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If you are following this blog, you will know that Evelyn, the American patient, is currently here in South Korea, having her lymphosuction and stem cell operation. Here are her latest words:-

Nov. 10, 2015 – D Day

Six am, nurse came in with her trolley for an IV in each arm. Took a shower first and wet the whole bathroom. Saline bag drip by 6:30 am. Two bathroom breaks – those two cups of juice must have been laxatives….

Dr. Shim came in and mentioned that his congregation of a hundred people are praying for me. I have to check his website. What a kind and caring doctor.

Apparently Val told him about my back issues and the effect the hard bed was having. He said everything will be alright, except he was concerned about my transplanted kidney. Mrs. Shim, a very nice lady, also came to wish us luck, as she’s assisting at the operating table.

At 7:30 am I was asked to walk to the OR with two nurses. It was on another floor. The OR is not that big but it was well equipped. A male nurse ushered me to the operating table and started to shave the right part down there . A total of five nurses hovered over me and one asked about urine output during the operation. So I said I didn’t understand how I could urinate laying strapped.  They had to call Dr. Shim. It was catheterization!

I was injected the anaesthesia and off I went to dreamland……

…..I woke up in my nice softer bed, but in no time the pain came. It was mostly in the upper thigh near the groin area. I couldn’t move an inch without softly crying in pain. I had a painkiller tube hanging by the saline bag. I kept pumping but there was no relief until the nurse injected another painkiller unto the iv.  Three more bags (pints) of blood was also transfused because Dr. Shim said my haemoglobin was a low 8.  This has always been an issue with me.  He proudly announced that 8,500 cc has been drained from my leg.  More will ooze out from 7 to 10 days.  He was very happy with the outcome and I just kept nodding in gratitude, but felt lost in a haze of chemical weariness.

Another intermittent sleep while I leaked on the padding of the bed. Breakfast came but I had no appetite. Just forced myself to eat some porridge.  I slept for a very long time.

I could see, bandaged as it was, that the leg was so much thinner. It had large bumps here and there but found out that they were extra paddings in the punctured areas.  The realization was a thrill to feel that lymphedema can actually be treated by a most special surgeon.  Stem cell is the added feature which the medico-science world is presently in a scramble to perfect its methods.

 Nov. 11, 2015

This is my second day after the operation. I absolutely loathe food.  It may be my diverticulitis which hasn’t really been diagnosed as such.  I try to think of favorite dishes and I’m nauseated at the images.  Dr. Shim has been utterly understanding and ordered some other fare – coffee, orange juice, sandwich, soft bagel, cream cheese and jelly.  I ate half a bagel.  When my husband came, he ate the rest.

Two changes of bandaging a day keeps Mr Kim, the young man in charge of bandaging, in good practice.  There were five multi-colored pills given twice a day.  I asked what they were and could only understand, painkiller, vitamin…  Restless sleep, so stayed up with email and FB.

Nov. 12, 2015

Woke up late at about 8 am with the nurse nudging me to check vitals. She probably thought I completely passed out because she usually comes in at 6 am.  I ignored breakfast and ate my half-eaten bagel and leftover coffee.

Another bag of saline followed by a most painful intravenous mix of vitamins B and C. That was mean.

Routine two re-wrappings and constant vital check-ups. I had a low-grade fever.  A bit worrisome for me because my nephrologist has always cautioned me to call him or get admitted at the ER.  Two icepacks under each arm and the fever went away.

Dinner was the usual watery warm rice porridge. I munched on the lettuce leaves and I threw it all up.  Quick reflex with one of the larger covers of food containers on tray, or it would have been a gross incident for my nurse!

Nov. 13, 2015 (Friday the thirteenth, has always been lucky for me)

Got up early, freshened up, put on some powder and lipstick and was ready for the world.

Dr. Shim was very pleased with me today. I looked cheerier, no pain, no fever, and was walking better (with the walker of course).  The doctor was in his usual chatty mood and said, “If they do this treatment in America, they’ll be afraid because of your donated kidney.  You are a high-risk patient.”  No truer words were said.  I sensed this from all the doctors I saw.  Even my dentist was reluctant to give me an implant.  I told him to speak to my nephrologist.  The doctors who specialized in lymph node transfer drew the line.

Dr. Marga Massey of South Carolina admonished me “To contend with my lymphedema and not lose a more precious thing as a kidney.”. Why didn’t she say that in the first place, on the phone, instead of having us travel 12 hours to South Carolina and back? I gave her a novel of my health situation, talked to her patient relationship assistant for hours, had a long consultation with her when we got there, I was examined, x-rayed and had a lymphoscintography, and was photographed at every angle.  Dr. Marga was a charming physician and butter won’t melt in her mouth. At the end it was a let down after heightening my expectations.

Next was Dr. James Chang of the renowned M.D.Anderson Hospital in Houston, Texas. He was a distinguished looking Asian gentleman who was a little too formal and direct.  He also made me travel, after all my weary story on paper.  At least it was only a ten-minute interview and he discouraged me from the outset.  Too costly, multiple visits, too risky.

Lastly was the softly-spoken Dr. Joseph Dayan whose presentations mesmerized me, but he was in Los Angeles. Dr. Dayan was very young, tall and kind.  The minute I heard he was coming to Beth Israel in New York, excitement rose up again.  I had three very long visits with him.  Time passed at the waiting room.  I went through a thorough MRI that required a long travel and waiting in Manhattan.  Our final talk was his benevolent remark that because of my kidney transplantation, he was not in his comfort zone to do a vascularized lymph node transfer.  He said he wanted statistics to mount up and maybe he could do it the year after.  He promised to call and when that happens.  I don’t know where he is now.  I tried getting copies of my MRI from his office but Beth Israel said there was a fire that destroyed all of Dr. Dayan’s records.

Conspiracy? Funny how before all these visits I consulted a member of a team of vascular surgeons of the Long Island Jewish Hospital and asked why they do not do the lymph node procedure for lymphedema.  He bluntly said to me, “Because it doesn’t work.”

My nice cooperative husband brought me dessert-like bread, apples and two big bottles of orange juice (I did ask for two bottles, but not the giant ones). I said I felt like a burger so off he trudged to Burger King.  Korean shredded bulgogi style beef is not the evil hamburger I know in the States.  He ate my Korean hospital food and was happy.

Hello Ambien – if I don’t take you I won’t sleep because now I’m back to almost normal..

I will post Evelyn’s next update here when it is available, but in the meantime, here is her amazingly transformed leg….I have her full permission to share these immediate pre op and post op pictures…..what an incredible transformation….

Wishing you a swift recovery, Evelyn!

For those seeking a support network, or more information on Lymphoedema, click here..

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