out of surgery and felt bad, tubes everywhere, nose, mouth. I got through the first couple of days. I was tired and I was ready to get out of the hospital and go home. Gradually the doctors started removing tubes and I was encouraged to walk. I was encouraged to poop. I was encouraged to wash my face, brush my teeth, learn about the pills I would take, and get the heck out of the hospital. So I did, and I was glad to. The way the clinics are set up I felt like I left and came back in the same day. I no longer was home till I was returning for my first check up.
After about a week or ten days I got sick. I started throwing up and was unable to ever get any rest. Shirley called the coordinator and she said to come back in to the emergency room. They did a CT scan and it was determined that I would need emergency surgery right then and there, that night, right away. I was upset because Shirley’s birthday was coming soon and I had not picked out a card for her or a gift. I was determined to not stay in the hospital another day. I had no reason to believe I was not cured, two operations in ten days was enough to fix anybody, right? Well, no…I had an obstruction. The doctors corrected it, put me back together and sewed me up.
I wanted to go home to buy the card and gift for the woman I love. I asked to go. The doctors said you can’t go. You’re sick. I was sick. I had an infection and it spread through my body. I remembered struggling to get out. I was mad and I fought to get out. Luckily the doctors and Shirley would not let me sign myself out. I called every phone number I could remember to find someone who I thought might get me out of there. I was pissed, I wanted to go home but no one would let me go. I remember a nurse saying that I seemed very disagreeable. Then I woke up. It was three days later. My friend Nick, who I trusted to pull the plug on me, was there. My friend Elaine was there, holding my hand. PJ, Cathy who were life long friends and many doctors and nurses I did not recognize were there. Shirley was at work. She had recently started a new job and was not able to be with me the whole time. Someone took a tube out of my mouth and all the medical people left the room. I still remember holding Elaine’s hand. It was very comforting. I don’t know what all happened while I was away, but I was back and I was ready to go home. My doctor, Dr Fridell, came to see me. He assured me that he had everything under control as far as my treatment was concerned and he would continue to monitor my status and I would be released when he was satisfied that I was okay to go home and not until then. I trust Dr Fridell and believe he saved my life. I put my trust in my doctor and my faith in the Virgin Mary. I am Catholic and prayed more Hail Mary’s than I can imagine. It’s no lie that people get religious when they are faced with doom.
After a couple of weeks I went home. Then I came back for clinics, procedures, clinics, procedures. Finally, the “goo” stopped oozing from my drains and my incision stayed shut. I was worried about my job. My boss from work called me. Her name is Teresa. She told me I could come back to work on a part time basis until I was strong enough to work full eight hour days. That may have been the best phone call I ever received. I have a special attachment to the people who helped me through September and October of 2006. All the people who called, sent cards, visited, all the prayers from my church from my family. The effort from the staff at IU was over the expectations I ever had. I remember that Julie held the door open for me and welcomed me back to work. I mostly remember wanting to get home to Shirley, whose love I can not live without. I’m in GREAT shape now. And would do it all again for another five minutes with my loved ones.