Saturday, January 24, 2009

Moving forward...

Anna and I are now a year and a few months post kidney transplant. I’m often asked “how is Anna doing?” and it has come to my attention that I had a better answer to that question when she was in dialysis and awaiting a new kidney. The year that Anna’s kidneys shut down, I made it a priority to drive the three hours from Portland to Seattle to stay connected to Anna. We did little more those days than sip Chai Tea and talk; Anna often slept as she was in a great deal of pain. It wasn’t much, but I could tell you how she was holding up. But what about today? I simultaneously love and hate that I don’t really have a good answer to that question. You see, since the kidney transplant Anna has been healthy. She has been living her life, she has been out of the house and unconstrained by poor health. It’s a great problem to have. But unfortunately, I haven’t spent as much time with my best friend as I’d like.

 Anna and I did spend the weekend of our one-year transplant anniversary together. We had originally planned on having a girl’s weekend getaway somewhere fun and sunny but life got in the way and we opted for a weekend halfway between Portland and Seattle. Yep – there is a tiny little town tucked off of Interstate 5 called Chehalis. We stayed at the local McMenamin’s, shopped, watched movies, had pedicures, read tashy tabloids, played pool and caught up with one another. It rained the entire weekend (November in the Pacific Northwest after all), but we had a wonderful time – significantly less painful than the year before J 

 Since the surgery, I seem to be drawn to the notion of evangelizing organ donation. Just ask me one question about the process, and I’ll talk your ear off and then ask you if you are a registered organ donor. It’s my charity of choice (alongside food allergy awareness) that I promote over lunch, via twitter and even in Vegas nightclubs. I think my friends might be getting tired of it, but I feel like its something I should share. As such, I’m slated to volunteer for the local chapter of the Donate Life organization. This spring, I’ll be going into local area high schools to chat about organ donation.  As a PR professional, I find it amusing they won’t let me talk to the students until I go through presentation and messaging training. All those dozens of media training sessions and I’m still not trusted J

Looking back on this process, I am still humbled by the gracious gifts and words that friends, family and strangers offered to us. It's funny how this decision changed my entire outlook on life, but it was easily one of the most guttural decisions I’ve ever made. Yes, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Yes, even though it hurt (people always ask me if it hurt), yes it hurt worse than childbirth, but yes I’d do it again in a heartbeat. 

The fact this kidney transplant has given Anna more than a year of good health, makes me proud. Her body could easily reject this kidney next week but I would still not regret this decision. I get to see Anna next month at her cousin’s wedding in our hometown. The last time Anna and I hung out in our hometown was just weeks before her kidneys shut down, it seems almost like another lifetime. I’m looking forward to the wedding weekend, just as much as I am looking forward to sharing years of good health with my best friend. 


ShellMomXs3BOYS; Rachelle said...

I can't believe it has been past a year! WOW!

We realy need another NW get-together, don't we?

There's a veteran's mueseum in Chehalis that I have yet to visit, but I have an "art" piece that I made in it; it is all about FDR's funeral "palbearers."

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled on your blog. Thanks for sharing all of this great information and your story! I think you would really like the movie "seven pounds" with Will Smith.

Anonymous said...

You helped me when I was planning to donate to my brother. We had a very successful surgery. We had a perfect match also. I became an advocate to explain the process to others and the transplant center gave me several people to call that needed more answers from a donor. Unfortunately, my brother died 9 months after the surgery due to unrelated medical issues. I still would have done the surgery as he had a beautiful 9 months and spent so much quality time with his family. I regret that I am not able to be as helpful to the transplant center as potential donors do not want to hear about a death so soon after surgery. I totally understand that. You two are an inspiration and Anna should be leading her life more fully by not. Much like a parent needs to let a child go out into the world, the donor needs to be able to gradually let go of the intense relationship with the receipient. It is normal. Kudos to both of you!

RAIN said...
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生日 said...
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睡衣 said...
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Urinary Incontinence said...

I hope that your kidney transplant is still going well after all this years. I hope that you can inspire people to help out others whenever a need similar to yours arises.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this story! I donated to my best friend this year on June 14-I am still really tired, so when I was googling post-surgery symptoms, I came across this article and spent the last 30 minutes reading!! If only we could get more people to be living donors, then we could significantly decrease the number of patients on a waiting list!! Thanks for the story! :)