Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Last Official Check In

I need to get me one of these
A few weeks after donating a kidney, they normally give you one last "check up" in the form of a post op appointment around the three week mark. In some ways I am surprised they don't do more but considering how quickly and well I healed, I guess that makes sense.

The post op appointment involved a brief chat with the program coordinator (in my case Tina) who asks all the standard medical questions (pain, peeing, pooping, gas, appetite). I told her I was fine except only really being able to tolerate yogurt and oranges. She said that was fine as they are healthy although she could empathize that one would get bored of eating those quickly. She asked when I was going back to work. I let her know I already had and she seemed a little surprised but not overly.She said to make sure I keep listening to my body and rest when I need to. She said no exercise beyond the walking till 4-6 weeks post surgery. And I can give blood again in August.

Tina mentioned if I were ever interesting in knowing how Leftie's home was doing I could write a letter and they would sending it, blocking our any identifying info (shades of adoption right there!). I don't think she was aware at that time that a possible meeting amongst chain participants was being felt out. She did say she had been told by the recipients coordinator that they were so grateful and that I have impacted not just the donor but their family in so many ways. I have to admit for maybe only the second time in this process, I got teary in front of one of my medical peeps. Of course the harder you try not to get emotional, the worse it gets. Thankfully she left so I was able to regain my composure (or at least I felt like I had in my head).

I waited to see the surgeon for a post op exam. I was sure it would be Dr. S or maybe Dr. Y. If not maybe someone else in Doctorpalooza. But no. It was a complete stranger. A man I had never met or seen before in my life. He even asked who got my kidney (did not read the chart!). I have to admit that was kind of come this far, got through all the tests and then the surgery and your last touch point is with a stranger. Tina filled him in on my emergency visit the week before. He seemed indifferent. She left and he took a quick, 20 second look at my incisions. As I didn't have any questions (for him anyway) and I had no concerns, we were done. Just like that, I was essentially done with the program and they people. They will send me lab requisitions for tests in the future to make sure I am okay long term and also to collect data on donor health but that's about it.

It did seem kind of anticlimactic. "Thanks for the kidney, maybe we'll see you around". I am not sure what would have changed that feeling-probably nothing. They say this is a normal feeling to have; you spend so much time emotionally and physically gearing up for the surgery that when its over it is typical to feel a little sad or empty. IT is a big decision to donate a kidney and I think anytime you make a big decision, the aftermath is a little emotionally weird. I do think having a familiar face aside from Tina at the final appointment would have been a bit better but I understand the surgeons schedules are hectic and sometimes unpredictable. I've since learned June and July were very busy for the transplant team so I can understand it better, but at the time it felt odd to be meeting with an unknown doctor.

I might see some of them again if I opt to volunteer for the Transplant Games being held here next year. Tina said they also have "program" celebrations from time to time that I would be invited to. And I know they would contact me if they ever had questions pertaining to my experiences. There has been talk off and on about helping to promote Living Donation to the public down the road and I really hope that is something I can lend a hand to.

It surprises me how passionate I've become about this "cause" although I still cringe a little that I am one of those people who promotes something to my community. I've always believed in signing your donor card, talking to your family about your wishes etc. I never thought though I'd be actively suggesting to whomever is listening that Living Donation is something more people need to consider. It IS a very personal decision and while no one should be coerced, it is something more people should do if they can. I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in our lives, our jobs, our things that we've forgotten how to be a community, a village helping each other out. I know I had.

Two weeks. When I look back at everything now, it seems like really it was about two weeks of  inconvenience for me. Maybe a little more if you count the tests ahead of time. But really, it feels like I "lost" just two weeks of my regularly scheduled life. For some donors it may be a little more-I appreciate that. But if someone has a chance for YEARS being added to their life, much higher quality years at that, in exchange for my two weeks, that is totally, 100% worth it.


  1. "Sally"August 3, 2011 at 8:23 PM

    Very well said! I must say although I've heard you tell all of this, reading it choked me up.

  2. You are truly an amazing woman.

    To help the hospital, and future patients, you should let them know that you were disappointed by how you were treated during your last appt.

    One of the reasons why the medical community treats us this way is because not enough people let them know.

    Take care!!

  3. Thanks Harvey for the kind words.
    I have let the local program know about many of the bumps I had along the way both directly and via the blog which a few of them read. Although now that you mention it, I didn't bring up this issue directly!