Thursday, September 2, 2010

The last entry on my medical history took me up to sixth grade (age 11) when things were about to change. Up until that time, except for the ostomy I had to urinate, and the check-ups at the Cleveland Clinic, I was living a pretty normal life. Things were changing though. The general plan from the doctors and staff of the Clinic had been to come to a corrective state on my kidney function for several reasons. One was that the relative function levels of the kidneys was decreasing for several reasons. First was as I grew (which was stunted slightly) the percentage of kidney function was not keeping up with my body growth, secondly the kidneys themselves, due to their already compromised function were feeding more failure and the doctors knew that the only option, long term, was to get a transplant. At that time I did start to real "feel" that my health was compromised. I remember being more tired, and having difficulty keeping up with my friends for the first time in my life. I was losing interest in some of the fun things that took alot of energy, and some of the foods I had always loved did not taste the same, and did not sit well after I ate. I was, and for an eleven year old it was rather a big deal, becoming conscious of my own illness and the gap between myself and others in terms of my own limitations. 

I started out sixth grade with the regular excitement for a new school year but was being told that things were cooking with the plans for corrective actions on my health. The first of the issues to be looked at was to ascertain whether the bladder that had not functioned since I was born could be used. I was taken to the clinic for  a series of medical tests, some very uncomfortable, to test its viability. I remember late fall and early winter spending alot of time with my Aunt Beth and her new husband Uncle Jean-Claude at their apartment near the Cleveland Clinic, where my uncle was finishing his graduate work at Case Western U. We stayed there in the evenings while during the days test after test was performed to see if the plumbing would work, if and when a kidney was transplanted. Many a memory of radiology tables, dyes, and fluids, catherters, and discomforts come back, while evenings of Shadowfax the cat, hundred year old elevators, and my aunt taking care of me and my mother. On the other front was the tissue typing process to find a donor kidney. I was blessed and overwhelmed to have all my family come to see if they could give one of their kidneys. I remember my uncle Mark, scared to death of needles having his blood drawn during the process, my father finding out early on that he could not because his blood type was incompatible, and my grandfather, just below the age limit wanting to be the one. I was aware, and felt, as I had always felt, the love and support from my entire family. These two things were going on at the same time in the fall of 1982. The results were both good. The bladder and the plumbing were a go, and it turned out that my mother was a good match after all the testing on the blood and genes, and antibodies had been completed. We were to be scheduled for everything to start at the turn of the year 1983. The first step would be the removal of my two kidneys, and I was really starting be be overwhelmed and scared.

No comments: