Monday, December 13, 2010

Greetings from Baltimore or Losing a Kidney

I have procrastinated writing this post for some time, but now I'm up against a deadline and (as usual) that is the impetus for getting around to doing what I've been putting off.

This fall has been really interesting for our family. It began as the hangover from Dave's summer of death at work. Dave's summer schedule of getting home at 10:00 pm regularly (with a weekly-or-so all-nighter thrown in) finally gave way to a more "normal" schedule (if you consider only one night a week working until 10:00 pm and getting home around 7 or 8 pm the rest of the time "normal"). Even with our return to quasi-normal we found ourselves trying to recover from the aftershocks of living in survival mode for a solid 5 months. There comes a point where you realize that "survival mode" has become your new "normal" but that maybe, just maybe, that isn't the most sensible way to live. This is where we found ourselves this fall. In the wake of this "hangover" we have been working to piece together a more rational and sane way of doing things for our family. Call it the fall of "reconstruction" if you will. But that wasn't the only "reconstruction" we would be involved in. In the midst of our attempts to build a with a more balanced and peaceful lifestyle (free of stress and pressure, a veritable Eden of Zen-to mix my metaphors.... Sounds really realistic with 4 kids, a choir to direct and a high-powered job in the family, doesn't it?) we had an unexpected twist.

I am writing this in Baltimore. Tomorrow Dave will undergo surgery at Johns Hopkins to donate a kidney to his dad. There have been a few months leading up to this: blood tests and screenings, a trip to Baltimore and Salt Lake, more tests and more screenings. Dave's dad had kidney failure almost 15 years ago. He has had two failed transplants, one from a cadaver and one from his sister (who was a perfect match). His last kidney transplant failed the week that Dave and I were on our honeymoon, so he has been on dialysis for over 10 years.

Recently Dave's dad found out about a new procedure at Johns Hopkins, where they specialize in transplants for people who have rejected past kidney donations. He was cleared to receive another kidney donation and the search began for a donor. After multiple screenings and tests, Dave was selected as the donor. Dave's dad has already been here in Baltimore for about two weeks undergoing plasmapheresis to remove antibodies from his blood that might attack the new kidney. After undergoing more tests than we thought possible for one person (they really enjoy running tests at Johns Hopkins and don't take any tests that were done by Utah doctors seriously) both Dave and his dad are cleared for surgery.

We head for the hospital at 5:15 am tomorrow. I have felt peaceful about the surgery and like it is the right thing to do, but now that it is actually here and creeping up on me, I admit that I am a bit nervous. We have been so busy this fall that I haven't really had time to think about it too much or process it completely. When people have asked me about it I've joked, "We've been so busy that having my husband lose a major organ doesn't seem like that big of a deal," but joking aside, having your husband cut open --even by extremely competent doctors at Johns Hopkins-- is still a bit unnerving. So, yes, I am a little bit nervous, but I believe everything will be okay. We are praying really hard that this will go well and especially that Dave's dad's body will not reject this kidney. If the transplant is successful it would basically mean a new life for his dad, who has had to spend 20 hours a week or so on dialysis for the past 10 years. It would improve his health, free up a huge amount of time, improve his energy, allow him to travel: basically it would allow him to live a normal life again. So we have really high hopes and lots of prayers that it will go as planned and be successful. We have felt God's hand guiding us throughout this process and have faith that if it is His will, He can work a miracle and help Dave's dad's body to accept this kidney.

So if you have a spare minute tomorrow, say a prayer for us or send some positive thoughts our way.


Rebecca said...

Good luck Karen and Dave! We'll be praying for you! We love you too!

Carolina said...

Good luck! We will be thinking of and praying for all of you tomorrow.

Kate said...

I will be thinking about you and praying for you and Dave and his Dad (and the very competant Dr's).

M said...

This is so interesting to read because Noah's birthmom is donating a kidney to her 30-something year old sister tomorrow as well! (In Salt Lake)

I'll be praying for all of you and thanking God for modern medicine.

Not to mention, I was just thinking about you an hour or so ago, wondering when I could repay you for the wonderful dinners. Then I saw this on facebook. :)

Good luck to you!

Cindy said...

Hi Karen, I will definitely say a few prayers for Dave, his Father, and of course, for you too!

Greek Goddess said...

You'll be in our prayers!

JonJon said...

Consider the positive thoughts sent and the prayers said.

Brett and Lydgia said...

And from our family here too!