CHRIS: “Sometimes when I hear myself talking to people about the past year, it makes me stop and wonder how we did it. Diabetes, kidney failure, dialysis, and a transplant… all of it, you know? Like, how did we get through everything without breaking down?”
JAKE: “Well, because we had to.”
CHRIS: “Yes, and we did it. We worked together to make everything go as smoothly as possible. Over time, you and I have developed a good way of dealing with things, haven’t we? I guess it’s true when they say people don’t know what they’re capable of until they try.”
JAKE: “That’s how we roll.”
There is no doubt in my mind that if it were not for Chris, I would have died from diabetic complications at some point in 2010. She has saved my life more than I can count, and even now she continues to be my greatest source of strength, advice and compassion. She is the first person I turn to when I need anything and she has never shied away from offering her honest opinion when it is asked.
Nowadays I catch myself thinking about how dire kidney failure is. Being on dialysis really isn’t fun, and even though there may be a time in the future where I find myself hooked up to a machine again, I can’t help but remember the dialysis experience as a far-away blurred vision, like a bad dream. Sprinkle Type-1 diabetes into the mix, and it just seems crazy. I have become so easily accustomed to NOT being diabetic or having kidney failure, that it almost seems like I never had them at all. I suppose it is a testament to modern-day technology and the will to live.
But what are the cons of a transplant? Within the past few weeks, I’ve developed horrible acne on my forehead. At first, I thought it was because of a certain shampoo I was using, so I switched brands but the acne seemed to get worse. I did some research online and discovered an amazing cream called ZAPZYT that contains 10% benzoyl peroxide. It seems to be working, but I have to apply it several times a day, every day, along with Salicylic Acid astringent and face wash. I talked to Dr. Cline about it last Friday and he said, “Ah, this is a classic symptom of anti-rejection drugs.” So he prescribed a few other topical creams.
While I was there, I showed him how powerful the fistula was in my left arm and asked when I could expect to do something about it. He said that generally he likes patients to wait at least 6 months out from surgery before having it undone, to which I replied, “So, I can call Dr. Wirthlin next week?” He nodded. YES!!
6 months is a good indicator of how successful the transplant is. By now, the theory is that my body is fully recovered from surgery and if there were any warning signs of rejection, they would most likely have shown themselves. Of course, organs can reject at any time, and technically the doctors keep a close watch on things for the first 2 years, but so far my numbers have been perfect and I feel incredible. There are no doubts in my mind that the new kidney and pancreas are going to last me a very long time. In the far away future, if and when the organs expire, I will be ready for another K/P transplant with spirits high and eagerness aplenty! The pros still outweigh the cons by a landslide, and I don’t think there is really anything I wouldn’t do to stay feeling this good. It is incredible.
I have met a few more people on Facebook who are expecting “the call” any day now. It brings back memories. I am always excited to learn about someone who is on dialysis and has been diabetic for most of their life, waiting to get a transplant. They are in for an incredible transformation. It is unreal. It is amazing!
If you are pre or post a K/P transplant of your own, or if you are a friend or family member of somebody who is, or even a caregiver, please join the “Kidney Pancreas Transplant Group” on Facebook. I created it over the weekend so we can share our stories, ask questions and help each other out. Everybody experiences these things differently, so join our group to share your experience.