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.
It starts with One Click.
For Kentucky Residents
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.