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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Supporters

This blog will be posted some time after it was written due to an outside directive to not talk about my living donor experience until after I have donated.  If you are reading this, it is because I have completed the donation process.
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May 8, 2011

I have a date.  Wow. That's crazy. Not only did it become more real for me but it has become very real for my friends and family. I honestly can almost see/hear the wheels turning in their heads as they try to process the infomation, the realization that I am doing this. In some there has been renewed panic (to give them credit I can see those people trying very hard to reign it it and approach me calmly). For others it seems like the news of a date has just made them want to cheer louder and root for me more. It's unlike anything I've ever experienced in my life.

One of my dear friends who has been very worried throughout the process but has still supported me wonderfully in spite of her fear, wrote me a well thought out email of 15 questions she needed to have answered to feel better about things, so she could support me better. Knowing how concerned she was and seeing how hard she was trying to wrap her head around everything to be there for me was lovely. My ex-boss, who had been so strangely quiet about the whole thing from November until now took the opportunity at the news of a "date" to express in his own way how he felt about what I was doing and how much he didn't think I was crazy for doing it. Another friend, a co-worker who has been hugely supportive for the entire journey, pulled out an entirely new story of a friend of hers who she happened to be with when he received the "call" he was getting a new organ. This story helped me appreciate what my recipient out there must be feeling right now and renewed my confidence in my choice. My little brother (okay he's 34 but still little to me) told me I was his hero. An army of Facebook friends and family sent me messages and posts filled with encouragement. The list goes on and on and I haven't even done anything yet.

You know in group activities or at summer camp when they ask the ice breaker questions like "What animal do you think you are most like?". My answer has always been the giant tortoise. They are generally solitary animals, a bit reclusive and  they do their own thing-very much like me. They exist around other creatures (and probably like them), but they keep a safe distance. Tortoises are part of the ecosystem but aren't a dominate force. In a lot of ways, tortoises are self contained units...they walk around with their "house" on their back. They aren't overly fast but as the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. I've always seen a quiet strength in them. On another note, they also can live to be well over 100 years old, something I've always aspired to and can envision happening in my life (even with one kidney!).

I remember way back when, about a year or two after my dad died, I wanted what many slightly impressionable, slightly stupid 18-21 year olds want...a tattoo. But I didn't know what to get.  I knew I didn't want cute like a panda and I didn't want scary or "dark" (those who know me would understand that a dagger or skull on me would be almost laughable-there is nothing dark or edgy about me). I asked my boyfriend at the time what he thought.  He answered really quickly and confidently with "a giant tortoise".  I was a little surprised, having never had played the "what animal would you be" game with him. I asked him why and he said that I always reminded him of a rhyme his mother had told him when he was younger: "see the tortoise wide in girth, on her back she carries the earth". He said I am always carrying other people through things and that often I seem to have the "weight of the world" on my shoulders but I keep plodding on.  While it turns out the quote was from a Stephen King book rather than old folklore, it still resonated with me. Tortoise tattoo it was (and still is) on my lower back.

Where am I going with this you might be wondering-don't worry, this is the part where I bring it back to the kidney thing. This week, when the prospect of donating became real and a new wave of support seemed to rise up, something hit me. For honestly the the first time in my life I don't feel like the lonely tortoise, plodding along, by myself, doing my own thing. At the risk of sounding Walt Disney-ish, I feel like all the other forest creatures are walking with me, chirping and cheering me down the final stretch of  this path. People aren't just watching from the sidelines-my friends, family and co-workers are at my side, encouraging , protecting and believing in me. They are just as much a part of this journey as I am and it's awesome. I am humbled.

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