I constantly find myself being told by other people how to feel. They often point out to me that things could be worse, or that I should consider myself lucky. And while I do, now that I have somebody else’s well-functioning kidney inside me and it is doing its job well, it really bothers me when other people tell me how I should feel. Sure, other people have it worse. But why can’t we all acknowledge that getting so sick that you need a transplant sucks? If you’re in this position and somebody tries to say this to you, tell them, “Yeah, but so many people have it easier than me, and it’s ok to wallow every once in a while!”
When I got sick, people told me that I was ‘lucky’ that it wasn’t cancer. I certainly didn’t feel lucky. I felt terrible. I was sixteen and I couldn’t do anything that my friends could do. I had to be homeschooled, I missed parties, dances, and even dating. I didn’t get to go to senior prom and I didn’t get to walk across the stage with my class come graduation day. Instead, I’d been diagnosed with renal failure and had to start doing dialysis. While yeah, it wasn’t chemotherapy, dialysis wasn’t a treatment. It was simply a stop-gap so I didn’t DIE. If that is somebody’s definition of lucky, I’d hate to see what they think is unlucky.
Then after I went on the transplant list, I was told I was lucky again. Personally, I don’t think anybody on the transplant list is lucky! But everyone would talk about how nobody had to die to give me their organs. I get it, I didn’t need a heart or a double lung transplant or anything. I also understand how it is terrible to be sick and dying, and catch yourself wishing harm on a healthy person so that you can get better. I get that. That’s terrible.
If you have a large family, it’s easier to get a donor kidney. When you’ve got a big pool of relations to test, it increases your chance of having somebody be compatible. I don’t have a big family. Like me, my mom is an only child. My dad has one sister, who was a match. However, she almost simultaneously learned that she’d gotten pregnant with my cousin. So you know she wasn’t giving me her kidney. I couldn’t even be upset about it, because she and her husband had been trying to start a family for over a year or something. Of course it would be right when I needed her kidney that it finally worked, but I am completely capable of being happy for someone else while being sad for me.
When you don’t have a match in your family, you can ‘advertise’ in your neighborhood, community, or even across the country to find a match. Of course, this costs money. Money my parents didn’t have after the medical bills started pouring in.
I am grateful every day to the person who was matched up with me even though we had never met. That was probably the first time in the whole lousy situation that I considered myself “lucky.” The reason I felt that way was simple: I was lucky that my name was at the top of the list and that a match happened before I got too sick for the procedure or just flat-out died. Now I will proudly tell people that I’m lucky, but I certainly would never tell anyone else in my situation how to feel.