Saturday, December 4, 2010

support, please? - part I

NOTE:  Until now, this blog served as an online journal for me, and those that chose to follow me. I feel as though I was successful in delivering that content. I will be approaching a 3-month post-surgery date soon and I need to shift my focus now on mentoring. Going forward, my intent is to provide more material to inform & educate donor-wanna-beez. My goal is to give those beginning their journey, the information I felt I needed most when I made the decision to be a living kidney donor. For good measure, I'll toss in a few irrelevant posts for my audience - to some I will humor, others I will bore to tears...

I can clearly recall the night I decided to take the leap to explore living kidney donation. I spent hours online, Googling this and Googling that. I didn't even know there was a term that would describe what would be the experience I would be able to undergo only 6 months later. I was all over the place and eventually got bounced to several sites providing me with scrumptious recipes on kidney bean salads. Ok, so I got a little sidetracked (and felt a little gassy just reading about them.) Anyhow, I was putting a hell of a lot of effort into this research but I didn't really know what it was I should be researching. Good thing I wasn't on a deadline or I would have failed the project.

My brain is a sponge for information. When I'm on a mission to learn something new, I thrive on the minutia. Give me details, please! My research that evening, and many others to follow, provided me with more material on kidney transplants/donations/surgery than I could ever absorb. So, here I am with all this crap and I don't know how to digest it all. Do I begin with educating myself on kidney disease and those who are suffering while waiting for a transplant, or do I jump into the fire and call my local hospital and ask them where I sign to donate my kidney? This was the start of what became my only frustration of this journey... not knowing where to begin, and then how to follow through.

I knew what I needed. I needed support. I needed a 'go to' person, web site, contact, book, video... whatever. I just needed a good solid source that would give me a step-by-step plan to follow. I'm also a teeny-tiny, itsy-bitsy, lil' bit of a perfectionist and thrive on guidelines and rules (except for my sugar intake.) God forbid I make a move forward if I'm not following a proper protocol, especially with something as important as donating my kidney. I couldn't believe how many web sites include 'network', 'organization', 'foundation' or 'association' - preceded by 'kidney'. My attempt to determine which one was more credible than the other failed and I was becoming more frustrated by the moment. I couldn't help but think to myself, if they are all offering equally accurate information, then why can't they all get together and create one giant site called... Nice ring to it, eh?

You'll be shocked to know this, but, I'm impatient. I know, I know, I have a flaw and I can't believe it myself either. I was anxious to kick this up a notch and really make some progress. Don't know how many of you have heard of Facebook, but I decided to give it a shot and post a query on my status update. Bingo! You should try it sometime. Harvey Mysel, president of the Living Kidney Donors Network, was quick to respond to my post and within days we had shared our first phone conversation. Harvey became that source that I was seeking, the support and clarity I needed to move forward hitting fewer roadblocks as I aimlessly surfed the web.

Now I could really get down to bizness! Harvey's guidance was instrumental in my introduction to become a living kidney donor. Armed with more knowledge about the process, and the direction to move forward to yield solid results, I registered online at the National Kidney Registry. I would soon learn that my journey becoming a living kidney donor would give me not only a meaningful experience, but a very special connection to a support system of other living donors.

-  Part II to follow...

Until next time... as you shop for holiday gifts, don't forget about your favorite non-profit organization.