Still during this period that Tommy was waiting to find out whether or not this first round of testing would eventually allow him to continue with the whole testing process, I wrestled with whom I should tell that I was going through this.
Up until I started writing this blog, anyone who knew me would say that I am a very private person. But of those that I thought I should tell, were those on my staff. I felt that was only fair because if they suddenly start noticing that I was out of the building more and more they would naturally become curious. So, at the next staff meeting, I decided that this would be the place I would inform them.
I did not know how I was going to tell them, I really didn’t even know how I was going to tell anyone for that matter…how do you suddenly go from someone who was typically be shy and reserved to someone who may now (depending on what happened with Tommy) have to ask others for a part of them, a physical part of them, in order for me to live. You just can’t flip a switch and change your personality, at least I can’t. But yet, that’s what I almost felt as if I had to do.
So, on this particular Wednesday afternoon, which I remember being overcast, and really dour, we were going through our staff meeting in typical fashion. All I remember is wanting to get through all of the agenda items as quickly as possible so I would have a few minutes at the end to tell my staff what was going on.
We had finished with the final agenda item, I took a look around the table (we had pushed two long tables together, I was sitting in the middle with about half of the staff to my left and the other half to my right) took a very deep breath and then I said to them that “over the course of the coming weeks and months I may be in and out of the office a little more than usual as”, and I took a deep another breath, paused for another moment, and then finished the sentence I had started, “…as I need a kidney transplant.”
There I finally had said it. It felt…weird, but at the same time, as if a little bit of weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.
As those words slipped out of my mouth, I did not know what I was to expect in return, if anything, from my staff. The first two staff I had been looking at, it was as if a sense of ambivalence came across them, which really made me feel good – not! Then off to my left, I did not see it, but I heard a heartfelt gasp come from Kristena, and Jenna say something like, “Oh my God.”
Then Deb, our nurse in the program, who at times referred to herself not as a fighter, but as a healer, and this particular instance was no exception. Seeing that some of the staff were a little upset with the news, and me who was floundering to console anyone at that point, piped up and said something to the effect that “transplants are more common and more successful nowadays, and we are all going to think positive thoughts and help Michael get through this.” Deb could always put a positive spin on something at just the right moment.
I came to find out later that one of my staff took the news particularly hard…which was sweet and endearing to hear that they cared so much. Being in a business that cares for people, I always tried to be as fair as I possibly could be to my staff – some undoubtedly would take advantage of that, but for others, it has helped create a foundation for a great long lasting relationship. And when I heard how this news affected them, it touched me deeply.