Tag Archives: kidney donation

This is the New Year!

Dallas New Years skyline 2016

Happy New Year 2016!!!!

I have said this once, and I’ll continue to say it until I’m blue in the face, but I LOVE the holiday season!  No, I’m not saying “holiday” to be all PC and such…I say “holiday season” because I include New Years Day in this beautiful package.  Not only have I been able to spend some good quality time with my favorite people, watching as they thoroughly enjoy their blessings, and personally benefiting from the amazing sales this month (75% off???  Hello new wardrobe!), but I’m also able to take the past year and relish in what I’ve gained…I’m able to look back over the year and see exactly what I have to be thankful for and how I’ve grown.  New Years Day is also a huge inspiration and symbol of hope for me.  It’s a new beginning and a way to start fresh with anything and pretty much everything.

So, using the lyrics of Great Big World’s awesome anthem to New Years, (go ahead and listen to it while reading…give it a sec, it’ll put a smile on your face!) I’m going to breakdown my resolutions for this year!

“Say everything you’ve always wanted”

This year, I vow to be a bit more strong in my message.  I have always been very careful when talking about things I’d like to promote for fear that it would offend someone or put some sort of label on me.  (Then again, you can’t post ANYTHING these days without offending someone!)  I don’t usually post any of my support for JDRF, American Heart Association, Celiac Disease Foundation, and many others on social media because I fear becoming a “poster child” or “that girl” who’s always pushing her health agenda.  I have no intention of being a poster child pushing any type of agenda, but I should not fear being supportive and helping when/where I can!  From now on, I won’t hide and instead will be more openly vocal about my involvement.  After all, how else does awareness work if you don’t say a word?

On that note, here’s my first step… Jan 5th marks my 2-year kidney-versary!!!  Kirby will have been living strongly within me for two years and I plan on celebrating this every single year in honor of his/the transplant team’s success and the life of my precious donor.  This year, my mom, my sister and I all had our nails done to celebrate Kirby and my donor, and when anyone asks me what the green ribbon is for, I will gladly tell them.  🙂

Kidney ribbon nails 2016

Lucky for me, the green ribbon has many meanings, three of which pertain to me – Organ Donation Awareness, Kidney Disease Awareness, and Celiac Disease Awareness. Kirby, this time, this one’s for you!

“Be not afraid of who you really are”

Part of my resolution above fits this piece of the puzzle.  However there is another shallow part of me that also needs some work.  I had dinner with a very good friend the other night, and as we talked, I was reminded of my flawed self-perception.  I always believed that I was a pretty strong person with a good sense of self, however with every word that came out of my mouth, I realized I still have many improvements to make (don’t we all???).  He helped me see that most of my insecurities were things that are unimportant.  I speak of vanity and my self-confidence.  I have many reasons…no, I rephrase…”excuses” that would justify why I feel the way I do about myself, but I have THOUSANDS more reasons to squash those excuses into dust.  I have so much more to offer than a few wrinkles on my face, some chubby cheeks that show up at odd angles, or a few years that have crept up on me all too quickly.  I have fought some pretty big battles and won them (health and otherwise).  I have made my career my own.  I have never stopped going for what I believe in and have always (eventually) come out on both feet.  Why should I feel bad about those few shallow things I see in the mirror when everything else is so much cooler than that?  2016 will be my year to finally accept myself as the “me” I am now and not the “me” I used to be (who I kept striving to be again).  There is nothing wrong with a smarter, wiser, healthier, and albeit a few years older Nachomama!  🙂   I won’t lie, I will still be attempting to improve my fitness routine in order to look better at an upcoming beach trip, but I also plan on focusing more on the health benefits this time rather than the vanity.  Baby steps…

“‘Cause in the end we have each other…and that’s at least one thing worth living for.”

This resolution is a bit different, and it’s something that has been bothering me for awhile.  Yes, I try to volunteer for various organizations because I believe in their goals.  However, there are times when I still feel as if I can do more.  How can I make a more direct impact?  What do I have to offer?  All I have is what I know, and I believe that we are all encouraged to help others using even just that.  This year, to further my pursuit in philanthropy, I plan on using what I’ve learned via my experiences and knowledge to research how I can further help make a difference.  I will post more on this as I figure it out!

And that, my friends, is my list of resolutions for 2016.  Wait, I have a few more smaller goals (I have to publish them so that you will all hold me to them!):

  • to learn a new culture (I kind of already do this whenever I choose a new book to read, however, it’s fascinating and I plan to do more via travel as well)
  • to lower my A1C score to below 7
  •  to be on a more consistent schedule with my blog…hee!  (maybe I’ll even take off the “snow” that has been falling on this blog continuously for two years!  hahaha… after winter is over, though, of course.)

So, to summarize this exciting initial blog post for the year, I’ll again quote lyrics from this post’s song:

“Another year you made a promise
Another chance to turn it all around
And do not save this for tomorrow
Embrace the past and you can live for now”

Truer words never spoken.  🙂  Can’t wait to hear what your resolutions are!

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Things I’m thankful for today:

1.  My kitchen is starting to finally feel like a REAL kitchen!  Santa brought me some amazing foodie-gadgets that I’ve been eyeing, and one of them was a Kitchen-Aid mixer!!!  WOOHOOO!  If you have ever tried to bake anything from scratch using a mediocre hand mixer and/or spoon, you will understand the excitement.  Thank you Santa!  🙂

2.  A very dear family friend of ours has generously blessed us with the use of their vacation home in Hawaii, so my family is going on its first trip to Hawaii this year!  I’m so excited I could spit!  (I won’t… I’m not a camel…)  However, you can absolutely guarantee I’ll be on the search for Alex O’Loughlin the entire time I’m there!  😛

3.  Vacation time.  For the first time ever, I took off work for the week between Christmas and New Years.  WHY have I never done this before???  Sleeping in, cooking all my meals (ie. not having to eat out all the time), getting errands done… finally, relaxing, binge-watching all my shows on Netflix/DVR… yes, I believe I have finally learned the appreciation of true vacation time.  Now, I’ve got to retrain my sleeping schedule so that I can get up for work next week.  Ugh…

4.  Christmas decorations.  I think I post this every year, but this year was the first time in 4 years I’ve been able to pull out all of my OWN Christmas stuff to decorate my apartment.  I love evenings with the Christmas tree lights on, the fireplace all done up with our stockings, the goofy elf feet and Santa hats I have all over the place!  It’s impossible to come home and NOT feel happy!

5.  My dad has finally found a doctor who could help him with his ankle.  He’s been in tons of pain and has not had an easy time getting around due to injuries that were caused years ago.  Now, hopefully, he’ll be able to walk without pain or a limp!  Yaay!!!  Mom, you’re next!  😀  #TakingCareOfBusiness  #TakingCareOfFamily

 

 

 

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I need a hero…and he’s gotta be larger than life.

Life is awesome.  Let me say that again, so that it can sink in for anyone who might have lost sight of what that means… Life. Is. Awesome.  I don’t mean that life is a party, full of excitement and fun every single day.  I don’t say that because I won a prize or scratched a winning lottery ticket recently.  I don’t say that because I just found my prince charming and everything is blooming roses and perfection.  I mean that having a life where you can wake up in the morning, walk across the room to take a warm shower, drive to your daily job and say good morning to your friends and family is a wonderful and privileged thing.   As I go about my daily business, exercising the mundane activities that make up my routine, it’s very easy to get used to, and take for granted the fact that I’ll be doing this tomorrow, too.  And the next day.  And the next week.

Before anyone starts thinking I popped some “happy” pills this morning, I have to share a huge moment that happened to me this week.  I received a letter from my donor’s family.  I was not expecting anything from them, nor was I expecting anything this soon!  I figured I would be the first one to reach out, and I was planning on waiting a year or so to allow them time to grieve the loss of their son.  However, they beat me to it, and before I could even begin reading the letter, I choked up.   Never once have I ever forgotten that in the light of my celebration, another family was hurting and mourning the exact same cause.  Every single day I think of the person who gave life to my kidney and the sacrifice of giving that up.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the fact that someone had to die to save my life.  It’s a very bittersweet thought, and it weighs on me heavily at times.  I know that I did nothing to cause his death, and I never hoped or prayed for that to happen.  However, he does not get to experience those mundane activities anymore and enjoy in those moments we take for granted.  Because of that, and so much more, I’m very thankful that he and his family made the decision to help others out with their donations knowing it could make a huge difference in someone else’s life.

The donor’s mom was very eloquent and optimistic.  She never had anything bad or even sad to say about the loss of her son.  She described him as a mama’s boy who was very healthy and positive.  He had big dreams in life and took care of himself and those around him  He became human to me, not just a concept, but an actual person with a personality and a life.  I cried the entire time I read it and still do every time I re-read it, or think about him.  It’s taken me an entire week to write this post because every time I do, I tear up and can’t finish.  My donor actually helped three people live a better life, and I am one of them.   (I don’t know which other organs were donated.)  I think about how difficult it was for this mom to not only allow the doctors to take those parts of her son away from her, but also to sit down and write to each of us who accepted them.  What amazes me is that she wrote the letter only weeks after his death, which shows a lot of compassion.  I plan on writing her back to share with her how much her son has helped me continue my dreams and how much he’s improved not only my quality of life, but the lives of my family as well!

To all donor families out there, I’d like to thank you for your incredible generosity and selflessness.   Thank you for sharing with us the person behind our miracle.  My mom would thank you for saving the life of her first born and friend for life.  My dad would like to thank you for saving his baby girl, and giving him the hope that so many dads have of being able to walk her down the aisle one day.  My sister thanks you for giving her back her biggest and best friend and partner in crime.  My friends and family thank you for allowing their loyal and true friend to be around for many years of amazing memories to come.  Your son not only helped one person continue to live, he effected the lives of many many people, and because of that, he will never be forgotten!  (Not only that, but I’ve placed my Kirby monkey doll in a very visible place to constantly remind me…hee).  Your son has become larger than his own life…and our hero.  🙂

Keep Calm Kirby

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Things I’m thankful for today:

1.  My donor and his family.

2.  Life.  🙂  It’s good stuff!

 

It’s a beautiful day…don’t let it get away!

GF Jesus comic

Wow!  Time flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it?  I can’t believe it’s been more than a month since my last post!  Not that I didn’t warn ya… I knew my posts would be less frequent, but it still feels as if I’m falling behind.  🙂  The good thing is I only have positive things to report!  So, let’s get this party started!

First off, I now only have to go to my transplant clinics once every 3 weeks!  LOVING the fact that I’m not having to be out the door at 6am to drive out to FW all the time!  Not missing the drive or traffic, but I am missing the hospital staff a bit.  It’s funny, but Baylor All Saints has become a bit of a second-home for me.  The staff is like family, looking out for me and getting excited for me and my progress.  The big waiting room (where I’ve spent many, many, many hours), is somewhat comforting.  So, it’s a bit sad when I walk in and realize that it’s becoming less of a frequented “hangout” for me, and more of a home for the others that are now “living” there.  It’s brought to my attention how large the turnover is in the clinic and the awareness that there are ALWAYS people needing transplants and going through the same things I did.  It also gives me more appreciation for the nurses/doctors who have to work there because it’s not just me who gets their full-attention… every single one of those patients get their full-attention and shared excitement and care.  This is one very large family!

Another big piece of progress is my vision!  The doctor I saw for my 2nd opinion (for my Retinopathy) gave me some good feedback.  He has since given me some additional laser therapy and told me I also had a small cataract in my left eye (my bad eye).  Which is not good news, but it’s an answer with a solution, which I love to hear.  Also, when I had my vision screening, they told me my vision has shown VAST improvements!  I have a feeling this is due to the lower doses of prednisone I’m taking…  So, we’re making headway.

I’ve also started my progress into getting a pump.  Right now, I’m getting everything set up for my CGM (continuous glucose monitor) so I have a better report of my sugar levels.  When I got my blood test results back from my endocrinologist (my diabetes doctor), he was saying I still needed to get my sugar levels down, however, I was more focused on the fact that I had actually managed to bring my A1C down two whole points!  (For anyone with diabetes, this is a pretty big accomplishment!)  An A1C test shows what your average blood sugar level has been for the last three months.  Mine have been pretty high due to the fact that it’s so brittle and hard to manage.  A level of 5 -6 is normal – mine had been 10 for years, and my doctors and I have been struggling with this for a long time!  This time, it was an 8!  Despite the fact that my prednisone was sending my sugars into a crazy whirlwind, despite the fact that my body was going haywire figuring out what this new kidney is doing there…and all the meds, despite the fact that I’ve had to readjust my entire diet…again, and despite the fact that my diabetes hadn’t been my first priority for the first few months of the year, I STILL did what seemed impossible and lowered it a full two points!  I’m sorry doc, but I’m actually pretty impressed with myself.  Now, I just have a few more points to go, and I’ll be set and ecstatic!

As for the kidney, it’s still keeping up!  The doctor did inform me that he noticed a “flushing” sound where my kidney was placed.  Apparently, the blood vessel that attaches the kidney to my body has started to constrict a bit.  He says this is not uncommon, but when it does happen, it causes some turbulence with the blood stream, and if it’s not monitored, could close up.  Worst-case scenario, he says they could put in a stent to keep it open, but we’ll watch and see how it does.  The next time I go in for clinic, they are going to schedule me for an ultra-sound to see how it looks.  Other than that, I’ve been cleared to start working out (thank GOD since my appetite has definitely added a few pounds!) and I’m now allowed an occasional drink.  Not that I crave/need them, I’ve actually gotten so used to not drinking the past few years, that I don’t really miss it!  I will admit, though, when the weather is nice out and I’m sitting on a patio with friends, that margarita sure tastes good!   😉

On the Celiac front, I have to announce that May is National Celiac Awareness Month!  Side track…I love how all of “my” months are all one after the other:  March – Nat’l Kidney Awareness, April – Organ Donation Awareness (which I failed to blog about, but I did promote by getting a few co-workers to get Taylor Blue nail polish and paint-it-forward at their next mani-pedi!), May – Celiac Awareness…at least you don’t have to hear about Diabetes Awareness until Novemenber!  LOL!   If I worked non-profit, I’d be a busy girl.  Sooooo, back to the Celiac…. there are actually a lot of news reports announcing some positive progress in a search for improved treatments and a possible cure!  Some media sources even say that the progress already shown could lead to a cure in a hopeful 5 years!  Can you even imagine??  Well, for those of you who don’t have to deal with it, probably not, but anyone who has…the angels will be singing some incoherent opera tune that will fill our heads for months!  What I’ve learned this week, though, is that although Celiac only effects about 1% of the population, it effects 10% of all those with Type 1 Diabetes!  Wow!  It’s like someone out there was saying, “You know what?  They don’t have enough restrictions with sugar, let’s throw flour into the mix as well!”  Well played, Mother Nature!  🙂  So, to help make life a bit easier for all of us stuck in the GF zone, and to help bring some awareness to our office, I donated a panini grill to our cafeteria (with a roll of gluten free stickers to make sure it’s labeled properly) and asked if the chef could include it in their Sandwich line.  The only caveat is that she train her staff to know that it’s only for use with gluten free bread (which they are now offering).   Now, those in our office who can’t have a normal sandwich, can safely have a grilled, hot, and yummy sandwich of their choice with no fear of cross-contamination!  Of course, I went down there today and it’s still in the corner unused (in the box) because they have not let anyone know it’s there.  Anyone in Marketing knows word-of-mouth can only get you so far, so I’m hoping they actually take that next step and announce it’s arrival!

So, that’s the up-and-up for now!  I’ll sign off until next month!

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Things I’m thankful for today:

1.  My mom.  She has done so much for me and has always been there through thick and thin.  She’s always giving of herself and her love, and has taught me how to be a strong, independent and intelligent woman.  Thank you and Happy Mother’s Day mom!  Love you!  🙂

2.  Nex-gen nail treatments.  I’m finally attempting to grow out my nails again!  I stopped using acrylics b/c they were so damaging on my nails, but this Nex-gen product is supposed to be a lot healthier for them, so I can finally have decent fingers again!

3.  Freedom to travel!  I am finally free to roam the cabin now that the seatbelt light has gone off.  My tickets to Boston have been bought, and I’m actually going to make that long-awaited trip to see Steve!  😀

4.  Paper clips.  The zipper on my pants is broken and won’t stay up.  I keep forgetting to take them in, and don’t remember the zipper until I’m walking into the office with an open fly!  I’ve got a paper clip holding them up right now and it’s saving my modesty.

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