Update on Sister
Saturday, August 18, 2018
Just wanted to write to follow up on some stories I shared earlier this year. Thank you to all who've asked me to write again. It means a lot to me that you are interested in my story and willing to listen. This letter is for those of you who have asked about my sister's transplant situation. It might be boring for others, so please don't feel the need to read it all the way through or respond. I'll write about other things next time, so tune in then--hopefully soon, same channel.
When I visited Meredith in Florida in late January, it seemed that all systems were GO for the kidney transplant she needed, and the surgery seemed imminent. I even thought maybe I should extend my stay in Florida to be there for the big day, as it seemed so likely to take place in the next two or three weeks. The donor and Meredith were a match, and they had both undergone physical and psychological tests to ensure that the surgery would go well. The only thing that stood in the way was a troubling number from a test related to the donor's thyroid.
And I'm assuming that the thyroid number might be what stopped the surgery from taking place, for every time I have tried to inquire about the transplant, Meredith does not address my question head-on but gives some vague reply and changes the topic. "My numbers are good for now," she says, and this means that she does not yet have to start the dialysis that our mother had to endure for years before she died of kidney failure at age 71. Or, it could be that the donor, Krystal, the produce manager Meredith befriended at the supermarket (Meredith has never met a stranger) had second thoughts, or Krystal's husband persuaded her that it wasn't a good idea to donate a kidney to someone she barely knew, or Krystal's teenage children implored her not to go through with it. To tell the truth, even though I was moved by Krystal's willingness to perform such a selfless act--proof of her sincerity was the extensive testing she underwent, much of which required trips to hospitals an hour away in Tampa, and how close she and my sister came to the actual procedure--I never could fathom that level of generosity to a stranger or casual acquaintance.
I've carried out a few selfless acts in my life, but I would never be able to go so far as to do what Krystal had been prepared to do--to have myself cut open so that I could give part of my body to someone with whom I had such a tenuous connection. I admire the people who can, but honestly I'm not one of them. Heck, I couldn't even bring myself to OFFER to do it for Meredith, even after her original donor, her son Perrin, was injured in a car accident on the way to the airport last Christmas, tragically becoming a paraplegic and therefore ineligible to fulfill his desire to be Meredith's donor. It's hard to write this, because I wish I were perfect, but even if I were found to be a solid match (Meredith and I are fraternal twins), I know that the only people for whom I could ever agree to be a living donor would be my children. And as for being a recipient, I would rather suffer pain and inconvenience than to receive the gift of an organ from a living donor. (A deceased donor presents less difficult philosophical issues, in my opinion.) I don't think my reluctance to participate in organ donation or reception means I think less of myself than my sister does of herself. It's not a question of deserving something very valuable (an organ) or not. It's just that some of us can accept things that others cannot, and some of us can do things that others cannot. My mother, for example, who died of the same kidney disease passed down to Meredith, did not want a transplant, and outright refused when I once mentioned (in my much younger, single days) that I might be willing to donate one of my kidneys to her. Like my mother, I know that I, too, would be unable to accept an organ from a living donor, family or not. When I imagine doing so, it's plain that my temperament would burden me with a feeling of huge debt to the donor and impending guilt and worry if that person's health deteriorated as a result of my need and his or her generosity. This is a decision that each person must make on his or her own, and I would never judge anyone for refusing, accepting, or changing his or her mind after making such a momentous decision.
But here I am getting into philosophical depths when all I really intended to do was to let you know that things seem to have fallen through with the transplant. Since Meredith avoids my questions, I am assuming either that this is an awfully painful subject for her, or that she regrets sharing so much information up to now and is being more guarded about things going forward, so as not to get everyone's hopes up, including her own. When I speak with her on the phone, she is quite upbeat and cheerful. I will see her in Colorado in October, for the wedding of my brother's son, and there I will find out more, I hope. For now, she remains well enough not to have to go on dialysis, and that is a happy circumstance which I hope will last longer than it did for my mother, who spent too many years hooked up to a machine.
That's the way things stand with the kidney transplant. I wanted to update on other things as well, like in-laws and my own doings (I was so down a couple of months ago but feel much better now), but I'm scared of losing this blog as I often do when I try to edit and strike the wrong key. Everybody stay well, and thank you so much for being here. Your presence touches my heart and brings me hope.