A new perspective, a year of madness and a list of nonsense later

 

Right now I am supposed to be starting the first reading for my law class which starts tomorrow so naturally, I’ve decided to start blogging again.

If I stare down at my laptop everything feels the same, I am 17 plugged to a machine cleaning my blood typing and wishing things were a little different. But things are different because I look up and the room, the smells and the place I am in both physically and emotionally is unfamiliar. I look up to see a girl sitting opposite me who I have never seen before, I look outside to see people walking past me sporting red and white and I realize that other than the keys below my little fingers typing these words, nothing is the same. I am for the first time writing to you not from Auckland, New Zealand but from the United States of America where I have now been living for close to a month through the grace of a kidney that I received just over a year ago.

No part of me can explain what this all feels like, mostly it’s just a surreal but for once whatever I sleep and dream about is nowhere near as amazing as the life I now wake up to.

It has nothing to do with just being here in Indiana at a new law school finishing my degrees, that is only part of it, but rather its the emotional feeling that this past year of my life has thrown me up and down in so many ways that being here even sitting in this 1800’s designed library without any degree is my biggest achievement on its own.

I could lie to you and say that this year has been fantastic and easy and that everything is now perfect but as I’ve said, that would be lying and I have spent years basically lying to everyone and to myself that life was great but the minute I had hit rock bottom and started to share what was happening things changed. The minute I had given up on everything was also the moment I accepted that this life is mine and this body as unforgiving as it can be.. is all I have.

You may think that after one year with a new transplant I have come to terms with what I have but no one truly accepts that their body is sick or that they are different, everyone wants to fight it and I too have fought for years pretending that I was not sick but by doing so I skipped taking care of myself and wounded up tied to hospital beds more than I needed to be.

 

So one year later what has changed?

Everything! My way of life is completely different, the things I have to do throughout the day is different and certain worries have gone but don’t get me wrong, they have just been replaced by other worries.

The amazing thing is and this is probably the reason why I have not done much writing is that am ignoring the one thing that has changed the most, my freedom! I have an extra 15 hours a week which of course I have filled up with useless shit like watching everything on Netflix. I have worked three different jobs since the transplant and spent my money on things to further my so-called blogging career such as purchasing a new camera that I have not used to take photos of places I have not been to and a brand new iPhone X to again call people I do not want to talk to and Instagram stalk people I will probably never meet.

 

As cynical as that sounds I realised how stupid I was focusing on the wrong things so I decided to be selfish for once and do whatever I wanted. I wrote a list down of places I wanted to go, things I wanted to try and do and people I either wanted to not be around or those I felt deserved to know what was going on instead of telling the whole world. So I said months ago this year will be about taking risks and man have I been doing that but its time for me to share because a rollercoaster is 50x more fun if you are sitting there next to someone and I want a record of the craziness that’s happened recently.

So now my days are now filled with ticking off my bucket list and doing things without much thought. I have not a care in the world anymore about what people think because the imminent thought that one day I could get sick and lose what I have just received as I have before is constantly forever ticking in my mind and every second feels like a second lost if I am not working towards something I want to achieve. But I have spent the last year trying to adapt to having this new kidney and taking care of it all whilst at the same time trying to get the most out of it in case something does go wrong [forward: it does go wrong, but we will come to that later].

Things I have done so far that was made possible with this kidney:

  • Bungy jumped (x2)
  • Several NZ road trips
  • Travelled to the South Island NZ
  • Travelled to Australia
  • Recruited by an Acting/talent agency
  • Attained and completed a summer internship
  • Attained my dream job in the area of law I love
  • Finally gained weight, no longer a twig.
  • Solo Traveled
  • oh.. and moved to America to obtain collegiate experience !!!!…

Other crazy things that have also happened:

  • Infection of my gums post-transplant – led to taking all my wisdom teeth out
  • several infections cause fuck immunosuppressants
  • Over 4 Emergency and Ambulance trips due to uncontrolled diabetes post transplant
  • Fistula Arm gave up working- emergency surgery to remove the fistula
  • Three kidney biopsy’s
  • Kidney rejection .. + beginning of leukaemia type steroid infusions to save the kidney

Now if you’re wondering how all of this managed to happen in one year well truthfully it has been a struggle and one story that is filled with miracles and hurdles none of which have been easy but I want to share every step of it to show you how incredible life can be for someone that has received a transplant and how much we can achieve if we want to just by focusing on the right things.

 

One thing that has dragged me back to my keyboard other than procrastination is that in talking so much about the goals I have now that I have this new found freedom I’ve found that many people I know have never really considered their own big goals or even short-term dreams. Often this was because they haven’t had some dramatic traumatic moment create a need for them to consider what they would want to before they die.

So it started to bug me that no one cared about my new lease on life purely because they felt immune to whatever I’m going through and immune to death probably. So I surveyed a decent number of my friends and asked them one simple question: “If you could do anything in the world but you haven’t simply because of money or time, what would you do”. 

Now before you keep reading I want you to try and answer that for yourself as well.

The responses that I got blew my mind, most people would say this:

a) why are you asking me this?

b) but why do you even care?

c) What’s the point in answering that, 

d) I don’t know

So after mindlessly and purposively focusing for a year on myself, it aches me that other people have never thought about what they want. So I wrote down the answers I finally got from people and I figured as a personal goal I will try to make just one of their little dreams come true (e.g catch a fish or go on a hot air balloon) cause how amazing would it be if they could tick something off their non-existent list and better yet I was there to be a part of that. Also, a selfish way for me to steal other peoples ideas for shit to do.

So with all of this, I write now to say as my tables have turned and I believe I have found new insight and rather than hide away because things have been up and down I want to tell you starting this week how I’ve even survived this year and how I plan to use my experiences and others to force you to get out and get thinking about your own life + what you can do to help people like me.

Reporting from Bloomington, Indiana

Denny

Cut from the same cloth: sitting in the waiting room

I never really paid much attention to any of the other patients previously, instead of focusing on their stories I was too busy writing my own. I have to say since the day I was diagnosed (I was 14years old) I was in denial about most of what was going on with me. I was invited to kidneykidsnz – an organisation that helps and supports families and children with kidney disease and failure- and I didn’t attend anything. I was scared to meet people like myself mostly because I […]

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With great “power” comes great “responsibility”

The day that I left Auckland hospital things began to immediately feel very different. I was given strict instructions: Drink roughly 3 litres of fluid (mostly water) everyday Be at Auckland Hospital everyday at 7am for daily visits to the kidney outpatient clinic Complete daily blood tests (roughly 10 tubes at the start) Become familiar with the smorgasbord of immunosuppressant tablets- that are to be taken at specific times (never missed) The day that I was discharged came at a shock to me. Like this entire process my body has […]

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DAY THREE/FOUR: This Kidney does not & will not belong to me

  Day Three: 27th July 2017 They took away the pain pump. What the actual fuck. Later on… Ive been introduced to Oxycodon. We are back… I remember this day probably more than the others only because it was discovered that during the first day of surgery a vein of mine had blown so the line they were using to put in pain relief was working but couldn’t be used anymore and it was the pain team’s decision to see how I could manage without it. Funnily enough, I […]

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Transplant Recipient: My first four days of freedom

 I got a taste of freedom, it tasted like a lot of morphine, viles of fentanyl and a whole lot of energy. Guess it is my turn to tell you a little about my amazingly short four days in hospital walking in with two peanut shaped dead kidneys and walking away with three kidneys.  I won’t lie, Leah writes better than me and has a far better recollection of what happened. I’ve been hiding from writing because I’m still in disbelief any of this really happened. My name is Denny, and […]

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“Vulnerability is the bridge that connects us”

    There’s a high chance I won’t share this, mostly it’s just for me to get it out before it eats at me slowly but surely. I think it’s tough when you have spent years living a type of nightmare but it’s become so real you have convinced yourself this is how normal people dream- then all of a sudden you experience a real dream and you are unsure how to react. Maybe it’s just a natural thing to have something positive happen to you or around you […]

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“Not Your Average Law Student”

Hey friends! A few weeks ago, to celebrate the end of the year, I was asked to write an article in our University of Auckland Law School’s student magazine. I struggled to put together a short piece about myself which same time would help gear students for their upcoming exams. I’ve never found writing anything this difficult – because the truth is, I may pretend to know what I am doing – but mostly I stumble from one day, one hospital bed, one lecture or one event to the […]

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A donor’s story: Continued…

Day Two – Three:  I drifted in and out of consciousness… After buzzing the nurses over and over again about my pain, I finally found out that there had been some kind of mix up and someone didn’t give me the pain pump I was supposed to come out of surgery with. That explained the pain. After hours of waiting they eventually brought me the pump but I didn’t find it did anything for me. I think I had gone too long without it. The rest of the night […]

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A Donors Story: “Today I donated my kidney”

To celebrate three months post surgery I have put together a special series of posts. Ready to hear what it’s like to donate a kidney? Our author is Leah,  the amazing girl who donated her kidney to a stranger- so that I would receive a kidney from someone else. Have a read of her first days in hospital.  Stay tuned for the rest of her story then FOLLOWING is my four days post-surgery. Thanks for sharing your ‘donor story’ Leah! – Denny    PART ONE: The First Two days […]

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One Month and Three Kidneys Later…

Waking up in ICU The lights were quite dim and I could only hear slight voices in the far distance, something about lungs. lungs… right lung…? slow…? collapsed…? While I sat there racking my brain, didn’t I have a kidney transplant?  What lungs, whats going on? eyes closed. Pain. More pain. I was drifting in and out of consciousness up in the highest room of the hospital, the ICU (intensive care unit) which is where all transplant patients are sent to spend their first few hours bonding with their […]

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