Last week I had coffee with a lovely woman who has had struggled with some of the same liver problems I have. She too has dealt with blood clots and blood thinners. Her story is more dramatic than mine, though: one day, her liver kicked the bucket, and she needed a new one, pronto. Thank goodness she got one after one critical day on the transplant list, to the envy of her fellow transplantees, many of whom had waited much longer. Had a match not been found, she wouldn’t have been able to make it for coffee or anything else for that matter.
Talking with her helped me realize how people with serious health conditions deal with so many of the same issues. D. has been following this blog, and she told me she can relate to many things I write. Her experiences suggested to me that maybe we are all more similar than different in health and beyond. Like me, she has experienced unexplained hair loss, a cornucopia of pills, and emotional and physical changes that stymie her. She too received fantastic medical care when she really needed it. We swapped stories of diuretics and blood thinners and diet restrictions. Like me, D. has suffered post-traumatic symptoms relating to her prolonged hospital stay, and she too has survived a brush with death.
Despite all our health similarities, there are significant differences. D. spoke of her kinship within the organ and tissue donation community, her pressing need to thank the donor’s family for granting her the true gift of life, and her now understanding why organ donation is so very important. D. is a vibrant example of what donation can do for someone, and she knows she was one of the lucky ones. Many people who need organs don’t find a match in time.
I can’t imagine how far D. has come in the 7 months since she received her new and improved liver. She is not only a survivor, she is thriving. This past Saturday, with the support of family and friends, she met a goal she’d set in hospital of participating in the first of two provincial Transplant Trots in support of organ and tissue donation. I am astounded by her strength and her insights. Although I am not a member of her Transplant Club, I feel a kinship with her through other challenges we have shared.
I understand D.’s road to recovery will be long and intense, and there will likely be setbacks, but I have no doubt she will survive. And she is doing it all with humour and grace. She’s the kind of person we could all learn from. In fact, if we’re lucky, she’ll write a guest post sometime. But she’s got other priorities right now, the first of which is staying well.
P.S. Did you know Alberta’s Organ and Tissue Donation Registry just went on line? Check it out here.