Brotherly Love07/16/2008 08:07:31
Today I got a card from my youngest brother Randy, or as his non-family adult friends call him, "Randall". He is also the brother who donated one of his kidney's to me, rescuing me from a lifetime of dialysis or a spot on the eternally long, so called transplant list. (I have always questioned how recipients are selected from that list) He was writing to thank me for taking care of him, while he was in the hospital! Now that's a big switch. First of all, he is 6'6", handsome and healthy. He has never even been in the hospital except when he was born, when he gave me a kidney or when he was visiting someone else. To be honest I was secretly happy that all the time I have logged in at various hospitals, actually came in very handy. Sometimes I really feel like an expert of sorts. In fact, I'm sure I could write a "Frommer's Guide" just for hospitals. I mean, I have been in hospitals in Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, Washington DC, California, Hawaii, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico and even Guam. I could rate the doctors, the nurses, the service, the congeniality, the cleanliness, the comfort of the bed and rooms, the amenities, the decor, the TV access and most importantly...the food. But more significantly, it has made me become an excellent medical advocate and I definitely know what patients usually want during their stay.
Well Randy's hospital visit was right up my ally. He actually had kind of a very "freak" accident. Just before leaving on a business trip to the Bahamas', he stepped on, of all things, a toothpick! (Unfortunately it had been used.) While there, he ended up with such a bad infection that his whole foot became swollen and the pain began to travel up his entire leg. He flew to Florida where I live, along with another one of my brothers, Todd, who picked him up at the airport and brought him to a hospital near me. It was one of my favorites on the list in terms of service. After we got him checked in for what would come to be a 5 day stay with IV antibiotics (and some minor surgery), my expertise came into play. First was letting him know this was no big deal. I could tell him what was going to happen even before the nurses. Secondly, I actually knew one of the infectious disease Doctors ( from a previous visit) and I requested he handle my brother's condition. You have to speak up in the hospital. And if you can't then someone else needs to do it for you. You have to ask the doctors why they are making certain decisions. You have to ask if there is another way and why they chose this one. You have to tell them everything you feel. if you're in pain, it needs to be managed. If you feel uncomfortable with anything, including your doctor, you have to let someone know. Randy was lucky. He had great care; a private room, lot's of goodies from all the nurses (who loved him) and access to his laptop. But its the other stuff that someone has to bring you. Like the latest issue of "People" and other "fun" magazines of fashion and gossip. Some nice smelling lotion with actual lubricating properties, like Keil's or Jergen's, unlike the hospital's watered down version, a nice blanket with real weight to it, some mints and gum, for that hospital cotton mouth, some facial wash that you can use without getting up and going to the bathroom, so you don't leave with a bunch of zits and gym shorts so you can have visitors without flashing everyone when you get up. I think all and all his stay wasn't that bad. Of course its no fun being in the hospital, but I have always found, that with the right attitude and some good friends, you can treat it as a mini get away for some R& R. Sans the 3 AM wake up calls to draw your blood you have a lot of down time to read a book, watch Oprah or just sleep. Anyone with Lupus, has undoubtedly seen the inside of a hospital more than a few times.
Anyway, I was happy to be of service so to speak. Even one of the doctors commented on how nice it was to see me upright, healthy and in real clothes! I have always been close to my family, which in addition to my parents includes 3 brothers, all very close in age. It helps that they are all very educated (and involved) with Lupus. They recognize when I am tired, they are sensitive to my activity level, they are emotionally supportive when I'm in the hospital; all of this is immensely helpful in dealing with Lupus and the subsequent issues that arise from time to time.
When I found out I needed a kidney as a result of my Lupus, everyone in my family was a willing donor. Everyone got tested and Randy and I were nearly a perfect match. ( So was my Dad but we chose Randy because he was younger) Having a living donor makes you think a lot more about the procedure and how it will affect the donor. We did a lot of research and decided on University of Maryland where they are experts at doing laparoscopic transplants. The donor can be up and back on their feet in less than a week! ( 6 days in the case of Randy and I, and even back to work! ) I think if more people knew about this type of procedure, more people would be organ donors. One night when I couldn't breathe, due to the fluid in my lungs, I called 911 and went by ambulance to the emergency room. I called Randy because he lived on my same time zone at the time and my parents were out of town. I left a message on his answering machine, just so someone would know where I was. It turned out I needed emergency dialysis and was admitted immediately. When I woke up in my hospital bed, opened my eyes and regained focus, I could see Randy standing at the foot of my bed. He said that after he heard my message, he flew from NY to Boston, where I was living (single at the time) just incase they needed his kidney right then and there. Words can't express what an amazing gesture that was. It's a funny thing to accept the gift of a kidney. To be so grateful for a gift; it's hard to communicate that kind of gratitude. Even though you say of course you would do it for any of them in a heart beat, it somehow feels different to be on the receiving end. The best thank you I can give is to live my life to the fullest. To protect this gift. To take excellent care of my hardworking, beautiful, gigantic new kidney!
Randy and I share a special connection. After I received his kidney, I used to call him and put my hand over my kidney and say "I know what you're thinking"! We have an amazing bond and I also have a great bond with ALL my brothers. Partly because I'm the only girl I suppose, but mostly because they are all really incredible people that I just happen to be related to. Rick is my older brother, by thirteen months, Todd is 16 months younger and then Randy, the planned child as he likes to call himself, is 6 years younger. Yes, my parents were busy! We are all really good friends, which always makes it fun when everyone can get together. Definitely lots of brotherly love! That's me and the bro's!
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