Tag Archives: kidney transplant

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!


Miracles – kidney living donor program

This morning I checked in at UPMC Starlz Transplant Institute for my six month kidney donor checkup.  Ironically or perhaps not–  my brother Tim also had his monthly appointment for receiving his kidney.  I picked Tim up early this morning both of us feeling pretty good in our journey.  Tim was a bit nervous and hadn’t slept well the night before, he really just wants to be left alone and feel good. Tim has side affects of the medications and worries about possible complications and will need to be watchful in regards to his health. With all of that Tim is so appreciative for where he is and how far he has come. He no longer needs to be on dialysis, his body is getting stronger every day and he is excited about a project he is working on in researching the Veltman family history (my Mom’s side).    

Tim and his daughter Emily.

Tim and his daughter Emily.

As I walked into the Transplant Center it was like visiting an old friend. some of the staff greeted us and asked how we were doing. My six month check up went well, I got the OK to ride my bike 100 miles in May, 2013 for Ride for the Missing and to do the Tour De Cure (ride for Diabetes) in June.

With so much sadness going on in the world– the horrible bombing in Boston and the explosion in Texas~ I see miracles here at UPMC.  This morning I met a young women Amanda who is married with a 7 year old son who had received a kidney from her Aunt just three months ago. Amanda is vibrant and beautiful — you can see the gift of life in her after being on dialysis for 3 years.  We sat in the waiting room and talked about her experience in receiving a kidney along with her pride in her son and her family.  None of of this is easy, Amanda had a large box with her medications on her lap and was taking her 20 plus pills for the morning. I could see the determination and appreciation in her. Her new kidney could last as long as 30 years and we are hoping that a well tested mechanical organ will be in place by the time she is need of  a new one.

After dropping Tim off at his home, I checked into the Family House which is walking distance from UPMC. I immediately ran into a women I knew from my previous stay. Her daughter had received a liver transplant from a family friend and was  recuperating at the time.  She had gone home and was doing well until she got the flu –which turned into more issues. She was eventually air-lifted from Miami to Pittsburgh and after a two month stay in the hospital she is finally doing better.  

As I sit here writing this blog in the library at the family home a woman walks in looking for a book. She stopped to tell me her story about her son, you see this is a safe place where we all feel part of an extended family. Her son had received a double lung transplant, she cried as she told me the story of sitting by her son’s bedside one night at the hospital and listening to his labored breathing and how he would take a breath and then grunt trying to catch his next. As a Mom she felt so sad as she listened to him fight for every breath. She smiled with tears in her eyes it’s been 3 weeks since he has received his new lungs and he is now breathing and recuperating well.

I wondered this morning as I sat in a very busy waiting room at UPMC Starlz Transplant center if the nurses and doctors who tended to us really understood the miracles in the lives of these recipients and the work they do?

Miracles are happening every day! I am grateful for good news.



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