One Week Pre-Op.
I'm going to give my mom a kidney on October 15th. Research and experts say you can live a healthy, normal life with just one kidney. However, the reality of a surgeon opening my body and digging out a healthy organ is challenging to grasp. My "transplant team" has required me to go through every test imaginable to evaluate my donor candidacy. I've been poked, prodded, and have even carried a cooler of urine samples with my poor father through New York City to the transplant center. Yes, I had to collect all my urine samples within a 24 hour period and keep it refrigerated or on ice. And I pee a lot. Bless the poor soul who gets to process pee samples for a living.
My favorite step was being told I could not exercise for a week and then to come into the city for a four hour test where they inserted a portable IV into my arm and then proceeded to draw blood once every 45 minutes. I had been told I'd be able to move my elbow and not feel the needle, so I brought my laptop thinking I could get my "work" done. WRONG. That little fucker stabbed at my vein for four hours. No wonder I had a total meltdown before they began the whole process. Then there was the time they put another IV in me and injected radioactive dye, which makes you feel like you're going to pee your pants. It's really fun.
Somehow after all this "testing," I passed. It was a sigh of relief I could do this for my mom. All throughout this testing process, I kept thinking, well if I can be her donor, the surgery is still so far off. I have months until I need to process it. It's not scheduled, so it isn't real.
And then I got the call with a surgery date. October 15th. I found this out three weeks before hand. Okay, that's three weeks of living in shades of denial or utter anxiety. It's been one or the other. My friends suggested I join a support group online, which I did exclusively for donors on Facebook. While the posts usually address thoughtful questions, there are the ranting posts. The gas pain post-surgery for weeks. (The gas pain is due to the fact the surgeon literally inflates you with gas to remove the organ and guess what. There's only one way the gas comes out!)
The nausea, the fatigue, the WEIGHT GAIN. I won't be able to exercise for several weeks post-surgery, so this is driving me insane. I already gained the Covid 15, so looks like I'm in for gaining another Kidney 10 or so.
"Just put your phone away, Sweetie," my mom says. "I read the same bullshit too. It doesn't do any good." So I've done what she says, but like any other drug, I can't help but click every time I get a notification when someone has posted in the group and there I go down the Facebook group rabbit hole... I know, I know, turn off the notifications.
With literally a week until surgery day, my reality is setting in. I hope one day I'll be able to read this and think, "Aw, you did it kid," but right now part of me is definitely thinking other thoughts. There are tiny voices in the back of my head saying, "What if, what if, what if." There are what ifs from everything from my lung getting nicked, to an organ getting infected to the ultimate what if.
Here's what I figure about that specific what if. I won't go to hell. There's no way someone who's donating an organ is going anywhere except to heaven. Plus with my driving record, I could easily kick the bucket driving to get gas and my kidneys would be donated anyway. Win, win for you, universe.
But I know I won't. Family friends have called me a "saint" for doing what I'm about to do. I laugh. Firstly, I'm Jewish. We don't do saints. Secondly, I'm far from sainthood. I drink, swear, speed, and have relations with men who are not my husband. But I'm not married, so that's not too awful. And these are just "sins" off the top of my head. I'm sure as a reader if you know me personally, you can list several others.
How can I be a "saint" if I'm scared? I read about people who are kidney donors and they post things in the support group such as, "Surgery day is finally here! So excited!"
Who the hell gets excited at the fact their skin, muscle, and tissue is going to be sliced through in order to remove a perfectly healthy organ? Am I just a selfish bitch, or are they the crazy ones?