I told myself that I would blog every day, as we travel. Well, that obviously didn’t work out. We’ve been pretty exhausted once we get to whatever hotel we are staying at every night. We aren’t pushing ourselves too much, and most days the driving is 8 hours or less. Thankfully, we are in Minneapolis right now, and go to Chicago tomorrow. After that, the daily drives are all 6 hours or less.
We had an AWESOME time in Salt Lake City, interviewing Tori. I didn’t realize how similar our stories are! Her mother died of cancer, as did my father. It really hit me when she said that, which was in front of the local ABC affiliate’s camera. (You can watch that interview here: ABC4 in Salt Lake City ). Her recipient, John, was also there. We didn’t tell people they had to have their recipient there, but they really want to get involved. We had such a great time that I didn’t want to leave. Tori had gotten us rooms at the Peery Hotel. It was haunted! I had a nightmare that night that I walked into my room and saw a blond lady ghost sitting across the end of my bed. I’m not even afraid of ghosts. It was definitely the most comfortable bed of the trip! I loved meeting her family, and her husband has an awesome sense of humor.
Then, we headed to Denver on Sunday. Talk about a brutal drive! Not only was it cloudy and windy, but we had to drive through Wyoming. I am never going to that state again as long as I live! There was absolutely nothing to look at! We had a nightmare of a stop at a truck stop, where it took us 15 minutes to get two cheese burritos from the Taco Bell. It’s a story I’d be happy to tell on camera! When we finally reached the state line to Colorado, our moods lifted. We checked in, slept, and got up yesterday morning to meet Laura in the park. Her recipient, Al, was also joining us. He took a 8-hour train ride to get there! Laura and I both had a lot of drama to deal with for our testing. We both have a really snarky sense of humor, too. Seeing their relationship as donor/recipient reminded me a lot of me and TinyMom.
Every time we leave one of the donors, I get a little sad. I wish I had more time with each of them. On the other hand, I have places to visit people and more people to have in Phoenix!
I’m going to be better at making these consistently.
Even though it’s been over 18 months since I donated, I’m still filled with emotion and overwhelmed whenever there is an event, especially at the Mayo Clinic. At the beginning, when they mention the various staff members, doctors, nurses, and advocates, I always start to cry. Some of those people were there for me – and still are – every step of the way.
The best part, though, is seeing the other donors who I’ve met through this whole process. One woman, Cindy, I met at my very last appointment at the Living Donor Network. We started talking about donating the next week, and when I asked her which day, it was the same day as our surgery. In fact, she donated two hours before me! It was a chance meeting, but destiny. I remember her coming to my room, the next morning after our surgeries, and I knew I’d be ok. She was up walking around and I was about to take my first walk. She looked so amazing and it made me feel so much better.
I also saw a friend who had two family members go through it last year.
Then, there was Rebecca. She started to follow me on Twitter after seeing our story on the news. She had a very sick aunt, and by me talking about it so much, she decided to take the plunge! She just donated 6 months ago. I went to the hospital that morning to hang out with all her family members while the surgery took place. I was so proud that someone else made such an important decision, but more than anything, I was so glad people were asking me questions about how she would do after the surgery.
People get sick of me talking about it. People say I did it for publicity. Guess what? THIS is the result of all that publicity (some of which was grueling!). THIS is why I have to make this film.