Thursday, July 29, 2010

spreadin' the word

Once I received medical clearance from the hospital, I felt more confident in sharing my story with friends and family. I've graduated to a new stage in this process and it's becoming so much more of a reality to me now, and I'm going to assume this feeling will only continue to grow. I'm looking forward to the next step of receiving word that they have found a match for my kidney.

Surprisingly, my mother was extremely supportive of me when I expressed to her that I was going to donate my kidney. So much so, that she piped up about an interest in the opportunity to donate as well! Hey, mom... they don't take AARP kidneys - love ya anyway. My siblings were on board with me as well, and as I expected, my brother responded with his quick sarcasm and humor that I love so much about him. I'm thinking little sister immediately downed a margarita after our phone conversation, but shared her support for me, as I knew she would. They both had questions, and I directed them to the blog to catch up on the past several weeks of my journey. What would I do without my tribe - I have the best family in the world. Ok, second best - I really wanted to be one of the Huxtables.

Talking to my friends about this was a little bit of a different challenge. I know I've pretty much opened up about this to the world, via this blog, but there are still some close friends of mine that I have yet to sit down and talk to.

One friend in particular, I'll call her Jess (because she's on the lam), reacted pretty much the way I had thought she would. Jess is in the medical field, and let me tell you, she sees it all - ya know, the gooey and slimy stuff.  So, I knew that her opinion and thoughts on being a living kidney donor would reflect the feelings of someone that is very close to medicine, doctors, disease, and unfortunate outcomes. Her concerns are valid and real, and I respect her for being honest and upfront with me. See, that's why she's my friend and that's why I love her. I admire her for her honesty and her ability to not judge, but yet express her opinions with a tender and serious intent. To top it all off, she told me that should I ever need her kidney, she would charge me for it. I'm feelin' the love.

I have yet to spend time with yet another dear friend of mine, and I hope that I will soon get the opportunity to chat about this and let her know that it's not my intent to keep anything from her, but that she is so special to me that I feel the need to tell her face to face. Jeesh, like being a new mom is more important than time with me? Hello? Put baby in the corner and let's have some coffee talk! I'm kidding, folks. I love her and new little angel to death and am very much anticipating our chat.

For those of you that are considering being a kidney donor, I want to offer my opinion on how to comfortably share your news with those you love, and not be overwhelmed with anxiety and doubt. I decided from the beginning that regardless of what reaction and response I received from anyone, my decision was made up and I would not be backing down because of an unfavorable comment. The challenge for me was to be able to share my decision with everyone and not get too emotional from their response. I hesitated with my mom, and I did with Jess too, but it was because I love them so much. It's human nature to want to feel support when you need it the most, but the reality is that you don't always get it. You also don't always have the ability to convince someone to embrace something the same way that you have chosen to. Our friends are special to us because they are not exactly like us, so we have to understand that they won't always be able to agree with us.

Another bit of advice to any donor that is anticipating a challenging discussion with parents and friends - use the internet to connect to other living donors prior to these talks. Having conversations with donors about their experiences throughout their journey will open you up to a realm of situations that you might be faced with once you share your story. I am so thankful to Cara, Hope and Diane for sharing their advice on how to cope with my hesitation about telling everyone of my decision. I felt so much more prepared after talking with them.

So, I'm thinking that there are still going to be many others that I run into who will inquire about 'news' that they heard regarding me, and I will have to elaborate. And that's A-OK with me! I'm happy to share my journey with others. The more I can spread the word about the opportunity we all have to be a living kidney donor, the more successful my quest becomes. If through my journey I can enlighten just one person to be a donor, then I feel like I have made progress. It's kinda like that Breck commercial from the 70's... "she'll tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on..."

Until next time...  download the podcast of the Bob and Sheri Show - you will be amazed as to how these two people can bring laughter and meaning to your life!