Here is a second entry from the randomly kept journal I began once I found out the news that I had finally been given the chance to be placed on the transplant list back in 2003. Looking back, it's odd for me to try and figure out what moments were worth chronicling, and what weren't. I was pretty single minded at that point, so that may explain why the entries are so few and far between.
Thursday, January 16, 2003.
Sitting at my desk at work, shuffling papers around, in an attempt to organize into piles what stuff I want to work on and in what order I want to do it. Some of the stuff is constantly being rearranged to the bottom of the pile. If it’s eternally in my to-do stack, then maybe it will solve itself and never have to be addressed.
It’s early. I am having troubles staying focused. I found out the other night that there might actually be a chance of one day finally receiving a kidney transplant.
I pull out a blank sheet of paper, once my desk has been straightened to my liking. I grab a KING SIZE marker pen and take a sniff from the tip. Whatever happened to those fruit smelling marker pens from childhood? Those were cool. I especially liked grape, or the purple one, which gets me to thinking about our societal approximation of grape. Though I enjoy grape gum and candy, it never tastes anything like any grapes I’ve ever had. They should give up the rouse and rename it “purple.” It’s not fooling anyone. I wonder if Grimace tastes like “Purple?” I shake my head to erase this thought, since Grimace would most likely not be an acceptable food for my dialysis diet.
On the blank paper I scrawl out a “Wanted” sign, which reads:
Right or Left
Take 6 weeks off!
I stare at the paper for some time, as the glare of the bright white sheet reflecting the fluorescent beams above begins to burn my eyes. I see the rectangle now with every blink. The words blend together. Maybe I sniffed the toxic pen too much. I wonder what these things are made out of.
They’re only a couple of people in the office this early in the morning. One of the benefits of coming in so early is the gradual nature of beginning the day. The energy of the business picks up about an hour in, so by then I have a chance to try and wake my sorry ass up.
I wander downstairs to the bulletin board near the front desk. I look for a place to tack my sign. This seems like a bad idea. The sign will only confuse anyone that looks at it. I kept it vague, because I don’t want to be involved with picking my hopeful donor – but this is really more of a joke - a joke that no one will understand, because it's not funny.
Instead of tacking it up onto the fabric covered cubicle partition wall, I toss the paper into the recycling bin underneath the receptionist’s desk. A few actual work tasks get accomplished, and then another blank sheet of paper comes out. I scratch out another message:
Male or Female
Right or Left
Willing to take 6 weeks off?
Maybe I should mail this off to Willamette Week’s personals department. I’d rather have a date with a new kidney at this point than one with a hot blonde. Let me rethink that. I wonder what kind of responses such an ad would draw. Probably none, but if it did, they would undoubtedly be weird and scary. But, would it actually work?
I keep thinking to myself, how in the hell do other people find living donors? After dating a transplant patient last year, I learned that she received her kidney from her Mom. My Dad offered to donate, but the doctor’s almost laughed him out of the room, which only filled him with rage – like most things do. Apparently, he’s too old for his health to have a kidney removed without a lot of extra risk for both of us. So, that leaves out anyone in my immediate family. I’ve seen those feel good news stories about some random stranger donating a body part to someone simply because they are that damn generous and have been touched by the needing person’s story. How do I get my tragic story onto the local news? How do I get one of those sweet talking beautiful reporters outfitted in a bright turquoise pantsuit to tell my story so that some saint can give a chunk of their flesh to save my pathetic life? Is there a network out there somewhere that I am unaware? Is there a special store where news people buy their clothes? Maybe it’s because my story isn’t particularly tragic and it’s definitely not interesting. Still, for someone who has been strapped to a dialysis machine for over a year now, constantly inundated with kidney news and trivia and networks, I seem to be in the dark about how things work.
I toss the second sheet away and head back to my office upstairs. I really need to give my wonderful spacious private office up and move downstairs. It is becoming a struggle to climb these stairs several times a day. Somehow I always knew that cracking the age of 30 meant that I was officially old, but this is ridiculous.
Back at my desk, I bring up the Willamette Week personals page online. I do not see any ads for body parts. This is discouraging.
Typing “Kidney Transplant” into my search engine, I discover a website named Transweb. “Take the transplant journey,” it says. I couldn’t look any further.
Maybe a cadaver kidney is the way to go. I can handle another year or two or three of dialysis. Plus it would so exciting to be on call for a kidney. Maybe they’d give me a beeper, so they can reach me at any moment. Would the beeper call come while I’m sitting on the toilet, like all of my phone calls do?