Monday, 21 May 2018

An Inside, Personal Look at Toronto General Hospital's Transplant Program

Yesterday I went for a 4,500 step walk with Teena down by Lake Ontario. I know this doesn't sound like much of a hike except for the fact that 30 days before, during the night of April 20, I was on the receiving end of a liver transplant.

I have always made sure that my driver's license and health card showed that I was registered as a donor. Never did I expect that I would be the one who would need a transplant from another.

Canadians are lucky. We have access to the busiest transplant hospital in North America and one of the most famous in the world. In 2017, the UHN program performed 639 adult transplants compared to 607 at the UCLA Medical Center and the University of California San Francisco Medical Center which completed 601. It should be noted for the purposes of this article that 195 of the transplants at Toronto General Hospital were liver transplants

Last year it was discovered that I had cancer in my liver. Princess Margaret Hospital took care of that. Originally I was told that the procedure, called a TACE, would halt and shrink the tumor but would not kill it.  It could be contained, though until I received a new liver.  However, it turned out that the cancer was indeed wiped out. The liver was weakened by the cancer and the likelihood of it returning was great so I was placed on the transplant list.

While waiting for my turn to come, I met with many doctors, surgeons and social workers at Toronto General  who all made sure that I was physically and mentally ready for the operation. My turn came up on April 20 and at 10pm I was wheeled into the operating room for my six hour operation. Let's just say that the day after my operation wasn't the best I have ever felt but, hey, it's like that for anyone that has gone through any type of major surgery.

The ward is divided into post-op stages, the first one being right after surgery in acute care where I was constantly monitored. I wasn't in there long, maybe overnight (that part is hazy) before being moved to the next unit and a less intensive level of care and designed to get me moving. My first feat of strength? Being helped out of bed and into a chair beside it to sit for an hour. The next day, though, the physical therapist had me heading down the halls for a lap with a walker. The day after, a lap or two without a walker and then I graduated to my last unit.

I spent three nights there, resting, climbing stairs with my physiotherapist, walking and being constantly looked after with medications, blood tests, small procedures and training.

Training for what? How to detect organ rejection. Surprisingly it's not IF it happens but how to recognize it when it happens. It could be in a few weeks, few months, few years, decades, but definitely will  occur.

My medications drive up my sugar levels so currently I am diabetic and had to learn how to inject myself and go through a diabetic program. I may or may not have to continue with my daily shots when one of my meds is cut off. I'm hoping I don't need it.

Every transplant recipient has an aftercare transplant co-coordinator and transplant doctor. The program has a call system that I had to learn about where I can leave messages that are answered the same day, or they can contact me though it for any followup, medication change or questions they may have. It's wonderfully efficient.

Six days after my operation, on Friday April 27th, I was sent home with Teena. Everyday has been a challenge but everyday too, Teena and I see an improvement.  My thanks go out to everyone who has been involved and helped me through all of this. Especially the nurses. I was so well looked after!

I know people had to suffer through a loss of a loved one for this to happen. That plays on my mind and every day I am thankful for their kindness and generosity.

There is still a long way to go to recovery but it seems to get a little faster every day. After all, 30 days ago I would have never dreamed that I would be going for a walk along the lake. Now I'm starting to look forward to so much more.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Toronto Rock Loses 'Must Win' Game

Tonight the Toronto Rock played host to the Rochester Knighthawks at the ACC in their last home game of the regular season.

The Western division standings have already been decided but the East is a log jam. Three teams have 8-7 records while two sit at 7-8. The top three teams make it to the playoffs and there are three games left to play.

Rochester sat at top of the division based on Goals at 8-7 while Toronto came in at 7-8. A win would put Toronto in first. A loss would seriously jeopardize their playoff hopes.

Scotty Newlands sang the American national anthem and a band and choir from Upper Canada College performed "Oh Canada".

The opening face off.

The Rock were tied at 3-3 in the second quarter then exploded for 5 goals to take an 8-3 lead. The 11,463 fans were rocking.

Rochester, however, didn't quit and scored 3 goals in 2 minutes and 33 seconds to close the gap at the end of the half to 8-6. Two of those goals were scored just 17 seconds apart.

It got worse from there in the second half. Toronto managed just 3 goals in the entire half while Rochchester had their way with them and scored 10 to take the win 14-11.

It's hard to expect the Rock to win when they only seem to play half the game. They also only won 8 out of 30 faceoffs giving Rochester instant control of the ball 22 times.

Here are Teena and I.

The Toronto Rock Cheerleaders always put on a great show.

The Rock didn't win and we didn't either.

Win or lose, the Rock players always salute their fans.

Buffalo and Georgia both play teams from the west on Saturday night. The Rock needs to see at least one lose to have a faint hope of making the playoffs. A Buffalo loss would work well for the Rock as they play them next weekend.

Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Today, April 11, in Canadian History

Today in 1807, successful businessman Ezekiel Hart, who was elected to the Assembly of Lower Canada for Trois-Rivières in a by-election on January 21, was told he could not take his seat in the Assembly or vote on any issues as Jews and Roman Catholics were not allowed to be members of Parliament in Britain or the colonies.

He was subsequently elected to the Assembly two more times and each time was not allowed to sit or vote.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Today, April 7, in Canadian History

Today in 1868, MP and a Father of Confederation, D'Arcy McGee, was shot in the neck and killed by an assassin outside of Trotter's Boarding House on Sparks Street, where he stayed when in Ottawa. He was returning from Parliament Hill around 1 am after a late night session.

It is thought that McGee was killed by a Fenian for his anti-Fenian views. Within 24 hours, James Patrick Whelan, a suspected Fenian, was arrested for the murder. He later was hung for the crime.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Today, April 6, in Canadian History

Today in 1912 the Manitoba, which became a province of Canada on July 15, 1870, had it's provincial boundary increased to where it presently stands.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Today, April 5, in Canadian History

Today in 1908 Edmonton put Canada's 1st dial telephones for general use in Canada into service. Now, 110 years later, they are coming out with curved screen cell phones and land lines are not widely used.

The Bell Homestead website has a very interesting, photo filled page on the history of the telephone.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Today, April 4, in Canadian History

Today in 1881 the second Canadian census was taken. It showed Canada with a population of 4,324,810 with 2,188,854 men and 2,135,956 women.

The country grew by 17.2% in the 10 years since the first census was taken in 1871. Then Canada had a population of 3,689,257, a growth of 635,553 people.