Monthly Archives: August 2012

My kidney’s gone! Where’s the tub of ice? (April 22, 2011)

It is Friday, the 22nd of April. I donated my kidney this past Tuesday, the 19th, to a friend’s mom. More than anything, I want people to see that I am alive and functioning!

My belly is still sore. They did 4 laproscopic incisions around my rib area, and pulled the kidney out below my belly button. I think it’s pretty much the same as a C-section, just not as big. I am bloated as fuck, because it’s Friday and I haven’t taken a shit since Monday. I’ve been trying to RECTIFY (hahaha like rectum hahahaha) it all day. I am walking around, putting pills in my ass, drinking fluids and taking pills, but nothing has “broken the seal” yet. That is the only thing making me so uncomfortable right now.

I am sleeping a lot. I’m on Vicodin for the pain, but once I actually take a dump, I am guessing the pain will be a lot less and I can stop taking pain pills. I don’t like them. They knock me out within a few moments of taking them.

My mother, who is AMAZING, has been with me since Monday. At this moment, she is driving back from the airport with my sister, Lisa, who is staying until Monday so Mom can have a break. I’ve had several friends come by to see me and I am so thankful for that. I guess it makes it easy that I don’t look weird or anything. I am just moving a little slowly.

Petite Maison brought me 6 pints of soup today! 3 different kinds. I have never met them. I have never eaten there. BUT, because of my Twitter circles, we *do* know each other and it means the world that they cared enough to do something for me – and my mom.

I’ll be writing more in a day or two. I am fading pretty quickly right now, but I wanted to get something done for people to read.

I’m ok. I feel great (except for the whole intestinal thing) and I am soooooo happy for my friends!

And that’s when I lost my job (March 30, 2011)

Going through all the tests to donate my kidney has been brutal. I know people see me with a smile on my face & always being positive, but that’s in public. The testing was BRUTAL. I spent 10 hours in the hospital on Valentine’s Day. My 40th birthday was spent on the phone with Mayo, scheduling more tests. I have a mammogram done, which showed a lump. I had to wait a week before I could get in to have another one done, just to make sure I was ok. I spent a week worrying about breast cancer. I’ve cried more in the past 2 months than I have in two years. Alone.

To think that people assume I am doing all of this for publicity – for myself – is more than ignorant. I cannot believe the things people are saying about ME. I go home from work everyday, exhausted from the mental stress and anguish over when I’m going through. For over two months now, I looked at my job as a retreat from everything – but it kept following me. Something this huge (And, yes, it IS huge) is hard to put out of my mind. I missed a lot of work and was distracted much of the time.

The funny thing is, the job I was doing wasn’t even what I wanted to do. But, I was told during my interview that the company was growing & there would be a lot of opportunities in the near future. I was encouraged to take the job because of what the future would hold. So, I learned, I worked, I took feedback and tried my best to do well. Sometimes, things aren’t a fit, so I spoke up a few weeks ago and went to our recruiter. People were being hired from outside the company for the positions I really wanted to do, but nothing was ever posted. I never applied for anything else because I didn’t know about them. I did what I thought I should and took initiative. I am not the type of person to just sit back and think I will be noticed and picked out of a crowd without some sort of signal. You will never get anywhere in this world by sitting back and waiting. I was extremely frustrated, to be honest.

My distraction, time out and frustration of trying to do what I wasn’t best at caused me to fail for 2 months. I failed. I am not used to failing. It’s not a word I use OR take lightly. But, I tried to do better and show that I was eager to try new thing.

Never have I NOT taken responsibility for my actions. I say this because I read what people are saying about me. Their ignorance of the true story and FACTS mars my reputation and skirts the TRUTH.

There has been a lot of publicity, especially since I was fired yesterday, but it hasn’t been done or said by me. I cannot control what others say, but I will not be the person to cause a scene. Was it a bad play on their part with everything going on to fire me instead of try to find that niche for an employee who obviously loved the company? Hell yeah. Have I personally raised a stink about it? Not yet.

I feel that I hadn’t gotten much support from the company, besides fellow employees and a couple managers. Not once was I asked if I was doing ok. Fine, it’s a business.  But, that business is run by…people.

I am disappointed in myself for not saying something sooner about wanting to change departments. I wanted to be appreciated for who I was and what I could truly bring.

What everyone else says is their business. Nowhere have I bashed anyone or the company I worked for. Nowhere have I placed any blame on anyone else but myself.

So, as you read this, and know that I’ve remained completely professional from the day I volunteered to donate my kidney to a friend’s mom until 30 seconds ago while writing this. So, as you spew your opinions without even ASKING about the truth, you make yourself look like a jackass.

I’ve met some great people face-to-face, finally, the past several weeks. I’ve also learned that the word “friend” sorely needs to be redefined.

Emotionally drained, but the hardest part is over (March 16, 2011)

Yesterday was a pretty emotional day.  After a month of really grueling testing to donate my kidney, I finally got word that I have been approved for the surgery.  I sat at my desk and cried for a few moments.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt such relief!  I’ve been to both campuses of the Mayo Clinic about a dozen times.  I’ve been poked with needles, prodded by random hands, peed in I don’t know HOW many cups and given enough blood to save a third-world country.  I’m exhausted.  But, life has to go on and I have a day job that I have to concentrate on.  The support has been overwhelming and I feel that if I don’t keep up with thanking everyone, I will look like a jerk.  I feel like nobody understands all that I’m going through.  I am extremely thankful for all the support, but it’s also been all-encompassing lately and I have to shut it off for a bit.

There are times that I feel really alone, even though I know there are a lot of people thinking about me.  There are some that I expected to get more from in my personal life and there’s nothing there.  Like none of this matters to the people I’ve called “friends.”  I know everyone has their own life to deal with, their own daily struggles, but I know I would be there for them and show support.  I feel hurt and drained.

I scheduled the surgery for April 19th, which is the first date available.  I had hoped for a couple weeks earlier, but I am glad that there are others out there giving up part of their body for someone else.  The Mayo Clinic said they do about 5 transplants a week.  That might not seem like a lot, and it’s just a drop in the bucket, but at least it’s something.  I wish more people would do it.  I know it will be all worth it in the end.

I just have to get there.

Figuring out which kidney to take (March 15, 2011)

So, I’m posting this because everyone is asking and I’m pretty overwhelmed with this and work, so here’s what’s going on today in #TinyFabKidney world:

My team of doctors, advocates, social worker,  etc., meet today at noon to discuss my case.  They have to all agree on me being “approved” as a donor, first of all.  Reading through the results of all my exams (they gave me a copy of EVERYTHING), there should be no reason not to  approve me.

Second they have to figure out which kidney to take.  My left kidney has a couple extra veins/arteries, which won’t hurt me at all.  My kidneys are perfect in MY body right now, but if there is too much to reattach, there could be problems.  The right kidney is a better candidate.

Then, they call me to let me know the results.  If all goes well, I will be scheduling the surgery this week.  I am planning on the 1st or 2nd week of April.

Please RT this, pass it on however you can.  It will avoid unanswered questions, but also give me a bit of a break in spreading the news.  :}

The first #TinyFabKidney fundraiser: I’m not feeling so alone anymore (March 2,2011)

I had more testing done this past Saturday at the Mayo Clinic.  I went in thinking I’d give a blood sample, pee in a cup, and be out of there.  Nope.

I was led to a hospital room.  “Um, what are we doing today?  How long is this going to take?”   I was concerned on time, because my birthday dinner with friends was that evening as well as the fundraiser at FnB in Scottsdale.  “Oh, about 2 hours,” replied the nurse.  I stopped walking and started crying.  I was frustrated that I hadn’t known about the length of time, and when she told me I’d have an IV in my arm the whole time, I just felt…alone.  I’ve been going to all my tests by myself because I really don’t want people seeing me pee in a cup and I don’t want to inconvenience anyone.  I had the IV (not attached to anything) stuck in my hand and had to drink 20 ounces of water in an hour.  When the hour was up, I had to go pee in a bowl, and they had to measure it.  THEN, a sonogram was done on my bladder to make sure I peed properly.  Then, blood was pulled through the IV.  Again, I had to drink 20 ounces of water and wait 45 minutes the second time.  Pee in a bowl, sonogram and blood.  I was in a hospital bed.  I was alone.  I cried.  I watched serial killers on the TV.  I also had to fast for 4 hours before the test, but since I slept in a little, I didn’t have time for a real meal and it was now 3pm.  I was HANGRY, crying, frustrated and felt really, really alone.  Finally, it was over.

My birthday dinner was nice and I got to catch up with friends I really don’t get to see too often.  It was at FEZ, my favorite CenPho spot, and I was surrounded by good people.  I was also very anxious about the fundraiser, which was to start at 10pm.  I knew it was going to be emotional, but I had no idea who would be there, if ANYONE would actually show up.

Pavle, the owner of FnB, had come forward a couple weeks ago and said he’d do a fundraiser.  I let Kirti take care of it, as I had a trip out of town, work, and comedy.  Boy, were those two ever organized!!!  Pavle had asked a lot of local business owners to donate goods and gift cards to the raffle.  When I got there, Kirti was organizing everything and I was completely awe-struck at the people there.  People who I had been interacting with on Twitter and Facebook for over a year, most I had never met before face-to-face had come out to show their support.  A few times that night, my eyes welled-up and I realized that even though we had never physically met, I had a LOT of friends there and a LOT of good people still do exist in the world.

I will be out of work for 3 – 4 weeks, of which I do not get paid.  I have not been at my job long enough to get short-term disability, nor do I qualify for FMLA.  It will be unpaid.  I have some vacation time, but not enough to cover the entire recovery period.  The generosity of not only Pavle for donating part of the proceeds of that evening, but of all the people who donated from their businesses and pockets was amazing.  I am so thankful to be a part of such a FABULOUS community!!!  I am not going to be afraid to ask for help, even if it’s just to have someone come over and watch a movie.  I will not let myself think I am inconveniencing anyone.

After feeling so alone in the hospital all day, and seeing all those people there, I cried the entire drive home from the restaurant.  I’m NOT alone.

A mammogram, a psych test, ice cream & Japanese food (March 2, 2011)

Today was what I’d call “easy” in the long line of tests I’ve had to undergo to donate my kidney.  This time, I had to go to the Mayo Clinic on 134th St & Shea in Scottsdale.  I should have packed a lunch – THAT is how far away from home it is!  I live on 12th Street.  This was on 134th.  You can do the math!

Today, I was scheduled to have a mammogram and psych test.  I was so very thankful that nothing involved needles!!!!  I got there and barely sat down in the waiting room when they called my name.  The mammogram wasn’t painful at all and I hope that women read this and know they don’t have to be scared because of that.  My boobs got squished, very gently, between two plastic plates and they took a picture.  The whole process of adjusting my boobs and turning to the side a couple times took all of ten minutes.  So, girls, get your mammograms!!!

The psych test was easy as well.  I’ve taken a lot of personality tests over the years for job interviews and such.  I was reading the questions and felt badly for the people who would answer them truthfully about suicide, reckless behavior and anger issues.  Luckily, I have NONE of those.  Doing yoga for over 10 years has really helped me to get a handle on emotions, as well as not drinking or doing drugs now for almost 7 years.  I wasn’t paranoid about answering any of the questions.  The doctor even went over my answers with me.  Apparently, I’m very confident and have a lot of friends to turn to.  Yup.  That’s me!

On my way back, I decided to stop at Sweet Republic, an ice cream shop in Scottsdale.  I don’t get to the area very often, but I know the owners and we bump into each other around the Valley at different places.  I hadn’t been to their shop in months, but I buy their ice cream at the Downtown Public Market.  It’s divine and they make it on site.  Anyway, I figured I would treat myself to a little cup before heading to dinner with my friend Alexander for sushi.  I had been craving it for over a week!  As I was about to pay for my little cup of heaven, they insisted on me not paying.  They were contributors to the fundraiser the other night and I started to cry right there.  I was sent home with quite a few pints of delicious Sweet Republic ice cream.  Thank you, Helen & Jan, for your kindness and generosity.

Next stop: Hana Japanese.  Boy, I really needed some sushi.  And I *really* needed time with Alexander.  I realized a few weeks ago that with all the comedy I was doing, I was missing out on time with my friends.  I’d flake out on events and gatherings either because I had to perform, or I was too exhausted from performing too much that I’d stay home.  Hana Japanese is in my neighborhood and though I looooooove sushi, I am not a pro.  Alexander IS a foodie and his job is to write food blogs, so I knew I had chosen the right guy to go to dinner with.  And boy, did we have dinner!!!!   I got to try a shitload of stuff that I don’t know how to pronounce or even what fish it came from, but I am stuff to the gills. (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA get it?  Gills?  Fish?  HAHAHAHA) Laurie, the owner even gave me a few gift certificates for the next fundraiser.

I am overwhelmed from the support that the community has shown.  I am also extremely grateful for all of my friends who have offered to help me out while I’m recuperating.  And without Kirti, I don’t know what I’d do.  Yeah, she stole my kidney, but I also gained an extension to my family in the process.

The first #TinyFabKidney fundraiser (February 26, 2011)

FnB & Pavle have been so generous offering to do the first fundraiser for the kidney donation tonight.

Details:

http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/bella/2011/02/saturday_night_fnb_supports_ti.php

I am so thankful, grateful & humbled by the amount of support we’ve gotten.  Thank you sooooooo much, everyone!

Kidney testing update: I’m a pincushion. (February 23, 2011)

After a wonderful weekend away, a much-needed mini-vacation, it was back to reality yesterday.  I still have a couple more days to go to the hospital for testing.  Luckily, none of them will compare to last week!

I was given a blood pressure monitor yesterday.  No big deal, right?  I had to wear it for 6 hours.  Every so often, the cuff around my upper arm would puff up and i Had to immediately stop what I was doing until it was done releasing.  So, there I was, in the grocery store, asking a woman where the sun-dried tomatoes were.  And it started inflating.  She walked away, expecting me to follow her to the next aisle.  I felt a quick panic, because I couldn’t move.  I had to stay put.  As it finally started deflating, she walked back with the jar of tomatoes.  “Sorry,” I said, “I have to wear this blood pressure monitor for 6 hours.  When it starts inflating, I can’t move.  Don’t worry, I’m healthy.”  I started laughing when I saw the puzzled look on her face.  “Well,” she said, “I’m glad you’re healthy!”  I don’t want to go around telling people I’m donating my kidney, because it’s a long story and people don’t want to hear it.

I also got to see the results of the CT scan I had last week.  Coolest thing ever!  I saw the iodine rushing through my body and there they were…my kidneys.  “Oh my god, they’re sooooooo cute!”  That’s the first thing that popped out of my mouth.  The doctor laughed and said “Yes, Amy, your kidneys are very cute.”  Too bad he wasn’t as hot as the nephrologist (see all the freaking words I’m learning???) who put the BP monitor on me.  My kidneys are really healthy and both the same size, but the veins and arteries are what could cause a problem re-attaching them into TinyMom.  They were to meet today to discuss that.

So, got home from the grocery store and starting making dinner.  Risotto and roasted chicken.  Well, risotto has to be stirred constantly for about an hour.  But, that darn BP monitor kept inflating every once in awhile.  So, I stood there, at the stove, waiting for it to go down before proceeding with my stirring.  I would have been PISSED if it ruined my risotto!

I had worn a really crappy T-shirt to the hospital and went to take it off to change into a tank top while I cooked…but the cords were intertwined around the neck and through one of the sleeves.  I couldn’t get it off without unplugging the monitor and I was afraid if I did, it would start all over again and I’d have to wear it for another 6 hours.  So, I got it off most of the way, slid it down to the monitor box on my hip, and put the tank top on over it.  There I was, cooking, with a box at my hip and a crappy pink T-shirt hanging from it.  Hysterical.

Once it came time to take the monitor off, I was sooooooo relieved!!!  Until two hours later, as I was getting ready for bed, and I realized my left hand (the cuff was around my left arm) was really red and a little numb.  I guess it’s blood vessels from the tightening cuff or something.  It feels fine today, and the redness has gone down a lot.

On Saturday, I have to go in again for more tests.  Next week Tuesday is my mammogram and psych evaluation.   I think they should have done THAT first, but whatever.  That is the last day of testing I will have to go through.  I hope.  The following week, I find out if I am approved to be a donor.  If not, I’m gonna be pissed that I had to walk around with a freaking pink T-shirt hanging from my hip.

This morning, I had to be back for blood tests and to pee in a cup.  I had to be there by 6:30 in the morning.  Ugh!  They took 10 tubes of blood out of me.  I was fine with it, until the last tube when she squeezed my arm to get it to flow more and I heard it squirting into the tube.  Gross.  Then the phlebotomist gave me a cup to pee into.  “When you make-a de pee, no touch!”  Because, obviously, I so desperately wanted to touch my pee.

First time meeting my kidney recipient, TinyMom (February 15, 2011)

I met Kirti on Twitter about a year ago.  We have a lot of the same friends, so it was natural to follow each other and see what’s up.  We went out to dinner this past summer to FnB, a really great restaurant in Scottsdale.  I don’t go to Scottsdale, but it was a great evening with my other friends Lara and Joel, who I know through Yelp.  When people mock me for my involvement in social media, I let them know that the greatest people in my life are the ones I’ve met through Twitter & Yelp.  Social media also saves lives…

Kirti started talking about how sick her mother was with kidney failure.  She made a Facebook page to keep people updated on her mother’s condition.  She also posted that her mother was put onto a wait list to receive a donated kidney.   I didn’t hesitate and blurted out, on Twitter “I’ll do it.  what do I have to do?”  I don’t have much of a filter.  It seemed like the right thing to do.  I couldn’t help my father when he was dying, but I could do whatever I could to improve the quality of life for Kirti’s mom.

This past weekend, I finally got to meet her mother, Anu.  I had to initiate the process of meeting, as the recipient is not allowed to do so.  I guess it’s kind of like adoption: the child can search for their birth mom, but not the other way around.

Channel 10 was supposed to be there, too.  I didn’t want our first meeting to be filmed, so I arrived about an hour ahead of time.  I was anticipating a cry-fest and brought my makeup with me.  I can’t be on camera looking a mess!  I didn’t need it.   The instant I met Anu, I got the biggest hug from the littlest person!  I felt an instant connection to her.  What got me most was her sense of humor.  Both she and her husband have great senses of humor and I laughed a lot.  Her father asked “Is your blood white, too?”  Oh, they’re Indian.  Dot, not feather.  From India.  (Hahaha).  Hindu, too.  I knew the question of my religion would come up sometime and her father asked “You are Christian, no?”  “Uh, no.  I’m just Amy.”  It seemed an ok answer, because he didn’t bring it up again.

We talked about yoga a lot.  I’ve been doing it for over 10 years.  I was humbled with some history of its origins.  Then, we started eating.  Anu made me traditional Indian food, which is my favorite.  The film crew showed up (a cameraman.  No newscaster, just the guy behind the camera.) and filmed us eating, sharing recipes and interviewing each of us about the donation.  It was really nice.

As lunch wound down, we all sat and drank Chai.  I honestly feel I should have either: a. been born in the early 1900s so I could be at a ripe age to be a flapper and enjoy it or b. been Indian.  There was a very spiritual connection that day and it exhausted and exhilarated me at the same time.

I don’t look at what I am doing as saving a life.  What I’m doing is giving someone QUALITY of life.  Because, honestly, I can’t see this tough little woman as being beat by ANYTHING.

As I left, I said out my car window “Thanks for lunch!”  Anu’s response?  “Thank you for the kidney!”

AHHAHAHAHA!!!

First Day Of Testing To Donate My Kidney (February 15, 2011)

Today was my first day of testing to be approved as a donor.  The Mayo Clinic is one of the best hospitals in the country and I had been there before to visit a friend’s mom after her knee surgery.

The organization there is incredible.  I had an itinerary that mapped out my whole day.  For each appointment, whether for my social worker, the advocate, blood tests, piss tests and CT scan, I had to check in on whichever floor the test was being held on and wait for my name to be called.  Never was it more than 10 minutes for me to wait. I was prepared with my laptop and phone, juuuuuuust in case.

I have to take sick days at work for the tests, and I explained to the woman who does the scheduling that I can’t do it all in one week.  I’d love it if I could, but no way was I going to be there on Wednesday, as originally scheduled.  It’s my 40th birthday and I don’t want to be poked and prodded that day.

I got there at 8:15 this morning and got in with the advocate right away.  I learned a ton of stuff, like my rehab, my rights as a patient, etc.  I also learned that there will always be someone for me to call while I recuperate.  She even gave me some advice on FMLA to secure my job, insurance stuff and things like that.  (I am utterly exhausted but I have to write this now or I will forget how I am feeling.)  There is a likelihood, after all these tests, that I will not be approved to donate my kidney.  Something about how many veins/arteries go in and out of my kidneys, if they’re healthy enough even to donate.  I still have a psych test to go through, too, but I am not worried about that part.  The questions the advocate and social worker asked were very thorough and personal, but that was the easy part.  My last appointment was supposed to be at 4pm, which was just lab stuff.  As I went to check in, I got handed a new itinerary, which now included, for today, a CT scan.  Well, it’s Valentine’s Day, but I don’t have a Valentine, so I just agreed to it.  It also meant that I would have shorter visits and hopefully cut them down a day.

I’m not scared of much, but they put the insert for the IV into my arm.  It burned.  I couldn’t bend my arm all the way.  It was the last thing for me to do today and I was completely exhausted, physically and emotionally.  The past several days have been a whirlwind of publicity, getting things in order, paperwork and working things out at work.  I was taken into the CT scan room and told to lie down on the table.  They were going to put iodine into the IV and then LASIKS, which flushes everything out of my system.  I was put through the CT scanner a couple times before any of the fluids were added to my body.  I was on the table, in a gown and pants, alone and that’s when I started to freak out a little.  My eyes welled-up with tears and I just kept thinking that I need to get this fucking thing out of my arm and it burned and it was sterile in there.  And then I thought of Anu and what she is going through.  All day the thought that she hasn’t been able to eat pizza in ten years kept popping into my brain.  It calmed me down, because, after meeting her, I just knew I could be strong.  It was just a stupid IV and people go through it every freaking hour of every day all over the world.  I can handle it.

The iodine was weird.  It rushed through my body very quickly and it was HOT.  I felt like I was going to piss the bed.  In an instant, though, those sensations were gone.

I have never been so relieved for a day to be over!  As soon as I got home a little while ago, I put on my comfy clothes.  I’m going to eat dinner and pass the fuck out.

My next tests aren’t until next Monday at 1:30pm.  I’ll be meeting with the urologist and the kidney doctor.  I haven’t read over anything yet about next week.

Oh, and the LASIKS they gave me to flush my system?  Makes me piss every 15 minutes.  I am a peeing machine.