Saturday, February 26, 2011

3.21 transplant

My brother called this morning as I was standing at the bottom of Magic Mountain shooting video of my new snowboarder. 

The insurance company said yes. 

The transplant is a go. 

And it looks like the date will be the one I dreamed. 

I couldn't talk in that moment as Jack was heading down towards me and I had to capture the run.

And then, I didn't know what to say:

Congratulations. We have to have a party. I'll pencil this in on my calendar.  

Everyone is so excited. I am too but the flip side of that is a bit too scary to contemplate at the moment. I'm wondering if I can make it through the next few weeks holding it all together. Making plans for how the kids will be taken care of. Who will walk the dog, shop for food, move the car, do the laundry. 

The biggest question that I don't want to face but have to is what if I'm not ok. What if something goes wrong. What if I don't see my kids again. 

What if one kidney isn't enough for my body. 

Sometimes I have bigger picture moments, knowing that there's for more to life than my small lifetime. That by giving away my kidney I'm positively impacting someone's life and as karma goes, that's a wondrous thing. But other times, like right now, I'm frozen. I want to be alone and not have to talk to anyone. Unfortunately, I'm in a room of strangers, stuck in Vermont, with no where to go. 

I want to be lost in familiar, to fill myself up with my life, to relish what's most precious to me. 

But I can't right now. 

I want to go home. I want to run away. I want to disappear for awhile. I want these overwhelming feelings to subside. 

I want to go back in time, before any of this was happening. 

Not forever, but just for right now. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

dreaming kidneys

I just had my first transplant dream. I was heading with people I didn't know to the hospital which I couldn't find. 

We stopped for white wine that
was half price as it was served in broken glasses. The waiter knew we needed to be at 114th Street. 

The hospital was a block away but the streets were filled with mounds of grey slush. 

It wasn't NYC. 

The hospital looked like an overwhelmed hotel. 

I'd forgotten my bag and everything, absolutely everything I needed. 

One of the people with me said he had to get back home so he could do homework. 

I was panicking about my bag. If Jon went to get it he wouldn't make it uptown before the surgery. 

I needed my stuff. I desperately needed my stuff. My brown fuzzy pillow. My notebook with all the operation info. I needed a specific number to check in with but that was home too. 

Admissions was a huge marble desk that looked as if it should've been in Grand Central. 

I still didn't know if the surgery was happening. Was it ok that I drank wine? That I'd been eating all day? Was surgery supposed to start at 8?

I was hoping the 3 people I'd been working with all along would be at the hospital (2 woman and a man - no one I'd ever seen in real life). Someone showed me that they'd posed for a yearbook photo wearing bright yellow t-shirts. 

I was scared. Really scared. 

The woman behind the counter thought everything would be fine. I was explaining all about my brother's complicated case
to help me stay calm. 

I just wanted my bag. That number. My stuff. 

I woke up but can still clearly see scenes from my dream. The yellow and black pant suit someone near check in was wearing. The mounds of dirty snow outside. The sun reflecting off the edge of the missing piece in the wineglass. 

I can still feel the panic. 

It's hard to breathe. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I'll believe it when I pee

I was on the phone with my brother last night, talking about a family celebration that's happening in Vermont this summer. He was trying to coordinate dates both with us getting to spend time together and with his dialysis schedule. I said that by then he shouldn't have to worry about dialysis anymore. 

He was far more skeptical. 

Once we get past this insurance roadblock, there are possibly insurmountable obstacles to overcome. Like whether there's even room in his abdomen for this new organ. And should there be, whether it will work once it's hooked up. 

No one knows. 

There are no guarantees. 

In response to my positive, placating missives he said, "I'll believe it when I pee."

First of all, what a brilliant twist of words. From someone who excels at puns that make me groan, this was exceptionally witty. 

And true. 

His realism tempers my optimism. My faith balances keeping his hopes in check. 

I pray, ask, beg, hope, wish, want with all my heart for this to work out for him. And for me too. But, as we get closer to surgery, this story is far less mine than his. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

the roller coaster is revving up

My brother called a little while ago to say that it looks like the transplant is back on track. The hospital is negotiating with the insurance company and if all works out, we could be on the schedule next month.

My heart started to race. Iz reassured me that I'd be ok as we walked home from the coffee shop.

I called my mom. She'd already heard.

My sister stopped by along with a friend of hers who happened to work for a nephrologist.

I spoke to my brother again.

By then I could feel the panic starting. My thoughts racing. My hands shaking. When that train leaves the station it's hard to get things back under control.

I called Jon and promptly burst into tears. Hysteric tears. Sobs so hard he couldn't understand what I was saying.

It's much easier to be a donor when you know there's no surgery in the near future. Being altruistic and generous is a breeze when you're not actually giving anything.

It's not that I'm not on board with this. It's not that I've changed my mind. It's not that I have cold feet. But the reality of this is fucking terrifying.

Lately I've written that this has been feeling like I'm stuck at the top of a roller coaster, knowing there are twists and turns and ups and downs ahead but having no idea when they're happening.

I just felt the motor turn back on. The tracks are shaking. The car is shuddering.

Motion could start at any moment.

Time to pour myself a drink. Or to start knitting another scarf.

Monday, February 21, 2011

kidneys in the zeitgeist

Kidneys are in the air these days. Or, perhaps they always were and the topic just wasn't on my radar. 

There was a recent story in the New Yorker by one of my favorite authors about donation and the family drama leading up to it.

Someone sent me a link to a book just published about a woman who needed multiple transplants.

I've been told there's a current story line on Desperate Housewives about dialysis and transplants that fall apart before they happen.

There's a poster just as you hit NYC from the Holland Tunnel about the importance of donating.

There was the story about the baseball coach donating said organ to one of his players.

And the weekend before last a friend of mine directed an evening of original pieces—all written, directed and acted by women—with power as the theme that ran throughout. Much to my surprise, the next to last piece was about a family grappling with . . . yes, here it was again, kidney donation. The power in this story was the potential donor saying no and not continuing to enable her younger sister who'd spent her entire life wrapping her family around her kidney-diseased finger. 

Perhaps if I was training for my first triathalon or preparing to fly to the moon, those sorts of stories would rise to the top too, but how often, really, do people talk about kidneys?

Yet they are. So am I. 

And perhaps, in an even bigger way.

I was having coffee (or rather my daily decaf mocha) with the friend who directed that theater night and we were talking about what's up next for us. She asked if I ever considered writing fiction and thought I should think about writing a play. That's so far beyond the scope of what I imagine I could tackle, but I mentioned that a comment on this blog that they could be turned into a night of readings—a sort of Vagina Monologues about my kidney adventure. 

She said, "we could do that." "WE COULD DO THAT!" She asked me to cull together the most powerful pieces I've written so far and we'd start seeing what we could pull together. The actors from her group could participate. Perhaps it could be in their theater.

So, that's what I'll be doing today, as the snow falls outside. And should this evening of kidneys come to pass, you're all invited.