Allie' Kidney Transplant- Living Donation

It all started on May 7th, 2010- I went to the doctor's office for a physical because I had been feeling tired (maybe the 2:30am shifts and 18 credits at school). They decided to take a blood test, which I was reluctant to do because of my fear of needles. They thought I seemed fine and just needed more rest. After that I went to the store I used to work at for a snack, and a manager told me I looked a bit pale, and I told her it was because I had to get blood drawn. My mom and I went shopping and she took me home to my apartment around 9pm because I was supposed to work in the morning. I fell asleep quickly, like I had been around this time. I always felt exhausted. Around 11pm my roommate came into my room telling me my mom was on the phone and that it was an emergency, I looked at my cell phone which had several missed calls from her and voice mails from the doctor's office telling me I needed to go to the emergency room to have my blood redrawn because of the abnormal results. Me, thinking I had to work at 5:30 in the morning asked my roommate if she would cover my shift. My mom and dad came and picked me up, having to commute about 25 minutes, late at night. I got to the hospital and waited a long time before they took my blood again, and once the results were back they wanted to take it again. I was just really confused the whole time and worried that I would maybe be missing school and work the next few days. After the last blood test the took me to a room and hooked me up to an IV and doctors and nurses came in and out of my room the whole night. They couldn't figure out what was wrong with me, they just saw that I was severely anemic and that everything was out of wack. My creatinine was at 21. They did more blood tests ruling out a lot of things, until they focused it on my kidneys. They decided to do an ultra sound and could barely even see my kidneys because they had become very small. I was just really confused, and in a daze during the first few days. After about three days they decided to put me on hemo dialysis, because my kidney function was less that 10% between the two. I felt more comfortable when I was at the hospital when I found out that a family friend of mine was my dialysis nurse and shared an office with my new doctor. They decided that it would be best if I went onto peritoneal dialysis, so they put in a catheter, after I had already gotten two in my neck and chest area for hemo dialysis. I was in the hospital for ten days and learned way more than I thought I would about kidneys than I thought. I was grateful for all my family and friends that came and visited me while I was there. I had almost 100 visitors! And I am so glad they were there too, they gave me strength to get through those first ten days and after. After I left the hospital I decided to stay at my boyfriend's apartment because it was a newer building and had easier access and room for a months supply of dialysis fluid. Overwhelmed by all the boxes and the three days a week at a dialysis center, 3 hours at a time- I was freaking out. I was missing my classes at school! Being 19 and for the most part independent was hard enough.

So this begins the dialysis at home after being well trained by my kidney center friends. I had to go there less and less, which made me happy and feel like I had some summer time. Although I was feeling upset that my boyfriend had to leave for the summer, which left me all alone for the whole summer doing the dialysis. I tried to keep people around but it just wasn't very convenient. I know I didn't do everything right and that made me feel bad about myself. I just didn't like that the dialysis fluid made me feel during the day, I liked to be empty during the day and just do the dialysis all during the night, it still took ten hours. Setting it up stressed me out, especially with my work schedule. I should have planned it better, but I was freaked out about all the financial stuff going on. I was/am so grateful that my work had/has awesome insurance and that I could be covered by my parents as well so I hardly ever had to pay for anything medical related, besides a little for pills I had to take. I hated the diet I had to have on dialysis. Phosphorus, potassium, and sodium had to be watched. Phosphorus was dairy, beans, CHOCOLATE...blah...I hated it. But it had it's ups when I could refuse food because I could just say I wasn't allowed to eat it. I tried to make the best of my summer, oh and I did get to go back to class but got an incomplete, so I worked on homework for some of the summer, the professors were very nice and gave me the time I needed to finish everything. One professor even gave me a 4.0!
Next thing I knew we were talking transplant. I had 6 people that were my blood type lined up right away. Only 4 could be tested and evaluated at once. All of them worked out in the first round. Now it was picking the best match. My two older sisters, my mom, and my family friend mentioned earlier that was also my dialysis nurse. One of my sisters was a perfect match, but they decided to go with my mom, because she matched a little closer than our friend. Now it was just waiting for a time they could do one. This whole process was a good part of the year, just waiting and waiting. I was nervous about the transplant coming from my mom, but also excited.

We got the date for the transplant a month before it was supposed to happen. My mom and I went to the mall because she had seen these bean shaped necklaces at Tiffany's, and we just wanted to look at them for kicks. We asked the woman working if we could see the bean collection. She happily took us over to the case and took them out for us. There were about five different choices there. My mom and I were talking in front of the lady- not to her- about which necklaces we liked best. I liked the small black jade bean and my mom said it was like my dead kidneys, the lady started looking at us weird, so my mom told her I was getting a kidney transplant in a month, the lady was shocked and told me she would be right back, taking all the necklaces with her, she left for about five minutes and came back with a mirror, she told me to try on the black one I had been looking at and said, "this looks great on you, you need to leave with this today..." My mom and I just looked at each other both thinking that was a lot of sales pressure on us, then she finished the sentence with, "...on us." We were in shock, Tiffany's giving me a free necklace. My mom and the salesperson started to cry, I was still in this daze and just couldn't get over it. Afterwards I made my mom take me to my work so I could tell everyone there what just happened. I was so excited about it, I couldn't stop looking at it. The story brought a lot of people to tears, it was really cool.

Now to the transplant- February 1st, 2011, still 19 years old, waiting in the room for them to call me to the surgery preparation room. I was filled with excitement and for those whole few months I was in an emotional freeze. Kind of taking it in strides, I guess. I don't really remember the next few days, but I just remembered thinking that I didn't have to dialysis the next day. There is no certainty that I won't ever do it again, but I would like to think that that will be the case.

My mom and I were in different rooms from each other afterwards, but she came in saw me that day. I don't remember at all. But my sister was writing all the weird things my mom said while on morphine. Now I was being introduced to the gazillion pills I would have to take for a little bit. They let me go home after a week in the hospital, but I would have to go back everyday to get my blood drawn. My doctor and I were great friends by that point. I knew which phlebotomist I liked best, and still hope I get them every time I go in, which is still once a week. They are wanting to do a biopsy to just make sure everything is going great. I feel great. Back to school and work. Back to normal life for the most part, except I am not as tired.

I'm leaving tons out I'm sure, but so far this is it. I'm 20 years old now, and someday I will understand more, but I will always have a million weird questions for my doctor until then.