Lots of things have kept me from blogging these past few weeks--an upsetting episode related to my older daughter's emotional problems, my own what's-the-use despondency in response, house renovations, disposal of all the stuff we don't need, reorganization of all the stuff we're keeping, in-law and extended family obligations, excessive preoccupation with and far too much reading about current events on the political scene, etc., etc. But probably the main thing that's kept me from typing out even a short blog to update all my story lines has been my overly prideful feeling that if I write a blog, it has to be a masterpiece. Perfectionism strikes again, and as most of us know, the desire to be perfect is a big tall roadblock to accomplishing whatever it is we think we want to do.
Anyway, today I'll just let you know about a few things that several of my Spark friends have asked me about. First, as you know, my sister's son was involved in a car accident on his way to the airport a couple of days before Christmas last year. His infant daughter was uninjured and his wife suffered only a broken arm, but my nephew was paralyzed from the waist down. From the beginning, his attitude, by all accounts, was outstanding. Through it all, he never lost the feeling that his future would be bright and that he would be able to do whatever he had done before. He joked with the doctors and was playful with the nurses. I was not that close to him as he was growing up--my sister lost custody of him in a bitter divorce from her attorney husband, and I lived in Japan--but I would see him periodically when going home to Georgia from Japan over the years, and he was always the sweetest, most eager-to-please, funniest little guy who brightened all our holidays. He had turbulent teenage years, likely from all the upheaval he had suffered in his early childhood, with remarriages and new siblings and sudden changes in living arrangements, etc. Then he joined the Army and survived a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He seemed finally to have achieved happiness when he left the Army, fell in love, got married, and had a little daughter who looked just like him, complete with strawberry blonde hair. When the accident left him paralyzed in December, it made me wonder how so much heartache could be visited on one individual. But attitude is everything, and perhaps Perrin is here to show us that whatever our circumstances, we can lead a happy life. After weeks of rehab and various kinds of therapy--physical, occupational, emotional, marriage, even recreational--he has been released back into "real life" and is doing very well. Of course, there are many trials to come, but at the moment, he and his little family--his daughter turned one a month ago--are doing well and shining their light.
My sister, who is almost to stage-4 polycystic kidney disease and is awaiting a transplant, is also doing well, although the transplant that seemed a sure thing has not yet taken place. Meredith is an incurable talker-to-strangers, and that's how she met her donor, Krystal, the manager of the produce section at the neighborhood supermarket. Every time Meredith would meet Krystal during her trips to the produce section, the two would engage in friendly chit chat, but Meredith still did not know Krystal very well when, on her first trip to the supermarket after Perrin's accident, Meredith related to Krystal what had happened, including the fact that even though Perrin had eagerly offered to be Meredith's kidney donor, his accident would now prevent him from being able to do so. Upon hearing this, Krystal, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to do, as if she had just heard that Meredith needed something like a ride to the airport, said, "I'll be your donor." Meredith had not, of course, been fishing for an offer so was taken aback by Krystal's huge expression of generosity, but as time went by, it became clear that Krystal was serious, and Meredith gratefully accepted the wonderful offer of this near-stranger, a woman with a husband and two teenagers at home, a busy manager who was willing take the time and trouble and risk to vastly improve the quality of life for a fellow human. It turned out that Krystal's employer, upon hearing Krystal and Meredith's story, offered full support, with paid time off for Krystal and any other support she needed. A myriad of trials and tests would follow, and each step of the way always showed compatibility and a problem-free way forward. Meredith and Krystal were a match, and each was deemed physically and psychologically fit for the transplant surgery.
When I visited my sister in late January, all systems seemed to be go, and it seemed as if the surgery would take place soon after my departure date. However, not long afterward, some concerns suddenly arose about what was close to the final test Krystal would undergo, which had something to do with her thyroid function. I don't know physiology so must use very rudimentary layman's terms, so all I can say is the delay is about "thyroid."
And then I got very busy and heard nothing for a while. I was waiting for word from Meredith but decided finally to call her, thinking the silence probably meant that the deal was off and that Meredith would be back to square one. What's up with the transplant, I wanted to know; has it been ruled out? No, said Meredith, everything was apparently still on, but they were awaiting further test results. Would Meredith have to go on dialysis, I asked. No, she said, she still had 18% kidney function, so dialysis could be delayed. I expressed dismay and sympathy, but Meredith was upbeat, accepting that despite both her and Krystal's desire to go through with the transplant, it might not work out as they had planned, and that would be all right. Heck, said Meredith, if worse came to worst, she would put a banner on her car and drive through the city streets asking if there was anybody who wanted to be a kidney donor. (I'm pretty sure she was joking and wouldn't really do that, but with Meredith you can never tell.)
Polycystic kidney disease is hereditary, with each child having a 50-50 chance of inheriting the disease. My mother inherited it from her mother. Of my mother's four children, only Meredith inherited the disease. As Meredith's twin (fraternal), I have complicated feelings about this (guilt). But medical science has vastly improved. My grandmother died in her 40's, in the early 1950s. My mother at age 71, in 2002. Meredith and I are now 61, and there is an excellent chance that despite Meredith's PKD, we will both live to a ripe old age.
So that is where things stand with two of my story lines. All is well. I love life, and I am grateful for everything.