Saturday, December 8, 2012

Have a heart, or a kidney, or a liver...

A recent conversation with a dear friend is prompting this one today, Folks.

The world almost lost her this year, a couple of times, actually.  It would have been a sorrowful world without her, too.  She's one of the most intelligent and hilarious people I know.  And I've known her since we were 13 years old, too, so I can vouch for this.  We are the ones that don't see one another for a while but have 2-hour phone chats about anything and everything, laughing, tearing up, reminiscing, and ruminating.

For some unknown reason, she claims she's not a 'good person'.  Having been through many experiences with her and observing her reactions, I'm puzzled why this is her opinion of herself.  It's not the one I've seen all these years, for sure, nor is it false humility.  There's nothing false about this girl!

A guaranteed true miracle happened for her in receiving a donor's liver this year.  It was a scary time when we found out she needed a transplant, having heard about the infamous WAITING LIST.  Somehow, someway, she got a call in the shortest time I've ever heard of and had a successful transplant. 

The short time she waited in the hospital was a time of reflection for her and an opportunity for all of us to pray for her.  God bless nurses!  One prayed with her the day before the surgery.  She will kill me for saying so, but she cried.  And this woman does NOT cry.  I see she has yet to figure out if it was relief, fear, gratitude, sorrow for the donor, or all of the above that prompted the tears.  All I know is when I got the call, I cried tears of joy!  My friend was going to stay with us!  She, on the other hand, woke, saw that nurse, recognized her and said, "I remember you.  You are the one that made me cry!" And began again.

Now that the drama of the ordeal is over, these days, she attends transplant patient support group meetings and is her typical sardonic self.  She doesn't talk.  She won't.  She listens and she feels, deeply for others, but won't show it.  She states, "All of these people have a story.  I don't have a story.  I'm glad I don't have a story."  Now why would she say that?  I'll explain because she has a story.

She is one of the most humble humans you will ever meet.  Instead of focusing on what she has been through, she spent our conversation discussing those who are still waiting...mostly for kidneys.  She is perplexed by why they have to wait.  She asks why their family members aren't jumping at the chance to donate.  She told me someone said their family just said, "No".  She realizes it doesn't make them bad people but is still wondering why people are being so greedy (her words, not mine).  She asks why people don't offer even a 'piece' of a liver as a Survivor Donor, as one lady's sister did for her.  It made her want to cry again but she would NEVER do that in front of anyone.  Sad and weird is how she describes the situations she hears.  Her statement was, "Why are you saving it for something you don't even know is going to happen?"

One thing she's realized is how good health feels. I could hear it in her voice and smiled. She just thought before that she was tired because she worked hard.  She got used to the symptoms, which is what we do, mostly.  We make excuses and explanations and self-diagnose for every ache, pain, fatigue, and weirdness that happens to our bodies.  Then, eventually, our bodies tell us, stop doing that and see a doctor! 

The most touching realization she expressed is that when it doesn't involve you, you don't think about it.  I do now.  It has to be such an odd experience having part of someone you don't know permanently with you.  For life! She is tremendously grateful for her donor.  She speaks to him, in private.  She speaks to her new organ.  They are still trying to get along. (He tells on her via blood tests, apparently.) She says she doesn't know why she was so blessed...that she's not a good person.  She gives thanks but doesn't understand it.  She knows no one can relate unless they've been there. I told her honestly, this is not one of those times when I can say, I know how you feel.  Only members of that group can say that.

She will be with us, on medication the rest of her life, but with us.  For that, I thank God everyday.

I told her of a young woman I knew in Arizona whose family all wanted to donate a kidney, and not one was a match.  The one who matched and finally donated was her fiance.  Go figure.  That's the Hand of God, People.

Well, her final statement on the subject...."I've been given an opportunity to do something right....but what would it be?"

My response?  "It's coming."

She laughed. 

I loved hearing it.

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