Change is inevitable – Living Kidney Donor

Its  a cool and rainy today and I have much to do. Instead I lay on my bed watching the cool rain coming down from my bedroom window, the sky is gray and I feel a bit blue. I know as I lay here that this day will turn around, that it can change in moment and I love that.   I can’t help but think about where I’ve been and where I am today. Just a little over two years ago, I was running a vibrant business, extremely busy and enjoying life.  Since then I ended a relationship, got myself in debt, let go of my business and donated a kidney. I’m at a loss in that I can’t seem to pick up where I left off however I know good things are ahead.  Too much has happened and I am not the same person and I know deep in my heart that I am working towards something more meaningful– but when will this happen?Rainy-Day-with-coffee-cup-and-window

“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together” Source: unknown.  Whether it’s financial, health or relationships I know with growth comes change. I also know I am on the path and it truly is a journey.

With all of this sometimes the fear does set in and I find myself not accomplishing what I need to or worse on the edge of panic. When I am in that space, I find myself  looking to spend time with myself,  looking for the right words in a book, exercising or a good friend to pull me back.

As I often say “this too will pass” and in truth it already has. Today has turned out to be a fruitful day, now I’m off to yoga.

As my good friend Ray Justice often says…  ” Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow”

Acknowledge, accept & let go of the past . . .  what was   (Honor the past)

Be aware, enjoy & challenge the present  . . .  what is now  (change )

Dream, vision, create, & feel the future . . . . . . .  what will be   (as you want it)

 

With Gratitude, Wendy

Memorial Day Weekend – Living donor

This Memorial weekend I went to Pittsburgh PA to visit my brother Tim and his family.  Last year I had done the same with Emily’s upcoming birthday and her dance recital its a good weekend to visit. So much has changed since last year Tim is no longer on dialysis since he received his new kidney on August 30 of last year!  Aside from the improvement in Tim’s health his personality is coming through. I can remember last year’s visit– he was quiet and would often just sit their with little to say feeling exhausted and sick. Tim would never complain, but you could see it in his body language, he was spending three days a week in dialysis and had been ill for a long time. To me, Tim had seemed depressed and perhaps hopeless however I do remember seeing the joy and pride in Tim’s face as he watched his daughter in last year’s recital.

Tim and Emily before the dance recital!

Tim and Emily before the dance recital!

During this time, I was determined to help my brother and I was going through the tests to become an organ donor. It turned out I was not a match and was entered into the NKR (National Kidney Registry).  Within 24 hours of being added into the database they found a match and their were eight of us in the paired exchange.  

What a difference a year can make! Tim is alert, determined and always has something to say. His health has improved tremendously although he still has a ways to go, it takes time to get used to the medications and rebuild strength after such a long illness.

Many people are waiting to hear good news and my wish for you is to always do your best including; eating healthy, exercise and don’t ever give up! Share your story and ask for help we are all in this together.

Today is Memorial day and I dedicate this post to my brother Tim who served in the US ARMY along with the many men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces. Thank you!

Grateful for change.

Wendy

Connection & Coincidence – Living Kidney Donor

Today I experienced the most amazing story of connection! I have often said  “we are all connected” and with that  I mean whatever is happening in our life today or in our past has probably been experienced by others.  Our connection makes the world a smaller, more intimate place of human bonding.  This incredible set of circumstances really bears that out.Hands

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I have been interviewing people who have donated or received a kidney for a book I am writing about human kindness, awareness and connection. Some of the people I am interviewing are from my own donor exchange and others were referred to me through friends.  I was introduced to Stephen through my close friend Barb, who’s brother had served with Stephen in the Army.  They had been stationed in Germany.  Stephen and I spoke briefly a few days ago about scheduling a time to talk. Then, after reading my blog he emailed me that we had both donated on the same day just 8 months ago! I thought that was a nice coincidence.

Stephen and I had decided to talk by phone Sunday morning and I was anxious to hear his story. You see, Stephen chose to donate his kidney to a complete stranger.  On two separate occasions while leaving church Stephen felt in his heart that it was his calling to donate and his wife Jill agreed.  After doing some research on line, Stephen reached out to a man in Chicago and a women in the state of Washington explaining he wanted to donate a kidney and was looking for resources to get started.

Harvey from Chicago answered him immediately and gave him links and information to get him started. He began to build a relationship with Harvey and did not hear back from the women in Washington for some time. When he did hear from her she apologized explaining that for some reason Stephen’s email did not get to her right away.  She gave him some information similar to what Harvey had shared and she mentioned that she was an advocate for several people in need of a kidney – and one of them was Harvey.

Stephen was not aware that Harvey was in need of kidney, and immediately made a decision to donate to Harvey,  feeling it was meant to be.

Another coincidence is that Harvey had emailed me the day before my surgery (after finding my blog) wishing me good luck and telling me his surgery was scheduled for the same day. I remember thinking about him that Thursday on August 16 and hoping everything had gone well. I find it extraordinary how we are all connected.

  •    Harvey emailing me the day before my surgery and introducing himself.
  •    Meeting Stephen who turns out to be the donor for Harvey
  •    All three of us receiving our surgery the same day
  •    Stephen contacting an advocate in Washington and then referring Harvey as a donor
  •    Stephen being a long time friend with one of my closest friend’s brother.
  •    And ironically it was Barb (my long time friend) who drove me to Pittsburgh for my surgery.

Coincidence?

It’s amazing to me how we are connected.  Who would have thought someone who sent me a random email 8 months ago that I would be meeting his donor today and that would come from a close friend!  Truly enlightening.

At times in our life we can feel so alone and wonder where we fit in. Our differences can often feel like separation to us however when we share — we then realize we are not separate, we are not alone.  Today I wake up knowing that we are truly connected.

Feeling as one.

Wendy

Please join us on facebook!

Moms – Living kidney donor

This morning I ran into Wegmans to pick up a cup of coffee and a few things. It’s the day before Mother’s Day and the store was a buzz with fathers, husbands, and son’s shopping for the women in their life.  With all of my travels throughout the US, Asia and Europe I have never experienced a grocery store like Wegmans.  When you walk into Wegmans it takes in all of your senses, the store is alive with color, taste and smell and today the store manager was at the door welcoming every customer. While I was in the checkout line,  I met an elderly man who had been searching for something special for his wife — he said they had everything they could possibly need but it was important  to recognize her on Mother’s Day.

My Mom, Tim, Ron, Shane, Me and Trevor

My Mom, Tim, Ron, Shane &, Me 

While approaching my car, I noticed a young Mom holding her three children tightly to protect them from the busyness of the Wegmans parking lot. She had a serious and determined look on her face that I recognized in myself many years ago.   I thought this is what counts–  the day to day actions that Mom’s do to ensure there children are safe.  Its the small things that go unnoticed like a kiss goodnight, a clean bed to sleep in, a dinner prepared at the end of the day, a smile when they walk in and their favorite cookie on a special occasion.  For me as a Mom it was important to widen my sons view by  introducing as many new experiences into their life and thereby showing them its a  big world with many different occupations, personalities and cultures. They could do whatever they set out to do in this world– this is one of the biggest lesson’s I learned from my own parents and I wanted to pass it on.

My big lesson this year is my Mom and one that I will always cherish.  I donated my kidney on behalf of my brother last August and when I was released from the hospital I was required to stay in Pittsburgh for two weeks due to traveling and follow up medical visits. During this time I stayed at the Family House in Pittsburgh and my Mom who had traveled from California stayed with me. I often consider my Mom as one of the most impatient people on this planet, but for those two weeks she was an angel. She stayed by my side and just looked after me by cooking, organizing, washing, lifting and always being gracious.  It was a crazy time for me with the recuperation from the surgery, the large amount of emotional baggage I carried along with feeling anxious about my brother’s surgery two weeks after my own. I can be stubborn in thinking that I can do it on my own and so I rarely let anyone in– let alone help me. This experience has taught me much, including opening myself up and letting my Mom in and for that I am forever grateful.

My Mom and I

My Mom and I

 

Being one of six children my Mom was busy, working, raising us, getting dinner on the table and ensuring we had clean clothes and she never had a moment for herself. Us older kids had very little one-on-one time with her but she did find the time for occasional bedtime stories and a cup of tea.  My Mom is Dutch and she grew up in Utrecht, Holland during World War II and has amazing stories of the Americans camped out in her backyard and war planes flying over the city she lived in. Oma who is grandma to my boys  would often tell  them wartime stories at night before they went to bed, I often wonder about the influence these stories has had on my children’s lives.  English is my Mom’s second language which is all she has spoken since we were born, however it’s not her native language and with that words sometimes are misinterpreted.  My Mom who has nine other siblings learned to make due with the bare minimum and she continues to live her life this way. She has an amazing strength and determination along with a deep love for all of her children.

On this Mother’s day can we focus on the simple moments of our life, think about the small things your Mom has done for you and let go of the stories that keep the painful memories alive. Consider how much our Mom’s gave of themselves and how they worked to keep food on the table and a warm bed to sleep in and let that be more than enough. 

Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms!

Wendy

Attitude – Living Kidney Donor Journey

Friday evening I attended one of my favorite yoga classes of the week. In this class I can usually find myself letting go of my day, my week and my thoughts. When I am in this space I tend to move into a feeling of gratitude which is almost magical where every fiber of my being feels joy.  I let go of my fears and my worries and I am focused on the present, the here, the now.  

Wendy, Audrey & Allegra

Wendy, Audrey & Allegra

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist  this is so true for me this past week. Last Saturday I had gone for a bike ride and then became sick and passed out later that same evening and I became overwhelmed with new fears. Then on Monday morning I read a question a member posted on a forum who continues to feel exhausted a year after her kidney donor surgery and wondered if anyone else had the same experience. Within 53 minutes 12 people had responded with the same experience including myself.

The evidence of the post along with the 12 responses backed up my own personal fears. (I was attaching myself to someone else’s experience that I know nothing about) I began to think that I would never feel completely healthy.  My energy was low for the next few days, I felt exhausted and it was difficult to get things done. We all have our own unique experiences;  however I personally feel that our attitude can fuel how we perceive a moment, a memory and life in general.

I often think of bike riding as a metaphor for life, when I am tackling a large hill and I am confident that I can make it up the hill–  the ride is much easier. However, when I am not in a confident state I find myself negotiating….” If I cannot make it up the hill, I can get off my bike and walk the rest of the way or if I do make it up I won’t have the energy to go the distance  and I will need to shorten my ride or even worse I am not good enough, I am not strong or healthy enough”.  By the end of the week I had completed two long bike rides and four yoga classes and I feel great!   I listened to my body, took care of myself and didn’t over push. All of this has left me feeling more confident in moving towards perfect health. 

This week was a great reminder that attitude is a choice and I get to make that choice in every experience.

Cheers to a beautiful productive day!

Wendy