Category Archives: Uncategorized

As the curtain falls…

Standard

So, I just got the call from my kidney coordinator. I guess this is the call that we’ve been waiting for since I started testing in January. This is the call that Jami has been waiting for since she found out that her kidney was failing and she would need a transplant. This is the phone call that changed everything.

I’m approved to be a kidney donor.

I will be giving Jami my left kidney (which functions at 46%) on Tuesday, June 19. I’m keeping my right kidney (54% function).

As the curtain falls on my journey to being a kidney donor, I want to say thank you. Thank you for standing next to me and cheering loudly. Thank you for supporting me when I was weak. Thank you for giving so generously so that I can give also. Thank you for challenging me. Thank you for the hugs. Thank you for the tears. Thank you for the silence as we waited. Thank you for holding my hand and renewing my heart. Thank you for everything.

I feel like Thank You isn’t a strong enough. Thank You doesn’t say everything. But, it’s all that I have to offer and I hope you all know how much more deeply it goes than that.

************************************

Jami,

I am so thankful and humbled by this opportunity that’s been presented. I told myself that I would embrace this opportunity and go as far as I can. It looks like “as far as I can” is going to be all the way. We are doing this. This is happening for you. I’m honored to give you a second chance at life. I want nothing in return except for you to have the most amazing life. Surround yourself with love and great opportunities. Be spontaneous and open to everything GREAT life has to offer you. ¬†Life your life open and free and with wild abandon. Enjoy everything. Spread kindness. Soak up the moments that count.

Meeting you has caused me to challenge myself. I challenged myself to “walk the walk”. This opportunity has changed my life. I’ve learned the importance of compassion. And how to be truly selfless. I feel like I’ve gained a whole new understanding of what it means to be a Christian. Would Jesus donate his kidney to save someone’s life? You better believe it. I know that he would.

Thank you for your friendship and all of the heart to heart talks. I love my sister-wife. ūüôā Xoxo

I’m still all in.

Brandi.

************************************************

http://www.gofundme.com/hk7lo

Advertisements

Update time!

Standard

So, I had a little freak out the other day. I guess we can call that my Brittney Spears 2007 moment. I just got overwhelmed. The thing is, I’m human. Yes, I’m donating an organ, but that doesn’t give me any super powers. I still have a very normal (busy!) life and sometimes juggling everything is a challenge. I’m doing the best that I can. My babies are always priority, so if they need or want something then I make sure that happens first. (That’s why I’m not always prompt with updates or new information. My “babies” are 1 and 2…) I am so thankful for all of the sweet words that you sent during my less than stellar moment and I want you to know that I do read everything. And, I will respond. It just might take me a little time. I appreciate the questions and comments so much. (Even those of you who say the things I don’t always want to hear.) I have the best support system and for that I’m so thankful. Thank you.

I got a phone call Thursday morning while I was at the gym from my kidney coordinator. She told me that she had the results from my blood and urine work that I did on Monday. My urine looked “good”. I am not sure exactly what they were checking for, but I passed. The blood work showed that my cholesterol was a little too high. It is 209 and ideally they want to see it below 200. My kidney coordinator’s advice was a diet and lifestyle change. I’m not sure exactly what to do with that suggestion. I go to the gym 5-6 days a week and I eat as healthy as I can. I don’t eat a lot of meat, and when I do its turkey. I prefer veggie meats honestly. I bought some fish oil pills to take. There’s not much I can change. I’m not overweight. (5’7 155 lbs, BMI is 24.) It’s something that runs in my family so diet and exercise only do so much. But, I’m working on it the best I can. More fish, more veggies, and more of the good fats.

An interesting twist…. I’ve passed 3 rounds of testing. Normally, I would be finished with testing and our medical files would go to the transplant board for review. BUT… Not this time. They just added a Round 4. I’m the first person to go though this round. Monday morning I go in for a nuclear scan and a pregnancy test. I should get the results next week but my kidney coordinator will be out-of-town. So, it will be closer to a week or week and a half before I know. This test is testing what percentage each kidney functions at. Very rarely will they both function at 50%. This test will decide which kidney I keep and which kidney I donate. I’ll give Jami the lesser functioning one, and I’ll keep the better of the two. After that, we make 3-4 day trips to St Louis in June and then we will hopefully be approved by the transplant board. If all goes well, the transplant will take place the end of June or the beginning of July.

Cross your fingers!

Say a prayer!

Send good vibes!

xoxo

Overwhelmed.

Standard

This is a hard post to write. I may not even post it publicly. This may be one of those posts I tuck away and pull out later after the raw emotion of it has passed.

I’m scared.
I’m overwhelmed.
I’m tired.

I’m scared to have surgery. I’m scared for my husband and my kids. I’m scared that I won’t wake up. I’m scared to lose an organ. I’m scared that I’m not strong enough. I’m scared to let people down who are counting on me to be strong.

I’m overwhelmed by all of the tests. I’m overwhelmed by the amount of trips to St Louis… Trips that take time and money and energy. I’m overwhelmed by all of the responses to this blog… Even though a majority of them are welcomed with open arms. I’m overwhelmed by the kindness & the curiosity. I’m overwhelmed by the questions and the comments. But, I am so thankful too.

I’m tired. I stay awake at night thinking about all of this and it feels like it’s all so much bigger than me. It feels like I’m carrying the weight of this with me and I don’t have anyone who has been there to talk me down. I need a kidney donor friend. I need someone who has donated an organ that’s been in this place emotionally. But I’m too scared to reach out.

I made this choice. And I want to follow through. I don’t doubt my decision. I’m just having a rough moment that I need to work through. Maybe I need to hit the gym and have a long talk with God. I definitely need to pray more.

St Louis trip – The medical part

Standard

I debated about how I wanted to post about our St Louis trip. I was going to post in order of events but I changed my mind. Tuesday was our fun day & Wednesday was our hospital day. We drove up on Tuesday and stayed over night, then drove home on Wednesday night after the testing. I’m posting the days backwards because I want to tell you about the CT scan and the talk with my doctor first. The “fun day” post will be full of pictures and stories. This one is full of medical lingo and.. well, hospital and testing stuff.

I was asked to fast the day of the test so no food or liquids from midnight until after the CT scan. Since we stayed at a hotel with free breakfast, I packed 3 waffles, a Danish, and bacon in a bag and carried it with me to the hospital. ūüôā (They asked me to bring a “snack”.. I swear I’m not pregnant.) We stayed .8 mile from the hospital so we just walked and left the car in the hotel parking lot. It was a gorgeous 80 degree day and we really wanted to be out in the sunshine a little bit.

This was my schedule for the day:

CT scan with angiogram and urogram

Testing – urine

Photo & meeting with my kidney coordinator (Hey Jennifer!)

Social worker consult

Physician consult

I was really anxious for the CT scan. I didn’t know what to expect and I was really nervous that I’d get bad news. I just had a feeling that something would be “off” and I couldn’t shake that feeling. As it turns out, I was right. I have a celiac artery stenosis. Basically, my celiac artery is being restricted by my abdominal cavity and there’s not as much blood flow as there should be. ¬†My Dr wasn’t sure what to do with that diagnosis so she called the artery specialist and asked for his opinion. He said that as long as I’m not showing symptoms (I’m not) and as long as I’m not in pain (I’m not)… We can continue testing! Everything else from the CT scan looked perfect. I have 1 more urine test and 1 more blood test before our case can be sent to the transplant board.

The rest of the day was mostly meetings and waiting. Nothing too exciting happened. We did find out that we have four more trips to St Louis in the next couple of months. Trips for the FINAL cross match of our blood types and meeting with surgeons. Then, the transplant trip.

This is happening, y’all. (Assuming the transplant board gives us the green light)

And just a reminder…If you want to help me with travel expenses to St Louis it’s very much appreciated. Jami is not allowed to give me any money since it’s illegal to buy an organ. So, Thank you in advance. Please help me travel to St Louis so I can save my friend’s life. All money will be used for travel expenses related to the transplant. ¬†Here’s the link: http://www.gofundme.com/hk7lo

I’m going to work on the post about our fun day in St Louis on Tuesday. I’ll try to get that up this weekend. It will be full of sunshine, laughs, pizza, and a really big arch. Have a great weekend.

Testing. Round 2.

Standard

Today Jami met me at the local hospital to have an EKG (heart), blood work, pregnancy test, urine sample and an x-ray taken. Last time I had testing at this hospital the registration lady took forever so I wanted to get there a little early this time. I arrived around 8:35 and I went ahead and got (mostly) checked in before Jami met me at 9.

I tried to make an excited face. But I was hungry. Because I was on a fasting diet. So, this is the most excitement I could muster up for you.

Our first stop was the blood lab. I had NINE more vials taken today. (In addition to the TWELVE last time) Jami thinks they are trying to bleed me dry. And I agree.

Virgina was the lady who took my blood this time, as well as last time I had testing, so she was familiar with my story. And how I take pictures during blood draws.¬†This time she got to meet Jami.¬†We actually¬†were laughing the entire time… mostly at Virginia because she was dancing.

After the blood work (and pregnancy test and urine test) we were off to the EKG.

In a wheelchair. The EKG was just around the corner but I was still taken in a wheelchair. The actual EKG was really quick. I laid down on a table and had about 12 electrodes¬†stuck to random areas… chest, feet,¬†arms, over the heart. I took a deep breath and laid still for about 30 seconds. And then we were done.¬†From there, I went and had a chest x-ray¬†which was equally as quick. I¬†had to change into a hospital gown and stand in front of a board. The x-ray tech took a picture and then told me I could change back into my regular clothes.

The testing today was fairly quick and painless. The longest parts were waiting to get into the tests. From there it went really quick. I think we were at the hospital for a total of 2 hours.

Of course we had to stop and have lunch¬†before Jami had to go see her doctor.(She’s having some blood work and a check up today, too)¬†So, we stopped at a local restaurant and ate our weight in carbs and cheese.

We sat in the sunshine and¬†ate and laughed. It was fun. The¬†most delicious part of our day, for sure. ūüôā

Jami and I are talking about getting matching tattoos together after the transplant… But we need your ideas. Any artists out there want to brainstorm designs with us? All input is welcome! Please leave a comment if you have a great idea.

I should know the results from all of this testing on Monday. So check back early next week for another update. Thank you so much for all of the support. It means so much more than you know.

It’s an emotional journey

Standard

I’ve been¬†really good at remaining calm. Maybe I’m overly calm about all of this. I’ve been calm to the point where people are asking me if I’m sure I’m OK. Or they make comments that I’m the calmest one in the room. But the truth is, I’m calm because I know I’m doing the right thing. I felt the same way on my wedding day. I am happy to donate to my friend because I love her and I want her to be around as long as possible. It’s that simple for me. I’m at peace with my decision and I’ve never felt like I made the wrong choice. I feel like I’m at the place I’m supposed to be. There’s something calming about knowing that.

A couple of days ago I started a face book page for this blog. I wanted to be able to reach out to others who were looking for a donor and to be a support system. I wanted them to see that this process CAN work and that there is always hope. When you have nothing else, you have hope. I wanted to be able to connect to others. I wanted to be able to talk to other living donors.

I did find all of that. But I also found that this is such an emotional part of the journey. I wish that I had enough kidneys that I could donate to everyone. That’s my only regret. I hate that I only have one, but I am thankful that I do have one. Its hard for me to see all of the “So-and-so needs a kidney” face book pages and to not be able to help them. Miguel is 16 months old. Chad is 23. There is a grandpa and a husband, and a father… There are so many. There are so many stories that touch my heart and bring tears to my eyes because I know it’s hard for them. I know that waiting is hard when you need something so desperately to live.

So today if you get a chance, please reach out and send some love to my new face book friends. Send them a message to let them know you will be thinking about them. Sometimes that makes all of the difference.

Chad – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Find-a-Kidney-for-Chad/342336569122858

Steve – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Find-Steve-a-Kidney/158341700952207

Brad – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Find-a-Kidney-for-Brad/148137185307870

Jack – https://www.facebook.com/FindAKidneyForJack

Ed – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Find-a-kidney-for-Pappaw-Ed/180504475396232

Heather – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Find-A-Kidney-For-Heather/274151245988998

Jim – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Find-a-Kidney-for-Jim/278691182202450

Miguel – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Miguels-Journey-for-a-Kidney/347131441975593

Kay – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Find-a-kidney-for-Kay-Swenson-Jensen/313677415359782

Tomorrow I am headed to the hospital for Round 2 of my testing. I will be having an EKG (heart), blood work, urine sample, and also a pregnancy test taken. I will do an update when I get home. I’ll try to talk Jami into taking some pictures for me. Thank you so much for all of the love and support. I know I say this a lot.. But Jami & I really do have the most loving friends and family. You are all amazing. xoxo

Jami’s reaction

Standard

Brandi called and gave me the news that we were a match just as I was getting off work. My first feeling was bracing myself for disappointment. When she delivered GOOD news, and not bad, I freaked the hell out!

My thoughts –

OMG OMG OMG.

No more weiner!

OMG OMG OMG! Shes playing.

This isnt real! My weiner!

I have to celebrate!

Where can I get chocolate milk!? OMG OMG OMG!

Did I clock out? OMG OMG OMG!

And then I went on a dairy binge to celebrate. So see, Brandi and my reactions were similar. I find we have similar qualities and I can learn a lot from her. She truly is a rare breed. There is no doubt in my mind that we were suppose to meet. God brought us into each others lives on purpose. I havent figured out what the benefit is to her yet but I am excited that she is my partner on this journey. So very blessed.

My reaction

Standard

I found out that Jami and I were a match 1 hour before she got off of work and 3 hours before my husband got home.

ONE HOUR before I could tell anyone. So, here are the thoughts that went through my mind.

(Unedited)

Holy Shit.

I’m going to give someone one my organ.

Holy Shit.

I might save her life.

For real.

My hands are shaking.

Jami, can I send you telepathic messages? Calllllllll meeeeeeeeee.

I need a cookie.

Are my hands shaking or is my phone?

Duh. My hands.

Should I do something? Like, walk somewhere. Or eat something. Or drive.

Yeah. I’m going to drive. To a store.

I can’t think of one single store I normally go to.

I’ll drive to the mall. Yeah. Smart.

Why is that lady looking at me? DOES SHE KNOW?

No. She’s probably looking at me because I look crazy with these shaking hands.

Just walk and act normal. Easy.

WHAT DO I DO WITH MY HANDS?

Holy shit.

I’m kind of excited.

I’m kind of scared.

I wish I had a cookie.