Part 4 – Life After Transplantation
After my transplant I would wake up in the morning and think, I don’t have to plan my schedule today; there is no dialysis that needs to happen today, tonight, tomorrow. It was an incredibly liberating feeling. For the first few weeks I would even catch myself trying to plan when I had to get home and dialyze before I remembered that I don’t have to worry about that anymore.
It was a time where I felt totally blessed and at ease.
As I adjusted to my new normal though a few funny things happened. Things that you forget about while you are on dialysis. Most people don’t know this, but it’s common to lose taste in your taste buds when you are on dialysis. Not long after my transplant surgery, I couldn’t believe how good everything tasted. My mom thought I was crazy, but the same foods I was eating while on dialysis, I was eating now, and everything tasted so good! On top of being able to actually taste my food for the first time in nine years, I was also given a completely unrestricted diet. I was able to eat what I liked to get my body back on track and get those nutrients that I needed to resume normal activities.
The other part was that I had stopped producing urine 5 years prior to my transplant. The bladder however is a muscle, and just like other muscles in the body if you stop exercising it, it gets smaller and weaker. After my surgery I probably had to go to the bathroom 30-40 times a day. My mom joked that we should have to put more money aside in our budget for extra toilet paper. It seems weird, but it is a happy moment for me whenever I use the restroom because I know my body and kidneys are working as they should.
I don’t know if there is any science to this, but I also feel like I have adopted pieces of her as well. I used to hate exercising, but Noemi was always exercising and running, and I suddenly adopted a new outlook on exercise. Noemi also doesn’t like to eat beans and I found after my transplant I didn’t crave them or like them anymore. Certain things like that made me feel as though we had an even deeper connection and bond together.
My journey has been a long and emotional but blessed one. The connection that I have with Noemi is deeper and closer than ever. After going through this together I felt like I just wanted to be near her and talk to her. Right after the surgery we probably called each other every other day to check in and see how the other was doing. She has shared in part of my story. As much as it is an emotional connection it is also a physical connection too. I share a part of her and part of her genetics.
We joke that now I can be considered one of her daughters. It is incredibly humbling as well to think someone put aside their life and took a piece of their body to give to me, so I might have a chance at a better future. There is nothing else I can say other than, she helped me get my life back and I will always share a special connection to her.
Donating a kidney was an incredible process. I looked at it as a way that I could help Maria, a person who I knew and loved, when she really needed me. Donation was scary and at times difficult and emotional, but when I talk to others about organ donation now I tell them about how beautiful the process is. By donating my kidney to Maria, I was able to help her regain her health, her quality of life, and her spirit. How wonderful to know you have changed someone’s life for the better, to help someone live a full life again.
There is a shared unity between us that I know we will carry for the rest of our lives. There is a bond and closeness that forms. We share a piece of each other. She has my kidney but the lessons she has taught me about faith, friendship, and perseverance even at the darkest of times, is something I will carry with me.