Halloween has yet to pass and though Thanksgiving is a month away, I wanted to share a little gratitude before the onslaught of Christmas commercials overtakes the campaign ads.
Sometimes, even though many of us sit down for a meal together and give thanks, the holiday in between the witches and Santa is forgotten.
This past week my husband of nearly 19 years was doing something that was getting on my nerves. I won’t go into detail, but it didn’t take long for me to make my displeasure known and the rest of the evening ended up in silence.
Reflecting on those moments, the imperfections of myself and that he has recently became my hero really put the small things into perspective.
How did my husband become my hero? He helped change a life.
I am probably going to be in the doghouse for sharing this story, but it is important to share because maybe it will encourage some else to do the same thing.
Around two months ago my husband donated a kidney to a relative. In the medical world this is a pretty routine process; in our world it was little bigger.
The process started a few years ago when we were approached by a family member who knew down the road he may be in need. Jokes were passed around a group text, but everyone was willing to start the process and see where it led.
In 2017, things seemed to be getting a little closer. My husband was a blood match and ready to see if he even had the capability to donate. I’ll be honest, I never thought he would have the health required to share a major organ with someone. While most all of us in our home try to exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle, he tries to do the opposite.
When the weeklong process started, each day brought a new barrage of tests, from mental to physical; if you didn’t pass, you were done. As the days went by and he kept going back, things started to seem a little real. In the end, he was given the OK to donate.
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I was pretty much in disbelief. After all, this was my husband, whose diet is coffee, fried chicken and M&M’s on a good day. I guess there’s hope for all of us. The physician’s only advice was not to start running. At his age to start would be too hard on the body. He was more than happy to follow those instructions.
Time went by and we knew there was a possibility of a transplant; the uncertainty was a little stressful. As a family who lives by the calendar, we needed to know when, but that’s not how it works. This past summer he was informed it was time.
The pre-operation appointments stressed the reality of the situation. This is optional. You are doing this by choice. You don’t have to do this. You can stop at anytime. Every person we saw impressed that upon us, and while it created a lot of doubt in my mind, there was never a question in his.
From the pre-op appointments to follow up, one thing stays with me, that I will always remember, every person at Mayo Clinic he came in contact with, even if they were with him for a moment, thanked him.
Surgery came and went and all was well for him. While I was sitting in the waiting room of the transplant unit, there were so many stories and conversations. My worry didn’t go away, but it was minimalized. While to me the surgery was a big deal, there were so many families dealing with so much worse. His surgery really did seem routine.
Someone recently asked me if our children realized what a gift he had given. I am not sure they do. We tried to keep everything low key and normal, and I’m not sure if that was right or wrong. I am sure someday they will understand it better, when they don’t have sports practice, homework and social lives.
Recovery was interesting. Telling someone they have to be inactive for several weeks created a challenge for both of us along with our stubbornness when it came to asking for help. He sat and stewed that he couldn’t do much, worried about work and was bored, while I tried to force feed him healthy foods. I finally went back to the chicken and M&M’s.
Both donor and recipient are doing well, and life has moved on. My husband seems embarrassed when people recognize what he did; he assumes others do the same if asked. There are so many people out there waiting, and so many ways aside from direct donation to give.
I’m proud of my spouse and what he did. As for what annoyed me, it was minor in comparison. Even given a clean bill of health and knowing you can live with just one kidney, I always will worry just a little bit, but will remember the Mayo staff and be grateful every day. There’s something to be said for counting your blessings all year versus just on the third Thursday in November.