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Eight Years With Her Kidney

This post is a couple of weeks late. I was in a funk for a few weeks, feeling pretty overwhelmed by how fast the publishing industry is changing and all the stuff a writer has to do these days to self-promote. You’d think someone with a degree in advertising wouldn’t be bothered by this, but it’s all online these days. A visually-impaired, right-brained artistic type can be intimidated pretty quickly by it all. Worst of all, it can make me feel pretty stupid and inadequate.

But, I’m coming to terms (again) with all that and moving forward (again) at the pace of a snail—one that can’t see where it’s going.

I was also overwhelmed by life in general. Who? Me? If that surprises you, carefully read the subtitle of my blog again. Just saying it is a mouthful. Living it is a bit more challenging than that. I try not to complain about it, but there are times when it’s every bit as hard to do as it sounds. The problem was, I allowed myself to focus more on how hard it is for me and ended up throwing myself a big ol’ pity party–complete with balloons, a live band (playing only sad songs, of course), a sad clown, and games like Pin the Fail On the Writer.

The other day, I located the Live Strong bracelet my Aunt Judy got for me when I had cancer and have started wearing it again. Not only does it remind me of how much of stronger I am after surviving that, but it serves as a rubber band I can use to snap my wrist when a negative thought overstays its welcome. It’s working and I don’t have welts on my wrist, either.

Part of the blues was due to September being a minefield of unpleasant anniversaries. I’ll spare you the list of disappointments and traumatic events. Even as a kid, I used to get wistful in September, missing summer and already discontent with the still-new school year.

But, there is one very happy even that took place in this otherwise intense month. On the 4th I celebrated eight years with my kidney Connie gave me. This was one of the rare years when I got to actually spend part of the day with her. I took her and my parents to lunch at Red Lobster. I had the coconut shrimp—two great tastes that go great together. Whoever came up with coconut shrimp is a genius.

As you can imagine, having a live donor is a very different experience than a transplant from a deceased donor. I know this because my pancreas and first kidney came from a young man who died in a car accident. There are so many questions about him I wish I could have answered. That isn’t the case with Connie, who had us laughing at stories about her granddaughter born last year, now at a very cute and sometimes challenging age. I hope she’s proud of her grandma someday. She has plenty of reason to be.

Most people who have known me for the past several years will tell you I’m a survivor. That I’m at times feisty, stubborn, sassy, tenacious, optimistic, driven, ambitious, and creative. It was that way before 2003. I may have received a boost in those qualities when I got Connie’s kidney, because all those terms can be used to describe her as well. Unlike with the pancreas and first kidney transplant, I never had to wonder if part of the donor’s personality was asserting itself in my behavior.

Thank you, Connie. I’m doing all I can to make you proud of me. (Not that it was ever a condition of the gift). I need to remember God wanted you to give me this kidney. If it’s God’s will, my memoir will be published.

Seeing Connie again has given me the nudge (shove, fire lit under my butt . . . ) to renew my efforts at getting my memoir published. I have an unusual and inspiring story to tell. I’ve lived with my odd situation for so long now that I sometimes forget that. Sometimes I forget (and other times I’m only too aware) that not everyone is a legally blind former diabetic writer with a transplanted kidney and pancreas (from two different people) living in a quirky college town. Oh yeah, and now I can say cancer survivor, too. One or two people might be interested in hearing me speak about it. With any luck, a few more will be interested in reading about it, too.