Sunday, March 26, 2017

Every year on the anniversary of the date of the surgery that I donated a kidney, I post a picture of the scar. You really can't see it any more--it's been six years.
This story began when I was 11 years old (I am now 50) and met a teenager that was on dialysis. (He was living with the family of one of my friends.) He showed me the port in his arm and explained the process of dialysis. He told me he was "waiting on a kidney." When I went home that day, from hanging out with my friend, I told my mom about it, and she explained that when someone is killed in a car wreck or a motorcycle accident, his wait will be over (when it's his turn on the list) and he will get just one kidney, because all you need is one.
And I asked her why we were waiting for someone to die, when we have lots of people alive, with two kidneys that could give one.
I am very grateful that as life proceeded, I was able to donate a kidney. Thanks to all my friends, and kids, and husband, who helped me do it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Five year scar picture.  January 25, 2016.  People love it.

Next year, maybe starting now, (October of 2016) I will do sit ups to get in shape for the picture.

The scar fades, time marches on, and it will be time to take this picture again before I know it!

Five Years. Wait. Whaaat?

This picture was taken on December 16, 2015 and I am just now getting around to writing about our five year anniversary. I think I wanted to wait until the true anniversary, which was January 25, 2011, and then lots of big changes happened in my life, which included working at one full time job until I was laid off, but working at a part time job, and my new full time job, all at one time....

And that's the way it goes.  Life just keeps going.

It is interesting to think that Al has had the "new" kidney for almost as long as he was on dialysis.

Al is doing fine.  He is used to his new normal.  He had to face the reality of getting some "mechanical work" done on his shoulder that he had let go for so long, because he figured it was not worth getting it fixed until he was sure he was going to live long enough to enjoy the benefits of the surgery.

He told me, "Now I have to worry about all of this old age crap."  Smile.

He and I both had surgery again, his for his shoulder, mine for a knee,  about the same time this summer, and no one worried about either one of just having one kidney.  Because you really just need one.

I still think about taking good care of my one kidney, and he does too.  We are both using alternative pain remedies for other ailments, not kidney related, and trying to avoid Tylenol (though processed by the liver) and all Nsaids (all hard on the kidneys--ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin).  But otherwise, life is just about the same, except he is still here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

August 28th, September 11th and Tomorrow

Years ago, I had a friend that was paralyzed from the waist down.  Sexy Denver folks will remember Pam, as she was a meteorologist on Channel 7, and one of the nicest people on TV...she told me the story of her horseback riding accident that left her paralyzed, and how she knew, as she lay on the cold ground in Iowa, waiting for someone to come find her, that she was paralyzed.  She said that she just kept repeating Romans 8: 28 over and over to keep herself calm.   Romans 8:28 is the verse that says  "and we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose."

Now, just between you and me,  I really do not fully understand that verse or have a clear explanation of it, but it has always stuck with me, because I know that Pam was telling the truth and that the reason Pam was the way she was in this life was because Pam believed it, and Pam was good.  And even though I am not a Bible scholar, I do know this, that book of Romans has a lot of verses that are a little bit mysterious, to me, on this journey.  And it still a mystery to me why a good person like Pam, who had a great life, despite being paralyzed, died way too soon, leaving behind a husband and children.

But, in the end, I still think the overwhelming truth is that her life was good.

I think this is on my mind today because I always think of Pam when I hear that verse or when someone talks about something being used for good...something that "at the end of the day" is good, even though it was not always easy to see that way...and maybe the day that we can see, clearly, what the truth is, is a long time coming.

This week I was telling a friend that my two older kiddos have a very clear and vivid memory of the events of September 11th and probably do not remember much about how the world was before September 11th.  Both of them have always lived in a world of terrorists, endless wars and conspiracy theories.  Though my youngest lives in this same world, she does not remember the horror of that day and is still too young to fully understand.  But she will understand soon enough.

My friend said "Maybe that is why they are the best kids I know.  Maybe that is why they are living life with so little fear.  Maybe that is why they have a clue at 18 and 20 about what really matters."
I don't know if he is right, but what he said did make me think about a lot of things having to do with September 11th and August 28 (8:28) and tomorrow....

Be good.  See good.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

On being Psychic, a Smart Ass, and a Fan

Al: My family wants your mailing address so that they can invite you to all the family functions.

Me: That is fine, but don't feel like you have to ever invite me to anything.

Al: No, I told them they have to invite you and Mark to every thing they have.  Weddings, graduations, name it...

Me: No, they don't have to do that.

Al: These are not just your run of the mill Mexican parties, I hope you know.

Me: HAHAHHAA.  I am not worried about that, but I am just saying, not in a very good way, that I am honored to be invited to any family parties, but I do not feel like they have to do that...none of you are obligated to me in any way shape or form.  Besides, I like the whole run of the mill Mexican party.  .

Al: But you are my sister now.

Me:  I know you feel that way but your family does not have to do what you say, nor do they have to feel the same way you do. 

Al: But they do feel like they want you to be around.  Hell, they felt that way from Day One!  Well, not really.  Not all of them.  Some of them did though!  They don't know what they feel.  They need me to tell them, this is how it is!

Me:  Well, no matter what, it is okay to give them my contact information, certainly, and they can do what they want, and you should not hassle them about it, either way.  You should not be in the business of telling people how to feel.   And I will tell them, myself, that I am honored to know them but they should not feel like they are obligated to invite me to anything.

Al: How come you are so bossy?

Me: I am a bossy girl. 

Al: Now I sort of am, too.

Me: No, you are not a bossy girl! 

Al: I am part bossy girl.  That one bossy kidney makes the rest of my body say, "Damn, what happened around here?"  It bosses the whole body around.

Me: Okay, goof ball.  I would love to go to any weddings, quincineras etc.

Al: These are not your run of the mill Mexican weddings and quincineras.

Me:  STOP IT. 

Al: I am making a new suncatcher.

Me: Yes, black and silver, because of the Raiders.

Al: Did I already tell you this?

Me: No, but I can sort of picture it when you were talking about it.  I can do this same trick with other people, so don't feel too special about it.

Al: How did you know it was because of the Raiders?

Me: Because. Black and silver, duh.

Al: Guess what else I am doing? I am going to sell T-shirts at the park here, during a concert.

Me: This has something to do with the Raiders, too, I think, doesn't it?.

Al: YEP!  It does.  Guess what?

Me: You are selling Raiders T-shirts?

Al: Nope, but that is what I am getting paid in.

Me:  Ah ha!  I want a Jim Plunkett T-shirt too.

Al: How do you know that is what I am getting?

Me: I JUST DO!!!

Al: I am not going to tell you anything.   

Me:  You don't have to tell me nothing.  I want a Jim Plunkett T-shirt, though, kind of ....are you really getting some?  At least two?

Al:  You don't like the Raiders but you like Jim Plunkett?

Me: Yep. 

Al: I bet I know why....because when he was a baby, his parents put him in an orange crate!

Me: Yep. You got me.

Al: Okay, I guess you will be the only run of the mill white person with a Plunkett jersey.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Kidneys, Beauty Tips and Other Stuff

This little truck is in the Sundance catalog and I love it for many reasons but mainly because my daughter Blake has a pick up truck and she loves peace signs and little lambs.

It has been almost three months since the surgery and I can say that I feel just the same that I ever did. Well, I do have some new scars on my belly, of course, and its actually still a little puffy on one side, but not enough to really notice. The doctor said Some People's muscles when they cut through them sort of Fray Like Burlap Sacks do when you cut through them and that rough edge takes a while to go away.  I assume that muscles that have been stretched way, way big and then go back down (thanks Fat Head Forrest (son) and Big Blake (daughter)) are more likely to fray! 

 I have no pain inside or out, but sometimes I do feel a little bit more tired.  I was not able to donate blood recently because my hematocrit was too low.  So, I guess I need to remember to take my vitamins and eat well.  Strangely enough, since the surgery my perimenopause symptoms have all gone away. I think that must be a coincidence, but I don't really know.  Can you imagine if I told the doctor "Well, I am not having hot flashes anymore and I assume it was that darn kidney causing the problem."  I think maybe it is because I have cut way down on caffeine since the surgery, and possibly wine!

I will have to ask Al if he ever gets a sudden hot feeling?

This is a post surgery beauty and healing tip: I put Lily's Organic Kukui oil religiously on the big scar, but did not always put it on the little scars (there is a bigger one to take out the kidney and some little scars for the instruments.) I basically ignored the little scars. The big scar looks much better, less red, and much flatter and I really do believe it is from that Kukui oil.  We always use the Lily's Organic Kukui oil on Ren's lip after her lip revision surgeries (Ren was/is a cleftie and she did no harm to this body when she was born).  I used it on my knee when I had surgery--it really helps the scarring. Lily's products are in your local Whole Foods or Vitamin Cottage, but if you don't have the privilege of living in Colorado you can order online too!

Disclaimer: I have been known to do Lily's Organics grocery store demos, however she is not paying me to say this, but like any good girlfriend, I will tell any and all beauty secrets though I expect one or two back from you from time to time!

One of the best beauty tips I have is that I sit around with the Kukui oil on my face, like when I am writing this blog, and then spray my face with moisture mist, also from Lily, and I am sure it is not my imagination that my skin seems much happier and looks much better. The oil soaks in and is not greasy like you are imagining.  I would not run right out into a sand storm with it on, but eventually it does all soak in.

 I also use Frownies (which is a whole other story and not for the Faint Hearted!) sometimes when I am doing the Oil Thing.  My whole family is used to me making lunches, reading the paper, doing my thing with a thin coat of something or another on my face!

I do not know if I will keep going on this blog. I want to keep writing and I would love to hear your opinions on this: should I just keep going and maybe always put a note at the top of each tacky rambling where to go for the kidney story, because I know some people going through the process of being a living kidney donor will still possibly want to read my story.  I hope it encourages people, because if I can do it, maybe they can too.

  I do not know if any "normal" people will want to read my crazy stories about Boo the Dog;

Boo likes to snooze on the couch in my study

Siucra wants everyone to squeeze her feet and pat her belly
 Or Siucra, the demon kitty; or all the things my weirdo magnet attracts, both two legged and four legged, (we assume Al already had a weirdo magnet, so I feel no guilt on passing one on to him through my kidney, which I am sure contained part of the Weirdo Magnet Magic even though my attraction powers have not diminished in the least) or the amazing stuff that Forrest (aforementioned big headed son, who makes me laugh and very proud) or Blake (bigger than life in every good way but proportioned much like Barbie) or Ren (my heart twin) or Mark (who finally came along and made the whole thing sing)does day to day!

But they might...and the beauty tips... and not so many normal people out there anyways...

Love! Be good!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

6 Weeks Post Op, Baby!

It has been 6 weeks since the surgery, plus or minus two weeks, (sorry for no updates sooner) and all is well. Physically, that is.  No pain, no weird stuff, just getting better and better.  I feel pretty much the same as I did before the surgery, except  better, and I cannot really explain that except that I think my new job is easier on the soul, which has nothing to do with the surgery. 

Albert has had a little post-op depression.  There is lots of information out there that "they" really do not know why some people feel depressed after a transplant, sometimes donors, sometimes recipients, and I think the transplant drugs are probably part of the problem, in the recipient case. In Albert's case, The Whole Big Change is a difficult adjustment. 

 Intellectually, he totally gets it.  As in he gets that his Job Used to Be to go to Dialysis and Now He Does Not Have a Job.  He was great at making it to dialysis, and he always thought, if he kept going to dialysis, and do a Great Job Showing Up, He would Get a Kidney!  Now that he has a kidney, he has to change his focus.  Now it is about what he can do and not so much about what he cannot do. 

  He also mentions how the whole transplant is not just fun and games, as in he has to eat a lot more, pee a lot more and drink a lot more.  Tongue in cheek aside, it is a huge lifestyle change and it is kind of depressing for him right now.  For instance, every time we talk it's all about how he is Not Really Disabled Anymore, but he is still on disability. (I assure him he is Totally In His Rights to Be Getting Disability.)  And how he wants to do all this stuff he could not do before (like go somewhere overnight, such as camping or hunting--he calls hunting "Knocking Down an Elk" which I love) and he does not really have anyone to do it with. Yet.  So though he is a little sad and disappointed, he is clear that eventually people will realize he can do a lot of things he could not do before and his life will become busier.

He said to me the other day "In a way, I kind of miss being able to do nothing but watch TV, do Word Finds and not feel like I was missing out on anything."  Hey, do the Word Finds, watch TV and be glad that you can do more, if you wanted to, but right now, you are just taking it easy.  It is okay to take some time to adjust.  It is okay to call friends and family and tell them what you want.  Not everyone is a Mind Reader.  Sometimes we have to tell people what is going on.

As for me, I have been in a Big Fat Hurry My Entire Life, so I was so ready to go back to work and to get back to normal.  Though I have taken it a lot easier, for me, in the last 8 weeks, and I am enjoying it. 

I have not felt depressed about the donation, though I know it is normal for donors to feel depressed or anxious. I am grateful for skipping that depressed and or anxious step in the process.

 My body adjusted right away to one kidney.  I have been taking lots of good vitamins, eating right, (sort of--I love nachos) and trying to rest.

There are lots of bigger things going on in my family and in my life, as well as in the whole big world!  Good Lord!  My brother lives in Japan, for instance! 

The other day, a wonderful lady that I just love, though she is completely nuts and has feet of clay, like we all do, came to visit me at my office, right when I was hanging up with Albert, and I told her how he was a wee bit depressed and she said: "If I were him, I would be so grateful and so happy, that I would never, ever complain."  (This is the woman that wants a man in her life more than anything and keeps meeting great guys that have little flaws, like being a bad skier, or in one case, the man was guilty of not wearing"cute" shoes.) Please. She knows better than anyone that change is scary!

Complaining is a good thing.  I like complaining and complainers a lot, as long as they are honest about it.  The honesty is the beauty of complaining, because you are saying, in effect, "I trust you enough to tell you the "bad" stuff."  As long as we are honest, "authentic" and willing to change, there is nothing wrong with saying "This sucks".  No one gets anywhere without doing that first step.

  Sometimes you have to pull all the crap out of the closet, make a mess, bag it up, put back the good stuff, to go on and find the "cute" shoes you forgot about.  Sometimes we have a hard time letting go of that polyester pant suit, but we will not miss it, once it is gone.

  We have a right to pull it all out and sort it out with our friends and family.  Not everyone can do it, but the people that can stroll thru the caca, can really help out.  Try to be able to do both, straighten your own malarkey out and walk alongside your friends that are doing it. Can you get some big shit kickers for that duty? 

 Do not let anyone get bogged down, even if they like wallowing, and hold everyone accountable to making a positive result.  Remind yourself when you are chest deep in the unholy stuff: "When I get through this mess, I will know how to help someone else get through this mess."

Albert already gets this.  He says that if he can work again, he wants to be a counselor.  You go, Al!

My eleven year old daughter's version of Numbers 6:24-26:

The Lord loves you and keeps you.  He lets his face shine on you, now and forever, AMEN!!! (Say AMEN!  akin to how you might say BLAST OFF!)

"May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord let His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord look kindly upon you and give you peace."

Peace to you, good friends.  Love and keep each other.