Saturday, April 07, 2007

Six years ago today I got my second kidney and third chance at life.

I'm a lazy donkey so I'll just paste this from my personal journal. Sorry to those few of you who have already read this.

I was born with Medullary Cystic Disease. I began manifesting kidney failure at about 1 or so and at age 2 I was biopsied and diagnosed with the above disease. And when I was nearly 6, I received a transplanted kidney from my mom. I was put on cyclosporine and prednisone and for the next 16 years I was fine. The 17th year was not so fine as the drugs poisoned my mom's kidney to the point that it no longer could function.

It was a long, exhausting, nauseating, cold, fuzzy year. I couldn't think well, I couldn't move fast, I couldn't eat and I flunked out of Med Tech school (who wants to work in a blood lab anyways?) and lost a lot of weight. I could have gone onto dialysis at any time but I was terrified of it, still am, and I kept putting it off and putting it off.

Then 6 years ago, I received the call that started it all. The nephrology (kidney) team got together, talked about me specifically (I felt so special) and said I was just too sick to live another two weeks without dialysis. Devastated but still a good student, I went into my non-Western-Civ class and worked on an exam about the Ainu and was frequently interrupted by many many calls from my nurse who was coordinating everything for my ultimate dialysis.

I don't remember much after driving home other than crying and getting a bouquet of miniature roses from my best friend at the time, Karina. I was also out late with Karina and another friend, Holly, trying to cope and I didn't get in till about midnight or 1am.

4:30am mom wakes me up and tells me that she got a call for another kidney from the doctor and I had the option of going in or sleeping. Now, when they call in potential transplant candidates, it's usually 3-5 people. I didn't know that the doctor who called had the distinct impression that this kidney was mine and only mine and I almost opted to just sleep. But I rolled out of bed, made up a list of professors for my mom to notify along with any TAs who should know, filled a backpack with books I'd never touch and headed out.

I got a priesthood blessing from my father and Br. Baker who is now ravaged by Multiple Sclerosis but I will never forget the impression of sitting on the piano bench with those powerful hands gently placed on my head, praying for my health. I remember the drive to KUMed, staring at the sky full of stars and seeing the trees all still tightly budded against the cold. I remember going through the ER department at KUMed with the police station right within those doors and having to go through a metal detector. There was the room with the beautiful view where I had about a gallon of blood taken and then I was wheeled into the operating room.

I'm not sure how many people are ever thrilled to go through surgery but the man who wheeled me in, a young black man as I recall, said he had never seen a happier person go in to face the knife. And in that room I received my kidney, a kidney that had previously belonged to an 8 year old girl who was involved in a motorcycle accident (don't ask me how she was involved in a motorcycle accident at 4:30 in the morning, I only praise the parents for being willing to allow her organs to be donated).

I woke up in the ICU and my parents were there (my dad was petting my forehead and it bugged me to no end but I was still too weak from anesthesia to grab his hand and fling it away like I wanted to do). Mom said that the first thing I said was "Oh no, I missed the open house for the Winter Quarters Temple!" but I was reassured that it was alright.

The recovery was tedious. The highlight of my day was 6:30am. At 5:30am, the nurse would come in and take my vitals and I would struggle to remain awake for another hour so I could watch...Sailor Moon. *blush* My parents would visit me during the day and so would my friends like Holly, Trevor, and Karina, who would make me laugh, which was excruciatingly painful (I have a belly laugh and that does not mix with abdominal surgery). I had a professor call and tell me to walk right now and hand in my assignments (ha, right!) but he was only in jest. And I even got a visit from the Relief Society's husband with a gift. If it weren't for the fact that he was in a HORRIBLE mood after taking an exam, his visit would have been pleasant. But he was very angry and though he felt obligated to stay and chat with me when my deepest desire was only for him to leave and take his miasma of irritation with him. Sometimes the sick don't want to be visited that badly.

When it was finally time to go home, my dad came and picked me up. It was overcast outside as it's wont to do in the spring out in the midwest but to my amazement (since my window in the room I woke up in did not have a beautiful view and it looked over a landscape of rooftops), everything was in full bloom. It felt as if I was being welcomed back into the world of the living and I had the strangest impression that everything had shifted about two inches to the left while I was out. Don't ask me why I felt like that, it was very odd. Perhaps it was the new feeling of being clear-headed and it was an adjustment I had to make.

I recovered pretty well, despite being impatient to chase after my friends and Holly had to constantly remind me that I had just had something equivalent to a rough gut wound and that I would not recover immediately.

It's been six years since those days. I still feel like I was given a third chance and I am grateful for every day I have to live here. I'm glad I wasn't sent Home early. I'm grateful for the experiences and the friends I have made since then that I would have missed out on otherwise. I'm grateful that I have lived long enough to become a nurse and to receive further schooling. I'm glad I lived long enough to see my brother out on a mission in Brazil. I'm so very very glad for my friends out in Utah and my friends here on the internet. And I'm so very grateful for the opportunity I have to look forward to more and more. I'm on gentler medications and I'm very healthy.

So happy Sixth, kid-ney.

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