Wednesday, January 12, 2011

a fruit basket makes a lovely gift

I'm giving the gift of life. 

People kept saying that to me today. I'm giving the greatest gift there is. 

Thinking back, I think that's what panicked me. As I sat with a social worker after hours of talking with a nephrologist, the transplant coordinator, and the donor advocate I was on edge. Barely holding it together. I could feel the edges of panic creeping into my consciousness. 

It won. 

I had to ask the woman to please stop talking so I could fight back the rush of heat, the stomach clenching, the unbearable fear that I'd have a total breakdown in her office. 

The gift of life? That's too huge to wrap my head around. But so were too many of the other topics that were covered. Blood clots. Kidney rejection. Life insurance policies being canceled. Health proxies. Pre-admission cat scans. IV's. Catheters. Post op tremors. Family medical history. My battles with anorexia and anxiety. Probabilities of dialysis for donors. 

And, of course, death. 

I explained to the social worker that my best coping strategy in life is compartmentalizing. That and not digging too deeply below the surface of things. 

Today, they all dug for me. 

I don't want to think about what ifs in the same way that I don't really listen to the stewardess's emergency options presentation. I know these things exist but minutely scrutinizing is too terrifying. For me. For right now. 

By the time I got down to the lab for 9 vials of blood to be drawn it was a true pleasure to talk to the technician about how her 19 year old daughter doesn't appreciate her. To talk about something that wasn't me. 

I'm used to taking care of everyone else. Having all these people concerned only with my well being was unnerving. Disconcerting. 


I prefer not thinking about this in such enormous ways. Perhaps I should refer to my kidney as a fruit basket for the time being. 

1 comment:

  1. Dearest Elissa,

    I have seen a tweet or 2 of yours roll by over the last few months, and knew you were dealing with family medical problems. Today my eyes were immediately drawn to your tweet "After my first kidney donation testing" with a link to this blog. Forgive my ignorance; I had no idea this is what you and your brother have been going through, but I can relate.

    I have a brother who is in need of a liver transplant. Two years ago when we all first learned from the doctor in Boston that a transplant looked like the best option, I immediately spoke up and said if they could possibly improve the health of my brother's liver by taking a piece of mine, I would complete whatever testing necessary to determine if I was a match.

    He is my big brother, and even though initial liver damage was caused by his alcohol addiction, he has been sober for over 10 years, is married, and deserves a chance at a longer life in my eyes.

    As it turns out, his situation is much more complicated, and he requires a complete liver transplant, so we wait -- and pray. He is so thin and weak now. I worry, but I fight to keep my faith strong.

    I cannot begin to imagine all the thoughts that must be constantly trying to creep in and whirl around in your head. It is brave of you to attempt to be your brother's donor and brave of you to openly and honestly share your feelings and thoughts with us through your writing.

    I truly hope all turns out the best for you and your brother, and will keep you in my prayers.