Friday, August 5, 2011

how much is that kidney in the window?

I wrote a piece at Huffington Post about paid kidney donations:

it brings up a lot of questions . . .

before and after

This small world story will make sense so stick with me for a bit:

A few weeks before the transplant, as I sat waiting for a yoga class to begin, I recognized a woman in the back of the class. We'd belonged to the same gym, years ago, and I spotted her in the neighborhood every once in awhile, although we never said hi. With time to kill I started chatting, as I do, and discovered she was now a regular at my studio too, although we hadn't crossed paths. Eventually the impending surgery came up, as it so often did, and she mentioned her neighbor was waiting for a new kidney. Small world - how often do you meet someone who knows someone in such a similar situation. I wondered I she could have been talking about my brother, but she lived in a different neighborhood.

The she mentioned he was vegan, that they shared a love of vegan cupcakes.

I asked if his name was xxx.


Was his last name xxx?

Yup again.

My brother's office is in her building. She's known him for years. In fact, the week before, I'd helped pickout cupcakes for her at a vegan bakery in NJ we'd road tripped too.

Now it was a serious small world story.

So here's the relevant part: I saw her in class the other day. After telling me how great she thought I seemed (thanks D!, she mentioned how amazing my brother looked. That the grey pallor and dark smudges under his eyes that had been there for so long were gone. That his energy level,compared to what it had been, was remarkable.

It was hard not to cry.

I've notice these things but to hear it from someone else, someone not intimately involved in the whole thing, who had such a clear view of the before and after, was amazing. Gratifying. Thrilling. So much time has passes that my kidney adventure is fadin into the background. The rest of life is coming backup the forefront. It was a gift to be reminded of what a positive difference that kidney is making.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

words with friends

At dinner last week with a bunch of friends - my super cool book club to be more specific - I mentioned that I'm rather addicted at the moment to Words with Friends.

Silence spilled across the table. I sensed distain, pity, discomfort. It seemed they felt sorry for me and my time-wasting ways.

Before I could leap to my own defense, conversation moved on.

And then yesterday, I read a blog post of someone I admire, justifying her own WWF habit. After I caught up on my 10 current games (including one with the writer of that post), I thought I'd explain my own habit.

I play with my brother. Before surgery he gave me a WWF hard sell but I was too busy contemplating the transplant to contemplate anything else. Afterwards though, as we hung out in the hospital for hours and hours, wincing and waiting for the next dose of pain meds (actually last part was just me), we started playing. Me on my iPhone, my brother on his iPad. He trounced me just about every game. When I'd lose by less than 100 points, I'd feel smarter than usual. We played around the clock as neither of us were sleeping through the night.

It was good to know he was there. Reassuring. After all we'd just gone through I appreciated this means of being connected.

It became one of the many ways we stayed in touch. At that point we were texting, emailing, talking on the phone, commenting on facebook posts and sending messages during word game. Keeping track of how the other was doing as we adjusted to post-transplant reality. We were so often in contact before surgery and I had wondered if that would stop as we went our separate ways.

And so WWF is more than a time drain for me. It's one way of staying close to my brother as real life seeps back in.

Monday, August 1, 2011

me and my kidney

Last night, as I was getting out of bed to pee yet again, Jon asked if I noticed any difference with just one kidney.


Not that I expected to feel an empty spot by my back left ribs, but I wondered if Ida (Sidney's remaining partner), would be up to the task of dealing with the huge amounts of liquid I consume.

Now that it's summer, homemade slushies are just about an every day drink. If you haven't pureed watermelon and then added ice to the mix, you're missing out on something extraordinary. I also go through tons of milk, organic chocolate powder and ice—your basic frozen chocolate milk. Cold soups (the fresh pea and mint at Pret) are seasonal faves. And then, there's water. I drink a lot of water. Seriously, a lot of water. Not iced. I'm a fan of room temperature.

One thing I learned during my transplant odyssey is that my remaining kidney, much like the Grinch's heart, would grow. 50 percent larger in fact. Perhaps that's part of post donation fatigue—the fact that one of my organs is actually increasing in size. And Ida is working around the clock. Literally. I generally get up more than once during the night to pee.

8 weeks post surgery and I'm peeing up a storm. I'm amazed at what my body can do. I am grateful that my brother got one kick ass kidney. And I'm delighted with the one that's left.