Chapter One: Diagnosis
Chapter Two: Donor?
Chapter Three: Dialysis
Chapter Four: Transplant
Chapter Five: Recovery
From My Lens

An update from Amber. Written on Sunday, April 2, 2000, 11:02 a.m.

Hearing that everything in an operation like this went as planned is one of the best feelings I can describe. Everything went perfectly -- save a minor inconvenience with John Jr.'s operation, during which his adrenal gland decided it didn't want to let go of his kidney. It usually takes about 10 minutes to separate the gland from the kidney; in John Jr.'s case, it took more than 45 minutes.

Still, the operation went as smoothly as could be hoped. Doctors said that John F. was receiving the biggest, healthiest looking kidney he could ever want, and immediately after it was put into his body, it began filtering his blood.

Saturday was very painful for both Johns.

John Jr. has been pushing it like a pro, however, forcing himself to walk around the floor until he tires himself out. John F. is several hours behind his father in recovering; he slept most of Saturday, slipping in and out of consciousness until friends Erik and Clint stopped by Saturday night. It was then, during shop conversations about photojournalism, that I could see a glimmer of my John shining through. He's going to be OK.

John F.'s creatinine was between 8 and 9 before surgery. Saturday, it dropped to 5.5, and we learned this morning that it's now at 3. That's better than it's been in more than a year. It is a good sign.

John F. began walking again yesterday, making a couple trips to his father's room, which is around the corner from his own. He will walk a little more today and likely will begin eating a little food. The biggest improvement, however, isn't gauged by such milestones. He's coherent, he's managing the pain, he's determined to heal himself and he's back in good humor, making jokes with the nurses and his friends.

To all the people who stopped by yesterday but were shooed away by a concerned "significant other:" Thanks for your patience. For a few days, he just needs rest. After that, he'll be ready to tear up Chicago like old times.

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