My Journey – Bravelets

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My Journey

Posted on December 02 2014

My Journey
I went into my physician’s office for an annual exam in 2003. To my surprise, my blood test came back suspicious; I took two more blood tests. I could not believe my ears when I was told that my Creatine was high and she felt as though something was not right with my kidneys. I had a nuclear test and found out that I had only forty-nine percent of my right and fifty-one percent of my left kidney working. I was referred to a Nephrologist and was told that I would be monitored for a kidney disorder.

In 2005, my Creatine climbed to 2.0 and it was time for kidney biopsy. The results, I had severe scaring of my kidneys, I have Glomerulosclerosis, and I had Chronic Kidney Disease. I began to see a Renal Dietician and took the medication and vitamins prescribed by my Nephrologist. With a healthy life style and my husband beside me, I prayed for strength; I believe that God put me on this path for a reason and I would follow it.

I saw my Nephrologist at first every year and then every six months and by 2011 every three months. I was becoming sick from my disease. In June of 2011, I graduated college and began my new career. I felt as my life was about to begin. Two weeks later, I saw my kidney doctor. I went numb when I heard him say that I was in stage five, End Stage Kidney Disease. He began to talk about dialysis and a kidney transplant. I have never been so scared in my life.

For the next three months I had test at the University of Washington and now I was on the National Kidney Transplant List. That October, days after my 39th birthday, I received my AV Fistula in my left wrist. My wrist vibrated as the blood rushed through my sewn artery and vein. After my small incision healed, I found out that my fistula was too deep. December, a week before Christmas, they cut me from my wrist to my elbow to raise the fistula. Allowing my vein to grow and you could see the vein grow right under my skin. As it healed and began to grow more and more, it was a reminder that a machine was going to keep me alive.

The holidays in 2011 were difficult, but my husband, daughter and friends were brave and did everything they could to ensure I would enjoy the Holidays. I knew that my husband was unable to donate due to having Epilepsy and I knew that was difficult for him. He wanted to be the one who saved me. My best friend’s daughter, Tiffany, contacted the transplant center to be tested; however there were no answers if she could be my donor. I knew the wait for a donor was two years or longer.

That year our friends came over to enjoy Christmas dinner with us. I was sad thinking that next year I would be on a dialysis machine and I began to wonder if this would be my last holiday with my family. I was in the kitchen prepping dinner when Tiffany came into the kitchen to visit with me. She said in a, oops I almost forgot, tone that she heard from Seattle. My heart skipped a beat. She explained that she had a few more tests to complete but was a match, she was my donor. I stopped in disbelief and asked her what this meant? She smiled and continued to explain that if the tests are ok, we could set a surgery date. I began to sob and fell to the floor. I could not believe my ears. Her voice was no different than her ordering coffee. I asked if she knew that she was saving my life. She smiled and put her hands in the air and said, “YAY” and walked out of the kitchen.

The end of January 2012, I was about to begin dialysis in weeks and I struggling with the thought that a machine was keeping me alive. Tiffany had a couple more tests and when she called me and said they found something, my heart dropped. She explained that the Physicians were not sure if she would be approved to be my kidney donor. With no word from Tiffany, it was becoming harder to be strong as I became sicker.

I tried to be brave when I began dialysis. The needles were big and the beeping of the dialysis machines and sterile room was antedating. The sounds were hard to get use to and the fear in me grew. I reminded myself that this was the path God put me on and I would follow it. I just could not wait to hear from Tiffany. The middle of March, Tiffany called me and with tears she told me that we could set a date for surgery. I began to cry and told her what date she chooses I would be there with bells on. We had our surgery for May 30, 2012; I was going to survive Kidney Disease.

On May 25, 2012; is a date I will never forget. I received a phone call in the evening while on my last day on dialysis. It was the University of Washington. They were canceling our surgery. Devastated, I began to cry uncontrollably. They would not tell me why they were canceling the transplant. My nurses came to make sure I was alight. I wanted to rip the needles out of my arm and run away. I was devastated; I thought they signed my death sentence. My husband and I called and could not get any answers from the University. Then Deb, a dialysis patient, told me about Swedish Medical Center. She told me to call them and see what they could do for me. It was a three day weekend; I had to wait to even think of calling. It was the longest three days of my life.

That following Tuesday I called. They heard my story, had me sign the paperwork for them to get our records. It took three weeks and Tiffany and I received the news. Swedish accepted both of us and our new surgery was going to be July 9, 2012 at Swedish Medical Center. The surgery was a success. As soon as they hooked up Tiffany’s kidney to my body, the kidney worked. Within twenty-four hours, I had color in my face and I felt better than I had in years. I will never forget walking to the room next to me and holding her hand, I cried and thanked her for saving my life.

Tiffany did save my life and gave my husband his wife back and my youngest (step) daughter her Tmom back. One selfless action touched each soul I touch. Without faith and a positive attitude, I would have given up. Tiffany was twenty-two years old when she donated her kidney to me. I have had it on my left hip now for two and half years and I am healthier than I have ever been. One selfless act saved my life. I now work for a large dialysis company; I founded a kidney disease support group and share my story. My mission in life now is to help as many people going through any and all stages of Kidney Disease. I am blessed because I get to thank my Angel and kidney donor each day for the life I have. I hope my story helps someone who is going through this adventure or encourages someone to become a living donor.


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