Monday, February 11, 2013

Interview with a Vampire...or Sister

"Sisters annoy, interfere, criticize.  Indulge in monumental sulks, in huffs, in snide remarks.  Borrow.  Break.  Monopolize the bathroom.  Are always underfoot.  But if catastrophe should strike, sisters are there.  Defending you against all comers."  ~Pam Brown

It's been one whole week since I wrote anything of substance related to kidney disease or transplants. I was beginning to wonder if I was even having a transplant anymore!  But the best reminder is that my sister is going through this whole process with me.  So, I guess I am having one. Whomp, whomp :-/

Tomorrow, Dec. 12, I'm returning to Inova Fairfax Hospital for breakfast cross-match testing, and the day after, my sister Jocelyn is going to the hospital to do a series of tests to determine A) if she's healthy enough to give me her kidney; and B) if she's the best match for me.  

Before being diagnosed with this disease, I never thought much about the option to donate anything..blood or tissue related.  I've known for a while that I cannot donate blood, due to my exposure to Mad Cow Disease while living in Germany with my parents.  And I'm not listed as an organ donor on my driver's license.  I know. I suck.  But I'm thinking of changing it!  Typically, listing yourself as an organ donor on your license ensures that if you're in an accident of some sort that leaves you incapacitated or dead, hospitals will harvest your organs for transplant.  But after learning that organs from living donors have the best chance for prolonged function and have a lower risk of rejection, I started thinking about what it might be like to be a living donor, what type of person would want to make this commitment to change someone's life for the better, what type of person would literally give of themselves so that they could give someone a better, healthier existence for the rest of their time on Earth. 

My 20-year-old sister would appear to be that type of person.  She has kindly offered to share a few thoughts with the readers of this blog (however many or few there are!) on why she's volunteered to "audition" for transplantation and how she feels about it.

"Before signing up to test as a donor I didn't know much about kidney transplants. As soon as the possibility of me being a donor began to draw closer, I started to research things about it on the internet, like the survival rate, and I would read the brochures about donors that Jewel would get from the hospital.   I would give my sister a kidney because there is no other option.  If she doesn't get a kidney she could die, or at the least live a very unpleasant life. And neither would be the best for me, her or my family.   If I'm a match, I'll be happy because then i'll stop having to worry about if i'm not a match, and what is going to happen to her and our family if she has to actually wait for a kidney.   I want to get the process over with as fast as possible, but im worried about missing classes and dance practice. Which although in dance i'm a fast learner, in school it really helps being there to learn the material.  As far as the surgery goes,  I'm not worried or nervous about surgery or anything.   I just want the operation to go well, and I'm hoping that my kidney syncs with Jewel's kidney. The only thing I'm nervous about is how much school I'm going to miss. I have a job.  I'm a part of a team and a club and I have work for classes that i need to take care of. i just don't want recovery time to interfere with that too much. I've heard a wide range of times for recovery.  I just hope it only takes 2 weeks max.  And then there's the wedding planning. I'm Jewel's maid-of-honor.  Being a bridesmaid is going okay.  I just wish Jewel would stop pretending she wants me to help when she clearly has it all under control."

And there you have it!  That's my 20-year-old sister. 

UPDATE:  So we crossed our fingers and said a prayer, but alas, the blood test results are in for Ben. And he is....not the same blood type as I am. What does this mean: he's not completely ruled out as a potential donor, because it's a two-pronged test that matches your tissue type also. However, he's not at the top of the list either.  We were sad for a little bit but on the bright side, instead of Ben spending the next few weeks getting over his needle phobia, he can prep his "Alfred" skills, since he'll kind of be at my beck and call for about a month after the surgery.  I mean that in the best way possible, Ben :)