A little background is necessary to set the stage, so please indulge me as I tell something of myself. I am – as I indicated – fifty two years of age. I am a native Floridian, a somewhat rare beast, with three college degrees who practices law in a small town in a rural county in north Florida. We live in an even smaller town, Yankeetown. Since you have probably never heard of it, I offer you the site http://www.yankeetown.org.threefish/index.html as a reference. It is an unofficial site which has been prepared by a classmate of my daughter, and a former student of my wife. For pictures of the area, I offer http://www.yankeetown.org/visions/, which offers photographic evidence of why we love to live there.
I am blessed with a beautiful and supportive wife of almost thirty-two years, a son and a daughter, both in their twenties. My wife, Patricia, is an Assistant Principal at Dunnellon High School, having taught almost every grade before becoming a teacher. Our daughter, Lynne, is also teacher, teaching English at Howard Bishop Middle School in Gainesville, Florida, and has provided us with a granddaughter, Kelly, who is three and a half years old. Our son, also Peter, is planning to follow suit around Christmas, and will give us a second granddaughter, Alexa. He and his wife live in Corydon, Indiana, and work in Louisville, Kentucky, just over the river and the state line. He works for Bell South. Our daughter-in-law, Melanie, is a chemical engineer with Zeon Corporation..
My donor is a wonderful 47 year old woman whom I have known for years, but whom I do not see regularly any more since she and her family moved to Maine several years ago. Her name is Diane Ryan, and her offer to give me a kidney moved me to tears and beyond. She had the support – albeit with understandable reservations – of her husband, Mike, and of her oldest child, Cathy, who was a classmate of our son in high school. Her two younger children remained more neutral, but have been very supportive since the decision was made. I have known the family for years, and we have done things with family members over the years. Diane has a wonderful and wry sense of humor, and is one of the most outspoken people I have ever met, as you will see through the journal I am about to begin.
I have heard from many people how unimaginable it is to have a non-relative living donor, and I understand the almost unique gift that I have received from Diane. There are days when I telephone her in Maine just to check on her and to thank her once again. It seems so completely inadequate, but Diane is almost embarrassed by my effusive thanks, which once again shows what kind of person she really is.
I cannot thank her enough for her unbelieveable gift, or for her ability to help me through the concerns which I had for her throughout this process. With that general introduction, I will go back to the beginning, to when I first heard the words "kidney failure" and then fast forward to the final decision that it was time to get on the list and the life changing telephone call from Diane. I only hope that this journal will prove of some benefit to someone else facing the same issues and concerns in the future. Please feel free to E-Mail me with questions. If I can help, I will be happy to. I feel that I have a new life, and that I should share whatever I can share with others.
One word of warning about this journal: this is not intended to be a medical assistance program. Every transplant experience is unique. I feel that I have been blessed over and over since I have not had any rejection episodes yet; my reactions to the drugs – other than my diabetes going out of control – have been minimal; my new kidney began functioning immediately on the operating table; and I have never had any pain from my incisions. I cannot feel that this is average or even normal. From talking with people in the clinic waiting room, it is clear that many people have problems which I have missed out on, but which, I assure you, I have not really missed. Therefore, please do not read about my surgery and recovery time and base your expectations on what I have undergone. From my doctors, my nurses, and everyone else I have spoken to, the word "miraculous" is readily used to describe my experience.
However, while the time lines may vary, and while the pain level and medication reactions may vary widely, the bottom line appears to be that almost everyone comes through the process as largely a new person, and this is the positive to hold onto. It may take you longer than it has me; it may involve more drug reaction; it may involve more strange body hair or mood swings, but the end result is clearly worth it.