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Friday, September 28, 2012

Hope and the Fear of Loss

In the last couple of years I have had the pleasure of getting to know many wonderful people in the transplant and kidney community, both online and in real life. I have heard their stories of their valiant battles against critical illness and  they have also shared other stories with me about others facing similar challenge. More often than not these stories are full of hope. They may have moments of darkness or hurdles along the way but they describe their success in such a positive way that they almost don't do the battles' difficulty levels justice. Their courage is inspiring and of course it makes me appreciate everything in my life that much more.

I have realized however, that as much as I love being a part of this community there is an inevitable downside to it that I maybe hadn't considered before. Some of the people I have gotten to know and care about are going to get sick, have complications and  may face a life threatening medical crisis. I am going to be brutally honest and self-centred for a second. It scares me. It makes me feel sad that there is nothing I can do to help them. It makes me frustrated that there isn't more the medical community can do to help them (although I know they try very hard). It makes me worry. I'm not good with loss. Then again, I am not sure who is.

Sure, bad stuff and health problems can affect anyone at anytime. However people with transplants face the added challenge of having suppressed immune systems and in some cases underlying medical conditions that linger, waiting to cause problems. Also, the stress of their illnesses on one body part can often begin to impact other areas. I forget that sometimes because most everyone I have met who has gone through a transplant seems so vibrant and healthy. Like nothing can touch them.

In the last couple of weeks I've heard of two people I met at the Transplant Games being hospitalized for lung issues. "Nothing too serious" their family and friends said, despite the fact they'd be in the hospital at least a couple of weeks. For most people, a couple of weeks in hospital is a big deal. I don't know?

This week I found out that one lady who I've only met a few times but who has influenced me so much, is in hospital as well. She had a heart attack over the weekend and while she has been stable, doctors are struggling to do something, ANYTHING to fix her. A bypass won't work and will likely do more harm than good. Angioplasty seems like the only option but it too is risky and they aren't confident they can get through all the blockages. They are trying that today. She's been through so much already - it doesn't seem fair. She is such a kind, sweet, encouraging person who lights up a room. She believes in people and is the best cheerleader you could possibly want in your corner. Having had her in my corner a few times, I can certainly attest to this.

It's tough to watch people go through critical illness. I've been there with my Dad and to a lesser extent with one of my grand parents. I've watched other people close to me go through it with their loved ones (also very hard). There is a little part of me that worries that the more involved I get in raising awareness about organ donation, the more I might be more exposed to the loss (or the fear of loss) of people I care about than had I not become involved. It is probably selfish of me to think that way, but I worry about the effect it will have. I wish I could help.

I've never really been the praying kind of person - not as an adult anyway. I think what little of that I had in me was used up with my Dad. But in my own way, I'm sending all the positive thoughts I can to these people, crossing my fingers, hoping for the best and wishing all the wishes I can think of. It's all I can do.

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