Transplant Athlete
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
  Post Transplant Kidney Biopsy

Yesterday, I arrived at the Inova Fairfax Hospital at 8am for my biopsy. While getting admitted, I was asked to sign a form that said if my insurance didn't pay, I would be liable for payment. Which seems a bit redundant to me. Who goes to the hospital and doesn't assume they'll be liable for the bill if the insurance company doesn't pick up the tab. Which brings me to my next point. If I'm supposed to be liable for the bill, shouldn't I be made aware of the costs? The largest cause of bankruptcies in the US is medical bills. Its a sad fact, but hospitals charge exorbitant amounts for operations. Insurance companies with lots of clout, then negotiate the rates down to a fraction of the cost, but people without insurance end up paying full price. Why don't hospitals post rates? Why aren't consumers allowed to comparison shop?

Anyway, back to the biopsy. The transplant surgeon, Dr. Jonsson, was supposed to bo my biopsy, but organs became available and obviously a transplant operation takes precedence. So, I was stuck in a bed in the short stay unit with my butt hanging out of one of those hospital gowns. The news ran a story about a car accident that had happened earlier in the morning, and I couldn't help but wonder if those were the organs that had become available.

I spent the next 8.5 hours waiting in the short stay unit, then I finally got moved down to ultrasound and discovered that due to communication errors, I was the last patient of the day and could have been seen hours earlier.

The biopsy is an interesting sensation. The lidocaine goes in first and that's what you'd expect, a needlestick, but it does its job and in my case, I didn't even feel the rest of the shots. Then, they use another instrument, and it feels like they are digging or scrapping around inside. Very interesting feeling. The nurse operating the ultrasound didn't have any experience with it, so the doctor performing the biopsy was juggling her tools, the ultrasound probe, and telling the nurse what buttons to push. When they get where they are going, there's a loud snap as they capture material. The first time didn't get them enough cortex marterial, so they did it again. The second time didn't yield enough cortex material so they did it again. The third time was the charm.

They cleaned me up and shipped me back upstairs. I was supposed to rest and let the incision heal, the major threat with a kidney biopsy is bleeding. Around 6pm, I asked a nurse for some water and never saw her again. I called the nurses station at 7pm to ask for water and received it about 15 minutes later. Also, the nurse came in and administered some Lasix (a diuretic). They were supposed to adminster that as soon as I came back up, and they were also supposed to be taking my blood pressure and temperature hourly, but apparently, they didn't know I was back from Ultrasound. This isn't a knock on the nurses, they are overworked and underpaid. I try not to bother them. I had seen their orders, so I was supposed to be restricted to the hospital bed for 3 hours. At 9pm, my wife called and I told her to come pick me up, it would take her about a half hour to get to the hospital. At 9:15, I got dressed and about ten minutes later, the nurse came in and said that she had my discharge paperwork. Which was fortunate, because I was leaving at 9:30 whether I was discharged or not. I did not want to spend the night.


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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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Warning Signs for Kidney Disease:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Burning or Difficulty when Urinating
  • Frequent Urination at Night
  • Blood in your urine
  • Cola or tea colored urine
  • Swellig of the eyes, ankles, or feet
  • Lower back pain unrelated to physical activity

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