Tomorrow 8/25 Marks One Year With One Kidney!
Have you ever had an intuitive hit?
A gut feeling?
A knowing that you are meant to do something?
Like maybe, deep down, you know that you need to do something that feels strange, something that is way out of your comfort zone and totally out of character for you...yet completely right all at the same time. In the beginning of 2020, pre-pandemic, on a typical weekday night...I had experienced this juxtaposition of emotions. I was standing in my kitchen, across from the fridge at the counter, working on my computer. I often wrapped up my work days on the laptop, checking emails, finishing progress notes, and checking in with the outside world. My husband was cooking dinner (he's amazing), our son was playing, and I opened facebook. On my feed, my old friend Alethea had posted about needing a Kidney and shared a link for people to explore if they are interested in being a donor. Now, Alethea and I went to grad school together for a year about a decade go. She was the outgoing one in class that I sat next to on the first day, and I was the shy quiet one. Her spirit filled the classroom with ease and her energy emulated kindness and spunk. We were an unlikely pair as Alethea was not afraid to call attention to herself, speak up, or go against the grain...and I just wanted to keep my head down and crank through my work. But something about her drew me to her. She could take a stressful first day of grad school and make it fun, lighter, and infuse it with humor; that day was the start of our friendship. We went on to spending a crap ton of hours together creating study groups, long discussions on social justice issues, and also taking time to be silly. Some of my favorite grad school memories together were the simple ones...studying until our brains were fried, wearing purple for suicide awareness day, her dragging my butt to the YMCA to work out in-between classes, and a thousand moments of laughing until I couldn't breathe because Alethea had a way of existing in this world without apology, without shame, and in an unfiltered manner. These memories are the ones I hold when I think back to our year together. It was a fast paced year where we started and finished our entire master program together...and then she moved home to PA. You see, this year was a year of education for me...and for Alethea she not only navigated grad school but she navigated health struggles, her father's passing, and the start of a kidney journey that I had no idea I would become a part of one day. Fast forward to me standing in my kitchen scrolling on facebook...I read her post and my heart dropped. My interactions with Alethea had been minimal since grad school. We followed each other on social media, laughed at jokes together, and when she became pregnant and started to experience health struggles with her baby I called her, sent her flowers, and prayed my heart out. Her sweet baby girl, Calista, was born premature, weighing a pound, having multiple surgeries, and later passing away in her first month of life. Witnessing this as her friend and as a fellow mother shattered my heart...and through all of this, Alethea kept living. She kept living, smiling, allowing herself to feel all the things unapologetically. She found purpose in life for her daughter and continued to live her life as a social worker, giving back in profound ways (click HERE to listen to episode 5 where Alethea shares her journey in detail). When you meet someone like Alethea in this world, you know they are meant for greatness. She navigated through the passing of her father, her own health struggles, being diagnosed with kidney failure, birthing her daughter traumatically, making the hard calls for surgeries and attempts to save her daughters life, losing her daughter, going on dialysis like 12 hours a day...and she still was pursuing all the ways to live her life fully. Well...as I scrolled through the details of what it meant to be a kidney donor and how to do it...I knew in that moment that we would be a match. I didn't think of the pain, the risk, the procedure, my work schedule, my son's schedule, my husbands fears...The only thing I felt was a knowing this was what I was supposed to do. This is why our friendship started a decade ago. So I turned to my husband and told him...Alethea needs a kidney...I think I am going to be a match, I am going to begin the process. And just like that, our journey started. My husbands jaw dropped, his eyes were confused, I reassured him that it was a process and told him the process, and informed him that I was filling out the paperwork for the initial screening. That same night, I had submitted to the national kidney registry my interest in screening to be a donor and popped Alethea a quick DM informing her. Some things in life don't require a ton of conversation. Some things don't require a pros and cons list. Some thing's don't require understanding. For me, this was one of those things. So here we are, a year after our surgery, and Alethea agreed to join the podcast to talk about our journey together for the very first time. In this conversation, we answered our questions that we had for one another and the questions that others had submitted to us and truly got to enjoy the conversation of understanding each other's journey in this process. You can find listen to this conversation HERE We hope that listening to this inspires you in how you live your life, how you navigate hardship and build residence, in how you choose to heal, and opens up doors in your mind and life for ways that you can donate life. As you listen to our journey, you will find that the episodes are split into 2, due to the length of our convo...feel free to binge them together or listen when you have time...and as always, please write a review on apple podcasts HERE, it helps the podcast move up on the list so people can easily find it.