Saturday, November 10, 2007

Every day in every way...

It’s ten days after the operation and I’m finally beginning to feel enough energy to start making contributions to the blog. What I hadn’t realized -- and should have, of course -- is that along with my kidney Jim now has truckloads of energy, whereas I have to be very conservative about everything I do so I don’t wear myself out.

Jim used to start every morning with a long session of violent coughing to clear out his lungs. Sometimes this would make him feel faint or nauseated, and he’d have to lie down again to recover, drenched in sweat. He was wondering if the transplant would have any effect on this. Answer: it does. The very first thing we noticed after the operation was that the coughing disappeared. Obviously the coughing was just one more desperate effort that Jim’s body was making to clear out the impurities, but now the new kidney has taken on the full task of keeping his body toxin-free and spinning like a top.

Caitlan suggested that we give the new kidney a name. I’m tempted to call it Super-K. It impresses me all to pieces. I have an image in my mind of a little kidney in a cute little spandex suit with a big K on the front, beaming broadly with a big American smile and absolutely radiating strength and good will. I’m quite proud of Super-K, actually. I didn’t know I had it in me!

I can only assume that its twin is just as efficient, so I should eventually return to my former level of activity. But it’s taking a long time. Ten days -- I should complain! My operation took twice as long as Jim’s, and the impact of having one less vital organ is naturally going to be significant. Frankly, I don’t mind gliding around the house in slow motion. I’ve taken the rest of November off, so I don’t feel compelled to get back to work. I’m deep into Harry Potter (which I’d never been able to read until now). All I really have to do is the paperwork for the insurance after the wretched break-in on Monday night. And maybe go window-shopping for a new watch to replace the one that the perpetrator kindly relieved me of.

I should also note that today I don’t feel any pain in the wound for the first time. I can easily get in and out of bed, in and out of chairs, up and down stairs. It no longer hurts to laugh, or cough, or sneeze, or blow my nose. If I lift anything of any weight (like a frying pan) I can feel a kind of pressure in the wound area, but no pain. But moving around too much makes me feel a little dizzy and I have to sit down and wait for the energy to return.

Jim goes back to Amsterdam on Monday for a careful check-up. He’ll be a regular visitor to the AMC twice a week for three months, then at longer intervals. I don’t have to go back for six weeks. My project now is to recover my strength and to try to grasp what I’ve done. The spiritual, psychological and physical hurdle of deciding to donate a kidney -- and then actually doing it -- is something that requires an enormous effort, I now realize. Maybe that’s also contributing to the fatigue. I never had any doubts before the operation, but I remember a lot of anxiety. I also remember telling myself, “You’ll be glad you did this, and if you don’t you’ll kick yourself forever.” The night before we left for Amsterdam, I jokingly said to Jim, “Me and my big mouth,” but that’s really it -- me and my big mouth. When I see him so glowing with energy, and not coughing, “me and my big mouth” takes on a whole different meaning.

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