Saturday, December 31, 2011

year of the kidney

I'm big on year end wrap ups. My birthday is in June and I do it then too—looking back at all that's happened in a 12 month arc. A year can be fleeting on one hand but 365 days is a vast amount of time. In that vein, 5 minutes can change your life. As a person to whom life doesn't come easily, who's spent years struggling with self-doubt and anxiety, who questions, worries, has spent way too much time frozen in fear, looking at the bigger picture helps.

I'm often amazing at what my life actually is, as opposed to how it feels from the inside.

This was the year of the kidney. From last Christmas season when I found out I was a match, through 6 months of exhaustive and extensive testing, endless waiting, more postponements than anyone can possibly imagine handling. There was my very first surgery in June—walking into the hospital as a profoundly healthy person, shuffling out swollen, drugged, in pain, my center shaken to the core. Months of recuperation, of moving slowly, of feeling like I'd never feel like myself. More than any of the above there was the emotion of it all. First and foremost, fear it wouldn't work and that my brother wouldn't be ok. Then there was fear I'd fall apart and not be able to handle it. Fear I'd have a breakdown. Fear I'd be that less than 1% of donors who'd die on the table. Fear I wouldn't make it back to where I was. There was also elation—finding out I could donate, getting clean bills of health from all the testing, the quiet joy of the voicemail saying surgery was on, hearing Dave was ok when I was in recovery, seeing him looking so great 2 days later.

In fact every time I see him my heart fills for a moment knowing what I did made how he's doing possible.

My family was amazing throughout. I can't imagine sending a parent or a child off to surgery they don't need. Iz's 1000 paper cranes and Jack's kidney warrior are 2 of the most precious gifts a person could ever hope to receive. Jon offered to be tested if I wasn't a match. I am married to the menschiest of mensches.

The ability to write almost every day about what I was going through, to share the experience, to hear from people who'd been through this before and share insights with those starting the donation path kept me sane.

I doubted my sanity many times this year. I thought I lost my creativity. I've felt (and have been feeling) that the best is behind me and that the next half of my life is just downhill coasting.

But on the last day of this year I have to look back and give myself credit for doing something so important, so substantial, so amazing that it's way bigger than me. And to give myself time and space to heal on all levels.

2011 was the year of the kidney. And it was a game changer. I'm starting to see I just haven't figured it all out yet. As for 2012? I'm hoping for a bit less drama.

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