Wednesday, April 22, 2009

big news

well, i havent written in so long... my life has been a little hectic :)

in the midst of all this, i have found out that my boyfriend and i are expecting a little baby due november 17, 2009. i have yet to find out the gender, as i am only 10 weeks along now. i waited to announce it on here, so that i could "make it through" the first couple weeks without any complications. so far, everything is progressing well. both our families are excited and in anticipation of this little bundle of joy. i can't wait to find out if it is a girl or boy!! i think they are able to tell at 14-20 weeks... so just a few more weeks to go!

it really is amazing what the body can do, considering it has not even been 1 year since i donated my kidney. 

below are some photos! enjoy!!


7 weeks sonogram

9 weeks, 1 day sonogram


 9 weeks 1 day sonogram picture 2

Thursday, December 11, 2008

let's play catch up...

i randomly decided to log-on to here after many weeks of not writing. i guess i never thought about the "after" of this whole donation process. i quickly scrolled down to the bottom of my blog to check the counter and was surprised to see it had nearly doubled since i last remarked about the count being so high. 8,500! wow. (i am sure over 100 of those hits are from my own computer, but nonetheless, im overwhelmed).

well, my life has pretty much gone back to 100% normal. i am doing everything i did before the donation (besides donating blood, which i always did on a regular basis. well, that and i no longer use advil. ive switched to tylenol).

my recipient recently e-mailed me to tell me that he had just gotten back from a christmas gift vacation in st. maarten (me=jeallllloussss!!). his wonderful sister had surprised him and his gf with a week long trip. he had attached photos... and he looks great! healthy, able to enjoy some beers and in great spirits!

although kris and i aren't particularly close, i am glad i was able to give him the opportunity to regain his life back. from what he has told me, him and his gf, sezin, are planning on tying the knot soon. it amazes me to think that just a few short months ago common milestones in life as such weren't even an option. we all take our lives, and even special moments like weddings and marriages, even relationships we build with others, for granted so often. during this holiday season, i know i will be extra grateful for the life i live and the opportunities i have been given.

although i truly believe that we create our own fate, there is some magic in life that can never be explained. like when you fall in love, or see snow for the first time that season or when you laugh so hard you cry. i dont know if i would say it was fate that i decided to donate my kidney just as kris' were failing, or call it "meant to be" that i found him on matching donors. i just think our lives were meant to mean something and in this particular instance, my meaning in life was to donate my kidney. and kris' life wasn't meant to end when his kidneys started failing.

i apologize for getting all heartfelt :)

however, i do want to take this opportunity to wish everyone happy holidays. i hope you take the time to sincerely appreciate your family, friends and good fortune in life. although every aspect of your life may not be perfect (i know mine certainly is not, and the economy is not helping!!! eek! haha), there must be places where we can consider ourselves grateful. i know i have a loving, caring and supportive family. i have friends that care for me and look out for me. i have people who pray for me daily. i am in great health. i can make myself laugh. i have a job. i have a home. i can afford food, clothing and shelter. and i can pass along my warm, caring, festive energy onto others.

i plan on volunteering some time at the local food pantry to help those in need this winter, and you should consider doing the same. and if you cannot find time to do so, make a contribution in the form of donating food, clothing or money if possible. go to a local church or community center. i am sure they have a giving tree where you can pick a card off a tree and buy a gift for a family in need. although you may feel like (and very well may be) suffering somewhat, it is more than likely someone out there is having a harder time. so next time you're at the store and see the volunteer ringing the bell for the salvation army, drop in a dollar or two. or if you're in line at the grocery store and they ask you to donate a dollar to st. jude, say yes. don't push and shove to get in front of one person while doing your gift shopping. don't cut people off on the parkway to get home faster. and thank god every night for the wonderful life you have.

appreciate all you have. you never know when it could all be taken from you. and what a better time to be thankful for what we have than right now. the present time is the best time to make a change.

happy holidays,
melissa

Thursday, November 06, 2008

photos from my parents.... finally!!!

Here are some photos my parents finally e-mailed me. Unfortunately, I don't know how to place them into order, so they are a little misplaced. !! OOpS!

enjoy!!
Melissa



My mom and I the day I was released from the hospital

Kris and I day 1 into recovery

Kris and I before surgery

Kris and I again, before surgery 

Kris and I, day 1 into recovery

Thursday, October 30, 2008

update

Unfortunately, Leah Walsh's body was identified last night at around 8:30pm and the police have arrested her husband and charged him with her murder. It is an incredibly sad story and I feel terrible for her parents, family and friends who were a big part of her life. For someone to take the life of another, it is just inconceivable.  It is particularly disturbing because not only did William Walsh take a life, he plotted and planned this entire cover-up.

Leah Walsh was murdered on the evening of Sunday October 26th. That Monday morning, her husband dumped her naked body on the Long Island Expressway Service Road. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, he pretended and acted like he was suffering, saying he knew nothing of her disappearance as he cried to TV cameras. 

Although there is nothing I can do to bring Leah back, asking you to pray for her family and keep Leah in your thoughts and prayers is the best I can offer. 

My school is holding a press conference at 1pm today. Additionally, many of the teachers, staff and administration plan to attend her wake. 

Although William Walsh took Leah from us physically, he can never take away the effect she had on the lives she touched, including many of the students she taught here at SLCD. Leah will always be with us in our prayers, thoughts and memories forever. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A teacher at my school went missing monday...

I'm not sure if any local Long Islanders have been reading my blog, but on Monday morning at around 6:30am, Leah Walsh, a teacher at SLCD, the school where I work, went missing after getting a flat tire. 

Here is the link to the local Newsday article regarding her disappearance. 

Although a body has been found only a few miles from the location of her abandoned car, I just pray and hope that it is not hers and that she is still alive somewhere, somehow. 

Please keep Leah Walsh and her family in your prayers. I hope she returns to her family soon and safely. 

Thursday, October 09, 2008

a clip of the NBC story

Online service makes organ donations just a click away

Oct. 9: Thanks to matchingdonors.com, New York resident Kris Randall received a kidney he desperately needed. Melissa Stephens, 23, explains why she became a donor to a complete stranger. NBC’s Victor Limjoco reports

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032619/vp/27091798#27091798

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Be Kind" - By Kris Randall

Here is the link to Kris Randall's Myspace page-- which hosts the beautiful song "Be Kind" that Kris wrote during this kidney donation process!! Go listen!!!!!!

Thanks Kris for the link-- I had lost it before!! 

question and answers for the siena magazine

Black - Allison
Red - Melissa

The first thing is tell me about your experience at Siena.

I had an ideal college life. I was involved all around campus, which I loved. I was highly involved with being a Resident Assistant and Habitat for Humanity. Both were life changing and self-growth experiences that I would not trade in for anything. As far as academics, I dappled into almost everything Siena offered. I used the Liberal Arts curriculum to its full advantage. I came to Siena as a Biology major and quickly changed to Liberal Arts. While in Liberal Arts, I tried out Psychology, Sociology, English and finally landed in Business. Along the way, I took many courses such as French, Art and Design, Heath Services and several others. I was unsure of what I wanted to do. However, along the way, I met amazing professors who helped shape my focus and discover my love of the business world. Professor Deborah Kelly was by far one of the most amazing teacher, friend and mentor that Siena offered. She alone opened up the doors for several students to experience many things the world has to offer. With her, I was able to travel to Greece and Costa Rica-- both experiences were absolutely amazing -- without her, it would have never been possible. The Catholic Community at Siena helped to re-ignited my spiritual side. Maggie Motto (who no longer works at Siena) always encouraged students to attend retreats or meditation session. She helped me stay grounded while at Siena. When I came to Siena, I have to admit that I was not as spiritual as I had wanted to be. With the help of Maggie, I was able to find that part of me again. The friends I made at Siena are friends that I know I will have for life. I still keep in contact (with the help of facebook, haha) with every one of them. My trips to visit Siena are not few and far between. In fact, I was just there last weekend to visit some friends I made while being an RA. Siena has given me many opportunities that I would not have otherwise had and showed me how to be the person I wanted to be. I wouldn't say that Siena alone shaped me to be a more giving person, but it certainly supported the life I wanted to live. 

What was the most difficult part of this process?

The most difficult part of the kidney donation process was the waiting time. I am the type of person who sees what she wants and then does anything to get it... immediately, haha. I wanted the process to go by quicker than it had. Talking with my recipient day by day as we waited was difficult. I could hear in his voice that he was deteriorating slowly. It was very hard. Looking back on it now, the process really did go by quickly though. The recovery process was also difficult. I had been comparing this donation to an appendectomy that I had during my junior year at Siena. I wasn't expecting to be bed-ridden for as long as I was. Although the doctors and donation coordinators kept telling me that I would be out for about 3-6 weeks, I kept saying, "I'm young and healthy!! I'll be back to normal in a week or two." However, that did not happen. It took about 3 weeks before I was even feeling a bit better. Today, about 10 weeks from the date of surgery, I am 100% back to normal. There is nothing that I have to stop myself from doing. I am back to running, biking, swimming and everything in between. For a while, my sleep schedule was off (mostly due to the anesthesia) but I am totally back to normal now. 

What were peoples’ reactions to your decision? Did anyone try to talk you out of it? Did the hospital try to test your willingness?

Most people's reaction was positive. No one really tried to talk me out of it, but rather they just wanted to make sure I really knew what I was getting myself into. The hospital certainly tested my willingness. I was ordered to speak with a psychiatrist who basically grilled my every decision in wanting to do this. I understand their point of view though. I mean it is a little bizarre that I just wanted to give my kidney to a stranger and if they need to question my reasons for doing it, I can understand that. 

Kidney donation from a living person is still very rare. Do you think you will work as an advocate for it in the future? Would you recommend it to others?

I would love to work as an advocate of live kidney donation. I think it is a wonderful thing -- and I am living proof that it does not hinder your life after you donate. If someone had expressed interest in donating an organ, I would love to talk with them and answer question that they might have. I'm not sure if I would or even could recommend it. I think it has to be something innate inside of you that wants to do it. I would never try to "talk" someone into doing this. It isn't the right decision for everyone. But if someone had expressed interest in organ donation, I would absolutely be there to support their decision and help them throughout the lengthy process. 

Why  kidney donation and not, say, raising money for cancer research in honor of your grandmother?

The donation of my kidney was done in memory of my Halmoney (grandma). I am involved in other things that raise funds for Pancreatic Cancer Research (there is a link on my blog for the Lustgarden Foundation which hosts and annual walk that raises money for  Pancreatic Cancer Research). I chose kidney donation because I wanted to make a larger impact than just raising money. You have to admit, there is a large shock factor that comes along with hearing about my story. In this way, I know that people will never forget me and what I have done. If I had simply raised money and participated in the Lusgarden Foundation Walk, would Siena have been interested enough to include my story in the Siena Magazine? Haha. Additionally, I had been interested in organ donation since I heard about it in 7th grade health class. This was just the right time for me to pursue it. 

Do you feel as good about it now as you did when you were making the decision?

Absolutely! If anything, I feel better about my decision to donate more and more each day. To see the amount of people my story reaches is amazing and I am so happy with my decision. 

Do you have photos you can send us?

I do! I have photos of me and Kris (my recipient) on the day of surgery, etc. My parents have those photos. I am trying to get them to send me copies. Once I receive them, I will be sure to e-mail them to you.  

Who is the recipient (if you are allowed to tell us)?

I can say. Haha. I had held back for a while because although it was my decision to share my personal story, I wanted to respect his privacy. But now that this story has received so much publicity, I do not see any harm in sharing his story as well. His name is Kris Randall. He is a 56 year old songwriter and musician. He currently lives in NYC. 

When is the NBC special going to air? Will it air in Albany or just on LI?

The NBC story will be first available to be viewed online. It will take a few months for it to go through directors and producers to find the appropriate sector of NBC to air it on. I just met with the interviewer from NBC yesterday and he said he would keep me up to date with the air date, etc. 



Melissa,

Thank you so much! This is great! I will be sending you my copy very soon. I would say tomorrow or Friday. I can’t wait to get this story published…by the way did I tell you it’s the president’s issue. It’s all about our Franciscan mission…this will be our lead story J

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

link to siena

here is the link to the promethean website to read the article written by alyssa. 

victor had to push back the interview from yesterday to today... so i will be meeting him after work at 4:15 at my apartment. 

:)

Monday, September 22, 2008

thanks alyssa!!

the story in the promethean was great! i went and took 5 copies, haha, when i went to visit my sister in albany this weekend. so, thank you alyssa-- you wrote a very accurate and touching story of my kidney donation. 

this weekend, i went to albany/saratoga to visit my sister. she and her friends ran a half marathon (13.1 miles) on sunday. since i have not worked myself up to 13.1 miles, i was their cheering squad (back to my old roots of being a cheerleader) and cheered them on to the finish line. anyway, while doing that, i met this woman who had recently lost her daughter to heart failure. she was only in her early 30s. i didn't say much, but i let her tell her story and cry a little. at the end, she thanked me for listening and said this was the 1st she has really talked about it. it's so sad how much loss we have in our lives. but i give her so much credit-- she was so strong and was still able to come and cheer her girlfriends onto the finish line (they were walking the half marathon for cancer research). she was a good example of how we have to look to the brighter side and keep pushing on. 

on a side note-- today is my final interview with victor from NBC. i think he is coming over after work, but i actually have to call and double check with him. i'll write later tonight to let you know how it went!! 

hope everyone had a relaxing and wonderful weekend! <3

Thursday, September 18, 2008

siena promethean

hey everyone-- i was contacted yesterday by alyssa again, who had interviewed me for the college's newspaper, the promethean. she said that the article would be published today!! yay!! i am actually headed up to the albany area this weekend to visit my older sister, amanda, who lives there.  so i will have to pick up a hard copy for myself. i really need to get started on that scrapbook i wanted to make. i'm not so good at remembering to do things... i excel more in procrastination. but anyway, i think you can also find it online on the newspaper's website at www.sienapromethean.com. i've tried to check it out this morning, but nothing is posted so far. maybe later today something will be there. anyway, hope all is well with everyone!!! talk with you soon!

xoxo melis

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"shine"


the party was great-- i had a really good time. it was nice seeing my recipient with his friends, enjoying himself. everyone was so welcoming and warm. my best friend from college, maggie, came with me. we enjoyed a nice, intimate barbecue and then some live music-- which was amazing. i have to say, the song "shine," which was written for my recipient's girlfriend. it was such a beautiful song. and it sounded really great too!!! below are some photos taken from the day... i wish i had more!!!! :(

                               
               my recipient and i after him playing his songs
                               
                                   

my recipient and his bandmates and Quinn-- cute kid!

my recipient and a friend, back in action!!

enjoying some good food and drinks with friends-- and me talking, non-stop

my recipient and his wonderful girlfriend, sezin

my recipient's good friend and party host, ricky


my best friend maggie, me and brent? i cant remember his name... but he is enjoying the food :)

i'm glad i had this experience. for a while i was in doubt about me donating my kidney-- and this party really helped solidify my feelings that this was the right thing to do. 
i just wanted to post some pictures and let everyone know that we've been back in touch. i'll write more later... but for now, i have to get back to work!! :)




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psUTJeDdAVQ

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

parrrr-tayyyy

just to make it official, i spoke with my recipient-- HE IS ALIVE AND OKAY!!! :)

he was having a hard time adjusting and re-adjusting to the many, many, many types of medications (mostly anti-rejection medications) that he was taking. we spoke on saturday night and i found out that his sleep schedule is completely upside down. for the most part, he is sleeping during the day and staying awake at night. he is only able to sleep about an hour or two at most. additionally, he is unable to hang out or even go near crowds of people, for fear of exposure to germs and infection-- until the 6 week mark-- which is today!!  yay!! 

he told me about a "celebration" party that is going to be held on the 30th or 31st of august (i am sincerely hoping the 31st-- i have plans on the night of the 30th)-- my friends are invited; i think i texted everyone who might be interested in coming-- but if i left you out, contact me!! victor from NBC is going to try and come so he can tape us for a "final interview" of sorts. my recipient and i have not seen each other since the date of surgery-- in fact, the day i left the hospital, my parents went down to his room to say goodbye, but i was in too much pain to make the trip downstairs and i waited in my room for my escort to come-- so i really haven't seen him since july 16th ((my parents anniversary!!)). he also told me that he wrote a song for his girlfriend, who has been aiding and supporting him throughout this process, and a song about the experience in general. he will be selling the songs on iTunes for .99 cents -- once i have the link, i'll post it on here so you can check it out. my recipient said he would like to donate a part of the proceeds to www.matchingdonors.com, the website that linked us.

also, i was contacted by siena student Alyssa who writes for my college newspaper, the promethean. she interviewed me via phone for a short article that will be in next edition's paper. once i have the link to that, i'll post it on here so you can check it out-- i'm not sure when it goes to print. i hope to get a hard copy of this because i'd really like to make a memory book of this experience. i still need to call NY Presbyterian because they taped the surgery and i'd really like a copy of that. 

six weeks, wow... when i was at two weeks, i was wondering how the hell i would ever make it beyond that point. i can't believe it has been six weeks. my body doesn't even notice that it is missing an organ, haha. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

sorry about the delay...

i apologize for any delay in posting... i have a good excuse, i swear!!! :)

work has been incredibly busy--- it is the end of the summer session with the kids and we had a very big golf outing / steak and lobster dinner on the beach fundraiser on monday... where i got food poisoning and spent monday night and all of tuesday disgustingly and utterly sick. 

i went to the hospital at 11am on tuesday and was released that evening around 8pm. i wasn't going to go because i thought maybe it was just a 24 hour bug... but my largest incision started bleeding because of all the pressure and force from throwing up so much and i couldn't keep my fever lower than 102. i was concerned that something else might be going on -- considering just last week i was having really sharp pains on my left side (which has now subsided) and a really bad sore throat a few days ago. but they did some blood work and urine tests and everything came back pretty good (minus the bacterial infection from the food). needless to say, it was a long day. but, in a more positive light, i am feeling much better. i've finally stopped getting sick and am slowly starting to keep things down again. the fever is staying around 99-100... which is okay for now. i am just so upset that i didn't get to enjoy the steak and lobster dinner at the golf outing AND today we had bridal shower for one of the girls at work and i didn't get to eat any cake-- MY FAVORITE!!!! :(

i was back at work today-- and it went well. i had a lot of catching up to do (since i wasn't there monday or tuesday), but overall it was a good day. 

in regards to my health otherwise (disregarding the food poisoning) i am doing very well!! 

i was just speaking with a psychologist at work-- her husband had a kidney transplant 7 years ago-- he is doing very, very well. she was also able to provide some insight as to why my recipient has not really spoken with me much (to make a long story short ((and no offense to anyone at all!!)) i was a little (okay, a lot) disappointed when i didn't hear much from my recipient. previous to the surgery, we had spoken a lot, and then following the surgery, i hardly heard from he ((maybe 2 e-mails?)). i was hurt and angry and i couldn't understand how someone wouldn't be thankful.) anyway, she shared with me that when her husband had his surgery, he was a completely different person due to all the medication he was on. although he had received his kidney from a cadaver, it took his about a year to even think about reaching out to the family that it came from. i had kinda figured that there was something like this going on, but i was unaware of the length of time it would take to recover from all this, on his part anyway. so now i feel super guilty for ever being angry. but at least i have some answers (kind of).

again, i am so sorry for taking so long to post again-- i know an infinite amount (or so it seems) of you are following and reading my story. many of you have reached out to me to make sure i am okay, and i am so sincerely sorry for not responding sooner. i hope this answers some questions (me being busy with work, being sick and a little disappointed in this donation). although i hate to use excuses, i hope this clears the air a little. 

i promise to keep writing. i'd like to get back to writing daily. i hope you continue to read :)

melis xoxo

Sunday, August 10, 2008

...

the pain is getting worse... i dont know if i should go to the er  :/

Friday, August 08, 2008

uh oh...

last night, i kept waking with a sharp pain on the left side (the side where the kidney was removed). i was half awake/half asleep -- so i didn't think anything of it in the middle of the night and fell back asleep. but when my alarm went off this morning, i was laying in bed for a few moments, and i had that same kind of pain. it is in my back, lower left side... and now every time i breathe in deeply or yawn, its a really sharp pain, like someone is stabbing me with a knife.

i called the doctor to see if it is something to be concerned about-- but of course he didn't answer, so i am waiting for his returned call.

anyway-- hopefully it is nothing! :)

regardless... its frrrrridayyyyyyyyyy !!



**************************************

i just got a call back from the doctor... he said that when they take out the kidney, they have to cut the nerves. the pain may be due to the nerves regenerating. however, if it continues for a few more days or gets more intense, i am to go in right away.

i will keep you posted about what happens :)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

a little downfall...

so i just found out that the website my recipient sent me last week, that provides financial assistance towards the donation process is unable to help because i needed to apply for it before the date of surgery :( 

oh well.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

it has been a while

hi everyone! it has been a while since my last blog... we need to play catch up!!!

40 blogs and over 4500 views later, here we are....

i am 100% back to normal... working out, going out, playing, babysitting again, back to work full-time, etc. i am so happy that i did this and can show that i am living proof that kidney donation is safe, easy and well worth it!! :) in fact, if i didn't have a scar, it would have felt that it never happened.

due to this whole experience, i almost have a new outlook on life. i have always been bubbly, optimistic and energetic about life -- without a doubt i fully believe life is a gift and we should never take it for granted (hence my small tattoo "love life") my halmoney also shared this outlook about life with me (rather, me with her, since i inherited it from her) but i really feel that i have discovered a new part of myself.

life shouldn't be about having the perfect haircut, dressing ourselves in fashion-forward clothing, having the newest designer bag (although i love the LV neverfull!!), providing our kids with all the toys they have ever wanted, feeding our already over-stuffed bellies over-priced meals, or hurting and taking advantage of other to gain exposure, experience or to get to the top. of course, motivation is a wonderful thing and spoiling ourselves once in a while to reward for some hard work is needed. but sometimes we go overboard-- okay let's be honest, a lot of times. i definitely plan on making a more conscious effort to guide my wants and needs in order to re-evaluate what is best for me. ((oops, i've gone a little off track here, haha))

but my point is that we live in a such a material world. half the things we have, we don't need, but for some reason we always want more. i am challenging myself to reconsider my material possessions and focus more on what is really important: love, relationships, bettering myself, helping others, building new friendships, growing spiritually and enjoying what life has to offer. in my journey, i have discovered that one driving force for this whole donation was that i wanted to share my love of life with another so badly. and on july 15th, i was able to accomplish that by reaching out and giving someone a second chance at rediscovering life. i hope he takes this opportunity to do so.

i am so proud that i've accomplished what i set out to do. and no one can ever take that away from me :)


off on a more non-lecturing note :)... my final interview with NBC is next week sometime-- i think the 13th???. i am so much better at putting my feeling and emotions into writing than am orally voicing them, but i'll try my best (i am so afraid i am going to look so silly on tape!!!) when i hear about the air date, i will post it so all those who are interested can watch. as for the documentary, i haven't heard anything since after the interview i had with them. again, if i hear anymore, i'll let everyone know.

again, thank you for following me in my journey. i am incredibly honored that so many have read my story, had concern for me and my recipient and took the time out of their daily lives to reach out to me. im not the emotional type, but it really makes me cry because it is so touching. i cannot begin to thank you enough.

Monday, July 28, 2008

: )

ugh, he was even better looking today.

and he said everything looks great and he can't believe i am so mobile and spirited a mere 2 weeks from the date of the surgery. he was a little concerned that i hadn't gotten my appetite back yet (down 17 lbs now) but he said it should return shortly. it's not that i don't have an appetite, it's just that i get full so fast (i.e. one single serving cup of yogurt was my lunch, it fills me up. for dinner last night i had 4 saltines with tuna on them. for breakfast i had a peach and some water.) like i said before, i'm not complaining... but it is hard, for example, i went to dinner with a friend thursday night and i had two bites of my grilled chicken and a piece of broccoli and that's all i could have before getting full. oh well. soon enough i will be back 100%

since i was in the city, i decided not to waste the trip, so i did a little bit of shopping (i got a really cute faux croc print clutch-- for all the fundraising dinners i go to, a cute necklace, and some new makeup) and then i met a friend from college for sushi dinner (6 pieces was about all i could take!) but it was delicious none-the-less.

anyway, the good news is that the surgeon said i could resume bike riding, running, walking, aerobics, etc right away. and maybe with all that extra exertion, i'll build up my appetite. ((hopefully!!)) he told me, of course, that i shouldn't do 5 miles tonight, but that i could build myself back up. so-- to the track tomorrow!!

anyway, thanks for keeping up to date with me. i'll be going back to the rogosin institute every 3 months to track my kidney functions so they have a better understanding of how those who have donated their organs are doing. however, i do have to admit that if they cannot schedule me around my work hours, i will most likely be skipping those appointments since: A. i have already used up all my sick/vacation/personal days and have none left and B. i have spent about $300-$350 in travel and various other expenses related to this kidney donation. so, i do not plan on putting myself out there anymore :(
**not to mention the amount of money my parents spent on this donation: i'm guesstimating around $500**

but, with that said i'm glad this process is over and i was successful in saving a life (although i haven't spoken much with my recipient). i hope my story has inspired you to at least be nice to others and consider the struggles they are facing. there is a saying that goes:

"be kind, for everyone you know is fighting a hard battle"
how appropriate : )

going to see the surgeon today

i'm back to work, but i'm doing a half day today because i have to travel (once again) to the city to go see the surgeon to make sure i am healing okay. i think my incisions are healing very nicely, except that one of the small incisions keeps bleeding a little. it isn't gushing blood, but i keep getting blood on my shirts from it-- i put a band-aid on it last night, but it fell off in the shower this morning. i've been trying to keep them really clean-- i wash them mildly in the shower and then when i get out, rinse them with antiseptic wash and then pat them dry. sometimes i put a little mederma on them to help promote the healing without scarring. either way, i never put lotion or anythign scented on them so they don't get irritated. i think they are doing well.

anyway, i'm feeling really good still. no more sleepless nights. i am able to walk just as fast as i did before. i just have to remember to ask the doctor when i can resume activities like biking, running and swimming. i can't wait to be active again -- i am getting restless! :)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

oops i forgot

i should have probably noted on here yesterday that i am feeling 150% better!! i switched from advil to tylenol and tylenol pm to help me sleep at night... and i immediately noticed a difference the next morning. i woke not tired or sore and throughout the day, i felt good all day. my steri strips finally fell off (well, i kind of encouraged the "falling off" with a little bit of pulling, oops) and the incisions look really good. i'm still a little bruised around the biggest incision, but overall, they look excellent. the 3 smaller incisions are so small and healing so well, i really don't think they are going to be noticeable once they fully heal. 

i am finally able to get a full night's sleep -- no waking in the middle of the night to urinate-- and i think i really needed that. i'm able to sleep on my side for a short period of time now and getting in and out of bed is becoming easier with almost no pain at all. in fact, it's 11am on saturday, and i haven't had the need to take any tylenol yet! :) the only thing that has really not come back is my appetite. in fact, i've lost 12lbs. but hey, i'm not complaining, i could stand to lose about 15, haha. however, i hope i am able to eat more than just a piece of toast soon without getting so full so fast. 

so i apologize for not informing everyone of my good spirits yesterday... but i am feeling so much better :) i even went out for a little while friday night 

yay for recovery!!!

Friday, July 25, 2008

my experience

i wanted to take the time to write about my experience going through the surgery:

i got to new york Presbyterian around 9:30am. i was signed in immediately and ushered with my parents down to another waiting room. there, we met up with my recipient and his girlfriend. within seconds, i was asked to come and get dressed. so i left for a brief period of time and instructed to put on typical hospital material pants, revealing gown, a robe and some booties. looking like a "real" patient now, i was able to go sit with my parents again, where i held my mom's hand almost the entire time. NBC showed up and encouraged us to simply talk normally, so we did while they taped us. maybe 5 minutes later, i was asked to leave again with another nurse. as i entered the hallway, my (as previously stated, cute) surgeon was there. he said good morning and high-fived me. then i went into another room to have my blood pressure taken (120/69!! so calm!!), my temperature taken, some preliminary questions answered, etc.

by 10:15 i was called by a nurse to head to the OR. i kissed my parents, my recipient and his girlfriend goodbye and started my walk into the OR. for purposes of the news, NBC taped us (me and the nurse) walking as we headed for the OR. she explained to me that i would have an IV put in then, they would give me anesthesia, and the procedure would last about 3 hours. once we got to our operating room (they had 15 different rooms!!), my two anesthesiologists came out and asked me if i had ever had a reaction to anesthesia before. they continued on explaining what would happen: i'd get in the OR, lay on the table, have an IV inserted, be given a little anesthesia to calm me down (although i wasn't nervous at all). a few moments later, i walked into the OR. it was a typical OR: white, metal and very large. i got on the table, arms laid out to form a "T" with my body. everyone who came into the OR to introduce themselves (doctor assistants, anesthesiologists, nurses, etc) to me were in awe of my donation, especially to a total stranger. at the same time, one of the anesthesiologists inserted an IV into the top of my right hand (ouch!!) and to be honest, i don't remember anything after that. usually, they have you count backwards from 10 until you fall asleep (most people don't get past saying 10, haha), but i don't even remember that.

next thing i knew, i was awake, still in the OR. my upper left shoulder was killing me. it hurt so bad, i wanted to cry, but i couldn't because i was in so much pain. someone to my right said that i could get more pain medication in the recovery room because they had no more in the OR. there was a male standing next to me on my left and i begged him to massage my shoulder, so he did. again, my memory gets lost here, but the next thing i remember is being in the recovery room in pain. i kept begging my nurse to let me see my mom and for more pain meds. she kept saying, "one more minute." after what seemed like hours, i couldn't help it. it took all my strength, but i burst into tears. well, as close to crying as i could get. i was shaking and tears were falling from my cheeks. i was in so much pain, i couldn't even form words. eventually, she saw me and immediately brought over some morphine. within a few moments of her inserting it into my IV, most of the pain subsided and i was able to control myself again. shortly after, i over heard some nurses talking as they brought in my recipient: "56 year old male, just received a kidney transplant..." i knew it was him. again, i begged my nurse to let my mom and dad come see me and since she felt bad for ignoring me before, she was happy to meet my request. as soon as my mom rounded the corner, i put on my biggest smile and tried to push back the pain. she looked so worried and concerned. "i am so proud of you," is the first thing she said to me. it was quickly followed with, "why is your face so swollen??" i hadn't noticed, but i guess my face was so puffy, you couldn't even distinguish my neck from my face. the nurse assured my mom it was just a reaction to the anesthesia and the amount fluids i was receiving intravenously and it would go away shortly. after waiting in the recovery room for about another hour, there was finally a bed open that they could transfer me to. my parents came with me and we all went upstairs to Baker 15, the floor i was on.

by now, it was 5pm and i shimmied my way into my much more comfortable hospital bed. air pressurized booties were on my feet, every 30 seconds or so, they'd fill up with air and massage my feet. additionally, my bed did the same thing, but just not as often (bummer). slowly but surely, i was able to keep my of my liquids down (i kept getting nauseous from the pain meds) and by the end of the night, i was eating applesauce!!

the first night was long: nurses kept coming in to check my vitals and administer pain medication. luckily, i was on the private floor and my mom was able to sleep there with me. also, there were no set visitation hours, so my dad came early in the morning and left late every night. my roommate and best friend from college came (and brought a cake, at my request, for my parents 31st wedding anniversary, july 16th) and stayed as long as they wanted. by the time i left the hospital (thursday afternoon), my room was filled with flowers and cards. all the nurses i made friends with came to wish me luck and say good bye. i left them thank you cards (and leftover cake) because they took such good care of me.

sorry for the long entry, but i figured everyone would be wondering what i experience while in the hospital. in a nutshell, the first hour or so after surgery was very very very very painful, but afterwards, it was do-able. i can't type anymore-- it took so much energy to type this much, but if i think of any other significant thing i should add, i'll blog it later : )

wow, i need a rest : )

Thursday, July 24, 2008

is this ever going to get any better??

i feel even worse today. i think it's because of the weather-- but even sleeping at night is getting worse. i'm up every 2 hours or so because i can't get comfortable enough to sleep and stay asleep. i found out yesterday that i wasn't supposed to be taking the vicodin around the clock (like it says on my discharge papers)... i am supposed to be taking advil during the day and the vicodin at night. so i switched to that once i found out, but since i was so used to being on the vicodin all day, it was a hard transition.

anyway, i just wish the sleeping at night would get better. i just end up getting up at 7am since i was just up at 6am, 4am, 3am, and midnight.

anyone that has gone through a transplant have any advice????????

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

good (kinda) morning...

i thought i'd be getting a little better everyday, but i have to admit, i feel worse today that i have in a long time. my whole body is achy, my incisions are so painful and its getting harder to sleep at night. i'm still waking every 3-4 hours to go pee, and then it takes forever to fall back asleep. i feel like the pain medication isn't really working anymore. i'm trying not to take it as often, but i feel like i shouldn't feel this achy without it.

i finally was able to go to the bathroom, after 6 days of waiting!!!! it was such a relief. but i have the stomach ache feeling again, which is probably the worst feeling. i just don't understand why i'm not feeling better yet.

i had to go to back to work today because i already took 2 days off with no pay (friday and monday) and i can't afford to miss any more work. it's going to be a rough day. i'm taking it easy, but i wish i was in bed, asleep, haha.

i received the most thoughtful package in the mail yesterday: a prayer quilt, a throw blanket, some pretty cosmetic bags, a book and a 2 month subscription to netflix along with tons of thank you and get well cards. i pretty much cried reading every word in every card. i was so touched.

sorry, i have to break from writing more, i am just so tired-- concentrating this much is really wearing me out. ill try to write more later hopefully.

back to work......

Saturday, July 19, 2008

up and running :)

my apologies for not writing as often as i probably should (now that i have a group of followers :)haha) but i just wanted to write quickly and let everyone know that i am doing so well! minus the normal bruising and soreness, my incisions (4 in total) are healing very well. it is getting easier every single day to do simple things like lay down, sit, stand, cough, and even breathe (believe it or not! haha). my parents have been a god send, helping me with everything-- brushing my teeth, turning on the shower water for me, helping me put on clothes, walking around with me... not to mention taking me to great places to eat every night! :)

again, thank you so much to everyone who has sent me gifts and flowers: the eckert family, maggie, caitlin, my mom, my dad, my little sister, erika, my recipient, paul from matching donors, the list literally goes on and on. your thoughtfulness has really gone far. i sincerely appreciate it.

my appetite is small, but growing. i'm tired a lot and i take frequent naps and breaks from walking. but i am doing so well. so thank you for praying for me and keeping me in your thoughts.

i will write shortly again. i have a follow-up appointment with my surgeon on july 28th, just to make sure i am healing well. until then... i love you all, thank you so much!!

xoxo

Thursday, July 17, 2008

leaving the hospital...

today im being discharged at 10:30am. i am feeling so great! my appetite is pretty much back fully (i still get a little queazy when its too sweet or flavorful), but i am doing much better than i thought i would be. 

they taped the whole procedure-- like my kidney being extracted, carried over to him and put inside of him. i can't wait to see what it looks like.

anyway, im still a little tired, but i just wanted to say thank you to everyone who called, e-mailed, commented and visited. thank you so much! both my recipient and i are doing well, and so far, he has not rejected the kidney! :)

anyway, i want to get ready to go home, so ill chat with you all later!!

melis

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

THE SURGERY IS OVER

the surgery is so well... im doing so well and so is my recipient. 

im a little tired and sore, so i cant write a lot-- but i just wanted to say thank you to everyone for the e-mails, phone calls, cards, flowers, thoughts and prayers.

:) ill post some pictures of us all later

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

wish me luck!!

i woke at 6 am, well really 540 something, this morning. i had good sleep. a few more things to pack and then my train leaves at 733 am. 

wish me luck!! :)

Monday, July 14, 2008

one final post before the surgery tomorrow...

i just wanted to write and say THANK YOU to everyone for all the support you've given me. i've received numerous e-mail, phone calls, text messages, hugs, kisses and love from everyone who cares. thank you thank you thank you. i really cannot begin to express my feelings and love for everyone who has shared their thoughts, wishes, prayers and concern for me. 

i believe i will be in the G3 west wing on the 3rd floor of the greenberg pavilion. when i know exactly, i will be sure to post it!

so before i go to bed and get a great night's rest... i just want to express my gratitude for everything. thank you, really. this touches my heart more than you'll ever know.

xoxo melis

i can finally post!!

i apologize for not keeping everyone up to date -- blogger marked my account as spam and would not let me post until they reviewed my account. (thank you brooke for expediting the situation for me!!!) and now i am able to post!!

so A LOT has happened since the last i wrote here. i had my interview for the documentary on sunday afternoon-- it went so well! i was surprised at how easy of a time i had being interviewed... i thought i would be so nervous, but i was surprisingly okay. everyone was very, very nice. 

today was my interview with NBC correspondent victor. he was equally as friendly, and taped me at my school and then later at my apartment. 

MORE IMPORTANTLY-- MY SURGERY IS TOMORROW!! :)

i am just about ready to get packed and ready to go. i've started the crazy amount of laxatives they have me taking-- so it might be a long night. regardless, i am very excited and cannot wait. 

i will try to blog tomorrow before the surgery and maybe even after if i am up to it. 

thank you everyone who has wished me well and sent their prayers. i love you all.

xoxo

Saturday, July 12, 2008

be kind....

what a sweet video my recipient e-mailed me today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxm5ol6GE48


Friday, July 11, 2008

SIENA is helping out!!

i just found out that my college has decided to join in and support me and my donation!! being a franciscan school, focused around giving and helping others, i am not surprised they are so supportive. i always had amazing support from every angle at siena. previous to this announcement, one of my old (very very very supportive, helpful and guiding) professors, deborah l. kelly, esq., assistant professor of management, had e-mailed me to support me. thanks kelly!

i am highlighted on the school's website http://www.siena.edu/level2col.aspx?menu_id=528&id=18017 and links to my blog are included as well. you also can read siena's blurb about my donation at http://sienacollegeblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/07-alumna-to-save-life-on-july-15.html. below is the little note i received from allison maloney, a graduate from '06, now assistant direction of communications at siena. thank you siena and allison!! :)

Melissa,
Just wanted to let you know Siena is helping to spread the word about kidney donation for you. I did a short write up on our news blog (and the story will be scrolling on the siena.edu homepage ticker by the end of the day). You are a true inspiration! Good luck on Tuesday, you will be in our prayers.

Allison Maloney '06
Asst. Director of Communications
Siena College

so much happened yesterday

i have to admit i am feeling very overwhelmed. not with the kidney donation at all, but rather with the amount of attention this kidney donation is receiving. to be completely honest, i do not feel like what i am doing is a godly deed. it is something very nice and giving, yes, but i am not untouchable.

i am mostly scared that the real meaning as to why i am doing this is getting lost in all the attention this donation is receiving. i am doing this donation as a tribute to my halmoney who lost her battle with pancreatic cancer at 8am on may 18, 2008. my intentions of keeping this blog were to track my own feelings for my own personal remembrance and to raise awareness of kidney donation and PKD, as well as other kidney relation diseases and disorders. i will go on to say that as long as that message is not lost throughout this process, i will be more than happy to share my story and insight on kidney donation.

with that said and out of the way, yesterday went incredibly well!! my recipient and i had our final cross match done (a blood test where they mix our blood together to make sure there are no reactions to give reason as to why he would reject my kidney). i finally had the chance to meet my recipient face-to-face for a few moments before being called in to talk with a social worker one last time (where i was asked, yet again, if i was sure i wanted to do this). afterwords, i went back into the waiting room and chatted some more with my recipient. he showed me photos of his friends and family-- it was nice to have some insight into his life. it makes it much more real when i get to see things like that :)

lastly, i went over to the hospital where the surgery will take place and met my (cute) surgeon, filled out some preliminary pre-admission paperwork, had another EKG and finally a chest x-ray. i was back on long island at 3:30 and left almost immediately to go babysit for my favorite 1 year old twins and their big 6 year old brother, brant (who had his 1st horseback riding lesson yesterday-- so cute!!!). after i was able to get the babies and brant to sleep, i received a phone call from my roommate who said my recipient left some pretty urgent messages on our home phone. i called him back where he informed me that NBC Nightly News was interested in doing a 1 hour special on our story and he wanted to know if it was okay to pass along my phone number. being that part of my agenda in this donation is to spread word about donation in general, i agreed that it would be a good thing to do this show. he proceeded on in saying that the director of the documentary (leonardo), was also interested in interviewing me, preferably before the surgery and asked if monday was good for me. unfortunately due to the fact that i am taking so much time off for the surgery (including all my vacation, sick and personal days-- i'm even taking off a few days where i won't get paid leave) i would be unable to take off monday as well. he provided me with the number of the director and i called him right away. the director and i settled on sunday as a date for my interview and decided to film in either central park or long island city. i am awaiting his confirmed phone call, but it should be coming at some point today.

so, although yesterday was somewhat of a whirlwind... i am so excited that the donation is coming so quickly :) the small fears and nervousness that has come my way was quickly washed away. i know i am doing the right thing. i have a few more things to wrap up at work today and then prepare for the surgery, but i am all set to go!! i just really cannot wait to see my parents :)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

6 degrees of separation...

it is so crazy the amount of people this donation has reached. i was shopping in sephora (and spent wayyyy too much money!!) and was debating whether or not it was okay for me to spend so much money because i wouldn't even be using half of the stuff i was buying in the next couple weeks because i was having surgery. the consultant who was helping me overheard this and said, "oh my goodness honey! i'm so sorry to hear!!" i did not want to mislead her into thinking i was sick, so i simply stated quietly, "oh no, i'm fine and healthy, i am just donating my kidney next week." no sooner than the words were out of my mouth, she teared up. "i am so touched by that!" was all she could mutter. we chatted for a little longer and then i went on my way to find a fun lip plumper.

i paid and was ready to leave the store when i saw her near the door. i wanted to say thank you, so i walked her way and told her i appreciated all her help today. she said you're welcome and then wished me luck on my donation. she went on to say that the reason she was so touched by my random donation was because her cousin had waited 6 years to receive a transplant. unfortunately, he lost his battle a little over 2 years ago while waiting for a transplant. she said her and her family were waiting for someone like me to come along, but sadly, that did not happen. she asked God to bless me and she gave me a hug.

it is truly amazing to see how many people this donation can reach-- in the most random ways.


**and thank you steve for providing me with the title i was looking for. and yes ladies, he is single. feel free to contact me for his number :)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

this is going to be a long one since i cant sleep... :)

i cant sleep. my mind has been running since about 11pm. when my head hit the pillow, i knew it was going to be a long night. 

my nervousness comes in the sweet form of insomnia. i don't have that freak out, stress out, eat more, talk faster, have my heart racing kind of nervousness. just loss of sleep. i remember being 10 or so and having this same feeling of excited/nervousness. i was going to an amusement park with my best friend natasha the next day-- i was so excited, i couldn't sleep. i tossed and turned and moved about. i'm not sure if i was able to get any sleep that night. and i know tonight is one of those nights. and i'm sure in the upcoming days as the surgery date approaches, many sleepless nights will take hold of my mind. 

on a more positive note, however, this leaves me plenty of time to blog and prepare myself. i've already started a running list of question i need to ask the surgeon and my donor coordinator:
- can i continue taking my birth control and vitamins
- am i allowed to drink socially after the donation (i've heard mixed answers and would like an answer from a doctor)
- can i request a single room at the hospital
- are there any special diet regiments i need to be following
- is there going to be a change in my diet following the surgery
- how will parking work, do we get a pass

i'm sure over the next few days i will have more questions. i'm the type who asks a million questions. going back to my childhood again... i remember being in 9th grade math class with mr. mihevic (not sure if it is spelled that way, but it's pronounced mah-hee-vick) and we were learning algebra, i think. i was asking a million questions and my friend jenn was so mad at me. she kept passing me notes asking me not to ask so many question so we could get out early. but, that's the best way i learn. i ask a lot. and i learn a lot. 

but anyway... enough about my childhood :)

i received the most touching and inspiring e-mail today from my recipient's niece: 
Melissa,
I am so happy to be able to e-mail you…finally! I have posted a few anonymous comments on your blog, because I did not want to seem like I was an eavesdropping relative of Uncle ***’s…but I read a comment from my college friends on your blog and figured it was time to introduce myself!!
My name is Amy ******* and my Mom, Karen, is Uncle ****'s sister. He sent my Mom the blog and she forwarded it to me. I was utterly blown away! I read it with tears, joy, smiles, more tears and complete awe! We had been praying for Uncle****’s healing for years and then for a young, beautiful woman to enter in as an angel (I couldn’t resist!), well, I consider it a miracle! I thank you for posting all of your experiences and innermost feelings and I truly devour every word. I swear my heart skips a beat when I see a new post! I appreciate all of the insights as to why you are doing what you are doing, all of the medical details, and all of the good news (my heart goes out to you for all you have ALREADY gone through. The commuting time, the WAITING time, the pain suffered, the anticipation of each step…etc.)! When I saw that you wanted your blog shared, I immediately forwarded it to all of my close friends, but I was still unsure about getting in touch…but then I saw my friends letter….so here is my long overdue note!
My Mom, my sister and I all suffer from PKD. For my husband, having children wasn’t an issue, but I did have to stop myself and think that I could possibly pass the disease on to them. I actually did not know I had it until I tried to be a donor match for my Mom. I was a bit devastated, but I just hope that before I need a transplant they will develop a cure or a way to stop the cysts from growing. Or perhaps there will be a Melissa waiting for me!!
My Mom and Uncle **** were raised by my widowed Grandmother, as their father died when Uncle **** was a baby. I don’t know how my Grandma did it…working full time and not driving, but family and friends helped her as much as they could. She did a wonderful job raising two giving children and putting my Mom through college and sending her to Columbia for her masters! She was such an inspiration to me and I found myself comparing her to your halmoney (one of my close friends is Korean and I recognized the name immediately), who inspired you to do the unthinkable…donate a kidney to a stranger!! I can’t even imagine the devastation in finding out that she had incurable cancer, but I can relate to the utter despair of losing a grandparent. But it is obvious that her spirit is alive and well within you!
My Mom is my best friend in the world…next to my sister! She was the most fabulous Mom and there was NOTHING she wouldn’t do for her girls. As we got older, the one thing she most looked forward to was having Grandchildren. Her kidneys were failing and she was very afraid of missing that opportunity. Well, her miracle kidney came 3 weeks before my sister had her son and about one month before I had my daughter. (A funny note: our older kids are 12 days apart and our younger kids are 9 days apart!). When I got the call in the middle of the night, I figured my sister had gone into labor early…I never imagined it would be my Mom saying they had a kidney. But what a blessing to have her recovering with a new baby. She and my daughter napped together a lot!
So I guess the reason that I rambled on for so long is to say that my family is my life and it obviously sounds like your family means just as much to you. To think that your parents reacted so lovingly and generously in order to allow their little girl to follow her heart…what an inspiration they are! I was waiting with baited breath for their reaction to the news. Some of Uncle ****’s other potential donors were turned down at the psychology evaluation because they did not tell their families….and the fact that your parents supported you and encouraged you on this brave and courageous journey…well, they a big part of why my Uncle’s life is being saved too! Your parents raised the most compassionate and loving daughter one could hope for. They must be so very proud of you…as are we all! You are all an inspiration to me and my family.
I just want you to know that you have been in my constant prayers since I have learned your name. I will continue to pray for you up to, during and after the surgery. My husband and I actually just planned to visit Uncle **** a few weeks ago and figured it would be before his surgery…and thanks to YOU, it will be AFTER his “second birthday”, as he calls it. I just pray that you will feel as little pain as possible, that everything will go so smoothly, that the doctors will treat you gently and bring the absolute BEST of their abilities with them on the day of surgery. May you return home to the loving arms of your parents and friends and feel better than you thought possible. And I pray that for the rest of your life, you will feel incredible joy…the same way you make our family feel every day.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Melissa!! And God Bless you!! Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help…anything at all!
Wow! I apologize that this note was so lengthy, but I think suppose waited a bit too long to write it!
Humbly and gratefully,
Amy *********

i think this e-mail is particularly important because it simply goes to show that i am not only touching and changing one man's life--but i am touching and changing all the lives that he touches and changes (lots of touching and changing going on here, haha). i have to admit, i am truly honored and grateful to be a part of this wonderful experience. 

to be completely honest, i am not entirely sure i ever was able to explain in words why i am doing this surgery. i am not sure if there are words to describe my feelings. but i'll try my best:

my family means more than anything to me. i have always felt loved, cared for, secure, content, inspired and grateful for the family i was given. i honestly tell everyone that i think i have the best parents in the whole world. and i do not hesitate to tell my parents everyday how much i appreciate them. i call them and send them cards and little gifts regularly. i just sent my mom flowers to say i love you the other day actually. i don't do it for praise or recognition, i do it because i don't think we take enough time in our daily lives to really, truly appreciate loved ones who love us back unconditionally. so, i am making a conscious effort to say i love you and i appreciate you to all those who mean so much to me-- and i want to give back some of the love i've received. (i almost want to cry writing this, haha). i have made many mistakes in my life, but my parents have simply helped me with my mistakes and troubles and then encouraged me to push forward in my dreams to make them successes. i am so lucky for what i have, what i have experienced and what i have yet to see in my future. my parents raised me in a very honest household. i knew about every triumph and struggle my family faced, and i think it made me a stronger, better person. i know what it is like to work hard and lose out. but i also know what it is like to work hard and succeed. my mom and halmoney always taught me the concept of what goes around, comes around. i believe in karma. i believe that good things happen to good people. and i believe in giving those surrounded by despair, anger and grief the benefit of the doubt, lend a helping hand and assist in turning their lives around so they can go and do the same. when it comes down to it, this world is simply made up of people. where does backstabbing and climbing over each other to get to the top get us? it leaves us with angry and hurt people and only a few happy, greedy ones. i sound like a child out of the 60's, but can't we all just make love, not war? haha, seriously though. why is it that we can't lend a helping hand along the way? are we that selfish? i am helping in an extreme manner, but YOU can do things to help too. someone on facebook said she donated her hair and didn't think it meant much! i beg to differ! could you imagine being a little 6 year old girl who had gone through chemo and had no hair left from the excruciating treatments? it would mean SO MUCH to get that wig and be "normal" again. that hair donation probably meant the world to some little girl and her family. 

i think this donation, overall, is a small step to show others that there are things we can do to make changes and give back what we have received. and it only takes one person to lead the way. i hope that you follow me on this path and make a change in your life to reach out to others. volunteer. donate. give. love. and receive love back. 

i am more confident than ever about my donation. and i think i can sleep now :)

so much to do!!

so i found out today that the rogosin institute scheduled me for my final blood test on thursday without telling me. so at the last minute i had to cancel a meeting, find someone to cover my desk for my lunch hour and put a rush on my work in order to get everything done before missing all next week. then i found out that i only have 4 days left to take off, so i am taking one day without pay. yuck :( i know it's not the rogosin institute's fault, but it just came so fast and now in 2 days i have to take more time off.

ugh, so anyway, i have to go in thursday morning for a final blood cross match and then prepare for hospital admission. i'll let you know how it goes :)

melis

information regarding the donation:

BELOW IS SOME GENERAL INFORMATION I FOUND ONLINE SO YOU CAN HAVE AN IDEA OF THE PROCESS AND PROCEDURE OF THE DONATION:

Preparing for Surgery

The day before your surgery, you will come to transplant clinic for the pre- operative evaluation. You will have an updated physical, blood testing, and anesthesia appointment. You will be taught deep breathing and coughing exercises. This helps prevent pneumonia.

The evening before surgery you will take a medicine to clean out your bowels and take a shower using a special soap. You will not eat or drink after midnight.

The day of your surgery you will be admitted to the hospital. By this time you should know whether the surgery is going to be the open or laparoscopic method. (see HFFY # 5285 for a brief explanation of each) If you do not live nearby, hotel accommodations the night before surgery will be provided.

While in the First Day Surgery Center an intravenous catheter (IV) will be inserted into one of your veins. Through the IV, placed in the arm or hand, you will be given fluids for hydration.

About an hour before surgery, you will get a shot. This will relax you and dry the secretions in your lungs. It will make your mouth feel dry, and you will become sleepy. After the shot, we will ask you to stay in bed.

During surgery, a small rubber tube (Foley catheter) will be placed in your bladder. This allows us to watch your urine output. It remains in place until the day after
surgery.

The surgery will last about 3-6 hours. You will be in the recovery room for about 1-2 hours before being taken to your room on the nursing unit.

After Surgery

When you arrive in your room, you will still be quite sleepy. You will still have the IV and Foley catheter in place. Your nurse will take your blood pressure, pulse, and
temperature, and measure your urine output often.

You will be asked to cough and deep breathe at least hourly while you are awake. Anesthesia can increase your lung secretions. These can stay in your lungs and may
lead to pneumonia. By deep breathing, air reaches the area where the secretions collect and coughing helps to bring them up. A small plastic tool (incentive spirometer) will be used to help you take deep breaths.

Most often you get up and walk about six hours after you return to your room. Walking will help prevent many problems that can occur after surgery. These include pneumonia, blood clots and bowel problems. You should walk at least every 1-2 hours during the first few weeks.You may be given elastic socks (TED stockings) to help the blood flow to and from your legs to help prevent blood clots.

Your urine output will be measured hourly for the first day. When the Foley is removed, we will measure your output every time you void. This helps us know that your remaining kidney is working well.

Your doctor will decide when you can resume eating. Surgery and pain medications can slow the wave-like action of your bowels for a short time. As bowel activity and sounds return and you start to pass gas, you will be given liquids. Slowly you will advance to eating regular food. Walking as early as you are able will help your bowel function return to normal.

Laparoscopic incisions are smaller. There are four small (one-inch or less) incisions at various places on the abdomen and one larger (3-4) inch incision below the belly button. Sutures are also used to close these incisions.

You should look at your incision/s daily watching for signs of infection such as redness, swelling and/or drainage.

Your doctor will order pain medicine for you. Until you are able to drink, you will receive it through the IV. The pain medicine should be taken to help decrease incision pain. It will be easier to walk and take deep breaths if your pain is under control. Once you are able to eat, you will take a pain pill instead of a shot.

Getting Ready for Discharge

You will go home 3-4 days after surgery. The length of stay may be shorter with laparoscopic surgery. Your nurse and doctor will give you additional instructions before discharge. You ill also have pain medicine ordered to take home with you.

Activity and driving will need to be restricted. Walking is a good exercise anytime. Do not lift more than 5-10 pounds for the first 4-6 weeks after the open surgery and for 3-4 weeks after laparoscopic surgery. Exercise with moderation, and lifting heavier objects after 4-6 weeks is probably ok. Slowly increase to any more trenuous activities. You cannot drive if you are still taking pain pills. In most cases, you may return to work after 4-6 weeks. Some people may go back to work as early as two weeks. This will depend on what kind of work you do. Please discuss returning to work with your doctor.

some kind notes

thank you to all of my recipient's family and friends who have taken the time to e-mail me and leave comments. your thoughts and prayers mean so much. it makes me so happy to hear the amount of support and love you have for my recipient-- he is so lucky to have so many supportive family and friends. here is a little excerpt of the messages i've been receiving:

"Melissa:
Long story made short, we are college friends with *****’s niece and she forwarded your blog. My wife has fond memories of dancing with him at his niece's wedding. We think it is great what you are doing so unselfishly and wish both of you the best throughout the whole process. We will certainly keep everyone involved in our prayers throughout the next few weeks.
Cheers!"

****************************************************


"Dear Melissa,

I received your blog from ***** and ****, ****'s sister andbrother-in-law.Thank you for giving the gift of life to ****. Because of you and your actions, I learned of the Rogosin Institute and how to make a donation. Your parents must be very proud of you. I will be praying for you, your intentions, ****, and everyone who guides and cares for you both.

Jean Ann from Pittsburgh"



i'm excidly looking forward to july 15th... literally, i am counting down the days :)

i've learned that i have to go in for one final corss match of our blood (mine and my recipient). also during that time, preliminary admission paperwork for the hospital will be completed. i went shopping yesterday evening to prepare for the hospital. sweatpants, check! travel size deoderant, check! comfy slippers, check! you get the idea, haha.

and i can't wait to see my parents, i miss them so much.

xoxo

Sunday, July 06, 2008

some breathing room

wow, so all this news came really fast. before i knew it, i was scheduled for surgery for july 15th, requested days off from work and made arrangements with my parents for them to come to NYC to be with me for the procedure. its really been a whirlwind-- but i do not regret it at all. it just happened very fast. i was mentally prepared to do the surgery in august... but hey, i have no problem whatsoever doing it earlier. my life isn't at stake here-- his is. and i am glad i can help.

i've been babysitting all weekend for a 2.5 month old, a 6 month old, a 2.5 year old and a 3 year old-- if i can handle that kind of mayhem (and trust me, at times it got a little crazy!!), i think this surgery will be a piece of cake. i've just got to get things ready for when my parents come and pack for the hospital, then i think ill be all ready to go. i also want to call my recipient sometime this week to see how he is holding up... last we spoke, things were looking okay, but not great. this surgery is coming just in the nick of time. 

i'm also very happy and excited to see the number of viewers for my blog has pretty much doubled. i assume it is mostly due to my new facebook group titled, melissa's kidney donation. i've received a lot of support from my readers there as well --  even from total strangers... which is very nice.

also... the best news in the whole world... my best friend from college is coming to stay with me while i'm in the hospital and then after at my apartment to help take care of me and keep me company. i am so glad she's coming... we can talk for hours and hang out and i love her to death. she was my saving grace while in college, always there to talk and hang out... and now she'll be my saving grace for when i go through this. she's got a great head on her shoulders, and although i don't really ever male "bad" decisions, she is always there to lend a listening ear or guided advice. plus, it will be nice to give my parents a break every once in a while to get coffee or something... and i know my mom will rest easily knowing that i am with a very trusted friend. 

lastly, as promised, i will be posting pictures from the hospital as i plan to bring my laptop with me. i can't guarantee i'll be most attractive looking-- but hopefully for those of you who have followed my story thus far, it will be some insight into this whole donation thing :) if i can, i will also post the hospital and room number i will be in for anyone in the area who would like to come visit (just call my cell before you come!!) i will be in the hospital for a total of 3 days: tuesday july 15th, wednesday the 16th and thursday the 17th.  

anyway, i have to go to the hospital for one last blood comparison and then the next big thing is the surgery. if anything comes up in the meantime... you'll be the first to know :)

thank you, for listening to my story :)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

THE DATE!!

the biggest news of my life has come my way today...

i cleared all the tests and we are scheduling the surgery for the 15th of july. i called my recipient to tell him... "thank you, thank you, thank you," was all he could say. thats enough lets me know that i am making the right decision :)

i told my parents and requested the days off from work, so i am all set to go. once i know more specifics, i will let you all know as well.

thank you again to everyone who has followed me so far in my journey :)

heros among us

i would just like to quickly note that i am not the only hero here... everyone keeps calling me an angel, a saint, a hero... but there are thousands of people who donate organs to loved ones, friends and strangers. the rogosin institute alone does several kidney transplants a week. so take a moment to admire and appreciate those donors as well :)

i am so excited!

first, i want to say that i am so impressed and moved with the amount of people i've been able to reach through my blog. i love getting feedback, like i did from one man who's wife has PKD and had a transplant from her aunt at the same facility i will have my operation at (the rogosin institute). if you would like to read his comments, simply click on the comments link at the end of my last post. if you would like to read his story about his experience with kidney transplants and PKD, he has a blog as well, which can be accessed by clicking here: http://teamteddybear.blogspot.com/.

i am so impressed with how fast and far the word has spread. please do me a favor and tell at least one person about my blog and give them the link. it is really an amazing thing and i'd love for more people to learn about it. i appreciate all the comments so far and i'd love to get more feedback. i've heard that people have had trouble leaving comments. you just click on the comments link, type your comment into the comment box and then at the bottom, click on to move the selection dot to "name/URL" or "anonymous" (depending on if you'd like to leave your name of if you'd like to leave it anonymously), and then click submit. if you continue to have problems leaving comments and would really like to say something, please feel free to e-mail me at sms3630@gmail.com and i will post them for those who are having trouble :)

secondly, i received a phone call from my parents last night after i got back from a 4 mile run... they received a call from the psychiatrist who interviewed me and they said everything went well, for the most part. he told my dad that i had passed all their tests and asked my parents if they would prefer for me to wait 6 MORE MONTHS! my dad was floored and said, "are you crazy?? this man is going to DIE is you wait any longer!?" so the psychiatrist finally agreed and said, "okay, i guess we can proceed" my mom was particularly shocked by the audacity of this whole system. she can't understand how people who are supposed to be saving people's lives would risk adding another 6 months to the time frame just to "make sure i am certain i want to do this." my mom kept telling me, "melissa, if you want to schedule the surgery tomorrow, i will fly there tonight and be there for you." it's so nice to hear that my parents support me so much and are just as giving and willing during this process.

i talked with my mom and dad for a while about the whole thing-- they are so incredibly proud of me, it is indescribable in words. it really means more than anyone will ever know. i love them so much.

lastly, i spoke with my recipient today (just a few moments ago actually) and he was ecstatic to hear the good news. although i haven't received the "official" okay, the psych told my parents that i was pretty much cleared to donate. i told my recipient that i'd be more than willing to set the date for the next possible opening that they had. he seemed very pleased with that, so that is what i plan on doing. i shared with him the comment that the psych made to my dad and he was as equally upset that they would even push this further than the 5 months we're at now. anyway, at least we can be grateful that we match, it is happening and hopefully he will gain many years from this donation.

i called my donor coordinator to see if she had any news for me (a.k.a. the official okay to go ahead), and when i do i will post on here to let everyone know. hopefully she will let me set a date for surgery and we can proceed ahead!!

i am more excited that ever and cannot wait for this to happen!!

xoxo

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

the weirdest, longest craziest day



i had monday off from work (summer session hasn't started, so office staff and administration was given the day off), so i made an appointment to have my cat scan at 2pm and the meeting with the psychiatrist at 5pm. i wasn't allowed to eat 5 hours before my CT scan, so i had a piece of toast and stopped eating at 9am.

my train was a 1/2 hour delayed (the first time that has ever happened to me on the LIRR), so i was running a little late. i jumped in a cab and sped over to 70th and york for my appointment. i tipped the cab driver extra well since he got me there 
so fast. i made it into the x-ray and CT scan department, signed in and finally caught my breath and sat down. and i waited. and waited. and waited. after an hour of waiting, i checked with the front desk to make sure they hadn't misplaced my file or forgot to put my chart with the rest of the charts. but they assured me everything was fine and i'd be called in shortly. once it was pushing 4pm (2 hours of waiting, 7 hours of not eating), i started to get worried that i wouldn't be seen and consequently that i'd miss my psychiatric appointment. i didn't want to have to travel to manhattan another day and miss another day of work! so i explained to them my situation and this nice man overheard me and said "come with me young lady," and promptly took me back to the CT scan room with him. after another 1/2 hour of waiting, i was finally ushered into this tiny room with a large mirror and 2 lockers. i was asked to remove my pants, bra and shirt and put on a hospital gown. i did. and then was just as quickly taken in to get my CT scan. the 2 men (the CT technician and th
e RN present) were extremely friendly (and quite touchy, haha) -- they kept me entertained and apologized for making me wait so long. i had an IV inserted into my right arm where i was told a contrast medium would be later injected. they took some preliminary scans of my abdomen and 10 minutes later the 2 men came back in to prep me for the contrast scan. i'm not quite sure what it was (i think barium), but it was injected into my system very quickly. within seconds, my face got very hot and i tasted metal in my mouth (all of which
 he said would probably happen)...
 but the worst part was at the same time all that was happening, i felt like i was peeing my pants. over the intercom, he asked if i was okay, at which point i nervously said, "my face is on fire and i think i just peed myself!!" he assured me that all of that was normal, and just as fast as it had come, all the same sensations disappeared. for one final scan, they had me lay on my stomach and they scanned me one last time. i hopped off the table, they made me sign some consent forms and i was on my way.

23 floors up i traveled to my next appointment. i met with the psychiatrist, who was a little strange and had the best poker face i'd ever seen. he asked me the usual questions: why are you doing this, do you know the consequences, do your parents know, have you ever been depressed, used drugs, blah blah blah. he seemed wary of my answers for some reason and asked if it would be alright to call my parents to get their outlook about this whole thing. so i said of course and provided him with their numbers. after an hour of being under the microscope, i was finally freed and left the building.

i met my friend mirinae for dinner (10 hours of waiting to eat) and we went to little japan and ate crazy things, like some kind of octopus balls and raw tuna and then walked back to her apartment. i caught the train home at 9:40 and was back at my apartment by 10:30ish.

a long day, but well worth it :)