Archive for the ‘Kidney’ Category

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Back Home

July 1, 2011

So, we’ve been back home for a few days now.  It’s been pretty boring.  We’ve watched a lot of Gilmore Girls, Supernatural, Dick Van Dyke, etc.  The first morning I woke up I felt pretty good.  I got up, showered, went to check the mail…and saw I had a flat tire.  Awesome.  I called AAA so they could just put a donut on it until I was able to take it to the shop, but the guy couldn’t get the tire off my car.  He said it was a slow leak, so he put air in it and told us to take it to the tire shop.  Philip drove it and we went and sat in a tire shop for an hour and got it changed.  It was too much for me and I started feeling pretty sick.

Later that day I was feeling good and so I told Philip I wanted to go to the craft store to buy yarn for a blanket I was making.  Again…too much.  So, yesterday Philip told me I wasn’t allowed to leave the house.  And I succeeded.  I did walk to the dumpster to take out trash and get the mail, but that was it.  We’ve had a couple visitors to bring food, which is lovely.

Today I started weening myself off the pain meds by taking a little bit less than normal.  The bottle started to look like it would get empty soon so it seemed like a good idea.  We’ll see how it goes.

The excitement of the surgery and everything has worn off slightly, but I’m still jazzed.  I still feel like I did the right thing, and I’m still really happy my recipient is doing well.  Although, the flat tire and feeling sick all the time, is definitely bringing me back to reality pretty quickly.  But my fiance is still here for the next few days, so I can’t complain too much.  Once he leaves, I’ll complain a lot.  And I’ll get back to what this blog is really about.

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Post Op

June 27, 2011

I’m still in recovery mode now.  Currently, Philip and I are in our separate beds in the hotel trying to find something interesting on tv.  There’s still some pain and some nausea, but at this moment, I’m feeling pretty good.  Last night was rough.  I woke up in the middle of the night feeling pretty awful, and I guess getting out of bed was a little too much for me.  God bless Philip for being such an amazing caretaker.  All it takes from me is a pathetic “Hey…baby?” and he’s out of bed in a flash asking me what I need and grabbing a trashcan and a cold washcloth for my face.  I’m not really sure what I’d do without him, but I’m glad I don’t have to know.

I got to meet my recipient which was a pretty amazing experience.  She had a lot of visitors which was slightly overwhelming to Philip and I who have only been with each other in this whole process.  I came and they immediately gave me some gifts and some cards.  It was wonderful.  I still don’t feel deserving, but I definitely appreciate all the kindness coming my way.

Hopefully she’ll be released today and continue to feel better and my kidney will be as good to her as its been to me for the last 25 years!

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Surgery.

June 25, 2011

The day before my surgery, I was scheduled to work.  We had our annual, MANDATORY training day.  I got up at 6 to shower and get ready, give the house one more look over to make sure I’d packed all I would need, feed the cats, rearrange things, etc.  Philip drove me to work and went straight to the airport because we were having some issues with our tickets.  Needless to say, we did ultimately get our tickets, but I was so worried that I hardly slept the night before.  I also woke up feeling like I might get sick in the middle of the night.  So, very little sleep was had the night before.  Philip picked me up after work and we went to the airport.  We got in at our hotel around 12:30 that night and had to be at the hospital at 5:30 the next morning.

We checked in and after a short wait, we headed up to my surgery prep room and Philip waited in the family waiting room.  I got my gown on, had my vitals taken, and had the most PAINFUL IV placed.  Before I knew it, I was meeting all kinds of nurses and doctors and thankfully Philip was allowed in the room with me.  Finally, they took me down to surgery.  All I remember is lying on the OR table and telling the nurse that it didn’t look like Grey’s Anatomy.  Next thing I remember is someone waking me up.  My eyes were swollen from all the fluids and I was really nauseous.  Thankfully I eventually got to the point where I could be in my room with Philip.  I slept A LOT.

The first night was frustrating.  We had nurses telling us conflicting things and we both just wanted to go to bed.  One minute we had to stay awake because they wanted me to try moving, the next minute,  I had to drink a glass of Sprite, then take something…It was just a problem with lack of communication between staff members and also from the staff to Philip and me.  But, ultimately, we did get off to sleep.

In the middle of the night, my IV beeped because it was empty, so I’m paging the nurse and I look over and my sweet fiance is staring at his phone saying “I’m so sorry, baby, I’m so sorry!”  I finally say “What are you doing?”  To which he replies “I can’t figure out how to turn my alarm off!”  Yes, he was in desperate need of sleep as well.

The day after my surgery was rough.  The doctors told me it would be the worst, but they had me wake up and walk around and finally made it possible for me to use the restroom.  Yesterday was when I learned that my sister had outed me on Twitter as the donor for one of her friends.

The basic gist of the story is:  My sister follows the blog of another 3 day walker.  This blogger wrote a post about a friend who needed a kidney.  Both my sister and I had the right blood type, so we got tested.  I was found to be a match before my sister, and the rest is history.  On the morning of my surgery, Philip was holding my bag which happens to be a 3day bag.  The aforementioned blogger noticed it and put two and two together.  Before I knew it, people in the 3 day community were reading my blog.  I even had a Twitter hashtag.  I’m not really a twitter user, but basically, people were thanking me for donating.

Tears filled my eyes as I read the words of all of these people who knew my recipient and were thanking me.  Somehow in the insanity of travel and tests and everything leading up to this surgery, I forgot a little bit about my recipient (told ya I was selfish!).  And because I don’t know much about her, it all hit me at once.  I still don’t feel like I’ve done anything above and beyond what God’s asked for me to do, but I am thankful that I took this opportunity that God presented me with and made all these people who know my recipient so happy.

While there’s some pain and frustration, I am feeling infinitely better today and more as the time goes on.  No regrets.

PS:  All this kidney talk makes me think of… “Mr. Tribianni, it looks like you have kidney stones.”  “What else could it be?”  “Kidney stones.”  “Or…?”  “Kidney stooooones!”

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Pre Op

June 22, 2011

Last Tuesday I was in Nashville for all of my pre-op labs and appointments.  Despite the fact that the day I left for Nashville was the day from hell, my hospital experience was a fairly good one.  I was so terrified about being late that I showed up an hour early.  Before the clinic was open.  So I waited.  I had my blood pressure taken twice, an EKG, about 5 million vials of blood taken, a urine sample taken, and a lot of listening to my chest.  My surgeon even showed me exactly where each of the incisions would be.  I’m not going to lie, I’m a little excited about my new scar around my belly button where they’ll be taking the kidney out.

Today eased my mind a lot.  People kept telling me I was healthy and in good shape, which makes me think the surgery should go smoothly (I’m not superstitious, so I have no trouble saying things like this.)  I will say that I am very happy that my fiance will be with me for the surgery.  I’m a strong, independent woman, but sometimes it’s not as much fun being alone.  Especially when your surgeon is giving you the obligatory speech about all the things that could go wrong.

One thing that entertained me was when the surgeon said before any surgeon he needs to go over the benefits and risks with the patients.  Direct quote:  “So, let’s be clear on your benefits.  There are none.”

Granted, a lot of people think I’m crazy for donating my kidney to a stranger.  But I think the surgeon was a little harsh in saying there are no benefits.  Frankly, in my opinion, giving a stranger my kidney might inspire someone else (possibly a reader of my blog?) to do the same.  Then their story might inspire someone else.  And so forth and so on.  Ultimately, if this continued, wouldn’t we all benefit because someone’s life is being saved?  I don’t know the statistics on kidney failure, but I assume most people have at least interacted with someone who has had kidney failure or connected to someone who needed a kidney.

I’m a really selfish person in most aspects of my life.  I’m 25, unmarried without children, and until I move in with my fiance in the fall, I will have lived alone for 3 years.  I’ve become very accustomed to things being done my way.  I like my downtime.  I like spending my money the way I want to.  I like eating junk instead of cooking a meal for myself.  I like having cats because I can leave them alone for days and not worry about them.  But this surgery is an opportunity for me to stop thinking entirely about myself.  I won’t lie, I am stressed out about how quickly it will take me to get back to work, how much money I will miss out on, not being able to train for the 3day or run when I want to.  I also think about how nice it will be to relax for a couple weeks while I’m recovering.  This is definitely NOT a totally selfless act.  But I’m glad that I could test my character in this way.  I’m glad God could present this opportunity to me and I could actually ignore how it would affect my life and focus on who it would help.

It’s not some great act of generosity.  I feel like a fraud when people say I’m “giving the gift of life” or how selfless I am.  It’s just right.  It’s just what we’re supposed to do for each other.  No more, no less.

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Big News!

June 11, 2011

First of all, I would like to apologize to anyone who might read this blog and doesn’t know me, because you probably don’t care much about my personal life.  But I’ve got a pretty strong feeling that of the maybe 4 readers I have, there’s a small percentage of you who don’t know me, so just skip this part.

Secondly, I’m engaged!  On Sunday, I went out to dinner with a wonderful friend of mine, and we came back to my place to hang out play with my cats.  She says “I have a cd for you to listen to, let me get it out of my car.”  She comes back in, and we put it in, and because I was completely in denial, I didn’t realize it was my boyfriend singing a song he had written for me (after all, he lives in OK, how could my friend possibly have gotten a cd from him?)  The very last line of the song was “Will you marry me?” and instead of recording that on to the cd, he came through my front door and sang it in person with ring in hand.  Yes, feel free to make gagging noises.

Being newly engaged has been a wonderful distraction from the fact that I am donating my kidney in a week and a half.  I just bought our plane tickets for the week of the surgery and that was hard.  I am excited about this experience and I really feel as though I am doing the right thing, but it’s getting closer and I’m getting nervous.  Plus, my ring is getting resized so I don’t even have that to distract me from my nervousness :-p

Tuesday is my pre-op appointment so I am confident that will answer some questions and also leave me with some new ones.  And you will all get to be a part of that.  (All 4 of you.)

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“If I had another one to give…”

June 3, 2011

The hospital where I’m having my kidney surgery has this awesome thing where the match future donors with past donors in case you have any questions and want to ask someone who’s actually been through the process.  My person called me last week and although I did have some questions, I couldn’t get up the courage to call her back until yesterday.

Thank goodness it went well!  The woman I spoke with had 20+ years on me and had donated to her husband a few months ago.  My main questions were about recovery time, because, as selfish as it sounds, I can’t be out of work for too long.  I simply can’t afford it.  My plan was to return to work in 2 weeks time, even though the official hospital record says recovery could take up to 6 weeks.  I had decided that because I’m young and healthy and active, it won’t take me that long.  This woman eased my mind.  While she was out of work for a month, she said she could’ve gone back earlier (Her husband was also in recovery mode, so some time was spent with him.).  Some of the best quotes from her were “You won’t believe how quickly you’ll start feeling back to normal” and “If I had another one to donate, I would do it, it was that easy of a surgery.”

My surgery is 3 weeks from today and I’m starting to get nervous.  I don’t have any concerns that I can spell out right now, but I just feel on edge about the whole thing.  But that conversation yesterday helped.

On a totally different note, my sister and brother-in-law officially announced that they’re pregnant!  If you care at all about it, you can read the whole story on their blog…

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Kidney Donation

May 22, 2011

So, this post is a complete departure from what this blog is about.  It’s not related to movies, it’s not related to Gilmore Girls, but it is important about my life and something I needed to talk about and this was a great forum to do that.

I recently made the decision to become a kidney donor.  I don’t know my recipient personally, but I had heard about her through a friend of a friend.  I have always been a big advocate of organ donation.  My uncle would not be here today if someone hadn’t made the decision to be an organ donor and give him the gift of a new heart.  I’ve donated blood mostly whenever I can (with the exception of the times I couldn’t after getting tattoos…oops!), and I’m on the bone marrow donor list as well.  When this opportunity came up, in my opinion, it fell in the same category as all of those other things I’ve been so passionate about.  Many people argue that this is on a much larger scale, and I understand that opinion.  I just don’t necessarily agree with it.

The process began with some simple blood tests.  Then the 24-hour urine test, that I will not detail for you.  After those tests all came back well, I was flown to the hospital where the surgery will take place and did some more tests.  I had, unfortunately been hit by one of the most intensely contagious and violent stomach viruses when I  was at their hospital (all of my friends back home were just as sick as me), so a lot of these tests needed to be redone.  But after a meeting with the doctor, a meeting with a social worker, an MRI, an EKG, an ultrasound, and an exercise stress test, I was found to be a match.

Now came my big decision.  I think that during this entire process, I was fairly certain that there was no way I would be healthy enough to be selected as a match.  So, reality set in when I had to make the major decision to donate or not to donate.

Some criticism I had faced was “What if a family member needs a kidney in the future and you already gave yours away?”  My answer for that question is, hopefully, if no other friends or family members can donate, then some stranger will feel the same way I do about organ donation and be willing to help.  It’s a long shot, but I’m hoping that in my decision to do this, maybe it will inspire others.  If more people were willing to donate, then we wouldn’t have as many people waiting for kidneys for years.  Another popular question I’ve gotten is “What happens if one day you need a kidney?”  While the possibility is always there, my family has no history of kidney problems, and I’m healthy enough to donate one now, so I really don’t foresee that happening.  However, God forbid that happens, again, I hope that if no family or friends can donate, someone will be willing to donate to a stranger.

When it came time to make my decision it was up to several factors.  I had a few people in my life that I had to speak to about it.  And at least 2 people whose opinion was so important that if they said no, I wouldn’t have done it.  My sister supported my decision 100%.  After all, she was right behind in being tested for my recipient.  Her husband, aka the best brother-in-law in the world, was supportive, but nervous.  While I’m still not sure if he totally understands it, I know he loves me and wants me to do what I feel is right.  My boyfriend was another important person for me to talk about.  We’re in a serious relationship and we discuss marriage in the future and having a family.  I was concerned about the possibility that donating would hinder my ability to have children in the future.  I felt this was a very important factor for him to understand and weigh in on.  I spoke with my doctors and did some of my own research and found that as long as I’m completely honest with my OB/GYN when I do decide to become pregnant (MANY years down the road), that I would be safe, and many other women have donated and had children in the future.  With the support of these important people in my life, I made my decision.

My pre-op appointment will be on June 14th and my surgery will be June 23rd.  I will stay where my surgery is for a few days and then come back home for my recovery.  Thankfully, my boyfriend is a teacher and has summers off, so he is able to be with me during the whole process.  I also have a very supportive church family who will be there for me during my recovery.

Organ donation is a very controversial topic and I’ve been kind of quiet about it during this whole process, but I think it’s important for my friends and family to get some insight into why I’m doing this and why I would advocate that anyone follow me.

I’ll be posting more about this as more happens with it, and feel free to ask any questions!  This website is one I referred to fairly often in this process.