Confession: you are being used.
By reading this blog you have (perhaps unwittingly) agreed to be a part of my mental health plan. You see, seven weeks ago to this day, at precisely 5:11 am, I received a phone call from the local transplant coordinator, informing me that a kidney was available.
(Funny story: I actually hung up on her, as I figured anyone calling me at 5:11 am was either a prank or a mis-dial. I am thankful for her persistence in trying to get a hold of me and calling me back).
So we ended up at the hospital a few hours later. At that time, we found out two things. First, the donor kidney was considered "older", meaning it was from a donor (deceased) who had been between the ages of 55 and 60+. This was not good news, as an older donor usually means a shortened life-span for the kidney.
Secondly, the good news for me was that the donor was a match to my highly sensitized status. "Highly sensitized" is a term used to explain that I've 'been around the block' so to speak when it comes to the medical system; such a person is someone who has "exceptionally high antibody levels that react to foreign tissue -- re: kidney transplants". As such, I knew that my chances of ever getting another 5:11 am-we-have-a-kidney-for-you were (and are) very slim.
This would also be my third transplant. It would be not impossible, but complicated.
With all this in mind, Sean and I needed to make a decision about whether or not to go ahead with the surgery. The final test -- a biopsy on the kidney-- was completed in the early hours of Monday. The results on the right kidney were good, showing 100% function (it was sent to a recipient out-of-province). The biopsy on the left kidney (mine) went too deep, and only resulted in a non-conclusive tissue sample. It was explained to us that kidneys usually work in tandem, and if one if healthy, most likely the other one is too, but that the doctors could not guarantee anything (ever notice how few things doctors can guarantee? I can only think of one: death. But death is not kosher to discuss, never mind mention in a blog. So I won't).
Sean and I faced a decision: the kidney was old, older than most allowable transplants. It was, however, a good match for my highly sensitized status. And finally, we would, in many respects, go in blind, with the results of the biopsy being unknown. It was a risk.
Here's the thing: I like risks.
While stable on dialysis, I had been on it for just over ten years. Statistically speaking, that is an anomaly. The "average" lifespan of a peritoneal dialysis patient is four years. I had therefor out-shot that by many days, and while I believe God is ultimately in control of when I get to see Him face-to-face, I was truly "living on borrowed time".
So metaphorically-speaking, before seeing that the pool was full of water, we jumped; I agreed to undergo yet another kidney transplant.
The results of that decision have been difficult, to say the least.
Thus the mental health plan.
Here's what I can tell you about this blog: I am not sure how long it will last. Currently, I have agreed with my nephrologist to "ride out" this twenty-five percent working kidney until the new year, or the six month mark. At that point, I will decide whether or not to return to dialysis. As you can imagine, the emotional toll of undergoing a phone-call-in-the-early-hours, major surgery (again!), hospitalization, separation from my family, invasive procedures, immunosuppression, loss of mobility due to fluid on my leg AND to not have a highly functioning kidney has been high.
That's not to say I have given up; I haven't. A part of writing this blog is me being stubborn, and fighting for life, both mental and physical.
It won't all be about transplants. There's only so much kidney to talk about. But, due to being in this post-transplant season of life, it will frame a lot of what I write about.
So this is me writing a lot just to say 'thank you'. Thank you for being an integral part of my mental health. You are appreciated.