Leaving Japan – 6 weeks kidney donor surgery

I was sitting outside a coffee shop the other morning in Tokyo and noticed this pretty young women pull up with a small child on her bicycle. When she got off the bike she ensured the bike was secure and then lovingly checked on the sleeping baby who was in a baby seat. She went inside the coffee shop leaving her baby on the bike near a table where people frequently passed by.  I’ve observed this and many other similar situations throughout my two weeks in Tokyo! It’s fascinating that in the US we would not have tolerated leaving a sleeping child in a stroller, bike, car, you name it; as a Mom we are in constant fear that someone will take our child.

Japan is a pretty amazing country with highly advanced technology and old fashioned

Cory and I in Kyoto

values. I ride the subways daily and noticed there are no garbage cans, the waiting areas are scrubbed clean with no debris, the subway cars are extremely clean, people are quiet they do not talk on their phones although they will text. No pushing, no shoving, no arguing, no loud voices– its all pretty calm. They seem to have additional help everywhere, therefore no waiting in lines and people take a lot of pride in their work.

Today I am leaving Tokyo to go home, its been a great visit and a wonderful way to heal. I was thinking how quickly we adapt to new situations, when I first arrived in Tokyo it was daunting– everything was different; the language, reading the directions, driving on the opposite side of the road, navigating the rail system and new areas. Within two weeks I feel comfortable– I know the subway system, I can virtually go anywhere and know I will find my way back. In addition, few people speak English however I have learned to manage asking questions in a universal way.

With all of that said, I miss home. I miss feeling like I am part of a community, eating the foods I enjoy, seeing my friends, and getting back to my daily schedule.  I will miss my son Cory, its such a gift to share this time with him and see how he lives his life. He has flourished in this environment and I am very proud of him! Grateful I could share this time with him.

On to the next chapter…

five weeks – kidney donor surgery

I am sitting here at my son’s computer in Tokyo, Japan researching other people’s experiences in healing from a kidney donation surgery. I still feel tired and have some pain and that aggravates me!  During the past five weeks I have traveled from NY to California

Cory and I at the bamboo forest outside of Kyoto

and then to Japan– although I have done my best to listen to my body, rest when I needed to– perhaps I haven’t rested enough or maybe it just takes more time than I anticipated.

My expectations were that I would be back to my old self in six weeks which (in four days)  is not the case. I spent this past weekend in Kyoto, Japan which was amazing. I walked miles every day visiting temples, a bamboo forest and the Emperors palace and it was great. Today I am spent, exhausted and resting when I want to be out and seeing the sights. I know anyone who is reading this is thinking “of course” but my internal clock was thinking six weeks.

In doing my research today, I realize that I heard what I wanted to hear. The reality is…. it will take several months before I am fully up and running, I will continue to have some pain as my body re-adjusts itself. I will need to be more patient with myself and rest when I need to rest and be grateful for the opportunity to heal in such an amazing place.

Off to Japan, Karma – Living kidney donor

My friends have often said; “I don’t let the grass grow under my feet”. I have left Los Angeles and am heading to Tokyo, Japan to visit my son Cory for his 26th birthday. I am so excited to see Cory, it’s been almost nine months!  I am concerned about the flight since it’s 11 plus hours from LA and its been a little less than four weeks since my kidney donor surgery.  So, I did exactly what my surgeon Dr. Tevar at UPMC requested while on the plane, I got up every single hour to let the blood flow to my legs and actually felt pretty good when I landed.

Seeing Cory was delightful, he had taken the day off from work, so we had the opportunity
to get acclimated. Its fascinating for me to see the life he has created, I am so proud of Cory. Moving to a new country can’t be easy as I continue to venture out each day and can see the challenges faced in learning a new city like Tokyo with language as a barrier. Cory has thrived in his new environment– learned a new language, made new friends, studied the history and way of life in Japan, thrived in his new job and learned to drive on the opposite side! I’m happy to see him in the home he has created. Continue reading

Landing – Living Kidney Donor

I can’t believe its been almost four weeks since my surgery!  I am in an airplane traveling from NY to LA with little sleep, but I feel just fine. I get up to stretch every hour– doctors orders. I find myself deep in thought, it’s interesting  I have spent most of my life tight lipped and not exposing myself and yet here I sit writing on this blog. I have learned as I break open once again that we are all in this together–my thoughts, desires, mistakes are not so unique.

I feel this silence within in me that I can’t explain. I know my body is working
diligently to heal itself, I just wish it would hurry a bit. I continue to find myself running out of energy, but not as quickly; when I overdo it, it can be painful– however when I rest the pain subsides. The doctor told me, it can be unsettling when a healthy person goes in for donor surgery.

I’m busy taking inventory on where I’ve been and where I am going. I feel so disappointed in this relationship that recently ended. How do you find yourself in love with a man, so trusting in that person only to be left wondering what is and what was.  Are we all driven by fear? Fear of loss, fear of money, fear of  being alone? I have learned so much about myself. I am responsible for my 50% in this relationship– in that I didn’t hang on to me, I didn’t trust my gut that was screaming at me from the inside and simply choose not to see what was in front of me.  And even with all of this I wanted it to work, I finally had to face the bending was one sided. I had hoped we would find what we once had when I moved out; instead I found the truth in both him and myself.

I have lived my life fearlessly, whether its business, relationships, traveling to a new place or this surgery in donating my kidney. My biggest joy has been raising my two sons Juliun and Cory. For them I hoped they would experience this big world, be compassionate and judge less. Overall be good brothers, sons, husbands, friends and fathers. To know who they are in this world and trust that– to work hard, to love fearlessly and give back to less fortunate and finally not take themselves to seriously. Always know that each of us matter in this world and most of all they are deeply loved.

I know our life experiences often define us. I was raised in a highly controlled environment where we feared using our voice or making the wrong move. At the same time we were taught education was key and more importantly we can accomplish whatever we want in this world. It’s an interesting combination if you think about it and one that could leave you frozen in your tracks. Lucky for me I chose to be more adventurers.

Loosing my first son Kyle when he was just three weeks old was heartbreaking. To lose a child that I had wanted so much was difficult at 24 years of age I couldn’t understand this kind of loss. Like most young people I thought we were invincible. Like everything in life we are at choice in how these events will define us. For me I knew my sons life would not be in vain, I can still feel him in my arms, Kyles short life led me to become a more compassionate person.

Having a soft place to land are gifts we give to  one another. For me it’s a dear friend that comes to my home on a rainy night so I don’t feel alone and then a very early drive to the airport to catch a 6:00 am flight to la. Being in the glow of those I love as I get off the plane to be with my kids and family in LA is a gift.

What I know for sure is that when life breaks us open– we feel more, we are more present, more compassionate, more grateful and better prepared for the next adventure.

healing begins…. Living Kidney Donor

Wednesday morning Tim woke up in intensive care and was doing 100% better. I was so relieved and hadn’t realized what a toll it had taken on me both physically and mentally. They are expecting to move him to his room today.  I continue to have a “Disney experience” with UPMC, Starzl Implant Institute. Every time I called a nurse for an update on Tim in ICU– they took their time with me, were respectful and seemed to be really great with Tim. I am so appreciative!

It’s been three weeks since my surgery and this morning I woke up feeling more energized and with no pain– it’s an uplifting feeling.  It feels good to want to get things done and to be planning for what’s next, however I quickly realized I need rest in between. I recently read “the kidney is considered the seat of courage and willpower and any impairment will show as fear and paranoia“. Harmony healing. I am curious about that. I wonder what happens when people receive other peoples organs and in my case when an organ is removed. For me I know medically my kidney instantly enlarges and naturally takes on the function of both kidneys.

I have a business meeting this morning and am struggling with what to wear. For the past three weeks I have been wearing yoga pants and a t shirt simply because I don’t like any pressure on my stomach and that will have to to do for today’s meeting. I have lost a total of 16 pounds since May of this year mostly due to eating healthy and working out,  six of the pounds were lost since the surgery due to a smaller appetite.

Looking forward to the day.

broken – Living Kidney Donor

Tim is still in intensive care, we are not completely sure what is going on. His kidney is responding better each day, however it’s not completely functional. Tim is in a confused state, they have him in ICU and strapped to the bed; when he is awake he wants to go home and remove his IV’s… They have ruled out uremia (thank god) and his infection seems to be clearing up. The transplant team is testing him for everything, however they believe his medications have simply not filtered through his body – therefore resulting in access of medications since his surgery.

For me I  feel shattered, I have always had a picture of what my life will look like. Now I see a broken image, I suppose this is because of all the changes that have impacted my life this year.  I feel exhausted mainly because of my own surgery along with worrying for Tim.  It feels odd where almost three weeks ago I was running a few miles a day and today I am walking slowly around the block in my neighborhood (which isn’t very far).  At night I am sore and get up often to stretch and walk around the house. I am eating healthy and juicing daily to build up my energy!

It sounds like I am feeling sorry for myself, I do have many good things going on; I am making new plans for my business which is exciting. I spoke to my son Juliun and will see him and Natalie in Los Angeles on Saturday.  I will see my younger son the following week, I do miss my children they both live so far away. We raised them to think big and see the world and they are doing exactly that ~ I am so proud of them.

For me I am praying that tomorrow Tim will be out of ICU and back in his room recovering. I will need to be more patient with myself and get the rest I need and realize that I have a lot of freedom in my future, I can can create my own path from scratch.

I am so grateful for my family and friends.  My friend Carol made me this awesome stew and chicken soup that I eat daily.  I have received so much love and support from friends and family through all of this.

Throughout this process, I have posted on facebook a request to send prayers and thoughts Tim’s way. I really do believe the more positive energy sent Tim’s way the better.

Good night. w

Turn for the worse – living kidney donor

Tim had a rough day yesterday and last night was even worse.  He became agitated and fell out of bed while getting up on two occasions.  All of the family has left Pittsburgh thinking he was doing better and we saw his kidney functions improving daily.

This morning we were told Tim may have uremia which is a backup of wastes in your blood when a kidney is not functioning well. What happened is Tim’s kidney got off to a slow start, which apparently is not unusual when a kidney is traveling from one place to another which could result in a lack of oxygen and particles may form (I don’t completely understand this) and in Tim’s case uremia.  They are looking at doing dialysis on him, however waiting for a strategy from the Doctor’s this morning. We are hoping to hear more updates soon.

Both my Mom and I wish we were back at the family house to support Tim– Tim’s wife Julie and daughter Emily are with him – but it’s hard being family and far away.

For me I rested all of yesterday and feel much better today in terms of energy and pain. I took two walks and eat healthy, but am worried for Tim.

It’s clear for me today why I feel so compelled to write in this blog, I will save those thoughts for another day.  I hope and pray today brings good news for Tim.

Coming home – Living kidney donor

It’s Sunday, I arrived home late yesterday from Pittsburgh and I still feel utterly exhausted and overwhelmed with emotions. In part from a lack of sleep and rest in the past few days along with healing from my own donor surgery just a little over two weeks ago. I just came back from a very short walk listening to the trees swaying in the breeze and feeling grateful to be home in my own quiet space. I think it’s going to take a little time to sort out my emotions and thoughts in my head, I plan to take the time I need and feel what I need to feel.

I visited Tim in the hospital yesterday morning before leaving Pittsburgh for Rochester.  His kidney continue to respond better and better. My friend Mary Beth picked me up from the Family House and drove me part way and then my friend Barb met us and drove me the remainder of the way home to Rochester.  The three of us had lunch before continuing our journey. It’s interesting when I think of the trip to Pittsburgh where I had so much in front of me, Tim’s surgery, my surgery, leaving home, etc. I was in such great space with so much positive anticipation and of course I was strong and healthy. My trip home was bitter sweet –I feel broken, soar, emotionally drained and at the same time grateful for both surgeries going well and grateful to my wonderful friends who shared in this experience with me.

It was strange walking into my house, I felt a little different. Even my cat Robert would not come to me till later in the evening. For the past two and half intense weeks my life has been in a bubble with my stay at the hospital and then the family house. Entering back into my life will take a little time to adjust.

I am fortunate in this life for my health, my friends and family. Coming home my friends Carol, Ray and Jill had stocked my refrigerator with healthy foods, cooked soups and left me flowers.

I feel grateful and thankful for all the support I received during this process. I think about what Oprah often says that by giving back we feel better.

Tim’s Post surgery – Living Donor Program

Tim’s surgery was overwhelming, I was exhausted and terribly soar by the time we left the hospital on Thursday evening at midnight, exactly two weeks from my surgery.  We were in the waiting room since 4:00 pm with my Mom, Tim’s wife and daughter– Julie & Emily and Julie’s sister Dora.  All of us anxiously awaiting the results, however the kidney did not arrive from Philadelphia till 5:30 which is about the time they took Tim to surgery. UPMC did a great job of keeping us comfortable and informed.  Tim’s surgery was one of the last scheduled surgery’s of the day so basically we had a waiting room to ourselves, either a nurse would call or stop in to update us on Tim’s surgery over the next four plus hours.

Around 10:30 pm Dr. Tevar (the same surgeon I had for my surgery) came in to talk to us. He looked directly at my Mom and explained in detail that the surgery was a success “it was smooth as ice”.  We asked questions about where they placed the kidney, what to expect next, etc. True to form Dr. Tevar took his time answering questions and explaining what to expect next. Dr. Tevar is such a great communicator and so compassionate, at one point my Mom looked at him and said “thank you for taking such good care of children”. It was really sweet.

It would be past midnight before we left the hospital. Tim had some minor complications coming out of the anesthesia so it took some time. I saw Tim before I left and found myself so overwhelmed with emotion knowing that the surgery was a success,  I suppose I hadn’t realize how much I was holding in, it was like I had been holding my breath.

I was doubled over from pain in my abdomen from not resting my body enough for the past two days and it took me hours to fall asleep that night. We woke up early the next morning to visit Tim in the hospital– he was doing great. Already sitting up and later in the day walking around, Tim was talking more than I had seen him talk in years. He seemed happy, relieved and excited. Much of my family came up to see Tim,  Trevor and Jeanne from Ohio, Shane and Debbie from Charlotte and of course my Mom from California. Both Ron and Audrey who live in California called frequently for updates.

Tim’s kidney was slow to respond due to the trauma of traveling from Philadelphia, etc. However we can see each day it is responding better and better, this can be a pretty typical process.  Tim is also managing all the medications for rebuilding his immune system, blood pressure, pain management, diabetes, and of course anti rejection medicine.  It’s a complicated process to ensure all the medications are working properly and Tim is feeling good.

I am so grateful the surgery went well and so terribly exhausted!

Tim’s surgery – living kidney donor

Today is Thursday, August 30 and I am feeling a bit off. I suppose it’s just knowing that Tim is in surgery today.

Last night my Mom and I visited Tim in the hospital and he was in dialysis. We met Tim’s daughter Emily and wife Julie their. It was the first time Tim had allowed visitors while he was in this procedure. It felt good to see him particularly after the day he had. When Tim entered the hospital yesterday his blood pressure was so high– in part due to the dialysis, but mostly because of his nerves and I was really concerned for him.

This morning Mom and I walked over to the hospital and visited with Tim before his surgery. Overall he looks good and his blood pressure is under control. We had a nice visit, even thought neither my Mom or I are feeling great.

This is really the pivotal moment of my six month journey of getting tested, being added to the donor list,  donating my kidney and finally Tim receiving his kidney.  I am praying for an amazing recovery, where Tim can have a new lease on life.

Over the past two weeks I have been in such a state of gratitude,  however today is just tough. Part of it knowing this journey is ending and I am returning home to my own personal challenges and the other part is the stress in worrying about today’s outcome.  I am sleeping less, resting less and feeling more tired and soar from my own surgery. I am worried about the kidney arriving safely at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Starzl Transplant Institute , about the kidney responding to Tim’s body and overall Tim doing well during the surgery.