7.30.2009

Ten Sucks

I started the week out so well, with my Ten Things About Monday

And then Tuesday came and I thought I would do Ten things About Tuesday, but the first thing I did was see the Kidney Transplant Center in the morning and that kind of got me stuck on the number “ten.”

So, Ten Things Tuesday went like this:

Ten – the number of my blood count, which has improved from 7, but would be best at 12

Ten – the percentage of my kidney function.

Ten – the length in inches of my kidneys. Yeah – read that again. Ten inches. Let’s see. I’m 5’2” tall; that’s just under 1/6th of my entire body.

You know what? I really don’t like the number ten. It’s too blunt and short. Its numeric form is a silly dinky “one” followed by a zipless “zero”. 10. Nope don’t like 10.

I think I’m not going to do 10 list items anymore.

For more on this delirious subject, http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/commcomm/2009/jul/30/calling-all-organ-donors/
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7.27.2009

Ten Things About Monday

1. You get to start over in the work week and fix last week’s goofs.
2. On the other hand, your building’s air conditioner was turned off all weekend, and Monday is going to be hot, hot, hot.
3. There is no filing to do because you did it Friday (for those who know me, please don’t faint)
4. It is a doubly good Monday if your boss did NOT come in over the weekend; otherwise you can’t find your desk for all the piles he cleared from HIS desk because he wanted a fresh clean slate on Monday.
5. You don’t have to really look to find something to wear because everything is cleaned, ironed, and hung up – you just need to decide if today is a Pink Monday or a Blue Monday. I choose Pink.
6. The work fridge is empty and you can place your food anywhere you want and know that you’ll find it at lunch; by Friday, several unidentified “to go” boxes will be crowded in there with no takers.
7. There are no series of email requests from your boss for this and that and the other thing (yet).
8. You start out the day so organized (savor the moment)
9. You *know* the coffee is fresh and hadn’t been sitting there since yesterday afternoon because anyone who comes in on the weekend doesn’t bother to even make it because their secretaries always make it for them. They don’t know the coffee pot from the sugar bowl.
10. You know it’s going to be a good day when the elevator goes right to your floor without stopping. (Be sure to check that it really is Monday and not Sunday, like what happened the last time you didn’t stop at any of the other floors and the office was dark and empty).

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7.24.2009

Giving v. Taking; Transplant 101

Hey all! I am back from my round of medical tests - you would not even believe all the places on my body that were xrayed, sonogrammed, echoed, CT'd, scanned, poked, pricked, and prodded. I am going to start journaling something like, Kidney Transplant Procedures 101.

One thing that happened throughout the day was that everywhere I went, one diagnostic room after another, each technician asked “are you a giver or a receiver?” It gave me pause to think about donors. I've been thinking about deceased donors - but there are living donors out there too. A lot of them are officially known to the transplant center as “altruistic” donors. Amazingly enough, these altruistic people simply call the transplant center and tell them they wish to donate one of their kidneys, just because. I find that absolutely totally amazing and “altruistic” doesn't even come close to defining such an extraordinary gift.

I also felt kind of selfish when I was asked if I were a giver or a receiver - interpreting the question as “I'm a TAKER.” Take! Take! Take!

I was simply amazed that there are people out there that think nothing about giving up one of their kidneys – they are willing to go through all the medical tests, the surgery, the follow-up, and living the rest of their life with one kidney.

From here, I have to wait for approval from the transplant committee (if any of the tests come back showing some other illness or cancer – things could change badly). I should be officially “on the list” in three weeks.

Here’s a little tidbit: there are three times the amount of people who NEED kidneys over the amount of kidneys available at any given time.

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7.22.2009

Will New Health Plan Cover Me?

So, I start the process of getting on a transplant list tomorrow. It’s a real big deal! I have a typed up schedule of all the different procedures I’m going to have, along with a map of all the locations these procedures will take place. In fact, I have four pages of maps of Sacred Heart Medical Center. I will be visiting one of the parking garages (that’s plural), the Women’s Health Center, Lower Level 1 on the west end, then Lower Level 2 on the east end, then center, then to Lower Level 3 and they’ll treat me to breakfast if I can find the cafeteria, then the 3rd floor in the Doctor’s Building which appears to be next to the garage I’ll aim for.

I’ll have a marathon bloodletting at dawn, and somewhere in there I will have “tissue typing.” Along with CT scan, ultra sound, chest x-ray, another ultrasound, skin tests, echocardiogram – all in one fun day. I am only worried about the “tissue typing.” I mean – “tissue.” Is that like scraping skin off of me??? What’s the difference between skin typing and skin tests? Or are the skin tests to see what happened with the skin scrapings earlier in the day?

I’m taking the day off – maybe I should take Friday, too. After all, I might have no skin by Friday. I’ll definitely be low on blood.

I have a questionnaire to fill out too. “Potential Kidney Donors.” And a big blank space to fill in all my friends’ names. It’s here where I hesitate. How deep and true must a friendship be to ask one friend to go under the knife for another and end up with one working kidney? Yikes. I’m afraid I’m leaving my space empty.

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7.17.2009

Run Away With Me

O boy it’s Friday. 4:34. I’ve got my tennis shoes on and in the ready to run out the door at full blast position. I am tired of this week. Now on to the weekend.

I have garage sales to go to and things to poke around in and other people’s junk to buy as my new treasures.

Mechanic Man found me an old, old very tall book case to hold my thousands of books, and now it’s time to seek out more at yard sales and garage sales and estate sales. It’s in the shed that holds the freezer right now for want of space inside the house but I am seriously considering the few steps from the door to the shed could be considered exercise and I may put my books in the shed with the freezer. Except it is a nice old antique-looking book case that I would like to show off.

And more yard sales to find things to stuff in my book case because book cases are NOT just for books. So boring. No. Book cases are perfect for tea cup collections and glass animal collections and owl collections and old musty-smelling leather bound book collections about nothing I have ever read.

My sneakers are squeaking in anticipation.

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7.13.2009

Reluctant Volunteer

How do you say no???? I need to learn this. I am a people pleaser big time. I want to please everybody around me, be it at home or work or in the store or, well, all the time. I never say no. Most times it’s a good thing and I walk away feeling just a little taller or kinder or gentler. It’s my little self boost. But sometimes, I should just say no.

I was standing at the bus stop downtown to go the short two miles to my home on the lower northwest side of Spokane.

A gal was standing next to me with a couple large boxes at her feet. As the bus arrived she turned to me and in very broken English, in a strong Russian accent, asked if I would help her with one of her boxes. It was more of a command than a request. “You carry box,” pointing at the box and then at me, nodding her head once as if that would seal the deal. I thought nothing of it and lifted up one of the heavy boxes for her.

As we got close to my stop she again said, “You carry box,” along with the curt nod. I asked her when her stop was and she indicated the one right after mine, so I nodded back, once, and then watched as my bus went past my [perfectly good car parked in front of my perfectly good little house] on the way to the next stop.

We got off and she curtly ordered “Carry box” and “Follow.” And I followed. The box got heavier and heavier, my legs got more lead in them, I moved slower and she hustled down the side street, her box on her head, marching resolutely along, every now and then curtly stating “Come.” She was plainly disappointed in my lack of speed. So there we went, a little mini-parade, marching down another side street back around the block until we were exactly across (but two blocks away) from my house.

I would have gladly driven her and her boxes from my house to hers. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t ask. Except for the fact that she probably assumed that since I was taking the bus I did not have a car. Probably a real luxury from where she lived in the Ukraine.

Made me think how we take for granted our material possessions while people from other cultures might consider them precious luxuries that few have.

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7.09.2009

Tears for my Dad

I searched for him everywhere. I sought out his friends. I googled his name. I wanted to have him back. My Dad.

Dad went in for the umpteenth time for dialysis. At three times a week, four hours a day, six years – he had dialysis for 730 days of his life, 2,920 hours. And now he was being told they had run out of veins for his dialysis. It was Friday, December 10, 1993. It was my son’s 21st birthday; my Army child, stationed in South Korea. Dad decided not to go back to the center where he spent all those long grueling hours. He chose to die now rather than months from now, under all the same four hours a day, three days a week routine. He died on December 19.

I came home after spending the last week of his life with him and did mundane things, like shop at Albertson’s for milk and bread. All the while thinking that surely the clerks, the other shoppers, the children in the child seats, the baker, the butcher, the florist – would all see the pain in my eyes, the ache of my heart, the whole in my soul. Surely they noticed. I wanted to go up to each one and say “Did you know my Dad?” “Did you know he died?”

I went to his friends and would touch their hands, knowing that their hands had shaken my Dad’s hand. I knew that their hands had affectionately clapped my Dad’s shoulder or embraced him. And I would eagerly and breathlessly wait for anything they would say about my Dad. I wanted to confirm all the good things I knew about my Dad. I would stand there, soaking up his friends’ words like water on a parched throat.


“Your Dad was very kind.”
“Gentle”
“Warm.”
“Intelligent.”
“He was so important to me.”
“Your Dad loved you kids so much.”

All these words would bathe over me and sooth me.

Recently I have watched various news blogs about local people who have met untimely ends in freak accidents and what struck me were how many relatives who had never commented on these blogs, now were writing. They were writing in response to remarks made by various bloggers who didn’t know their lost loved one, and the remarks were sometimes hurtful, tacky, or erroneous. These loved ones have written from Ohio, California, Seattle – outside the scope of Spokane, Washington. And these loved ones have expressed the pain of reading these remarks when all they were doing was what I had done – they searched for anything about their child, their mother, my Dad. They googled their loved one’s name. They wanted anything about their loved one. Just like I did with my Dad. Any positive word to say he was loved by someone else. That someone else misses him as much as I.

Four months ago a good friend’s 24-year-old daughter passed away due to cystic fibrosis. I wrote about it on this blog – in a good way, in a positive way, highlighting what I knew about his daughter from my own experiences with her. I have a comment tracker and I have been amazed that every day, every single day, I have received hits to that particular post, from all over the world. Her friends started commenting to me – that it helped them so much to handle their grief over the loss of their friend. Her mother contacted me. She too wanted to hear that people loved her daughter as much as she did. The loss of her daughter took her breath away with its nearly unbearable anguish. She wanted comfort, she wanted to see her daughter through others' eyes. It confirmed for her that her daughter was vital to many, many people. That particular site gets two dozen hits a day. All because I said kind things about a person that was loved by so many people.

I wrote that story because I desperately wanted someone to write about my Dad in the same way. I wanted someone to say they loved him too. They missed him. They were sorry for my loss.

The empathy I get from others has healed the gaping hole I had felt for months after my Dad died.

Hopefully my treating others as I wish they would treat me makes a difference.

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