Sunday, July 8, 2012

Close to Me

This is the last of the entries I made during the period of time from when I first learned that I had become eligible to be placed onto the kidney transplant list to receiving the actual transplant on October 18, 2004.  I do not know why I stopped adding to the journal what turned out to be well over a year before the waiting ended.  It could've been that nothing was progressing and the waiting continued unabated.  It could be because I worked with my transplant doctor to aggressively pursue any effort to change my body in order to be a better fit for a donor kidney match.  This means that I was placed on immune suppressants and given bi-weekly treatments of IVIG to cleanse my blood of antibodies that could prevent matches.  The net result was that my health deteriorated quickly as did my level of hope.  In the end, I will never know if this attempt to push the matching process along was a factor for the kidney I did finally receive, but I wouldn't change a thing.

Monday, August 25, 2003.

Over the last weekend, I had a dream. I was in Forest Grove (or the Frosty Grave) with my friends Jeff and Steph. Jeff and I went to college at Pacific University (or P-U) in the Grave years and years ago. We were roommates at one time. Now, somehow we are still friends and he has since married Stephanie and the three of us found ourselves in a bar that in the dream was apparently located in FG. My beeper started to go off. I began to hyperventilate. It was finally my chance! The beeper meant that a kidney was waiting for me and all I had to do was go claim it. I ran out of the dark bar into the daylight on the sidewalk. There was a phone booth handy, but it was missing the phone. I looked at the number to call on the beeper’s tiny display. I kept looking at it. The people at the transplant clinic have told me that I would have about an hour to respond to the page, or else lose the kidney to the next person on the list. Steph ran after me outside. She was nearly as excited and bewildered as I was. I began to sweat bullets trying to figure out what to do next. My mind was a complete scramble. Steph was trying to help me calm down. She explained to me that she had a cell phone I could use. I looked into the open front door of the bar, where Jeff was standing. He was at the bar trying to pay our tab. He kept pulling losing lottery scratch-its out of his needlessly overstuffed wallet instead of money and the bartender was looking perturbed. I glanced back to the cell phone that Steph had handed me. I attempted to dial the number, but couldn’t punch it in properly. If the number was 2-9-3, I would tap in 2-4-3, and have to begin again. Serious panic set in and I began screaming my frustration as I fucked up the numbers again and again. I could hear Jeff getting lectured about ordering food and beer knowing full well that scratch-its aren’t currency. Jeff’s voice sounded confused and despondent as he tried to explain that his wallet did have money before, but is now filled with used losing tickets. Steph snatched the phone from my hand and punched in the correct number. The beeper began to beep anew. This was it!

I awoke to my alarm. That beeper in the dream was my alarm, and presumably my alarm again, after hitting the snooze bar in my sleep.

Today I purchased a cell phone. I hate cell phones. I have never wanted a cell phone – until now. My paranoia led me to it. The beeper is not enough. I need to be able to be able to speak directly with whoever may wind up calling for me, when (or if) a matching kidney becomes available. The notion of calling a number that appears on my pager, never knowing who they will be, bothers me, especially since my experience has always traced its way to a wrong number. At least wrong numbers or prank calls can be dealt with immediately. I will still have dreams of missing this most important call. I was even startled during dialysis today with a startling ring shortly after giving the transplant coordinator my new cell number. As I should’ve expected it was some chick looking for a Ted, or some such dude that I am not. I wonder how many wrong number calls people normally receive on their phones, because this feels ridiculous.

I wonder how I will actually feel if I actually do receive a call for a kidney. It will mean that someone has just died. The reality of this strikes me often and it fills me with guilt and sadness. Somehow I have placed myself in a position to hope for some stranger’s death. It makes me feel sick to my stomach, or maybe that’s the stomach ache I’ve had for the last two years. Either way, I don’t like what I’m facing.


  1. i can't even imagine what that waiting must have felt like. i'm glad you wrote it down though, to communicate to the rest of us what it was like.

  2. Your fear and anticipation come across so clearly here. I wonder why your brain chose that place (FG) and those people to share it with you. I am so glad you eventually received a kidney and are here to share your poignant experiences with others, but I can't imagine what fresh terror you must have felt when that pager finally went off.