Monday, May 23, 2011

the seven circles of waiting

I used to thinking of waiting as just that. It could be with excitement or dread or nervousness thrown into the mix but I never thought any deeper about it. 

All the waiting I've done over the past 6 months has sharpened my awareness of the subtleties and differences that this state can bring. Waiting to donate has distinct states that I'm now recognizing go with specific situations. And sometimes, like today, you can be stuck in several levels at the same time which makes it almost impossible not to give in to anxiety. 

And so, I thought perhaps writing through the seven circles of waiting would help me deal with, well, waiting. 

Circle 1: waiting for my brother's testing. There's a specific stress that goes along with this particular preamble. Testing for him is never easy. Even giving blood is problematic and so every test, whether big or small, has unique issues. 

Circle 2: waiting for my brother's results. At any and every step, the transplant could (and has been) postponed because of what the tests show. Not only that, the fear something even bigger could be discovered looms at the edges of each wait. 

Circle 3: waiting for the doctors to weigh in. This level was completely unexpected. I'd thought that should test results be ok, we'd move on. But no. Doctors don't always agree on what was found. And sometimes they're on vacation or taking care of their own families or postponing phone calls until after a weekend. 

Circle 4: waiting to be tested myself. From the beginning of this journey I've had to contend with my own neurotic fear that something life-threatening would be discovered. Something that would prevent the surgery from going forward. Something that not only would compromise my health, but my brother's as a result. Which leads to 

Circle 5: waiting for my own results. I've been treated for a urinary tract infection I don't think I had. Was on alert for possible renal or bladder cancer based on red blood cells found during a urine test that were the result of having my period. Was told I had high blood pressure because the machine wasn't working properly. 

Circle 6: waiting for surgery. I've been here before. Contemplating the hospital, the operation, the pain, the recovery, the what to wears, the post-surgery bad hair, the how to walk the dogs and move the car and feed the kids, the what if something goes wrong. 

Circle 7: waiting to be sliced open. I can't speak about that yet as it hasn't happened but I'd assume that waiting comes with its own nerve-wracking feelings. They already know to give me tranquilizers as soon as my IV is hooked up. 

And then, there's another circle or two of waiting involved. I won't know, until I wake up, whether or not my kidney's even been removed. There very well could be not enough room in my brother's compromised abdomen to fit another organ in. I've wondered, for a moment or two, how I'd handle that particular fail. But, I can't go there. 

As I can't go to the last wait. The wait, that should every test be fine, every doctor be on board, and the kidney finds its new home, that it'll stick. That's a wait that will be with us always. Even though this kidney will now be my brother's and this particular part of  journey will physically be over for me, emotionally it won't ever be.

Today I'm in Circles 1, 4, and 6 with the very last bonus level gnawing at my edges.  

I'm breathing. Deep. And trying not to let myself get swept under. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Elissa,
    I continue to follow your journey through this time and pray for you and your brother.
    After 2 years of waiting and his health steadily declining, my brother was seen by a doctor in Worcester, MA who asked "why have you not received a liver yet?". This doctor put the rush on and within 3 weeks there was a donor match for my brother. It has been just over 3 weeks since he received the transplant which involved 10 hours of surgery, 72 pints of blood, and a couple of resuscitations. He literally was at death's door. Now he has been home for the last 2 weeks and feels better than he has in years!
    The waiting, waiting, waiting, was so frustrating and frightening. What this doctor has done for my brother and our family is nothing short of miraculous and I will also be eternally grateful to the woman who chose to be an organ donor.
    I admire you for what you are doing for your brother, Elissa. Stay strong and keep breathing.

    With sisterly love,