The Alternate Ending
If you haven’t read the first part of my story, please read:
Two and a half months ago I received the devastating news that I was disqualified from donating my kidney to my friend. If I’m being transparent, it took many weeks to work through all of the many emotions I was feeling surrounding this news.
I was angry.
I was questioning why I went through all of this, every step seeming so perfectly planned, only to have it taken away.
I was sad for my friend and what this would mean for her. She now needed to start dialysis after a lifetime of being able to avoid it.
But, in spite of every emotion, I was most confident of one truth.
God always remains faithful.
Determined to have my questions answered and every last page turned before settling with the news of being denied, the doctors asked me to go off all medications, supplements, and vitamins I was taking. In two weeks they would retest my bloodwork and see if the results would change. They sounded hopeful; which in turn, made me hopeful. I did as they asked.
And again, we waited.
Two weeks later I returned to the hospital to repeat my blood work. My favorite phlebotomist came out to greet me (and yes, by this point I have a favorite). After updating her and filling many more vials of blood, that day I left the hospital cautiously optimistic. Trying to protect my heart from being let down again, yet trying to remain confident that God wasn’t finished. That there would be a different ending for our story.
All day I anxiously refreshed my email, not knowing how quickly I would receive the results. By midmorning the following day, I gave it a quick refresh and there it was: “NEW! Please check your MyChart for New Test Result!”
Very aware of the one test, that one fateful test, out of many, that needed to be different than two weeks earlier. I quickly searched for it and clicked. A few weeks ago, I would have merely seen a bunch of random numbers. But, today those numbers read quite clearly: “God is faithful.” The results that once left me devastated and unable to go through surgery without complications were now completely within normal limits. I immediately called my coordinator at the hospital to ask what this all meant, hoping she could confirm that I was reading these number correctly. She told me that the doctors would be reviewing my case, but to her it seemed that we would most likely be able to move forward with the surgery!
Meanwhile, my friend was going through dialysis and having to keep up with the rigorous schedule required. Three times a week she found herself at the treatment center for sessions lasting 4 hours or longer.
Four hours of being hooked up by IV to a machine that took on the functioning of her failed kidneys. Her blood being purified by a machine.
My friend was dealing with the reality that if she was unable to receive a kidney transplant, this schedule would have to become her new normal. My friend, brave and strong, maintained this rigorous schedule while managing each of her four children’s busy schedules and all of the work it takes to keep a household functioning. All of the back and forth to school, the field trips, the sports, the meals, the never ending laundry and housework. All of the little extras that somehow us moms seem to fit into all of the in-between moments. My heart goes out to the 468,000 individuals in the US that are currently receiving these life-giving dialysis treatments all while maintaining their everyday lives. This is no small feat.
Late December I received the call from my kidney transplant coordinator saying that we had been approved by each of the doctors and surgeons involved and we were given a new surgery date of January 31st! I immediately texted my friend to give her the good news to which she replied,
“Don’t get your hopes up.”
She had just left her dialysis treatment with some bad news. There was an infection in her blood stream that would require a minimum of two weeks of antibiotic treatment, potentially longer. An infection and treatment that would make her unable to have surgery on the 31st. Her nephrologist wasn’t very hopeful that this new date would work.
So, again, we waited.
The holidays came and went. We both celebrated and savored these moments with our families while quite unsure of what this new year would bring. Once again, we found ourselves confident of one truth: God’s faithfulness would see us through.
Miraculously, after only a week of the antibiotic treatment, my friend was completely infection free! Her doctor was excited to tell her that she would be ready for transplant on the 31st.
Doing our best to keep healthy while the stomach bug, pneumonia, bronchitis, and other various viruses swept through our houses, we both successfully made it to the 30th, untouched by sickness. It was a miracle! The day before surgery, we each worked through our extensive to-do lists, getting our homes and children ready before the big day. A call to the hospital at 3:00pm informed us that we were on the schedule for 7:30am the next day.
The family van was loaded with each kid’s suitcase and everything they’d need for their stays with family during my hospital stay. Our plan was to go to my daughter’s basketball game, go out for a family dinner and then drop off the kids. I tried to be present at the game, yet my mind was very aware that in a few short hours I would be heading to the hospital and undergoing a major surgery. My stomach and my brain were riding the most intense roller coaster I had ever been on.
Amidst the noise of the game, I missed a phone call from the hospital. I listened to the voicemail and it was the head nurse calling to tell me there had been a change in our surgery and to give her a call back. At this point I was certain this was simply a call to change the surgery time. I called my nurse and reminiscent of the phone call with my doctor back in November, she stated:
“I am so sorry. We are going to need to cancel your surgery for tomorrow.”
Tomorrow? The tomorrow that is only hours away? The tomorrow that both my friend and I have been working so hard to get ready for? I was so disappointed.
The nurse went on to say that not one, not two, but THREE deceased organ donors had come in throughout the day. That both my surgeon and my friend’s surgeon had been in surgery since 2:00 in the morning and that they were still in surgery! That our teams had been working all day, nonstop and that they would be continuing to work through the night. That our operating rooms were now unavailable and most likely would not be available until sometime the following week.
Again, being transparent, I was upset. I was frustrated.
Once again, our surgery had been postponed.
But that was just it. This time was different. It wasn’t canceled, it was postponed. And the reason it was being postponed was because three individuals made the selfless decision to be organ donors. That several individuals who had been anxiously waiting on the transplant lists, were receiving their long awaited “call” telling them that their life saving organ was now available for them.
Stepping back for some perspective: How could I be upset that a slight inconvenience in timing for me was allowing others to receive their life-giving organ transplants?
The following day I spoke with my coordinator and she told me that we were going to be rescheduled for the following week. A new surgery date of Wednesday, February 8th. I went on with my week feeling numb to it all. I had this new date and it was only a week away.
But would it actually happen this time?
So here I am, the night before surgery, writing my story for you. Unsure of how the morning is going to look and anxious about what to expect. Trying to calm the butterflies that are dancing inside of me and allow the God who made me brave five months ago when I decided to offer this gift, to make me brave yet again.
I’ve asked my husband to wait until I’ve been officially wheeled back into my operating room for surgery to begin before sharing my story with you. So, if you are reading this, both surgery teams are carefully at work right now, removing my kidney and placing it inside of my friend.
That God will guide our surgeon’s hands and strengthen our surgical teams to safely get through these surgeries.
That both of our bodies will respond well to the anesthetics that we are receiving.
That our recoveries will be better and quicker than expected.
And that my friend’s body will accept this new kidney and be restored to good health.
When I wake up from this, I will be forever left with a physical reminder of the gift that God made me brave enough to give. To some it might look like a five-inch-long scar. But to me, it will forever read:
“Great is Your faithfulness.”