So, four months into my brand new relationship, I had to return to dialysis. I headed back to the clinic I went to before my first transplant, and began treatment three times a week. The In-Center treatments would last four hours, and I'd be there for about five every other day - and I was usually wiped out after each treatment. I would come home and take a nap for at least a couple hours after each session. So, yeah, it was a bit of a stress on our relationship - but as I talked about in previous entries, we worked through it and came out even stronger because of it.
A little over a year back on dialysis, I knew I was going to ask Jordan to marry me. We'd casually talked about it - which, I learned, is something you just don't do to a girl because they get very, very excited at the proposition. Finally gathering up some courage, I took her father aside one night when we were visiting her parents and I announced my intentions. It's funny; you think of those big moments in your life - your first drive on your own in a car, a graduation, moving out, asking your girlfriend's father for her hand in marriage - and when you get there, you're still nervous as hell. David, Jordan's father, just smiled and welcomed me with open arms. He even gave me his family heirloom ring to use as an engagement ring. It's a beautiful diamond ring - much nicer than anything I could afford at the time. I kept that ring in a box in my pocket for a couple of months, showing it to anyone I could.
"LOOK!" I would exclaim as I quickly whipped the ring out of my pocket.
I can't tell you how many times Jordan and I were hanging out, and I had the ring on me and I was dying to give it to her and ask her. But I wanted a "right time" to ask her. I didn't want to do something really grand and cliched - it's not my style. But I did want it to be special, sentimental and a moment we'd both remember.
We had planned a weekend trip to New York City to see some of Jordan's friends. She had gone to school in Queens and had a plethora of good friends down there who were dying to see her. Traveling on dialysis is tricky, so I made plans to do dialysis very early on Friday morning, and we'd leave for the city in the afternoon. That morning, I woke up early, and went off to dialysis. I came home several hours later, and Jordan was still in bed sleeping. I went into her room, and I took a knee next to her bed, and rubbed her hand until she woke up. She groggily opened her eyes, and I kissed her gently and told her how much I loved her. She smiled, and we talked about how excited we were for the trip. I reached into my pocket, and I asked her "the question". Without hesitiation, a resounding yes sprang from her lips.... and she kissed me furiously. I slipped the ring on her finger, and we went off to New York to celebrate. We had a great trip - our first together as an engaged couple.
We spent the next year planning the wedding, which is an amazingly ardouous task, let me tell you. Many times I got in trouble for providing this response to many a question regarding the wedding.
"I don't care, I'm a dude."
Guys, a bit of advice, even though that makes sense to us, never say that to your fiancee. I'm lucky I didn't get punched in the face.
As we approached the wedding day, I was offered a chance to visit the home dialysis unit at my center. They had started a home hemo-dialysis program using a machine called NxStage System One. Jordan, being a nurse at the VA hospital, was very interested in doing the program. So, we signed up for it and jumped in head first into the world of home hemo-dialysis.
It's pretty amazing to be able to do dialysis at home - but it's a complex system. We had to go in for training for several weeks - which was very taxing on the wife, as she would work 12 hour over-night shifts at the hospital, and then come in center for another four or five hours to train with me. The poor girl didn't get much sleep during this period - but we were quick learners, being that we both had decent medical knowledge and training before hand.
Having our own small dialysis machine was great - but it also meant another amazing thing - we could take it on a honeymoon.... which meant we could actually get away to enjoy one!