Now, before anyone starts to wonder "WHAT DOES HE MEAN, HE WASN'T SURE IF HE WANTED A KIDNEY FROM HIS DAD?", rest assured - I did. Though at the time, it was a really heavy burden and gift to accept - plus, I was scared to have the surgery done. I suppose the thought of surgery makes most normal people cringe a little - here I was, just getting used to dialysis, and now I had to undergo the steps it takes to get a transplant.
It was all a little overwhelming, to say the least. I handled it pretty well, I think - mostly by binge eating and crying the corner of my bedroom when no one was looking. But seriously, I spent a lot of time thinking about it all - I'd spent most of my life just taking, taking, taking from my parents. And God Bless them, they were usually only too willing to give. Previous to my getting sick, my relationship with my parents was strained at best - I'd spent several years screwing around, losing jobs and dropping out of college - generally floating around like some kind of dreaming flotsam, and coasting off all their hard work. I had tried to get my life together, but I was always feeling rotten (we found out later it was because of RAMPANT KIDNEY DISEASE) and I spent most of my time sleeping or lazing about. It had even gotten to the point where I was "gently" nudged out of their house and lived on my own for several months, until that experiment crashed and burned with the force of a thousand fiery suns. Yep. I was the screw-up.
And now, my Dad wanted to give the screw-up a kidney. Yikes.
We visited Upstate Medical University's Transplant Department in Syracuse, and met the team. They described what a life with a transplant is like - that, like dialysis, it's not a cure - merely another form of treatment. A better form, with better results, but one still needs constant medical care and attention for the rest of their lives even with a transplant. There's a strict daily regiment of immuno-suppressant drugs that keep your body from rejecting the "graft" organ. The side effects of the drugs can be not so pleasant as well. And there's always that chance of the dreaded rejection. They beat it into my head - non-compliance with the drugs will lead to you losing your transplant. To any potential transplant recipients, I can't stress that enough - and I'm sure your transplant team will too!
So they went over the particulars, and my Dad and my Mom both got tested to see if they were a match. It turns out they both were, thankfully - but my Mother's problems with slightly elevated blood pressure put her on the sidelines. My Dad was adamant, though. To this day, when I think of how determined he was to do this for me - and for us, it brings tears to my eyes. Being a father is something I have yet to accomplish, but I can only hope that I have one iota of the devotion to my children as my Father has to his. Sometimes I think about how bankrupt this world can be morally and socially, and I'm so proud to come from the family that I do. My gift from my father wasn't merely the transplant we had several months later, but the gift of knowledge, love and wisdom. That and his stunning good looks, I'm told.