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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hello My Name is Lauren and I Have One Kidney

When you donate a kidney, the medical folks tell you that going forward, you'll need to tell and remind ALL health care professionals (sometimes repeatedly) that you only have one kidney. This also applies to lab techs, massage therapists, dentists etc. This is so they avoid giving you drugs or treatments that can harm the remaining one. Also, in the event of an abdominal trauma, they will know upfront that there isn't a back up kidney in there.

In the beginning (post-donation) I was pretty good at communicating this. But I was met with one of two reactions...either "Who cares -  that shouldn't impact this medical treatment/issue" as though I shouldn't have brought it up or the onslaught of a thousand questions like "Who got it?", " When did you do it?" ,"You gave it to a stranger?". That kind of thing. On one occasion, when I brought it up halfway through an ER visit because I knew they wanted to do a CT Scan which uses a contrast dye that can impact the kidneys, the resident seemed really put out by the news. "Well where did it go?" she had asked in exasperation. "Now I have to check with my attending!".

Overtime I have become more reluctant to bring it up unless I'm sure it has relevance to the task at hand. I recently had a conversation with some of my fellow boot camp exercise participants about how long we had been attending the program. I had started right before the surgery, about two months and had returned about five weeks after surgery. One of the bootcampers remarked that she remembered how I hadn't told any of the trainers I donated a kidney. She wondered why. I had mentioned that I had had surgery (I think I had mentioned abdominal to at least one of them) but she was right - I hadn't really wanted to mention it.

I think quiet frankly I was, and still am, hesitant to mention it sometimes because I don't feel like talking about it or answering the questions I inevitably get. Don't get me wrong, in the right venue I welcome the opportunity to talk about it and to raise awareness about living donation.  But other times I flat out don't want to bring it up.

Today I had an ultrasound of the lower abdomen scheduled to check out my girly regions (I have bad time of the months - too much information?). I didn't think I needed to mention the kidney as they are a fair distance away from what is being looked at in the body  I was certain if I mentioned it I'd be told they don't need to know that, and they don't care. So I didn't say anything.

The exam started and she examined the lower abdomen as expected...the she went higher up on the right side, but not quite kidney height. Then she went to the left side. Examined for a bit and made me roll over. She hadn't done that on the other side. After several minutes, she asked, in a rather panicked tone, if I had ever had surgery. I told her about the kidney. She let out the biggest sigh I have ever heard. She had been looking for it and couldn't find it. Oooops. She seemed so... overwhelmed, I felt bad. She told me she had asked me to roll over because sometimes kidneys migrate up and down the abdominal cavity. I told her no, it migrated right out of the body.

She didn't really appreciate my joke. I guess I need to rethink my kidney disclosure policy.

7 comments:

  1. LOL, Lauren! I loved the part where you told the Technician that your kidney moved right out of your body. That was funny. I, too, had to have an ultrasound for women issues and right when she told me to move on my side, I told her that if she were looking for a kidney there, she wouldn't be able to find it. I told her I donated a kidney to my Mom. No matter how you feel about not wanting to talk about you donating a kidney, I find that it's very important to tell your Doctor's about it because then they know what treatment to give you. I've found that in my experience, most doctor's look at that as a very Awesome thing and I get treated better than if I hadn't told them about me donating. It's especially important to tell your OB/GYN so they know what options they can give you if you have women problems like I do. Thanks for this wonderful blog. I really laughed and enjoyed your sense of humor. And thanks for advocating for Living Donor awareness. More of us should be on board in advocating for something that has changed many people's lives. (Winnie Liu)

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    1. Thanks Winnie! I am good about bringing it up with doctors...its the techs etc that I forget about sometimes! It was a learning experience for sure!

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  2. I am also a living kidney donor!:) it has been 10yrs since I donated!

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    1. Awesome! I trust you are healthy and still doing well?

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  3. wow@ you're amazing! i have one kidney from a Bosniak 3 op

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  4. And I have less than two weeks until my donation day - at this point just looking forward to getting it done, and hustling to get our Christmas ready for December 14!

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  5. Thanks for the FANTASTIC post! This information is really good and thanks a ton for sharing it :-) I m looking forward desperately for the next post of yours..
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