Saturday, July 2, 2011

Pre-Surgery Day-The Last Supper & Visit

Mmm-mmm good.
With Doctorpalooza over, I wondered what was in store for me next. No sooner did I have that thought then the curtain flew open and there was an elderly lady in uniform blinking at me.  "Where is the patient?" she asked. "Right here" I answered.  "Right where?  Have they gone for tests?". I too a deep breath and explained again I was indeed the patient. "Oh you don't look sick" she said.  I told her to check back tomorrow after surgery and she'd change her tune. She laughed and seemed satisfied enough that I was a real patient so she gave me a water and a little cup of juice. She told me  she'd be back in awhile with dinner.

I wasn't sure what they were going to let me eat.  I had been given the impression by the admitting booklets I had received in the mail that once at the hospital, I wouldn't be getting much more than liquid to drink. It was a little while after shift change and I had a new nurse who came in to do my vitals and ask me more questions about my health. Apparently they were waiting for an EKG machine tech to show up for yet another test for me. She let me know I could eat until 10 and after that just clear fluids till midnight. As far as I knew thought, I was only getting whatever the elderly lady brought for dinner-wasn't sure where the food I could eat up until 10 was going to come from (if I wanted to eat). She also mentioned in passing that she'd need to do an enema or I could do it myself. For the record, I don't think enemas are the kind of topic you mention in passing, particularly to someone who more than likely has never had/done one before. She said it with such pep I almost thought I had misheard her. But she did say it.  I just pushed the thought aside and hoped maybe somehow it wouldn't happen.

I was left alone for about another hour. I will admit my mind started racing a bit-this whole thing seemed surreal and more than a bit crazy.  I wondered if the recipient was at the hospital and how they were feeling, if their family was there too and how THEY were doing. I also started sitting on the bed so that I would look like a patient and avoid explaining myself to the next person to peer through the curtain. At one point Dr. S stuck his head in but then someone said something to him in the hall and he left without saying anything.

Dinner arrived towards the end of the hour. Turkey mushroom stew with the weirdest sparkly mini cubed potatoes. Vegetable soup and crackers.  A tray of yellow and green beans (probably the least weird and most flavourful thing on the tray) and a melted cup of ice cream.  Everything tasted alarmingly the same (including the ice cream). I wasn't expecting gourmet but I was reminded how...simple and bland yet bizarre hospital food can be-and there was a lot of it! I only really knew what I was eating because of the menu slip that came with the meal. And I know food.

A little while after dinner Charlie and Charlie Jr showed up.  Charlie seemed pretty nervous.  It had taken him forever to figure out where the building was and how to get there so he was frazzled. What I hadn't realized either was that I was on a full lock down ward and he had to jump through a few extra hoops to get into see me-more frazzling of Charlie. That was a little unexpected and  one of many eventual confidentiality related "bad decisions" made by Foothills. But again, we'll get to that later. Charlie Jr was thrilled with the ins and outs of the room, the many buttons on the bed and the equipment in the room. We were all intrigued by the cool power generation building outside my window that seemed to have a 10 story wall of water as one of its outer walls.

Eventually it was time for them to go. I walked them out. Charlie Jr hit a door he shouldn't (due to the lockdown factor) and set off a little alarm which got him/us a snarky remark from a nurse and a glare from another worker nearby. More frazzled Charlie. I knew he was really getting worried about the surgery. I assured him he'd get a call when I was out of the OR and he could make his way to the hospital (he was going to work for a bit the next day to keep busy after taking Charlie Jr to school). I was surprised I didn't get teary watching them walk away. I cant explain how I felt really. It was a strange combination of feeling hugely out of place on that ward, nervous in a good way about the day ahead and uncertain about how the rest of the evening would go. I felt a bit lonely and a little tired. Time just didn't seem to be moving fast enough-I kind of wanted it to be the next day already.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Pre-Surgery Day-Doctorpalooza

After I returned to my room post x-ray I decided to get out the little notebook I had bought for my stay and record some of what I had experienced so far. Even if you aren't a writer type, I do recommend that anyone donating (or receiving for that matter) a kidney bring along something to jot down questions, concerns, ideas and thoughts. It can keep your mind busy and is also interesting to look back on.  The time in hospital will end up being a bit of a foggy blur so its good to have something to capture your feelings and help you remember some important things.

I sat on the little couch, scribbling away.  The curtain at the door moved a little and I sense that someone was about to enter the room.  It moved aside and in came a doctor. Then another. Then another. And yet another. It was kind of like the clown act with the tiny car at the many are going to keep coming through that curtain? I think it stopped at eight or nine. They all nodded at me (none of them really spoke) and positioned themselves all around the room.  I giggled a bit to myself, wondering how they'd all fit if I had selected a semi private room. It was Doctorpalooza.

The initial doctor who had stopped by earlier was there, with his female sidekick (I wasn't sure at the time if she was a doctor but I've since learned she is and is part of a cool project (MCAP) developed to support International Medical Graduates. It helps them integrate successfully into the our healthcare system. The program increases communication skills and knowledge of patient-centred care in Canada). Dr S was also there-I was happy to see him in this gaggle of new doctors. Once they all seemed to be in their spots, a slightly older doctor glanced around the room and introduced himself to me. His name was Dr. Y and it matched the one on my hospital bracelet. I started to connect the dots that perhaps he was my surgeon, or at the very least my appointed primary care doctor.  He went around the room quickly identifying everyone at which point they each said hello or simply nodded. I have to assume they were all transplant surgeons except for the one doctor, Dr. W that he identified as a surgical nephrologist. Introductions complete, Dr. Y informed me that this was the "transplant team" and asked how I was doing. "Okay" I replied. "Do you have any questions?" he asked. "No". Dr. S, perched on the bedside table to my right laughed a bit. I looked at him and looked back at Dr. Y. He asked if I would like him to explain the surgery risks. "Sure why not. I haven't heard them from you yet and I know you guys like to go over them". Another snicker from Dr. S as well as one of the younger looking doctors across the room. I was worried for a second that Dr. Y wouldn't get my friendly sarcasm as English is his second language (as was the case for actually all but one of the doctors in the room). He paused for a moment then beamed at me -he got it - and then did a Reader's Digest version of the risks. He then turned to the Dr who had come to see me an hour earlier and asked if the paperwork was signed. It wasn't so he and the lady doctor hurried out of the room to get it.

That left me sitting awkwardly on the couch with the remaining six staring at me. It was like they were waiting for me to say something but I wasn't sure what that was supposed to be. Tick tock.  More awkward silence. Dr S spoke quietly, addressing me not so much the rest of the room. "How are you? How is work?". I told him all is well with me and work although it will be nice to have some time off. He asked me how my writing is going gesturing towards the notebook on my lap. He then asked pointedly "When this is all done we'll see it right?". I smiled slyly and said "Maybe". Sarcasm totally missed, he said with concern on his face "I said you should-you really should. No maybe!". I assured him I would and that I had stuff ready to go.  Happy Doctor.

The consent arrived and I signed it. One by one they nodded at me and toddled out of the room. I would see them all again at various times in various pairings over the next few days but never again all at once.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pre Surgery Day-Checkin' Me Out

After checking in (or being admitted I guess is the correct "medical" term) to my room at Foothills Hospital, I sat in my room waiting for about 30 minutes for whatever was supposed to happen next. A few nurses and an array of other hospital workers walked by the big sliding glass door to my room and peered in at me but kept going. Eventually curiosity got the better of one and she stopped.

"Are you a patient?" she asked with a confused look on her face. I realized my street clothes and lack of obvious illness or injury made me stick out like a sore thumb on this floor (and probably every ward for that matter). I told her I was.  She still looked confused but seemed friendly enough so I offered that I was to donate a kidney the next day to a "stranger" and as a result they were keeping me in another location. Her face lit up with interest and she came right in the room, right past the bed and sat on the windowsill by the couch I was on. She wanted to know all about what made me decide to donate, how the process works and  when my surgery was. I told her what I could (I didn't know how much time she had so I was trying to keep it brief). She reflected on what I told her and gaze out the window. "In this hospital we see so many people wasting chances everyday-you know by taking drugs, not taking care of themselves. It's sad because I also see so many people everyday praying for another chance". I nodded.  She turned to me and said "But now, here is someone like you who is giving someone a chance, just because you can". I wasn't really sure what to say to that so we both just looked out the window in silence for a few minutes. Eventually she asked me if I wanted to learn how to sit up with a sore tummy as I would need to be able to do that after the surgery. She gave me a quick demonstration then made me do it (I failed). She then left, telling me to keep practicing. I don't think I ever really got the hang of it to be honest but I guess I must have figured it out in my own way.

A little while later a lab tech showed up to take a bunch of blood for final tests. Shortly thereafter a nurse (who ended up being my all time favourite)popped up letting me know I had to go get an x-ray and that she had a wheelchair for me (LOL!). We laughed about how pointless it was for her to push me down the hall but went along with it anyway. She said on that floor they aren't used to people being as awake as I was! She pushed me about 20 ft to the nurse station where I was parked and waited for someone else to wheel me down to x-ray. Down in x-ray they were VERY adamant that I not walk into the x-ray room, I had to be wheeled and they were very careful to not talk about why I was there-they even shushed the lady who had wheeled me down. I should mention there was an OR nurse, two x-ray technicians  along with us-the halls were otherwise empty.  Not sure who they thought would hear who hadn't already. Once inside the x-ray room I was told by the one technician in a kind of scolding way, not to say out loud what I was having done at the hospital. While I had no plans to scream it down the hallways I was a little perplexed by his direction and tone. Because I was still in my street clothes, I had to take my bra off and put it in my purse-always classy. A quick chest x-ray and I was out of there.

I was returned to my ward and wheeled back to my room. A doctor who identified himself as part of the transplant team came in with a silent lady sidekick in tow. He asked if any doctors had come to talk to me yet and I said no. He thought they should "all be along soon" and asked if I had any questions. I felt like I should because I had no idea what the plan was or what was going on but I didn't know how to articulate that. I told him I didn't so off he went, leaving me to see what would happen next.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pre-Surgery Day-Checkin' In

As I mentioned in my last post, I knew I was going to be placed in a ward somewhere in the new McCaig tower, on the Foothills Hospital campus. It's a new building that opened late last year, located behind the main medical centre building. Because of its "newness" it was difficult, if not impossible to find a map of the campus online that reflected its location. I knew however that there was a bridge linking the main building to it via the third floor thanks to "Sally" who had visited a sick brother just days before. She had opted to share the info with me "just in case it came in handy". Boy did it ever. You'd kind of think those instructions would come with the admitting info....

I followed the signs from the third floor and weaved my way over to the new building. I should note that the reason I was being put in that building was to keep me "separate" from anyone involved in my donation for privacy reasons prior to the surgery. I was fully aware that would happen as this is normal protocol in Canada (and many US hospitals) currently involved in non-directed donation. Anyway the new building still had that "new car smell" and was very modern-especially in contrast to the dated 60's style of the main building. It reminded me of a trendy hotel. I made my way to the lobby of the building (which had a decorative fire wall...nice touch) and found the admitting area. What was really surprising was how empty the place was.  Mid after noon and there wasn't a soul waiting to speak to anyone at the info desk or admitting,.  In fact I could only see 3 people, including the girl at the admitting window. A big difference from the zoo-like quality of most hospitals, including the building I had just come from where the line up for the six elevators was about six people deep. It was a little surreal how quiet it was.

The admitting lady took my information, made me sign a few forms and asked me if I wanted a private, semi private or multi patient room. I wasn't sure what I'd be covered for but I decided the $47 a night for the Private room, even if I ended up paying full price for it, would be worth it for the privacy factor.  I remembered another donor I recently had spoken to who mentioned her semi-private "room-mate" spend three days attempting to cough up a lung. My choice ended up being highly worth it although I have nothing to compare it to really.

I was directed to take my file and suitcase up to the fourth floor and find my specific unit. It was very "Do It Yourself" health care. I was lucky to end up in the elevator with a visiting nurse on mat leave and her baby who were heading there. Between the two of us we managed to find out way. I presented myself at the nurses station. They took my file and let me know my nurse would come and get me soon. About five minutes later she showed up, gave me a quick tour of the floor (I found out I was in a lock down trauma ward) and took me to my room.

The room looked like a nice hotel room, albeit with a lot of medical equipment and plug ins. There was a bed, a couch and a chair as well as a large closet and bedside table. The room had a large window with a  westward view, towards the mountains-it would have been spectacular if it hadn't been so overcast. There were two doors to the room as I guess it is a quarantine room when they need if if someone comes in with some kind of infectious disease. She showed me around my new digs-she was a bit rushed, explaining it was almost shift change and she needed to get her charting done. Another nurse appeared with a confidentiality pamphlet I needed to sign.  We'll get to that in another post. My nurse and I had a quick, strained conversation about the pamphlet which I then signed.

Satisfied that I knew all I needed to know, she mentioned I'd have some tests coming up and that I could push the nurse button if I needed anything. Off she went.  I sat down on the couch, suddenly feeling very alone and thought "Now what??".

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pre-Surgery Day-To the Hospital!!

When you are going to donate a kidney, they want you to be admitted to the hospital the day before (not all hospitals do this but many do). This is so they are able to run a few last tests to confirm you are healthy and able to donate. At Foothills Hospital, you are to call a specified number at 10 am the day you are to be admitted and they will let you know when they will be ready to accept you. A little weird and hard to plan around but it is what it is.

I was ready to call at 10 am when I realized I had left the form with the number on it at work (they had needed to fax it to me as the kit I got in the mail was missing it).  Doh. I thought for sure there would be an admitting line listed on their website. There was but that apparently wasn't the right number to call (who knew there could be more than one admitting line but only one listed...). After being transferred unsuccessfully to a few different people I hung up with no information. It then occurred to me to call the Living Donor program number and see if they could give it to me. That was a much smarter solution and I had the number in under two minutes.

When I called the number I was given they looked me up and initially said to come to the McCaig Tower at 4pm. Then they put me on hold and came back and corrected that to 2:30pm. I had initially thought I would add an adventure element to this day and take the bus (two buses actually) but once I got the admitting time, the exploration of two bus routes seemed too daunting. Christian was unavailable to take me (mostly because I told him days before not to bother-I was certain I didn't need his help to check in and we couldn't nail down a specific time) so I decided on a cab. I'm not a huge fan of cabs in general-I always feel like I am being rude by not talking to the cab driver but at the same time I usually feel too shy to talk. But it seemed a far better choice than the bus for this kind of occasion.

The cab arrived soon after I called for it. Phew. I had worried it would be one of those weird days where there was a long wait. The cab driver was a really warm and friendly man. I think he was surprised when, despite my suitcase, I asked to be taken to Foothills rather than the airport. I tried to make small talk (because I felt like I should) and I asked him how his day was so far. He said it was busy-thank god. I soon learned that most of his sentences ended with a very genuine "thank god" with a slight hand gesture to the sky. We were barely at the end of my street when he out of nowhere said something interesting and very well timed to me.

"There is an Arabic saying that goes something like this: I plan.You plan. And in the end, God's plan is what happens". 

While I am Christian and grew up fairly involved in church (United Church so pretty vanilla in terms of religious-ness), I'm not really religious anymore. I don't "not believe" but I'm not one for God or bible quoting. But given the situation and the randomness of what he was saying, it stuck with me. It made a lot of sense. And there was a certain comfort to it that shooed away the last of the big butterflies that had been frolicking in my stomach all day. Whatever was going to happen was now out of my control and I needed to be okay with that.

The rest of the trip was spent with him telling tales of how he tries to avoid driving at night because of how stupid drunk people are and how much he loves his own children and family. All thought he was very passionate ("Thank god" + gesture) about every topic he covered, there was something relaxing and distracting in listening to him.We never did touch on me or why I was going to Foothills. Neither one of us knew how to get to the McCaig building by car (it's new) but I knew there was a bridge to there from the main tower so I just got him to take me there.  As I got out of the car he handed me my luggage, smiled warmly and said "Good luck to you".

Monday, June 27, 2011

Canadian Blood Services-The Sequel

The last 20 or so entries in here were drafts I had written From January until late May and published in June about the journey I went through in order to become a living donor. When I started this back in the fall of 2010, I had hoped to chronicle as many relevant steps of my journey as possible to raise awareness about living donation, and also give my friends and family some peace of mind about my decision. As the blog progressed, I also found it to be a great outlet to share my thoughts, fears and feelings about donating a kidney. Because I knew the living donor program is new in Canada and even newer in Alberta, I also thought it would be an easy way to  discuss some of the challenges and opportunities within the program, to maybe help build a better system and process. The blog also became a huge support mechanism for me as it allowed me to make connections with other donors as well as people in the global "Kidney Community".

In January of 2011, a former coworker sent my blog to the local Global TV station. A longtime reporter there, David Boushy, contacted me and they wanted to do a story in conjunction with the Kidney Foundation, Foothills Hospital /Alberta Health and myself about living donation. I brought this to the attention of the program (and shared a link to my blog) and they told me that Global would have to navigate through Alberta Health communications and that it was unlikely they would participate-which I understand. The Kidney Foundation of course was all for doing something to promote awareness. I let Global know where were stood and left it at that.  A couple of days later I got a call from the social worker assigned to my file at the living donor program.  She let me know that if I talked to the media further or continued to blog my file would be put on hold and I would be unable to donate. She attributed the ban to a social media policy handed down from Canadian Blood Services and mailed me a copy of it. I was told I could resume blogging once I had compelted the surgery or was deemed medically ineligible to donate.

What I read in the policy did not seem to match what they were telling me.  When I questioned a few points, it was reiterated that this was their policy and I needed to abide by it.  Not wanting to risk my place in the program, I let it go and kept blogging without publishing and for the most part steered clear of other social media outlets.

Fast forward to June. Surgery is done. I am released from hospital and start to publish the drafts I had saved over the last five months. The first one to be published was the Open Letter to Canadian Blood Services. Because I wanted to make sure that I was upfront with them about the policy, I emailed them a link. However they were already on it as their social media scans had picked it up. Within a day I had a message from Ron Vezina, Director, Media Relations and External Communications for CBS. We arrange a call to discuss the policy and what had happened.

During the call, Mr. Vezina made it clear that from their perspective, I should have been able to continue blogging throughout the journey. Their policy was a guideline (just as I had thought). I did need to make sure I did not identify anyone else involved in the donation or the chain for privacy reasons (understood). He mentioned that I should be mindful of the risks associated with being more public with my story, but that with my communications background, he felt I understood those risks and how to mitigate them.

So where did things go wrong?  I did ask Mr Vezina if there was a chance that CBS people involved with the donor programs on the national task force may have miscommunicated the guidelines and their objectives.  He said it was possible a and that he'd follow up to ensure that it was being communicated effectively. I think it's also quite possible the guidelines were under communicated, leaving them up to too much interpretation at the hospital level. The other explanation would be that Foothills Administration/Alberta Health were uncomfortable with the blogging and used the CBS policy as something to hide behind. It wouldnt surprise me given some other things that occurred while I was in hospital but we'll get to that in a future post. In the last couple of weeks I have let those involved with the living donor program at Foothills know that the ban was in error and that I hope they aren't continuing to tell patients to avoid it. They did not specifically comment on that back to me. They did thank me for the information but I welcome further discussion if I can help them strike a balance between privacy and having an online outlet for donors and recipients going through kidney transplantation.

For the record I am very pleased how CBS handled this-they were professional, quick to respond and are willing to take steps on their end to ensure they are not hindering anyone from promoting awareness of living donation or being a part of an online community. My respect for them has been renewed. I sincerely hope that Foothills Hospital and any other donor program in Canada takes  the time to review what their policies really are and the impact their actions can have on people like me.

I've been asked by people if I am angry about this. Not really.  Disappointed? Yes.  Frustrated? Yes. But its done and there is nothing I can do about it now. I've been able to talk about it. At least one group involved (CBS) has listened and I truly believe are doing their part to make things better. All I can hope for is that this doesn't happen again to someone else.

Over the coming days I will get into details about what the donation surgery was like, my recovery and what I learned along the way. Thanks for reading :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Here I go

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.

Early June, 2011 (morning)

I need to be at the hospital in about 3 hours. My stomach is pretty much holding a convention for all the butterflies in the world right now.  I still have a few things to do (namely walk the dogs and change the cat litter-I know-priorities).  I've had my "comforting" meal (perogies) and I am just about packed.  My phone number list is done, I have my "notification email" set up as a draft so Charlie can easily let people know tomorrow how I'm doing.

I would highly recommend to anyone doing this not to forget the admitting instructions at work.  After several phone calls and attempted transfers and a call to the Living Donor program, I finally know where I am going and when.  At first they said 4, then put me on hold and came back with a time of 2-2:30. I'm probably going to take the bus there which should be a fun adventure in itself.  That's not because Charlie is being a jerk, its because there is no reason for him to take time off work to drive me.  He'll come by the hospital tonight with Charlie Jr.

I am excited, nervous, happy, scared. Incredibly. I don't think at any point in this journey I've felt this level of stress, good and bad, that I'm feeling right now.  I hope it goes away because another 24 hours of this and I will self combust.  I don't think I've ever felt so many emotions at once. I wonder if my recipient is feeling the same way. Probably but about different things.

Professional Help

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.
June 3, 2011

Today was my last day at work for awhile. I actually feel like everything was left in order and that nothing should "come back to bite me" while I am gone (that's the perfectionist in me worrying about that).

In reading other donor's blogs and stories online, I know a lot of them opted to tell very few people while going through the testing and maybe a handful knew once the surgery was confirmed.  While I totally understand the potentially private nature of this decision, for me personally the fact that I have told many people for a host of reasons has really helped. Especially in these last few days where my mind has started racing more and little anxieties about the surgery (and more so its aftermath)have developed, knowing that these people understood where my head was has been a bit of a comfort.

What I completely didn't expect is the send off I received today. More hugs than this "non-huggy" person knew what to do with. A coffee date where I thankfully got to distract myself with talk of cheesy late 80's sitcoms and fashion trends. Hand written cards from coworkers expressing their support and well wishes. Emails. Thoughtful gestures like a certificate for dog walking services (we recently adopted dog #2 a couple of weeks ago because I am a glutton for punishment). A pretty book mark for the books I'll bring to the hospital. I was ambushed in a late afternoon "Check in before I go" meeting with my boss. The entire extended marketing communications team was there with Crave Cupcakes and a gift basket full of things to heal and occupy me post surgery. Oh and I must not forget the card with a half naked doctor on the front. I especially liked how one of the bank's directors drew an incision mark on the doctor's shirtless chest on the left side. Not really how it works but amusing all the same.

With all that I have on the go and coming up, I've been a little more emotional the last few days-but I held it together.  I didn't really read the messages in the card until I was back and my desk and I'm glad I didn't as a few of them made me tear up. I never could have imagined that I'd have this level of support. I had been fairly confident about getting the time off from an HR perspective, but I didn't think on a personal level so many people (many of whom I don't really work with) would take such an active interest. It's just a reminder to me that in life just because I may not understand the choices some people make, or better yet I may not make them myself, I can always still show my support. I am very grateful to work with and for the people that I do.

You Do It to Yourself, You Do...

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.
Late May 2011,

I'm about a week away from the "kidney thing". I have about three to-do lists on the go-work things, home things, life things. I seem to have an uncontrollable urge to plan and execute complicated meal menus-I think its my form of nesting or stress relief but it leads to more cleaning and dishes so it's a bit counter productive. I also have somehow added extra "out of the ordinary" activities to my plate like volunteering to speak not once but twice at Momentum, a non-profit organization, about marketing and product placement tactics. And I have a big presentation due to the CFO at work-my first as the new eCommunications advisor for the bank. Oh and we got a second dog last week (two dogs under 2 years old!). And she needs to go to an hourly class once a week, starting this week, (at 8:30 PM!!) to improve her leash reactivity. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Quite possibly.

One thing I never anticipated in all of this is how unfocused I would be in the week or so leading up to the surgery. It's not so much that I've been distracted of thoughts or worries about the surgery or its outcome. Sure there has been a little bit of that. But what I have noticed more is how unable I am to keep my mind on any particular task without jumping to another within five minutes. It's one thing to be a little side tracked for a morning but a week, especially a week you need to accomplish a lot in, is a bit much. By early on this week I was so overwhelmed it wasn't even funny.

Sometimes in life when you are in a place like this, with truly too much to do in a little bit of time, unusual things happen.  These things, in the long run, help you out, save you from yourself. In my case, it was my foot/ankle. A couple of days ago I was putting away leftovers from one of the elaborate meals I had made and took a regular step towards the fridge with a bowl of potato salad. "Sproing-pa-pop" went something, somewhere, deep in my left ankle/foot.  Sharp shooting pain ensued. "Ow" I yelped, wondering how it was possible to hurt my foot taking a simple step. Charlie looked up surprised, and quickly rescued the potato salad from my clutches, lest I drop it. "What did you do?" he asked.  I shrugged...I couldn't explain what I had done to my foot but it hurt like hell every time I put weight on it.

I stayed off of it most of the night, sure that when I arose the next morning it would be fine.  Except it wasn't.  In fact it was more tender and more swollen.By the end of that day at work, I could barely walk and it was double the size. Walking the dogs was next to impossible (with two of course skipping a daily walk is not a good idea) Charlie suggested we go to a walk-in clinic or emergency. But I didn't want to. I was terrified that it would somehow delay the upcoming kidney donation either because I'd need to take drugs I wasn't allowed to take or worse, I had done something that would make me immobile. Because getting up and walking soon after surgery is so key to better healing, I thought they wouldn't do the surgery if I wasn't in tiptop walking shape. What if it got worse and I couldn't do the surgery? I thought about how many people would be disappointed. What if I had wrecked everything simply by carrying a bowl of potato salad across the kitchen?

I somehow managed to solider through a pre-op appointment without the program coordinator noticing I couldn't really walk. I hid out at work and avoided leaving my desk for the same reason. I even attempted to walk the dogs one night to prove I was okay. I don't know why I felt like I needed to hide it from everyone but I did. It hurt a ton but I was going to try to keep that secret safe with me. I quickly realized though that in order to get through this, I had to get some rest which would mean trimming some of the items off my to do lists.The fact of the matter is, I really couldn't do some things physically. As much as it pained me to admit I couldn't I accomplish everything I wanted to on those to do lists especially some of the things I really was looking forward to like the speaking engagements, I felt a sense of relief. I was able to get the really important (for me personally) stuff done and done well. The other stuff would have to wait.

I still have no idea what happened with my foot. It seems to be getting better. Maybe it was one of those "all in your head" things that the brain does sometimes to protect you from yourself. I guess there is no way of knowing.  I still feel a bit guilty about the things I wont be getting to this week but I'm hoping that this falls into the "everything happens for a reason" category.