April 25, 2015
I actually made my decision with finality and certainty on February 6, 2015. I was going to donate my uncle a kidney!
On this day, I saw my neurosurgeon for a checkup regarding my back. I see him every four to six months to see if I am holding steady or have new symptoms developed. This day we discussed the Wonderful results I have seen, with caudal epidural steroid injections on my back. They literally have saved my sanity! They work to control pain and muscle spasms and are very effective for me. I won’t bore you with the specific details of my back problems. There are multiple problems which are degenerative in nature. There is also a genetic component. My back is really just a mess and for spinal cord stability and integrity, I will eventually have to have surgery. But, not yet!!!
This day was an important step in the process for my husband and me. The answer to our question, would living with one kidney in any way compromise my back, could be a deal breaker. My neurosurgeon was very supportive! He reviewed my last MRI results once more and told me, “Your back doesn’t care if you have one kidney or two. It changes nothing. The only concern will be using contrast on your MRIs. (I have them every twelve to eighteen months.) You will have to have blood work and a urinalysis done when using contrast. We have to make sure all the contrast leaves your kidney.” I asked him if needed, could I undergo back surgery at some future point with only one kidney? His answer was, “Yes, people undergo surgeries having one kidney every day. We know that going into it and make decisions with that in mind. The most important factor will be verifying all contrast has left your kidney.” Earlier I had asked a radiologist the same question. She too told me basically the same thing. In addition to blood work and a urinalysis, they often do a x-ray or scan of your kidney afterwards to confirm all contrast is gone. X-rays and scans are not needed in every situation. I left there feeling as if a great uncertainty had lifted off my shoulders. I left the neurologist’s office thinking my back was now a non-issue.I can’t tell you the sense of peace that flooded my being when he voiced support.
At that moment, all residual fear left me and deep within me I knew this would happen! What I now considered irrelevant (my back) would turn out to be a bigger issue than I knew, at that point. That day was a touch stone in my thinking process. It was a marker by which forward momentum would be gauged. From that point until now, I have known with certainty this was the right thing to do. That day giving one kidney away became a determined mission.
It was time to call my aunt and uncle. The weekend of February 6-8, I called my family. At this point, no one knew my decision except my husband. No one knew I had even thought about kidney donation. My aunt and uncle were surprised and thrilled. He had another donor, fifth in line! Their progress through the long and complicated world of transplantation had not been a good experience for them. Curve balls seemed to be the norm. Twists and turns through the system was and is emotionally draining. Waiting is grueling, hard work! Dialysis is hard work. Dialysis takes a heavy toll on the body. It creates its own problems. It is a very exacting science which takes total mental clarity and constant awareness. By this time,my aunt and uncle were doing dialysis at home six days a week. My aunt basically had to go to a school and learn all that is required performing dialysis. It is a lot! Home dialysis is not for everyone and it is Never for sissies! At this point there was still some vague hope the transplant committee would change their mind about the donor before me. It gave them hope knowing I was there waiting. I Knew in my spirit that the committee would not change their mind, but I did not say that. I simply prepared for the transplant.
The next step was clear. It was time to tell my family. It was time to tell my daughters, mother, and sisters. I had done some research during the previous months. It was time to do more! Kathy