Friday, January 28, 2011

results are in

I got a call Wednesday morning from the donation nephrologist that, for the most part, all my test results were fine.

For the most part.

After taking antibiotics for 3 days I have to retake a urine test - for the third time. It looks as if I might have an asymptomatic UTI. Apparently this should be an easy thing to treat and won't throw the donation off in the long run. Not a big deal.

What unnerved me were my cholesterol numbers.

They're fine. Totally fine. Well within the range of healthy and normal. My good cholesterol is fabulous (my word, not the doctor's). But the doctor expressed surprise that my bad cholesterol was higher than he would've thought. I suppose, in a way, that's a nod to how fine everything is.

Me, being me, took that news and started to spin.

To be more specific for a moment:

under 100 is fantastic (again, my word)

100-130 is fine

130-160 is borderline high

and so on.

Mine is 116. Again, fine.

Not to me though. This crazy, competitive force took over. It wasn't that I was pissed at my body, or even disappointed. I just wanted to do better. Less than 100 became my personal holy grail.

I wracked my brains trying to figure out what could have driven the numbers up so sky high (yes, that's how I interpreted smack in the middle of fine). I have half and half in my decaf iced coffee every day after not drinking anything but skim for most of my adult life. I've been eating butter again, after many years without—cinnamon raisin buttered bagels have become a daily staple. Hot chocolate with whipped cream? These could very well be the culprits.

I don't know, thought, that I'm willing to give them up. Not in the anorexic, cut things out of my diet way I lived years of my adult life. I used to say things like: NO MORE ICE CREAM. Or potato chips. Or french fries. Or chocolate. And then I wouldn't eat them again. Ever.

I had extraordinary will power. I always thought that should I have been able to harness it in a positive way, I'd be able to do anything. And having said that, you know, I sometimes do. I can accomplish insane things at times - it's that drive, that focus, that energy I used to direct at starving and extreme exercise.

I'm choosing not to challenge it at my cholesterol. Instead, I'm meeting with my doctor to see what my levels were in the past. Maybe this is genetic. Maybe it's the way I am. I'm thinking of perhaps not eating quite so many bagels and cutting down on the butter a bit - although it is delicious.

Moderation is a good thing.

And so is an LDL of 116.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

when the past meets the present

Yesterday I spent time talking to the 3 psychiatrists at the nephrologist's office about my eating disorder. I'd say we spent 8-10 minutes out of 45 on the topic. I gave them a brief timeline, an overview, insights on why I thought I developed anorexia, treatment I received, and  how I recovered to this point.

Cramming more than a decade of pain, self-flagellation, disgust and frustration into mini-monologues was close to impossible.

The hardest part though, and the summary I didn't pull off so well was how I got better.

I am better. So much better. Better to the point that when the head inquisitor observed that I'm no longer thin and how did I handle that, I handled it.

I had a fat moment or two this morning but was able to let it quickly go and enjoy my decaf mocha with whipped cream.

I now know my body is my home. It's my responsibility to take care of it, respect it, cherish it, not punish it. I accept who and where I am (for the most part). It is what is.

But how did I get here? To this reasonably healthy, sane place?

If I had hours to talk I don't know that's a question I have an answer to.

Being a mother made me let go of so much. The illusion of control. The concept that my issues were all important and should take precedent over everything else. Anorexia is quite the selfish, egotistical disease.

Going to art school and finding my voice after too many years of not having one.

There's yoga. Finding space in my mind and learning I don't always have to spin out of control. Not to mention being stronger than I've ever been. Who would ever have thought that neurotic me would ever be able to float into a headstand in the middle of a room.

Getting older. I'm finding age brings wisdom and acceptance. There are downsides but with this too, I'm learning to accept what is.

But I think the biggest thing is that I'm grateful. Grateful I'm here. Grateful for my family, for where we live, for the life we've created. For the opportunities I've had and the ones I made happen. For the many amazing people in my life. For my puppy.

Grateful that I have a sense of humor that keeps me sane in the insanity.

Grateful that I can give.

Giving my kidney is a way to pay forward all I've been blessed with in my life. A thank you to the universe. A tip of the hat to the forces that be.

Monday, January 24, 2011

a day in the donating life

My day started at 2:30am, when I had to remember to pee in a cup for my 24 hour urine study. I had to remember again at 4am and then again at 6:40 - my official first pee of the day and the last of the study. I was then on the road uptown with my very heavy bottle, without having eaten as a glucose tolerance test was next on my agenda. I made it to the lab at 8:20, peed in yet another cup, and then was handed a bottle of an orange soda-esque drink to chug before giving blood. At 9:15 Mohammed drew the first vial and then again 3 more times on the quarter hour.

I crocheted a scarf. I read one of Jack's books. I talked to the revolving people who happened to sit next to me. I met a woman who'd had a transplant 6 years before and told me to not worry, be strong and all would be fine. Another shared the frustration of looking for sugar free food in Harlem. I heard about business calls and missed meetings and how much more efficiently the old lab worked.

At some point during the morning the social worker I'd met during my previous visit stopped by, asking if I had time to come up later and meet with their psychiatrist. I was sure the anxiety attack I'd had in her office was the red flag. That, anorexia, my family dramas . . . I'm thinking there were a variety of red flags to choose from.

I braved the 6 degree weather to find some post testing lunch, my hands shaking from hunger, not the cold as I waited for tea and a salad.

And then, I wait until 2 to be questioned. Turns out it was a team of 3 people waiting to speak to me although 2 didn't actually say anything. They nodded occasionally or shook their heads.

In the next 45 minutes we touched on much of my emotional and family history and I realized, as I answered queries and shared my past, that it often sounded insane. Truly insane. Even the head guy at one point pointed out the extreme drama and pain I've lived through.

Yes. I have.

Cancer. Divorce. Stroke. Anorexia. Emergency rooms and seizures. Psychiatric wards. Strained to the point of broken relationships. Anxiety. Kidney donations. Note: all of the above didn't happen to me but I lived through them in close circumstances.

I also overcame an eating disorder. Had 2 amazing children. Have been married for 22 years to an amazing person. I graduated from art school with honors after doing so miserably at ciollege the first time around.

I survived. I've gotten stronger.

And wiser.

And healthier.

I cried in the cab on the way home, hot tears slipping down my face thinking that a team of people would be judging me on the snippets they'd heard instead of me, the whole picture.

But then I realized that this is who I am. A sum of my parts. My emotional life is as much a part of me as my physical being. Could be my blood sugar is too high. Could be they deem me too neurotic to proceed.

It is what it is.

But I still know it will all work out in the end.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

to pee or not to pee

To pee or not to pee

Disclaimer: should talking about pee make you uncomfortable, I'd advise you not to read any further. 

To make sure my kidneys are functioning well, I have to collect all my pee for 24 straight hours so it can be tested. 

This process would be remarkably easier if I was a man. Instead of having direct access into my giant pee receptacle I have to pee into a 4 ounce cup. Never giving much thought to how much I actually pee at one time, I learned, mid-pee, that it's usually far more than 4 ounces at once. I also learned that all those kegels (women who gave birth know what those are) make a difference. I realized that as my pee cup literally runneth over and I had to scream for Jon to bring me the giant pee jug that makes its home in the fridge. 

My family is uneasy about pee residing there but they're dealing. 

I pee an insane amount in the morning. 

The color of my pee changes over the course of the day. 

By pee number 6 or so I mastered how and where to hold the little cup. 

I often preemptively pee, before a yoga class or a movie, making sure everything's as empty as it can be so I don't have any unexpected urges. I debated taking a class today, not sure I could handle the pee thing at my yoga studio. In the end, I peed 2 ounces before class, hid the specimen bottle in a stuff it bag and managed to lose my favorite hat while managing my pee. 

I got pee on my hands, my pj pants, my underwear, and the bathroom floor. 

I drink a lot of water. 

I pee a lot of pee. 

I'm hoping that all this, plus the blood tests in the morning, show that my kidneys are healthy and doing just what they're supposed to do. 

And then, we move onto the next test.