Hello everyone, and sorry it’s been a while. As I’m sure most of you are well aware, time gets weird during quarantine, and unfortunately this post fell by the wayside.
In late August (it really has been a while…sorry!) I finally met my kidney recipient for the first time, and in late October, I got to see her again. As I’ve mentioned previously, my recipient’s family are local to Jill’s parents, so we drove up there for both of the meetings. We met in Jill’s parents’ backyard, which is nice and big, making it easy for a socially-distanced and masked meet up.
The first visit was really fun. When my recipient and her mom arrived, she gave me an awesome drawing she did of our favorite Pokémon together (which I’ve since framed and is now hanging on the wall in my office. Hers is Umbreon, and mine is Aerodactyl). The four of us, my recipient, her mom, Jill, and myself, talked about lots of stuff, from Pokémon, the pandemic, travel, some of our favorite foods and activities, and lots more. My recipient climbed up in Jill's childhood treehouse. It was very hot day, and my recipient’s mom told us that before getting her new kidney, my recipient wasn’t able to regulate her temperature effectively and couldn’t be outside in the heat very long, but now it was much easier for her to do that. After a few hours, we took some pictures. Before they left, I gave my recipient a little stuffed smiling kidney. I also have a matching one, so of course we took pictures together holding our kidneys!
The second visit was fun as well! It went a lot like the first; we hung out in the backyard and chatted for a few hours. My recipient had even made us some delicious cookies! Since the transplant, Jill and I have been sending my recipient pictures of our cat Hank, since she’s a big animal lover. We brought him with us for both visits, but for the first one, he hid the whole time so my recipient couldn’t meet him. For the second visit, though, he was sitting in the window watching us in the backyard, so my recipient finally got to meet him (through the glass), and she was so excited. She even took some pictures with him. We took some more pictures together before they left.
It was really great getting to know my recipient more. It also made the whole donation experience that much more real. Hearing about things like her interests and what she wanted to do when she grew up directly from her just cemented the reasons why I donated in the first place. She has so many more options for her life now than she did even just a year ago, and like I mentioned before, she can enjoy so much more food. We asked her what her favorite food is, and she said it was chocolate, something she couldn’t eat before she got her new kidney. While we were talking during the first meeting, the thought occurred to me that that was the closest I had been to my (former) kidney in over 7 months. For almost 30 years, I unknowingly was just taking care of that kidney before it ended up in its true home with someone who needs it more than I do.
Health wise, I’ve been doing pretty well. I definitely hit a plateau a while back, and feel pretty much normal now. The area around one of my scars above where my appendix is still feels a bit numb sometimes, which I’ve mentioned before. It doesn’t hurt, but I definitely notice the numbness sometimes. A few months ago I was running around for about an hour, which had been probably been the most I had pushed myself physically since the surgery. The next day I was incredibly sore, including that same spot around my appendix. While the soreness did go away after a couple of days, it definitely showed me that I pushed myself a little too hard, and I need to ease back into strenuous activity.
As for my recipient, she’s been in and out of the hospital every month or so. Her creatinine spikes every now and again, then goes back down a couple of days later, and the doctors don’t know what’s wrong. They’ve ruled out rejection and problems with the kidney itself (both good things), but can’t nail down the cause. More specialist doctors are going to get involved soon so hopefully one of them can figure out what’s going on.
I also wanted to mention an important anniversary that passed recently: On December 6, it had been one year since I found out I was approved to be a donor. I was just sitting down to a happy hour with some friends when I got the call. It has been a truly crazy year, and it seems like that was way more than just a year ago. Pretty soon, in January, it’ll be a year since my surgery. I have my 1 year (virtual) check-up with my transplant coordinator around then, so I will update here on how that goes.
Sorry again this update took so long. There’s nothing else to report now, as not much is happening, kidney-related or otherwise. When there is news in the future, however, I’ll make sure to update here a lot sooner than I did this time. Thanks for reading!