Friday, December 10, 2010


This potential donation isn't a decision. It is what is. If I'm a match then we move forward. Anxiously of course - that's my default mode. But I go as far as I can.

There were a couple of days over Thanksgiving when I grappled with it all, until I realized I wasn't sure what the grapple was about.

I breathed easier after that.

Reaction from others though has run the gamut. There's been support, incredulity, fear, sadness, shock, disbelief. People are proud of me. Touched by the gesture.

One person asked how could I do this knowing my kids might need a kidney one day.

Another wondered if I'd sat down and thought through probability of success charts.

My mother was fine about kidney but horrified that I wanted to commemorate the experience with a tattoo. This morning I thought a lotus by the scars could be cool.

My husband offered to be tested if I'm not a match. Amazing.

But yesterday I ran into someone who turned the whole thing upside-down for me. She asked if I was working on a new book and I explained that this was my project of the moment. Her eyes lit up. She exclaimed: how cool! And what a profoundly life changing experience this would be for me.

I LOVE that.


Her take gave me a whole new perspective. I'm finding out what I'm made of. I'm throwing myself into something unlike anything I've ever done before. I'm proud of myself for moving forward and not letting myself be frozen by what ifs.

Thank you Annie. You gave me a huge gift today.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

straddling the fence

From this vantage point, waiting for blood and tissue type matching tests to come back, both possible outcomes are good and bad.

And that's not easy to sit with.

Should I be a potential candidate, we move forward. More tests. More scrutiny. More information. With surgery as the end result.

Should I not be a match, my part in this is over.


I wouldn't be doing this if I wasn't hoping beyond hope to be able to be a donor. But there's so much that comes with this, it's next to impossible to grasp it all.

I want to help. But I'm scared.

I want to know all will be fine in the end. But that's not possible to know.

I want my brother to be ok. But there are no guarantees.

And I want me to be ok too. That's also up in the air.

To have come this far, to have made this decision and commitment and then have the door shut tight would be frustrating. But, to be honest, it would be a relief too.

I would know. And could then move on.

But should the answer be no, I'd have to live with not having been able to help someone who truly needs it.

And that's tragic.

Right now I'm up and down, excited and nervous, hoping for good, anticipating bad.

Only I'm not quite sure exactly what good and bad are anymore.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

giving up a piece of me

I've been thinking that there's something about donating a kidney that's not unlike being pregnant. Lots of tests. Lots of waiting. Many unknowns. The reality that things could go tragically wrong (I tended towards anxious while I was pregnant). The unrelenting hope that all will be uneventful and everything will be fine in the end.

Both require hospitals stays even though you're not sick. Both have periods of serious pain. Apparently both leave you with more abdominal gas than you should have. There's recovery time afterwards to contend with. the possibility of complications.

And in both you're losing a piece of yourself, something your body sustained and nurtured. Even though pregnancy is temporary and the being inside you isn't a part of you the way an organ is, it's an intrinsic part of you while you're its home.

And once this piece of you leaves, you want health and ease for it. You want to do everything within your power to make sure its ok.

No, I won't be able to take care of my kidney in its new home. It won't be mine anymore. But I'd want it to have a long, strong productive life. To make things better for my brother. To help systems work, to increase vitality, to re-energize his insides. 

The thought of a kidney shower just popped into my head. Should all go through, maybe a big party at the end would be just the thing. 

Or my Japanese cherry blossom tattoo.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Today was my first visit to the kidney transplant office.

I'm sort of numb.

It's a lot/too much information to process and when confronted with situations like that I shut down.

I'm shutting down.

I feel quiet. Small. Lost. Out of my element.

As I sat with the transplant coordinator, who was bubbly and charming, I was often at a loss for words, something that rarely happens. This is all new to me - the procedures, the tests, the vocabulary. I've never had an operation. Never recovered from anasthesia. Never confronted the possibility of being checked so thoroughly.

Her office had a huge wipe board on wall, listing patients and donors, keeping track of where each pair is in the involved pre-operation process.

I'm going to be on that wall.

I only hope I can handle this. Emotionally, psychologically. I remember this inner, low level doubt creeping in before I gave birth - was I strong enough, could I deal with everything it, would everyone be ok?

I'm not a taking chance sort of person, at least not when it comes to physical things. I will never helicopter ski or sky dive or ride a motorcycle. And this feels like jumping off a cliff in a way, without knowing what's down at the bottom.

But, this isn't just about me. Taking a leap into the unknown to help my brother makes all the difference.