a year ago
This morning we're heading down to the beach for two weeks. Two weeks of boogie boarding, custard cones, biking and boardwalks. Two weeks of freshly picked jersey corn, sunsets over the ocean, skee ball and go karts. Last night, as I was packing (I generally pack at the last minute) I was thinking that this time last year there wasn't even flicker of the possibility of a kidney transplant in my future.
Well, there was a momentary flash. This time last year my brother was staring down dialysis. He'd hit renal failure and it was only a matter of time until he started. I offered up a kidney and, as always, he said thanks but no thanks and that he'd keep me posted as to what was going on.
He didn't. Sometime that trip I remember being in the car and reading on Facebook that he'd started dialysis and it had gone well. I felt awful - I'd wanted to be there with him when he started. I asked him to please text me if anything came up so I wouldn't get big news in such a public forum. I got a text after the next session that it had been a disaster.
And still, I was at the beach.
As soon as we were back home I headed up, with Iz, to keep him company during a session. After two bus rides in rush hour traffic, and an odyssey through a barren office building we found him in a beige lounge chair in a beige room surrounded by pumps and tubes, beeps and flashes, fluorescent light casting a harsh glow over the many patients having their blood mechanically cleaned.
I chatted. Told stories. Made everyone laugh. Offered to customize his favorite hoodie with a flap that would open for port access. And then I went home, shaken.
I couldn't fathom being tethered to a chair for hours at a time, the process barely increasing quality of life. From that point I couldn't imagine the fatigue, the restrictions and finally how very much could go wrong.
And never for a moment did I entertain the thought that one year later my kidney would be hard at work changing my brother's life. Saving my brother's life.
This year I'll be hitting the beach with 4 fresh scars on my abdomen. And with a brother who has a healthy kidney and is dialysis free texting me from home.