How I kept my faith through one of the toughest decisions of my life

 

One month ago I was admitted to hospital completely healthy to be released four days later with five stitched incisions and one less kidney.  I left feeling pain, dizziness, nausea, exhaustion, and pure joy.  I made a decision a year prior to donate one of my kidneys to a stranger.  This decision came after some research and deep soul searching.  You can read more about that here.

After making the decision to donate, there were many times I felt unsure and a little scared about my decision.  I trust this is a normal process for someone donating to a stranger.  I did not have a loved one in front of me who needed a kidney.  I didn’t have anything tangible to keep my decision strong.  I could only imagine if someone I loved was suffering, I would have no second thoughts about giving them one of my kidneys.  I barely knew about kidney disease and I probably still don’t even know the half of what people living with the disease experience.  I’ve never knowingly met anyone in person who has.  I didn’t have a team cheering for me and even after telling my family and friends, we rarely even talked about it.  This decision was mine and mine alone.  I knew if I decided not to go through with it, my family would support my decision 100%.  We wouldn’t have to watch someone become disappointed when they were told the news that their donor was no longer giving them a kidney.  I had to dig deep and rely heavily on my spiritual beliefs and the support of something I could not see.

I chose to trust in the deep urge I had to do this.  When I choose to do something, I almost always see it through to the end.  And this choice came out of nowhere and from the very beginning I had an inner pull guiding me.  The year it took for me to officially decide was purely to ease my logical mind, but my heart knew what she wanted.  I believe in a higher power that some call The Universe or God and also that each and everyone one of us have a Higher Self.  I often turn to this belief to help make decisions and to give me reassurance.

A few really cool examples of signs from my Higher Self that have showed up for me during the past year:

  1. My blood pressure during my medical exam at the donation hospital was 111/60.  I love receiving guidance or assurance through numbers.  Many meanings show up for 111 and this is one of the first sequence of numbers that have shown up for me.  Joanne Sacred has a fun online resource if you are interested in attaching meaning to the numbers that show up in your life.  This was a clear message to me in this moment: “Angel Number 111 also encourages you to assist and inspire the human race via your natural abilities, relying upon your inner-wisdom and intuition to guide you. Be an inspirational guiding light to bring illumination to others and to help raise spiritual awareness. Trust that the angels support you in your ‘lightwork’.”Exactly the message that I needed in that moment.
  2. I connected randomly with some affected by kidney disease.  I fell in love with a company that offered clean living products and would purchase from them when sales would pop up.  My cousin invited me to an online sale that her friend hosted.  I purchased a few items and made a connection with the woman who was selling the products.  We became facebook friends, mainly for ease of communicating in regards to the products.  After a few of my facebook posts about organ transplants, she reached out curious to know what my story was.  I mentioned I was signed up to be a living kidney donor and worked for an organ donation agency.  Turns out her sister received a kidney from her brother and kidney disease and donation is something their family is passionate about.  We now have future plans to connect in person and now share a passion!  Note that I have not met anyone, to my knowledge, that has been affected by kidney disease before this moment.
  3. My surgery date was scheduled for the summer. The process from my first test (summer 2017) to the actual surgery (summer 2018) took much longer than usual as the chain of donors and recipients, I was told, was a complex one.  Trusting in the wait and knowing my healing would be in divine timing had me believing from day one that my surgery will likely be spring or summer.  Historically, I have a difficult time during the winter months as I typically cope with seasonal affective disorder and anxiety triggers surrounding flu season.  The universe had my back once I found out in February that my surgery would likely be scheduled 2-3 months from then.  This was such a blessing and, even better, my surgery was pushed to mid-July allowing me the perfect amount of time to prepare and heal during the best time of the year for me mentally.  Being in nature has made my healing process an absolute joy.
  4. Oracle cards.  These beauties have pulled me out of some dark moments.  The messages resonate with me about 90% of the time in the moment I read them.  If I’m feeling fearful, lonely, or unsure I will pull out a deck of oracle cards, breathe deep and ask from my heart for a message.  The messages always led me closer to love and certainty for my decision.

The most consistent thing that kept me on my path was the reassurance I would receive when I needed it most.  Some nights while laying in bed, I would think about giving up a kidney.  I would think of all the potential risks involved with surgery.  I would think of life afterwards and the thought of  my remaining kidney failing.  I would think of the time in hospital and shortly after coming home and panicked about feeling nauseous, feeling pain, wondering if my husband would be able to take on the extra load of keeping up the chores and taking care of our five-year-old.  I held strong in my decision right up until surgery because every single time I had a worrisome thought come through my head something would happen shortly after to reassure me I was on the right path.  All of the things I mention above and so much more.  It was magical!

I have learned that I can’t control every aspect of my life but I can control how I react and I can choose to believe in a Higher Power.  I can rely on this Higher Power to support me through the greatest and worst times of my life.  The belief holds me strong and allows me to forgive quicker and easier.  It helps me feel supported and loved.  It helps me feel like I have a purpose in this lifetime.  It helps me trust in my gut and believe that I can make decisions that will serve the greater good.  It helps me to learn how to forgive myself for anything I’ve ever felt shame or guilt for.

Have you ever had signs similar to mine?  If not, try asking for a sign.  It can be something simple and fun!  My mom was trying to make a decision before going on a road trip so I told her to ask for a sign like an animal.  She picked penguin.  There are no wild penguins where we live so she knew not to expect to see a penguin in the living breathing form but a penguin in any other form would do.  Her trip lasted one day and she saw two penguins.  One was on a shopping centre sign and the other was a little stuffed toy penguin that a little girl randomly handed her during her visit.

We are always surrounded by love and support.  Ask for guidance and you will receive.

xoRox


Why I decided to give away my kidney

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This is a question I’ve been asked many times over the past two years.  It’s a question I’ve had to ask myself a few times too.

Since starting this journey, I’ve read many stories of people doing exactly what I’m about to do.  I resonate with each of their reasons.  Many of them don’t really have a solid reason why they chose this path and I resonate with this too.  I’ve tried to explain to my family members, friends, a psychiatrist, and the transplant team but can’t really pinpoint where this urge comes from.

I can’t remember how old I was but I was at least 17 yrs old because I was able to drive on my own.  Somehow I found out it was possible to volunteer to donate bone marrow to a stranger and it seemed like a cool opportunity to help someone in need.  I decided to sign up.  The process involved me driving to a clinic about 40 min away, getting my blood drawn and my cheek swabbed.  I filled out a few forms and anxiously waited for a call.  I told a few people and their response was, “I heard that donating bone marrow is painful!” I’m not sure I have the best pain tolerance but the thought of helping to save a life outweighed the thought of the pain I might experience for a short time so I kept the hope I would get a call.  The call never came and after a few years I forgot about it.

From then until the moment I decided to donate I became a mom, went through a separation, dealt with anxiety, post-partum and seasonal depression, was diagnosed with endometriosis and fibromyalgia and tested for cardiovascular issues due to fainting spells and heart palpitations.  I went through some traumatic emotional events that turned my world inside out and upside down.  I spent the past six or seven years figuring out how to feel my best in this body and this mind. This has been crucial because I know I will need to tap into all of the resources I have been gathering over the years to help me heal and deal pre and post donation the best way I know how.

Since I got my licence and knew that being an organ donor at death was an option, I had signed my card, had registered online and let everyone know my wishes.  I thought it was a guarantee that my organs would give life to someone in need.  I felt satisfied and happy with the thought of something good coming out of my death.  I signed up to donate my blood and tried a few times before being told that my being there was actually using too many resources because I would almost faint every time and they needed to abort mission or have more than one volunteer distract me during the withdrawal.  I felt proud of the handful of times I was able to make it through to the end but felt sad that I couldn’t be a part of this amazing life giving service.

After working many years at the same facility in the same department I was starting to feel an itch to do something different with my life and my career.  I started with taking an integrative nutrition course then experimented with building a website in hopes to one day start my own business as a health & wellness coach.  My boss at the time asked me where I saw myself in fives years.  This was a serious question during my serious performance appraisal meeting.  My response, “not here”.  I wasn’t being sarcastic or negative, I was being sincere.  I told my boss I was getting ready to make a change, I saw myself in a career that was in service of others in a bigger way.  I wasn’t quite sure what that looked like yet but something was burning inside me to make a change.  A job opportunity fell into my inbox twice before I really noticed it and became interested.  This job was for my provinces organ donation agency and it was a remote position! After a quick chat with the hubby, I cleaned up an old resume and applied.  I figured if I got an interview I would move through the process and just see what happened.  After a few weeks, I got the call for a phone interview.  A week or so after that, I got the call for an in-person interview. A day or so after that, I got the job offer! It all happened so quickly but it seemed so right.  I put a request out to the universe for something different and it answered.

I’m still with the agency and love the job and the people I work with.  I get to work from home and have opportunities to travel to different hospitals across the province, allowing for new experiences and finding new places to eat (I love food!). Through this job I have learned quite a bit about organ donation.  It has highlighted the low percentage of people who actually have the opportunity to become organ donors at death.  I started to understand why there is such a long list of people on the waiting list for organs.  This fact was shocking.  In 2016, over 4500 canadians were waiting for organ transplants, a little over 2900 organs were transplanted, and 260 people died waiting. I always thought that by registering to donate my organs, it almost guaranteed one or more of my organs would help save a life.  The number of deaths in 2016 here in Canada were 268,932.  In most provinces, only about a third of the residents are registered to become organ donors so there is still so much room for growth.  Just a quick glance at these numbers shocked me.  I was becoming more interested and was starting to read stories in the news about recipients and their families and how amazing the gift of life truly can be.  I read a few stories of people donating their kidneys to loved ones and even strangers.  This got me thinking so I did a bit of research on becoming a living kidney donor.

I called my local transplant hospital to get more information, I joined a living kidney donor facebook group, I started asking for any and all spiritual guidance.  It took about a year before I truly decided to sign up as a living kidney donor which involved lots of conversations with family and close friends.  I’m writing this now only two weeks away from my surgery date and feel more sure about my decision now than ever before.  The idea of starting a chain of potentially many recipients across Canada lights me up inside.  I know there are risks to any surgery and I realize that it’s not impossible that someone in my lifetime who I am close to may need a kidney.  I have read some negative and sometimes scary stories of what has happened with living kidney donors.  Even after digging through those dark thoughts and moving through the what ifs, I still feel a strong pull to do this.  What I am sure of is that I will be in some pain, I will be moving slower for a few weeks, I will be more aware of things that could potentially harm my remaining kidney, my family will have to step up and help out with chores, and some people I love will be worried about the outcome of my surgery. The thought that gets me through this is the discomfort and inconvenience I will experience for a short amount of time is absolutely worth knowing families will be able to celebrate a better quality of life with their loved ones for many years to come.

Choosing to become a living kidney donor is a major decision and should not be taken lightly.  My main reason for sharing is to shed some light on the area of organ donation as a whole.  We still have a long way to go before waitlists become shorter and less people have to spend their lives on dialysis machines or die waiting.  The easiest way to help is to register to become a donor at death and tell your family members your wishes. Currently in Canada, your next of kin has the last say even if you have previously registered.

Want to know more about the Kidney Paired Donation Program: click here

Want to register your wishes to become an organ donor at death: click here