Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Organ Donation

Hello Everyone,

First I just wanted to remind everyone to remember little Stellan he is still very much in need of prayer. Click here for the latest updates.

I was visiting over at Ryan Ashley's @ Optimistic Cynicism and on her sidebar she had a story and a link to I Need A Kidney Now.

His name is Garrett and well, he needs a kidney. Not all of you may know but back in 2001 I had a kidney transplant. Luckily one of my 4 siblings was a match for me. Well, really she was what they called a half match. But it worked. It saved my life. It got me off of dialysis. It made me feel 'good' again. It made me to where I could work again. It allowed me to walk more than a few feet and not get winded. It let me pee again. That sounds funny but it's true.

I was on dialysis for 5 years. The first couple of months I tried to hold down my job. It was just too exhausting for me. I know people who have done it but I just couldn't. I had a husband, child and a house also to maintain.

Dialysis is really a good thing. Most people have to go three times a week for about 3 - 5 hours. I am thankful for dialysis it kept me alive for 5 years. But it's hard. You have to first get a graph to go in your arm usually, sometimes your leg, neck, chest. When it is healed enough you go in for treatment. You get stuck with two needles. One on each side of your arm. You can no longer get blood drawn from this arm, blood pressure taken, no jewelry on this arm, it isn't your arm any more, it belongs to the dialysis machine. This is what it looks like after the needles are in:

One needle pulls the blood out runs it through the machine the other needle returns it to your body. The needles are large and being stuck with them hurts sometimes and sometimes it doesn't. I know I had my favorite people who I would let stick me then there were the ones I wouldn't let near me. Some people even stuck their selves, not me.

During dialysis you can become ill. You may get sick, you can get the worst cramps ever in your life. That usually happens when they have drawn too much fluid from you. You have to constantly watch what you drink while on dialysis. After dialysis they pull the needles out. You then have to sit there and apply pressure to them so that they will stop bleeding. At first this never took very long for me to stop bleeding. After I had been on dialysis a while it seemed like it would take forever. To the point that my fingers would start cramping from holding them. Here the patient is holding one, it is easier this way, but sometimes when I was in a hurry I would hold both of them at the same time.

After you are all taped up you are ready to go. However, there had been several times on my way home that my sticks would start to bleed again. Very hard to maneuver your car to a stop with blood dripping every where.

Sometimes you would leave, everything went fine during your treatment but when you go back your fistula has quit working. It could be a kink, clot or just quit. You are off to the hospital. I had to have four fistulas put into my left arm. I have had one on both sides of my neck. When you have it in your neck it is only temporary until your fistula in your arm has healed enough to be stuck. This is what it looks like.

No showers while you have this. You have to keep it bandaged with the two little things hanging out at all times. I would have to wear it like that every where I went. People would stare and then look away. You usually had to have this for 4 - 6 weeks.

There are days when you feel great after dialysis. Then there are those days that you don't know how your going to drive yourself home. On your off days sometimes you just lay around all day because you just don't have the energy to do anything. Usually once you get to feeling a little better it was time to go back. Also if you drank too much you can really feel the pressure with each breath, heartbeat and every time you moved. May 23rd will be my 8 year anniversary since my transplant. This is one side of my arm today.

Here's the other side.

Here is my upper arm.

Now I couldn't take a picture of my neck lol. But I have scares on both sides, not as noticeable.

Dialysis kept me alive long enough to get my transplant. I had been on call three different times for a cadaver. That is where they call you and tell you that a kidney that matched you has been located. You then anxiously run around the house getting your stuff together. You call all of your family and tell them to be on stand by. Then you wait. It is nerve wracking. It is scary. You start thinking of the people who have died and their families. You want to get the call, then you don't want to get the call. Twice I was called back and told the kidney wasn't viable. One time I was called back and told that a 16 year old needed it worse than I did. Would that be ok? I was like what? Am I suppose to say no? How could I live with myself if I said no? If I said no are you going to give it to me anyway? All three times were a disappointment. But you know it just wasn't the right time for me to get those kidneys.

Another thing about dialysis is death. I seen a lot of death. Your sitting there watching tv or talking to your neighbor or sleeping. When you hear the alarms of the dialysis machine. Someones heart has stopped beating. I don't know how many times I have seen the nurses run in, lay someone one the floor and start performing CPR. The room becomes deathly quiet. All eyes are transfixed on this person that you know. You've spent hours with every week. You know their family, their children. All you can do is watch. You find yourself constantly praying for them. You start saying out loud breath, breath, breath. Just breath! Then the EMT's rush in and they are gone. That was the hardest part. Watching someone lose their life. Not being able to do anything about it but pray. Wondering if that's how your going to die.

Please don't think that I am complaining or whining. I am just trying to convey to people how hard it is to be on dialysis. It is financially, emotionally and physically draining. Not just for the patient either but for their family. I am sure I have left off a lot of stuff. Thank God for me it is just a memory. Others are still on dialysis though. Please think seriously about becoming an organ donor if you aren't already.

Garrett needs a living donor. My sister was my living donor. She has a normal life. She has had two children since she donated her kidney to me. She returned back to her job full time as a postal worker. Your life will return to normal and Garrett's will finally be normal again. Please go to his web site to see if you can help or if you can even help someone you may know. I NEED A KIDNEY NOW!

Have a blessed day!


Anonymous said...

Wow, that is a crazy story of yours.

My cousin's job is to transfer organ donations so she is always urging everyone she knows to sign that thing on the back of your license to donate.

~*Lisa*~ said...

Me and my husband both are organ donor's and GOD FORBID anything happen to our children they too will be organ donor's. Just because one of our lives ends does not mean that someone else can't live and in return the love of Jesus live on through our legacy! :) To God be the Glory! :)

Sparky ♥ ∞ said...

Wow, that's quite a trial you went through. Hope it's over forever for you. My father died while undergoing kidney dialysis ... right there hooked up to the machine. As you know, it's very rigorous and he had a failing heart. Well, I pray that Garrett gets better. Poor guy. And prayers for the little baby too. ♥ ∞

Anonymous said...

WOW!! That is something to bring before the throne yes? Very interesting post, thanks for sharing that and with the pics.
God Bless:)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing that story. Prayers for Garrett and the baby

Adrian's Crazy Life said...

Hi. I'm finally getting around to visiting the friends who popped by during the Spring Fling. Thanks for visiting my blog! Cute site - I love your header.

That post was hard to read. My oldest son was born with only 1 kidney, so I worry about stuff like that all the time. So far, he's been perfectly fine, but it's always in the back of my mind. I would donate a kidney to him in a heartbeat and I'm sure either of his brothers would too if they were a match, but you hope it never has to come to that.

But yes, my whole family are listed as organ donors. It's just the right thing to do. I can't understand why anyone wouldn't do that. I mean - you're already dead, what do you care?