Friday, July 8, 2011

the next chapter

I am now a donor. On the road to recovery. There's not much left to tell at this point. 

I feel better. I feel tired. I feel swollen. I feel relieved, grateful, at times overwhelmed, at others surprised by all the admiration. 

I will continue to heal. My scars ache less. My energy is coming back. Surges of drive and anxiety are surfacing. And with that I'm feeling like here  isn't where I need to spend my energy anymore. 

This blog kept me sane during one of the most intense periods of my life. I don't know how I would've coped if I didn't have a place to process, to voice my fears, to share what was going on inside. Being able to let it out helped me let go. After this experience I now can comfortably call myself a writer, this after years of making excuses for not really being one in spite all I'd put out into the world. 

I had an epiphany the other day. Not just that writing this experience is my next project, but that this is the story I'm meant to tell. FLOW was part of my training. It wasn't my path, but it was an integral part of a bigger path. The stories I tell, those that resonate the most, the ones people read and respond to are me writing about my life. 

This transplant was and is a part of me. But, the story is not just mine. It's my brother's, our family's, the transplant team's. It also belongs to our friends, to neighbors, to strangers we've met along the way. 

That is what I'm meant to tell:

Sidney's Big Adventure - the stories of one life-changing kidney transplant

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Adjectives that have never been used to describe me before have been flowing for the past few weeks.


Life saver. 

Life giver. 


I've been called a hero many times lately. By total strangers. By acquaintances on the street. Most meaningfully by Jon. And by my brother. 

Those are huge shoes to fill. To be seen as, thought of as a hero. Truth is, I am who I always am. I gave my brother a kidney because he needed one. Because he's been ill for so long. Because there was finally something I could do to help after all these years of just watching him get worse. It wasn't a big decision to make. It just was what needed to be done. What I needed to do. 

I'm seeing though, that plenty of people out there don't feel the same way. I've heard of siblings who won't get tested. Of families falling apart over decisions made. Of people waiting for years, hoping someone will step forward as their health steadily declines. 

I've also seen people who donate to strangers. Who save someone's life that they don't know. Of families who rally with fundraisers and facebook pages and twitter hashtags, seeking help for those they love. Of spouses and friends who choose to go through the months of testing and waiting, invasive surgery and then recovery, to selflessly help someone else. 

I suppose there is no more appropriate word for them than hero. 

- noun, plural-roes
 one admired for brave deeds, noble qualities, etc.

Yup. That fits. 

So if a = b, and b = c, then by default I am a hero too. 

I don't feel like a hero. I'm sitting here 
grappling with the weight I've gained, with frizzy summer hair, with feeling like an irresponsible parent for not keeping my kids occupied and entertained this summer. I can't see the bigger picture from here. 

But maybe it's not about a bigger picture. Maybe it's accepting  a hero is someone who steps out of their own life and does what needs to be done.  It's just a part of who they are. 

Of who I am. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

almost like it never happened

4 weeks and 2 days post surgery, there are hours during the day I forget the transplant even happened. I wake up with my mind whirling through all I need to do. My energy is back. My focus, that had been missing for so long, is showing signs of return. I'm increasingly aware that I need to find my own path again. For 6 months donating was my top priority, my main concern. It consumed me, whether through lab visits, testing, the endless waiting and what if conversations. 

My life opened up for me to be fully available and present. Or, maybe it's more that I withdrew from life so I'd be as free as I could be. 

4 weeks and 2 days post surgery I'm healing. I'm healthy. Yes, my scars are still tender. Yes, I still get hit by waves of fatigue that knock me flat. Yes, I'm not strolling the streets at my usually pace.  Every day though gets better, easier as I ease back into myself. 

So now what?

As I was told by someone in my family last night, I can't play the kidney card anymore. 

It's time to figure out what's next. For me. I am now a kidney donor and will carry that with me for the rest of my life. It sort of feels like becoming a mother. Once you are one you never lose it. It becomes a part of you but it won't always be the only thing you do. 

At the moment though, I'm a bit flummoxed.  I'm picking up the pieces of all that I lost track of. I'm dealing with the repercussions of no camp for the kids, a closed bank account, taxes that weren't filed. The puppy that needs to be spayed. The physicals for Iz and Jack that should have happened 2 months ago.  It goes on and on. 

One thing I want to do, need to do, have to do is write this transplant book. The experience is fading. Fast. And it's a story that's so worth celebrating and commemorating. 

It's now just a matter of taking a deep breath and diving back into my life, leaving this limbo behind. 

I'm getting closer to the edge of the pool. I'm thinking I'll be getting my feet wet without even realizing I'm in. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

4 weeks today

This morning, as I sat waiting for my yoga class to start, sitting more comfortably on my mat than I have since the transplant, I realized that exactly 4 weeks ago I was in surgery.

4 weeks ago I was unconscious, sliced open, pumped full of air. My organs were shifted and moved about. And my kidney left, forever.

4 weeks ago I changed someone's life.

And in the past 4 weeks I have been amazed, astonished, and blown away by how much a body, my body, my brother's body, can handle. How we can adapt. How we can heal.

How a part of me is hard at work somewhere else. Helping someone to be healthier than he has in a long, long time.

These past 4 weeks have been many things. Trying. Uncomfortable. Full of unknowns and doubts and trepidation. Plunges back into my dark side. But they've also been filled with hope. Appreciation. Gratitude. Feeling my body and my soul ease back towards center.

I can move again in class. I can imagine new projects. I can tackle the months of paperwork that's piled on my desk. I can walk a little bit faster every day.

But I can also step back when I know my body needs a break. I can let go and stop pushing myself so hard. And I can easily imagine when the scars are all that remind me of this experience. That, and my brother feeling well.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

something to prove

Yesterday in yoga, my fourth class of the week, I found myself moving through poses I would have found challenging any day. No, I didn't do everything: I can't backbend, lie on my belly or twist comfortably yet, but I was in the groove. 

We then took the dogs for a long walk, had dinner out, and stayed up late watching a movie. We ran into an acquaintance at one point during the evening, visiting the city for a
week, and he asked if we wanted to hook up for a long bike ride. I mentioned I wasn't up for it yet, that my stamina still needs building back up. 

He was incredulous. Apparently I'd seemed so myself he'd forgotten I had surgery. 

I've been trying to forget it too. 

Our plans to head to the beach were rained out and I couldn't stand another day at home. So, we hopped into the car and went suburban shopping. I had no idea perusing the aisles of Target could be so exhausting. Usually an avid shopper I wandered listlessly, nothing, not even summer shades of nail polish able to break through the fatigue. 

I was tired to the point of nausea. Or, the discomfort in my abdomen could have been from wearing pants. Or, yesterday's over-stretching could have caused the soreness deep in my belly. 3 of my 4 incisions hurt, sometimes cramping, sometimes stinging. 

I came home, pulled on sweats, crawled into bed and crashed. Hard. 

On the other side of a 2 hour nap I've learned a lesson. I have to be better to myself. I have to respect what I've been through. I have to stop feeling bad and guilty and like I'm failing because I can't do everything myself. 

It's ok to ask for help. And it's ok to not be back in my game yet. I will be. But it'll happen faster if I move with ease instead of force. And if I give myself a break.