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Kingston, Massachusetts, United States

Thursday, February 10, 2011

February 10, 2011

What scares me about the transplant?  Wow, what a loaded question.  Growing up not much scared me.  I was extremely shy, though I was not very timid.  That sounds like an oxymoron, but its true…I guess you could say that I was more of a quiet kid.  My uncle had his own carpentry business, and I would think nothing of it and climb up on the roof of a house and help him.  I think Uncle Jimmy was more scared of me being up there than I was of being there.  Tower of Terror at Walt Disney World – Loved It!  (Though, I will admit that I am not much of a roller coaster fan).
As a kid, I think what probably scared me the most would be running after the ice cream truck in the neighborhood, finally catching up to it and not having enough money to for your favorite snow cone (you know the one, the one with the “surprise” gumball at the bottom) and having to settle for a plain ice cream sandwich.  Now, ice cream sandwiches are ok, but when you have your heart set on something else, plus its 95 degrees out and in the 3.2 seconds it takes you to get the ice cream sandwich from the ice cream man and unwrap it, it has already melted and is now running down your arm.

It would be nice to be standing in front of that ice cream truck right now, but I’m not.  I’m standing in front of a kidney transplant…..and it scares the hell out of me!!!

So, what is it that scares me about this whole transplant thing…probably a lot more than I have let on to my family and friends.

First and foremost, I am scared because, in order to continue living, I need to depend on someone else to physically give up a part of themselves.  This is not like borrowing their lawn mower  to mow your lawn and then forgetting to give it back…the significance of this carries a teeny-tiny more weight.

I am scared about a major “what if”?  What if it doesn’t work?  What if Tommy’s kidney suddenly stops working for me, and I reject the kidney…now I am probably headed to dialysis and Tommy is only left with one functioning kidney.

I’m scared that, after all the testing that Tommy has gone through, that the transplant committee will take him out of consideration and then we are back to needing to find a donor again.

I am scared to die.  I know this surgery is much more common nowadays, but there is that little spec of doubt there.

I am scared of all the meds that I will have to take after the transplant.  I wish it was as easy as taking a Tylenol and being done with it.  It seems like it will be fistfuls of immunosuppressants several times a day.

I am scared about the side effects of the immunosuppressants.  Some lead to Diabetes in some people (I already have that covered, though); some to skin cancers and other skin legions ; and some can even lead to lymphoma and leukemia or other cancers (thyroid) or tumors.  Then there are the general side-effect s – tremors in your hands, hair loss or thinning, general shakiness and the good ‘ole nausea and vomiting.

I’m scared for my family and friends waiting and watching me recover from the surgery.  I’m even scared for my beagle, Bella.  Bella gets very nervous if I am out of the house for more than a few hours.  So you can imagine how she will be when I am in the hospital, there won’t be enough cookies in the world to satisfy her.

For those that are reading this and have gone through it, or are going through it, I would love to know what scares you about this whole process…what scares you and how do you handle it?

You can also go to www.thewaitinglist.org for more information on organ donation, or visit The Waiting List on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/endthewaitinglist .


  1. Hi Michael!
    I found your blog on the Transplant Buddies forum, and wanted to say hello. I've read all of your entries, and I feel like I've gone back in time. I had my transplant almost 9 years ago, with my brother as my donor. You are so right when you said that you need a good support system to get thru this. I was lucky enough to have a family like yours to walk the road with me. Your fears are completely rational and I had pretty much all of the same ones. My kidney failure was sudden, but I didn't realize how bad I really felt until I got better. You are going to do great and feel great, and the medication won't even be a second thought after a few weeks. Can't wait to read your story unfold more.

    Becky - Kidney TX, 2-26-02 :)

  2. Hi Michael,
    Being the kind of person I am, tough, not wanting sympathy or help from anyone, I haven't opened up to my family and close friends about my fears concerning the transplant yet, but I'm sure it will help if I share them here.
    1. I have always been a non-compliant lupus/kidney patient. If I'm unable to change this behavior, it would result in rejection and my dad will live with one functioning kidney which would crush me since it would be my fault.
    2. Living with the side effects of the medications and not being able to enjoy it and be the active person I am.
    3. Not being able to go through med school then practice medicine in the event of a rejection or simply not being able to handle its stresses and strains (I am in the process of applying to med school).
    4. Dealing with my parents' extreme overprotectiveness which drives me crazy.
    More to come as I give it more thought :)

  3. Hi Michael,

    I will never know the fear you're presently going through, although you've painted a picture that has helped me to understand. I donated my kidney to my brother on December 29th and your list of fears were very similar to ours. What if it doesn't work? My reasoning for donating was to give my brother a second chance. I could not go on living my normal life thinking, what if?, while my brother waited patiently on dialysis, exhausted and sickly. He needed me, and I was brought to tears of joy knowing I had the opportunity to help him. I knew there was a risk of rejection or mechanical error, but you have to be ready to accept that fate. Prior to donation, and even before I left for the operating room, I would constantly tell my family to remember if things did not work out as planned, "At least we could say we tried." I'm sure Tommy feels the same. I just ask you and your family to have faith, and roll with the punches, find the strength within yourself and each other, and your fears will subside. You got this! Sending strength your way!