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minikin

Minikin's Journal

Routine Ramblings of an Occasionally Interesting Housewife


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It starts with One Click
Donate Life
minikin
LJ Idol Season 6 - Week 7 - One Touch Click

It's been a roller coaster ride. Yesterday, I was physically exhausted by the chemicals that accompanied all the emotions.

After the first call in September, we actually started talking about what it would be like, after he gets a kidney. How we could pick up and go for a trip on last minute super saver prices - Baxter requires at least two weeks to set up a travel delivery. Or, we could take a road trip without planning cargo space. We did most of this talking on the cruise that happened in spite of how close he was to the top of the list. We halfway expected not to go on the cruise, to be kept in town by a new kidney. When we got back from the trip, we talked about it happening any day.

It started to hit home to me when I was praying for safe travels for my friends over Thanksgiving weekend. I started thinking about all the other people who would be on the road, and how it's so often people in wrecks that donate. Donate. Not exactly a painless, out of sight, automatic payroll deduction to United Way. How do you pray, "protect the travels on the road" and "bring my dearest a kidney" in the same breath?

And then Christmas planning on the yet-again-shoestring budget, and the expectations diminished in our everyday conversations. Oh, at a recent visit to the clinic, they verified that he was the number one patient on the Type O list. But somehow, it started feeling distant. When Mom asked if she and Daddy should dump plans for us to go there for Christmas and start looking for flights to Lexington, I told her how much Flar was looking forward to Christmas in San Antonio. She worried about taking him off the list for 10 days. In the back of my head, the little ghoul said "New Year's is the drinking holiday, we'll be home by then."

I was aware I was squandering the extra time I was given by the gift of no work for weeks on end. I ramped up my job search, and even got some interviews, but I did little concrete to prepare the house for disruption of routines - whether for working full-time, traveling for Christmas, or the hospital stay a transplant would entail. It all still seemed like talk.

When suddenly, I went from "no work this week" to "can you come in on Tuesday and Wednesday?" to working full-time, except Friday mornings.

When suddenly, I had a third of the Christmas shopping and crafting done, and mostly accumulated in the dining room for wrapping (praise be to Mary Kay ladies who not only deliver, but gift-wrap as well!)

When suddenly, the call came. "Be ready to get more calls. Be ready for disappointment." Oh, I couldn't go back to sleep after that call, even though we had over two hours more before we'd be leaving the house. But it didn't seem real. We chatted in the hospital while we waited through the admitting process. I called work when I knew someone would be there to take the call. "Do you have an advanced directive? Did you bring it?" I'm the proxy, so we reviewed what I already knew, but I asked more detailed questions, with every one followed up by "but I don't want that to happen."

There aren't nearly as many procedures that count as major surgery as there used to be. With so many surgeries done by camera through tiny incisions, the prospect of a cesarean-sized incision and working with vessels large enough to handle the kind of blood flow a kidney uses... But we didn't know for sure the surgery would happen, and it was easy to talk in vagueness and concentrate on scheduling practicalities. I'd go to work, but only after we talked to the doctor and had some kind of understanding about how much warning I'd get to come back. It would be hours until they knew if he passed the cross-matching testing, if the other patient (highly sensitized) passed, if the kidney was good enough, if the surgery would really happen.

Going to work was a welcome distraction. Flar had Critter to keep him company at the hospital while he waited. I had permission to keep my phone on in Ops. I started indexing dailies, and when I switched to scanning, I kept one earbud in to listen for calls. I popped up twice to answer calls, but none from Flar. My manager, R, took me aside to check into plans - for the day, the week, etc. Would I want to work or not; how much? I even got the chance to ask about moving to full-time, since I'm still technically a part-time employee. I'd just coded back in for scanning, when I saw a voicemail -- I hadn't caught a call during the meeting. It was Flar, the operation was scheduled for 4pm. This was at about 2pm (funny, I remembered the :45 from when I clocked out when I wrote up a timeline, but not the hour).

That's when it hit. Everything was really going to happen. It was the most intense feeling I can remember. Pure adrenaline. Fear, excitement -- not really translating as happiness: I seriously couldn't understand why I wanted to sob uncontrollably. When I told R that it was really happening, that I had time to finish out the end of a bundle, she could tell I was almost losing it. She offered a hug and held me tight and then I got back to work. Routine, detailed tasks. They are the bomb for settling me out. I really don't think I could have gotten into a car and driven if not for stopping and finishing out and tidying up properly.

I'd tried to chronicle the day; I updated facebook diligently. But it seems a blur even now. Everything has changed. The surgery was successful. He came back to me, as I'd demanded when they wheeled him off. The outlook is bright. He's no longer a short-timer.

All because of the final gift of a stranger. Maybe his family decided. Maybe they knew her wishes. Or maybe this stranger had thought ahead and made sure.

You can.

It starts with One Click.

Logo for Kentucky's organ donor registry: Donate Life Kentucky
For Kentucky Residents

Logo for Donate Life
To find the link for your state's registry

I do not have information about how to register in other countries; I welcome more information about that in comments.
--

This entry was written for inclusion in The Real LJ Idol writing competition on Live Journal, Topic 7: One Touch.

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*Hugs* I'm glad things worked out with Flar and that he seems to be doing very well post-operatively! Yay for no longer being a "short timer"!!

We're all so very grateful. Flar decided to go to church with us this morning, specifically so that he could find people who had prayed for him, to thank them in person.

To find information on registering for organ donation in any state in the U.S. you can also use: http://www.donatelife.net/ which is the UNOS operated website for Donate Life: America.

Also, for more general information on UNOS (the organization that maintains and operates the transplant waiting list in the U.S.) or on organ donation, folks can visit www.unos.org

I used to work for UNOS so I just thought I'd share the added info. :)

I'm so happy for you all, and grateful to the donor! I truly wish we could get more people to sign up (Mick and I are both donors - although I don't know if my parts are useful by now)

happy, happy, joy, joy!

Thanks so much for the added information.

This is so wonderful. I know what you and Flar have gone through and what fabulous news!

It's been wonderful. He's already feeling so much better than before the surgery - even though he still needs lots of rest to help him recover.

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We're just so amazed at this Christmas miracle.

Thanks for writing this. To me it has always seemed a no brainer, after I go, take anything that can help anyone. I won't be needing it anymore. I imagine it can be hard to see through the fog of grief for the family of the prospective donor, but it's the greatest gift someone can ever give.

We're just so grateful for the gift this has meant for us.

In Belgium there is a presumed consent law and an opt-out rule: you have to indicate that you do NOT want to be an organ donor. Families keep a veto-right though.

I'm so glad the operation went well, and hope recovery will go smoothly and without rejection!

Especially with the family having a veto right, this seems like such a good plan. So far, he is doing so well. We're both so grateful.

*nods* the only problem is that families, in their grief, have the first reaction to say "no" because they don't want their loved one to miss a piece, so I do think it's important people make a living will about this to clearly indicate THEY are comfortable with it. The family then loses that veto right.

Glad to hear it's going well!

wonderful way to turn this topic around to help others!

Thanks. I'd already posted the timeline sort of update, and this also gave me a chance to write more about the emotions in all of it.

Yay you! Yay flar!

My dad died of a heart attack, so he was without oxygen for too long to donate soft organs. But his corneas went to someone in Dublin(!) courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank, and the Donor Alliance of Colorado & Wyoming was able to take a lot of his bones and some of his skin & tissue.

The nurse who stayed with us all that night was just bowled over that my mom brought up donation herself. Evidently, that's not very common.

Knowing that my dad could help people was the best thing about that day.

I read this response to Flar, and he was so pleased to hear from a donor family. This is such a precious gift to us, at such a sorrowful time for them. All we know was that Flar's donor was under 30 years old, and killed in a car accident. It's so sad for a life to be cut short, so suddenly. We are so grateful that the family agreed to the donation.

I'm so glad things worked out. :)

I'm glad that the surgery went well for Flar.

I'm glad the operation worked out. I couldn't imagine anyone not signing up to be an organ donor. I think some people just don't think about it although I believe you can now register when you renew your drivers license. Great post!:)

It is alarming, the kind of misinformation that people have about signing up to be an organ donor.

Oooh, good for you! Organ donation is SO IMPORTANT!

Thank you so much for writing this.

I am so happy for you and him. ♥

Thank you. It is still so amazing to me.

How wonderful! Your message is really strong.

I knew that the best time to write it would be when the feelings were the most intense. I am still amazed at this gift.

Fantastic entry and congrats to both of you!

Wow, it is wonderful to read a success story and am glad a donor was found for him and he's doing well! What an uplifting entry to read.

Thank you. I really can't contain my excitement and joy over this. :)

I'm glad it worked out. I initially had my organ donor card signed but I removed the directive when I was told that even if the organs were healthy, they'd never get used because I was too fat. I now have a directive to have the body cremated, no autopsy, and no surgical procedures to be done. I wish it could have turned out differently.

I'm so sorry to hear that. I do know that they make every effort to only go to all of the risks of transplantation and anti-rejection drugs for as healthy and perfect an organ as possible. While we were waiting, knowing about the high standards was frustrating. After the surgery, it's comforting to know the standards help to ensure his life expectancy.

Even though you can't donate, you can support organ donation by talking about it -- something I never really realized There are still many people who just never have a reason to think about it, one way or the other.

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