Through this testing for donation process I've shared my story with just about anyone who will listen. There's this blog, postings on facebook and twitter. I email and text updates, both good and bad. People who know me generally know what I've been going through.
My brother's been just the opposite. He hasn't really said a word, at least not anywhere I've known about. We had one quick conversation about it and he let me know that while he appreciated my cheerleader, the glass is half full stance, he needed to be more realistic about it all.
He didn't want to get his hopes up.
When I step back and look at the bigger picture, it's because he has too much at stake. For me, this has been, and will be, quite the life changing journey. After surgery and recovery though (which I'm hoping will be as uneventful as possible), I'll be down one organ but I'm hoping here too that me and my remaining kidney will have a long and healthy life together.
For my brother, it's different. Different to the point I can't really comprehend. Right now he's tethered to a dialysis machine. Three times a week he's hooked up for hours and his life literally needs to revolve around this. He can't travel. He can't be more than an hour away from a hospital, as his chest catheter is prone to infection. During blizzards, when he's sick, when he just doesn't feel like it anymore, he still has to make it to his appointments. Dialysis is non-negotiable.
After surgery, should all work out (and I'm hoping beyond hope here too), that'll be over. He'll have a kidney that functions well for the first time in his life. One thing I learned is that dialysis doesn't replace full kidney function—it brings a body back to just above the failure point. A healthy kidney would blow dialysis out of the water. And would make him feel better than he has in a really long time.
Yesterday, as I checked my phone on the way home from yoga, I saw he'd tagged me in a facebook post, announcing that a transplant was in the works, that I'd been cleared to donate and that things were moving forward.
And now, it's real.
More real than the 20 odd vials of blood, 4 urine tests, 2 cat scans, impromptu psych evaluation, hours in the lab, countless consent forms, phone calls with great and potentially disastrous news, weeks of waiting, living in the unknown . . . his saying it out loud and sharing it with people he knows?
It was amazing to see the outpouring of support from the many friends who've shared his journey with him. Who have no idea who I am. Who were just learning this news that I've been living with for months, for the first time.
It's not just my story anymore. It's our story.
One that we're collectively hoping ends with happily ever after.