Monday, June 13, 2011

after the transplant . . .

Jon thought my last post was the perfect way to end this blog. In a way he's right. This space was about the journey of a potential donor and now I'm on the other side of the road. But, this is truly a one door closing/one door opening place to be. The journey of a donor, a week into it, is just as intense, just as joyful, just as chock full of everything one could imagine as before.

And so folks, if you're still interested, I've still got a tale to tell.

Surgery was one week ago today. One week ago, at this moment, I was lying on an operating table, a tube down my throat, a blue stretchy cap over my hair, organs being moved around to make space for my kidney to leave the building. Or maybe I was already in recovery. I have just about zero recollection of that - I remember coming to and asking how Dave was. I remember being somewhat interested in the fact that I was wearing something completely different than I'd put on in pre-op. I remember missing my phone.

It's been a week. Quite a week. There were moments when I felt like I'd lost myself, my mind, my sanity and I'd never be ok. There were moments of happiness and relief that were like a drug washing over me. There is the reality that my body was assaulted and recovery is in no way going to be the quick, easy-breezy experience I'd readied myself for.

Right now, at this very moment, I'm having trouble staying positive. I'm hurt by the people I thought should be here who aren't. I'm surprised at how few have offered help or stopped by. I'm stymied at how I'm going to manage walking dogs and getting dinners and keeping the apartment clean when everyone's acting like I'm just tired.

No one seems to understand what a big deal this is.

It is.

Honestly though, I can't process it.

I don't feel like an organ is gone. I don't feel very different, except for the bloat and the gas and the fact that I walk like someone's timid grandmother and can only wear sundresses that work well for pregnant women. And the fact that all I want to eat is bland carbs. The thought of salad or garlic or pad tai or anything I'd usually love, is gone. Oh, and that I've given up my twice a day decaf habit (that could be contributing to the fatigue).

I gave up pain pills early Friday morning and am recovering on Tylenol and gas-x. Intellectually I am so proud of what I've done, of how I'm handling it, but I'm so fucking tired at times I lose track of the bigger picture.

Even the fact that I lost my bigger picture.

Getting a kidney to my brother was the main event. I had no next act. I figured I'd heal with creativity bursting out of me.


I'm healing with tomato soup and rice, challah, and buttered bagels.

In some ways my body feels like it could do anything I ask of it. But it can't even begin to.

I read these amazing words people are posting/writing/sharing about me and they sweep me away.

Right now though, I don't feel like that person.

And right now, my faith that I will be what people believe I am is shaky.


  1. You'll be fine! I just donated and know EXACTLY how you feel. People I considered my best friends didn't seem to care, never visited. Strangers were nicer than they were.
    Eat lentil soup. It's how I took my first post-surgery dump. Haha.

  2. I donated my kidney 8 weeks ago, tomorrow. I know EXACTLY how you feel. I had a LOT of support from the community, but not from the people I thought were my best friends.
    Oh, and lentil soup is your friend to take that first dump. ;}

  3. Hey, I don't know you but I have read your blog and Tweets and just wanted to tell you it's ok to feel exactly the way you're feeling! I guess most people focus on the recipient but why would the whole process be any less painful or tiring to you as a donor? It's a big operation, of course no one can't expect you to get up and be all cheery and energetic only a few days after the op! It takes time.

    I'm not a donor myself, I've only been in the receiving end. But from what I've gathered, your journey as a donor doesn't stop here. The surgery, the donation itself, is obviously a big part of all this - but there is more to it. So give the blog some time just as you need to give yourself some time.

    It is a huge deal! And the adventures of your kidney will continue, even though you two parted ways ;) Hang in there and take good care of yourself!

    All the best for you and your brother :)

  4. Keep writing! I'll keep reading. I do not know what it's like to donate or receive - I am in awe of the fact that it works - a donated kidney. You are so unselfish to donate.

  5. hellooooooo shaky, that makes two (or a few more of us). This has ONLY been one week. FB in early hrs.........xoxo

  6. Elissa;

    I'm sorry you feel abandoned when you need support the most. Everything changes so quickly, especially when we're faced with major life decisions. I hope you continue to allow yourself to feel your way through this versus rushing or doing what you think is expected of you.

    Healing, emotionally and physically is a process.

    How is your brother doing?

    Sending healing supportive hugs,

  7. Let the waves wash over you. The adrenaline of battle is waning now that you are able to watch the enemy retreat. You WILL get back to yourself, both mentally and physically. Let yourself feel the magnitude of what you're experiencing. And ask for help if you need it. People don't always know how to engage with acts of pure selflessness.

    Keep writing.
    Lots of love,
    Rachel Geiger Rosen

  8. It's your sister. I have a doctor's apt. in a couple hours. After that I am spending some time with Len. If you want I can take the dogs with us to the new Washington Sq Park run. It's some kind of material other than dirt, and they started running the cute water fountain. Anything you need, just text me. I have felt guilty that while you are going though this I took your daughter to get RED hair. Though after the refund it was at least the proper price. One day it will be a funny story, really. Mom keeps telling me how mad you are at me, but it might be her that's so mad. Least hope so!

  9. You do find out who your friends are, but then some people just can't deal with these situations.
    I thought I would bounce back quickly......well I was so fit and healthy before surgery.........what could go wrong.
    Day three after surgery with the two of us out of action under one roof, I got scared, how would I cope? i did not take on board the enormity of it all.

    The dog went to a friend, and along came our 'guardian angel' Juan........well actually he was at our side the day we were admitted, and did not leave us for over three weeks. My son did the shopping and cleaning, in between all his studies, Juan was a fantastic cook. I don't know how we would have coped without the two of them, as I was so un-well.

    Your emotions are all over the place, your body has gone through a trauma.

    Take good care of you Elissa.

    Big hugs
    Sally-Ann (donor sister's unite)

  10. Thank you everyone, for your support and kind words and understanding. This is truly unlike anything I've ever been through and I never know what to expect at any moment. Whew. But yet again I'm learning to let go of what I think it should be and accepting what is.