Stayin’ alive

A kidney dialysis/transplant diary

A bump in the road

I’m sitting here at Mayo’s at the Gonda 4 South desk waiting for my Thrombophilia consultation.  They’ve got a small bank of computers with Internet access so you get a “real time” update today.

I left my driveway in Cedar Rapids about 5:30 this morning so I would be sure to be at my 11 a.m. appointment with Dr. Heimbach, the obesity transplant specialist.  I knew it should be about a 4-hour drive, but I wanted to leave myself some wiggle room in case I got lost or had problems parking.  Neither happened so Jewel, my 1993 Turquoise Topaz was snuggled into a slot in a public parking ramp about 9:30.

I started to wobble my way the block and a half to the Methodist Hospital entrance I could see across the way. Doesn’t sound like much of a walk, but walking outdoors is more difficult than on a treadmill and the wind was fierce so I stopped a couple of times to lean agains the walls.  Once I got to the building entrance I realized I was at the corner where I had already dialyzed three times so I felt fairly comfortable.

Dr. Amer had encouraged me to be as active as I can be, both for general health and for these jerky, stinging, hard legs of mine (restless leg syndrome, peripheral artery disease and narrowing vessels to my legs all cause me some real pain and problems not to mention the arthristis in my ankles and knees) so I got a wheelchair but I’m using it kind of like a wheelbarrow to carry my stuff: sweater, cane, transplant center backpack they give you keep all your paperwork in.  I wonder if it’s only coincidence that the backpack is pea green. Hmmmmm.

I found the right floor and desk and checked in for my appointment but… no Dr. Heimbach. She isn’t in the hospital today. Some kind of mix up in appointments so they’re trying to get me an appointment for late morning next Friday so I can see her before the November 28 team meeting to approve patients for the transplant list.  If they can get me a Friday appointment, I can drive up and return to Cedar Rapids so I can dialyze on Saturday.  This trip is showing exactly how much coordination is necessary to dialyze at the proper time.

My thrombophilia appointment time is close so I may have to continue this later.

The nurse apologized profusely for the mix up but for some reason, I’m not bothered by it.  It’s a bump in the road, not a major catastrophe. Yes, it is an inconvenience but there will be many more, I’m certain and I’m not about to freak out over this one.

Besides, it gave me a chance to eavesdrop on a very interesting conversation between two patients at the same waiting area.  They were a 30-something woman whose companion was an older woman, a German immigrant, and a late-50s early 60s couple.  The gentleman was there for a transplant scheduled tomorrow and it appeared the young woman was, too.  They chatted together as though they had met there at Mayo.  I thourght they had bonded quickly, as life-threatened patients sometimes do.

Cathy, the young woman, was called into the doctors’ area and the older couple and Cathy’s companion talked about what a “special” person she was.  Soon, Cathy came out of the doctor’s offices and said everything was a go and she was happy to learn she’d lose a little weight because the kidneys weigh about a pound each.

  The older couple thanked her profusely as she left and she quipped, “don’t thank me yet.” After she was gone, I looked over to see the man wiping tears from his face.  “Was that your donor,” I asked a little amazed.  “Yes,” he said “and she’s more or less a stranger to me.” 

His name is Kenneth Page.  He’s a diabetic who’s been on dialysis for a little over 2 years.  He said he called in to the local radio station to win some 40% off coupons to a local restaurant.  He went to pick up the coupons after dialysis one day so his access bandages were clearly visible. 

The woman who waited on him at the desk asked what the bandages were for. He told her kidney dialysis then asked jokingly: “Know anyone who wants to donate a kidney?”

Her answer: “I do!”

That was in July of this year.

She’s wanted to donate a kidney for several years,  the Pages told me, but couldn’t afford being off work.  The Pages said they discussed things and decided they could help her with that.

The match was good and they’re both here at Mayo and excited about tomorrow’s oprations.  “Don’t give up hope” for a live donor, Mrs. Page said to me and the woman sitting across from her said “And don’t think it will necessarily take years.” She and her husband reported for assessment Monday and he willl be receiving a kidney tomorrow.

Miracles. Every day.

The missed appointment, just a bump in the road.

Another miracle, while I was sitting and waiting earlier, I started thinking about my dad and thinking that I believe he’s with me up here, pulling for me. I was suddenly infused with a warm buzz from the top of my head right down to my seated butt.

 Yeah, he’s here, too, and a few others. I’ve got a lot of people pulling for me.

It’s a good day.


November 14, 2007 - Posted by | kidney


  1. Today my father and I had our pre-op appointments at the U. I was thinking about you and couldn’t wait to get home to see what you’ve written today!

    Thank you for this diary.

    🙂 d.

    Comment by orange gearle | November 14, 2007 | Reply

  2. Thanks, Orange … I’ve been thinking of you two, too. I hope everything goes well … please let me know.

    Comment by iowakitkat | November 16, 2007 | Reply

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