Thursday, July 21, 2011

lucky charms

I noticed yesterday, that the elephant bracelet I'd been wearing since the day I found out I was a match was gone. I don't remember the last time I noticed it - after all these months it had become almost a part of me. I realized I don't think it was on my wrist in yoga the day before and perhaps it wasn't there the class before that. 

I'd found out I was a match on 12/23. Later that day,  as I wandered through the Union Square Holiday Market I thought it would be cool to give a my brother a commemorative present, a good luck charm for the upcoming journey. Having said that, I had less than no clue as to what I could possibly find. 

And then I saw the elephant bracelet: a silver charm with an upturned trunk on a red cotton string. The sign posted next to it explained that elephants are symbol of good luck and good health. Plus, my favorite Hindu god, Ganesh, he of the elephant head, helps one to overcome obstacles. 

I bought 2, one for each of us. The next night, as my brother opened them up at our annual Christmas Eve at his house dinner, I felt pretty silly. He doesn't wear things like this.  But, he said that this he would. Only it didn't fit. The next day the vendor kindly resized it. Still too small. 

I emailed the jewelry designer with my dilemma and she graciously offered to fix it again. A couple of weeks later it arrived in the mail and he's been wearing it ever since. 

I found similar charms and made 18 more bracelets to share with people. Iz and Jack are still wearing theirs. Jon and my brother's wife wore them around the clock for months. 

I imagined I'd always have my well-worn symbol of this unique shared time, the red string frayed and broken, the charm scratched and nicked. But, it wasn't meant to be. Now my brother and I have matching  abdominal scars. Not quite identical - his is much bigger - but we got them at the same time. 

And we'll have them forever. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

self conscious

Usually, in the summer, I'm a vision of vintage madness. It seems the brighter, the splashier, the more flowers in op art patterns, the better. After collecting for a few years I've learned I'm attracted to Hawaiin bark cloth dresses from the 60s and I wear them with great enthusiasm. 

This summer though, I've reverted to black. Shapeless sundresses that hang from my shoulders. I have hangers of these boring, run-of-the-mill standards that have become my uniform. 

I realized today, it's because I'm not comfortable in my skin. The surgery threw me off. My body, that I generally know so well, is different. Aside from the carb-packing weight I gained post-transplant, I'm still swollen. My lowest incision, just above my pubic bone, is puffy and distended. Not in an unhealthy way, but it's apparent something went on there. Plus 3 weeks of no yoga and the subsequent tip toeing back to where I was is making me want to hide. 

Years ago, when I was anorexic, I did the same thing. As much as I could I faded into the background. 

Then today, as I was walking through the west village, I saw a dress on a mannequin in a store window. Sleeveless, A-line, carnation pink at the top with the brightest of magenta flowers extending up from raspberry at the bottom. I went in. It looked small but I tried it on anyway. 

It fit. It was me. The old over-the-top me. I bought it to wear to a wedding this weekend. And then went home, left my brown skirt and black tank on the bed, and put on a mustard and olive sun dress, sprinkles with white hibiscus blooms. 

I feel self-conscious. Not at all at ease. But it's time to be me again. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

loser like me

6 weeks post surgery I'm feeling remarkably better. When I see a traffic light changing I'm back to running across the street to make it instead of waiting for the next one. My pants fit, although still slightly tighter than I'm comfortable with. My mind is racing, I'm contemplating big projects, I can feel the adrenalin, motivation, drive that was gone for most of the 7 plus months. 

And yet, I feel like shit right now. Frustrated by what I can't do. By my lack of work. The fact I didn't pull together enough things for the kids to do this summer. That I can't take on too much because I know the wall of exhaustion is still waiting to smack me on the head. 

This isn't about the kidney anymore. At least not completely. But it's getting harder to give myself a break as more time passes. 6 weeks out and I guess I feel like I should be fine. That, I suppose, is a magic wish. I wasn't fine before. I mean, I was fine. I am fine. But there were always issues to grapple with and now that I'm easing back into my life they're still there. Donating a kidney didn't change any of that. I'm still really hard on myself. I still focus on the worst parts of me. I still beat myself up over where I'm not. 

I wish I could see myself the way other people see me (except you, anonymous). I wish I could step back and see the bigger picture instead of getting caught in the muck. I wish I could treat myself with appreciation instead of disdain. 

I've got my work cut out for me. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Yesterday I found this comment, on a recent post about how well my body was healing:

its always about YOU< YOU< YOU ...never the selfish...

First reaction: I laughed. Out loud. How ridiculous that someone was complaining about me writing about me on my blog. And then, to call me selfish—when writing about the experience of donating an organ?

Second reaction: I'm pretty sure I know who wrote it. And had to laugh again at how someone can so bravely hide behind the cloak of anonymity. But meanness shines through.

Third: I was touched that my brother came to my defense, posting for the first time here. Thanks bro.

And I owe him another thanks for being so accepting about me sharing my experience here. Until somewhat recently he'd been exceedingly private about his health. I never really knew about the issues he'd been grappling with his entire life and just what caused them until we were adults. My family didn't discuss anything like that. It was all kept deeply hidden. When my brother and I started down this path I asked if he was ok with me writing it out. If he wanted to read what I wrote first—I never wanted to post anything he was uncomfortable with. He said no. My journey in this was mine to share however I wanted.

And I shared. This blog has been my outlet, my therapy, my solace during some of the most intense months of my life. I've found comfort, support, encouragement from people from real life and others I've never met. Not only that, I've heard my posts have helped others on this path. For me, especially right after surgery, it made a huge difference to hear from other donors who knew this. They'd been here. That I can be that to someone else is serious karma.

Selfish? Yeah, I can be selfish. We all can be. Have I been selfish here? Sure. I've spent countless time expressing my ideas, thoughts, fears. Anxiety, insecurity, pain. Joy, excitement, thrill. Gratitude. Appreciation. Amazement.

This is my story to tell. And that's all I set out to do.