Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Further On Up The Road...

Folks -

Question: What do a groundhog and a transplant surgeon have in common?
Answer: They're both talking about six more weeks.

While the shadow-scared groundhog warns of six more weeks of winter weather, the surgeon says my ''T-tube'' - the last souvenir from my Dec. 19 liver transplant - should only have to stay in for six more weeks.

The ''T-tube'' resembles a spaghetti strand or a broken rubber band which protrudes from the right side of my abdomen and extends down into the bile duct of the liver. It's more of a fire escape than anything else - only there for emergencies in case doctors need to check the fluids in my liver.

Dr. Lewis Teperman, head of the NYU Transplant Center, says my latest bloodwork numbers ''look great.'' He further reduced some medication and told me I'm doing so well I don't need to come back for a check-up for a month. (''Get out of here, we need this room for sick people,'' he quipped at Monday's examination.)

When I see him again early next month, he'll schedule the procedure to remove the ''T-tube.'' The procedure is done by NYU's radiology department and may involve a very brief hospital stay. A dye is injected into the abdomen to make sure that there isn't any bile floating around anywhere it shouldn't be. Wayward bile can cause infection. Sometimes, the actual removal of the tube can cause a bile release. In about 10% of cases, the patients ends up in the hospital on a regime of antibiotics until the infection clears up.

So, as I move further on up the road to recovery, I'm counting the days till spring. It can't be far off - the Red Sox website carries a countdown clock showing up-to-the-second timing of how soon pitchers and catchers will report for spring training in Fort Myers, my old Florida stomping ground. (8 days 4 hours 4 minutes 19 seconds...)

And I'm counting the days to the end of the T-tube...
...and spaghetti will never quite be the same for me again.



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