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Cindy: My Story
So...Here's the biggest thing that is happening in my life right now. On December 28, 2007, I will donate my kidney to my mother-in-law.
Here's the story... It's REALLY long, sorry!
The same weekend that Hank and I started dating, his mom and dad had gone to Minnesota for her to be put on the waiting list for a kidney and pancreas transplant. She *was* diabetic and her kidneys were failing. As Hank and I were dating, I kept asking God if he was the right one for me, and God kept giving me signs that he was...some signs were bigger than others. ;o) On January 4, 2002 we were married. :oD Shortly after, his mom got a call from Minnesota and she received her kidney/pancreas transplant. She is no longer diabetic! But, her new kidney started slowly failing shortly after the transplant. She went back and forth to MN, and they told her that she would need another kidney transplant soon, preferrably a living donor. She announced this to us on Thanksgiving day 2006.
I volunteered to get tested to see if we were a match, and after several tests (and many prayers to make sure it was God's will) it was determined that we were! No one else in her family was a match or was able to donate, but I was. We were planning on having the transplant in MN...which is supposed to be the best. But...
She kept having trouble with her kidney and she got so sick that she had to go to Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. When there, they discovered that she was on way too many meds, and they were causing her kidney to fail rapidly. They balanced her meds, and she has been able to keep that kidney for much longer than once thought (we were originally going to do the transplant last summer). Needless to say, she decided that she would rather do her next transplant in Atlanta at Piedmont.
So, we had to start all the testing over at Piedmont, and were found to be a good match again. I had to go in for a 2 day evalutation to make sure I was healthy enough to donate. Lots of weird tests and $11,000 later (thank goodness for insurance (hers, not mine)!), they told me I was very healthy and could donate.
I am very excited about this opportunity. It's not very often that you can give this type of gift to someone that you care about. Debbie has always been there for Hank, the girls, and I when we needed her, and now I can be there for her. I will be honest and say that I'm kinda nervous about the surgery. I'm not really dreading the pain; I have a pretty high tolerance of pain (I had my 2nd daughter with no drugs...not really by choice, but still!), but I've never been under anesthesia that knocks me out before. So, I'm a bit nervous about that. I know everything will be fine because we have put this totally in Gods hands and I know he will take care of us and our family.
Yay! It is great to be home! We had the transplant on Friday morning (Dec. 28th) and everything went great. Once they were ready to take me into the operating room, I remember Hank kissing me bye, and that's it. Then I woke up in recovery (they said I was really sleepy and didn't want to wake up, those of you that know me well enough to have tried to wake me up at some point can sympathize with the nurses...lol) and they wheeled me into my room at about 11:45. I had plenty of family and friends come visit me, and can remember them coming, but not a thing they said. I was pretty bummed and nervous at first b/c they said the kidney wasn't working in Debbie yet, and her last transplant started working immediately. It started working great after a few hours!!, and the docors said that was normal. That first day was pretty groggy for me, but okay...I was still on the morphine pump (sweet!). I did get up and walk the halls once that night, got to see Debbie (mom-in-law). Nothing to eat at all this day (Friday), but I didn't really notice or care.
Day 2 (Sat.) wasn't as good...they took the pump away. :o( I still had pills, but that was definitely not as good as the pump. My tummy hurt, but my shoulders hurt worse, and I was a little nauseous. They apparently pumped gas into my abdomen when they did the surgery so they could see better, and it settled in my shoulders. Hank made the nurses give me some ice packs and he and Aunt Marion rubbed my shoulders for a long time, so that got much better. I didn't eat much...some chicken broth w/crackers; I attempted some grits, but quickly turned them away. I walked the halls 3 times that day. I LOVED all of my nurses 'cept my weekend night nurse...she was mean and lazy...Hank took care of it the second night though. Thanks Hank!
Day 3 (Sun.) was pretty good, still a little tummy and shoulder pain, no nausea. I had a bit more to eat (applesauce, veggie broth, crackers for lunch;, veggie soup, ritz crackers w/pb, and icecream (dinner), and walked the halls 5 times. I begged my nurse, Beth, to unhook me from the IV so I could eat with Hank downstairs...and she did...Beth is awesome!!!! They took off my main bandage. it really doesn't look too bad..one 4" incision from my belly button up and 2-1/2inch bikini line insicions and 2 tiny holes right under my rib cage. (I thought there would only be 2 total, oh well, no prob.)
Day 4 (Mon)- doing pretty good! I got to eat regular food, but still chose to go light...no McD's fries yet! We got released from the hospital at about 2 on this day. They took the little medicine pump off my incision (it had something like neosporin in it), and then I got to take a shower!! YAY! Then I walked down with my nurse, Jessica, and Hank took me home. We stopped for a fruit and yogurt parfait for me...yum! I got a bit nauseus again, but after a few mintutes of the AC blowing full blast on me I got okay (I get car-sick pretty easy anyway). By the time I got home, my tummy was a bit swolen...I looked and felt about 7mos prego...it was weird and not too comfy. It went down that night though.
Kaylee and Alyssa (my daughters ages 5 and 2.5) came home a couple hours after I did. Hank and Daddy had talked to them about being careful around my tummy. Kaylee was fine with it, but it freaked Alyssa (2.5) out. She would not come near me and just cried. :o( I bribed her to go in the kitchen with me and make some chocolate milk. I showed her and Kaylee my tummy (even though the doc told me not to...one of the things I DO NOT remember having been told from day 1) and we called the little strips of tape they have on me "baby band-aids." This made things MUCH better! Looks like I know my kids a little better than the doctor. :o) Alyssa (and Kaylee, of course) has been absolutely awesome about climbing up to me and knowing I can't pick her up. She keeps telling me to take my medicine so my boo-boo will go away. cute!
Day 5 (New Years)- Feeling pretty good today! We had our "Murray" Christmas at my house this year, and everyone came over. It was great, and I wasn't expected to do anything in the means of cooking or cleaning....pretty cool! We all had a great time, but I had to go take a nap after everyone left.
Overall- there were somethings that I thought would be worse (anesthesia) and somethings that I didn't anticipate (shoulder pain), but I would definitely do it again if I could. It is an amazing feeling to be able to give another person another, better chance at life, especially someone you love. I encourage everyone who reads this to have "organ donor" put on your license, and, if you are inclined to, research more about living donor donation (you don't even have to know the person you donate to if you don't want to). Who knows when/if you or someone you love may need an organ.
2 week update: I felt pretty much back to normal a little less than 2 weeks after the surgery. Modern medicine is AWESOME! No need for pain meds or anything. :o) Of course, I am still taking it easy...doctor's orders!! The scar isn't bad at all. I start back to work on the 16th (I'm a special ed. teacher at an elementary school). Debbie is still doing great! Her blood work is coming back normal and "our" kidney is working, working, working!
-- Cindy Alexander
© 2008 International Association of Living Organ Donors, Inc.