I am hopeful. Should I be hopeful?
Every Christmas for the past few years, my four siblings and I have done a kris kringle. It is less stress and the limit ensures we all get one gift we really want, instead of a bunch of crap we don’t want or need. This Christmas my brother’s beautiful girlfriend had taken part as well. She got me and told the kris Krinkle organizer (my sister; Romy. The one sibling who is married with children and seems to not mind the hassel of organizing such an event.)To find out what I would like. I had asked for any item from the clothing brand GORMAN.
Vanessa (Adam’s beautiful girlfriend0, had not let me down. She had chosen a sand washed silk crepe tank top with curved hem. It was navy blue with pink stars outlined in light orange, all over it. The top even had a name: Kapow Tank. Vanessa had even added a card with a hand written message inside that read.
THANK YOU FOR INVITING ME INTO YOUR FAMILY KK. IT MEANS A LOT.
I HOPE YOU LOVE YOUR GIFT. IT’S GOING TO LOOK BANGIN NO DOUBTLOVE VANESSA.
The story of this girlfriend is interesting. Vanessa is the best friend of the little sister of Adam’s last serious girlfriend. Her name was Lara. For all of the differences my only brother and I have. It must be said that when it comes to girlfriend. I mean the ones we end up meeting. Adam does not go for air heads or jail bait. They are always stunning but never stupid. Vanessa overseas the planning and building of houses. She also wore tortoise shell glasses and her mere presence over Christmas made Adam quite a bit nicer and less antagonistic towards me.
So on this the 6th of December, a day that would be spent at the hospital with my parentals, I had chosen to wear my new top with denim short shorts and my pink and black hightop vollys. In my fairly new short hair cut, I wore an orange head band that had a large bow. I wore the bow on the right side of my head a bit askew. Black eye liner lined the lower eyelids and made my blue eyes look like they may pop right out of my head. Before leaving the house I put on my black leather jacket. I liked how is contrasted with the prettiness of the tank top in a half hard core half dainty way.
I knew there would be a great deal of waiting around today so I put the book I was nearly finished in my bag. It is called Bad Feminist by Roxeane Gay. The collection of essays are funny, inspirational and completely unpretentious. They are also incredibly witty and wise. The essay entitled How To Be Friends With Women should be photocopied and studied by high school students. The book explains that being a flawed human who may do feminism wrong sometimes, does not mean that you should not keep trying. Ms Gay writes about being a scrabble champion, the pitfalls of not being aware of ones privilidge. She also deconstructs why she loved reading the Sweet Valley High books as a teenager. I LOVED THOSE BOOKS AS WELL. It was always a secret shame I carried around. I was hoping this book would help open up a discussion about feminism with my mother that did not end in me being annoyed and disappointed.
When I arrived at the hospital and entered through the automatic doors. A gust of cool air greeted me along with the constant flow of people wandering around looking dazed or lost or sad and sick. I heard my parents before I saw them walking into the elevator. I quickened my step and with out needing to call out, my father turned and saw me. He held the elevator door open with one brown arm and grinned at me as I got closer. My mum opened up her arms wide so as I walked into the elevator I also walked right into a hug. A lady standing in the elevator watched and smiled.
We were only in the renal clinic waiting room a few minutes before my mother annoyed me. I was sitting between my parents and reading my book when my mother started telling me about Peter Talbot’s fathers funeral. And how Peter Talbot had written the speeches for his siblings to speak at the funeral. God, mother. I thought. Cant you see what I am reading? Why don’t you ask me about that?
I did not give a fig about Peter Talbot. Here is a brief reason why.
When I was 16 years old I lived with my grandmother while doing year 11 at Bendigo Senior. Peter Talbot was the bishop of the Bendigo branch of the Mormon church then. I went to church back then. His wife (at that time) was a lovely woman called Eve. Eve was eleven years older than Peter. Eve was my young womens leader. In young womens in the Mormon church you are taught how to be a daughter of god. How to carry yourself with the spirit and get ready to be a good/ excellent mother and wife. NOT in that order. It was Peter Talbot who called me into his office once to lecture me about the ‘dangers of straying from the lords path’. I remember staring at the skirt of my floral dress and he went on and on about what my father in heaven had in store for me if I stayed faithful.
Ten years later Peter Talbot started having an affair with one of my cousins. A 30 year old single mother of one who (wait for it) is also named Peta. Thank goodness the spelling is different. Otherwise that would have been creepy. Brother Talbot. I say ‘’Brother’’ not like members of the church use it, with affection and love. I use the term sarcastically. I spit the word in my head. He did this while his wife of 20 years baked him bread and washed his clothes and looked after the two sons they had together. Peter Talbot ended up making his choice after drawing the pain out of Eve for ages. He left her and moved in with Peta. The two Petas now have two children.
Peter Talbot is a fucking hypocrite.
When Mum finished telling me the story. I simply said. ‘’I do not much care what Peter Talbot does, thanks.’’
‘’You’ll grow up one day.’’ My father says. I go rigid with silent rage. My opinion does not made me childish it merely makes my opinion different from his. How nice that Peter Talbot can upgrade to a younger model and have an entirely new family. I am not on the side of the cheating sleaz. I mean the after life is going to be pretty awkward for him, what with the fact he married Eve for eternity.
The waiting area of the renal clinic was super crowded today and the chatter was a bit too loud. I went back to my book.
A few moments later a familiar woman arrived wearing a black and white striped top and carrying a clipboard. It was Emma the transplant co ordinator. She looked slightly different with her long hair out and falling down her back.
‘’Your hair is not purple yet.’’ She commented after the greetings were done. ‘’No, I get that done tomorrow.’’ I say. Emma tells us that the wait here is going to be long so she will lead us up to Nancy’s office. Amanda Robertson is on maternity leave so is no longer doing my transplant surgery. I have met Nancy once before and looked forward to seeing her again.
We took an elevator to a floor that was large and plush and clean and quiet. So much nicer than cattle class renal clinic. The floor to ceiling windows showed an expanse of cloudless blue sky and sunshine. It was probabley quite hot outside now. When Nancy came out to call me into her office, she was wearing scrubs in eggplant colour. They were spotlessly clean and her black hair was pulled into a ponytail. Nancy was not much taller than me. I noticed this as I followed her into her office.
I sat at her large dark wood deask and she sat on the other side. The only things on the desk were an apple mac laptop, a piece of paper, a pen and a small light blue diary that Nancy opened when she sat down.
‘’Is that your cutting people open diary?’’ I asked.
‘Yep.’’ She said, ‘’now remind me what date was your operation?’’
‘’The 29th.’’ I said. Nancy wrote something in the diary and then closed it and placed it on the desk. She checked the screen of her laptop. There was silence.
‘’you should be able to do it?’’ I asked.
She continued tapping away a moment. ‘’I certainly hope so.’’ She said.
After a moment she turned away from the computer and faced me directly. ‘’Your kind of operation, stresses me out a great deal.’’ Nancy said. I liked her honesty and how she spoke to me like an equel not a scared little girl. I looked into her dark eyes for that glimmer of excitement that a surgeon gets when faced with tricky slice and dice challenge. She was probabley saving it for when she was alone. Nancy picked up the pen and drew a rough diagram to show me what her plan of action was. For best visabilty of my insides she was going to slice me right down the middle. From the centr poing just below where my bra sat, all the way through my belly button and down to just above my belt buckle. Usually the incision is made of to the right side of my stomache and a little below, but that was where my atopic bad kidney sat. Like the little punk it was. Once that cut was made she was going to move my stomache a bit to left and place my father’s kidney right there and hopefully connect it all up. Placing my Dad’s kidney there would make future biopsies difficult, but not impossible.
I ran a finger down my front to get a better idea of the cutting that would happen. It was going to be quite the impressive scar. How very badass, I thought with a rising sense of glum.
‘’Can I keep the picture?’’ I asked.
‘’Sure.’’ Nancy said.
‘’So… what exactly is the worst case scenario?’’ I asked. Is it that the kidney does not take and you have to take it out. And then I have to go on dialysis?’’
‘’The worst case scenario is you could die.’’ Nancy said. ‘’But, you could die tomorrow, and that would be no fault of surgery.’’
I sat with this a moment and then asked. ‘’What is the death rate of people who donate the kidney?”
‘’It does not happen often but it is devastating when it does. With most things there is no 100% success rate. When it comes to the donor, the death rate is 1 in 3000. In my time here there has only been two donor deaths.’’
Do you know which kidney your taking from Dad?’’
‘’The left one.’’ Nancy said. ‘’It is slightly smaller.’’
She pulls something out of a drawer in desk and lays it on the desk top. It is the thing I have been stressing about for a while. The permacath. I got my phone out and took a quick photo of the implement. It is not as scary as I had anticipated. A thin white plastic tube that stretched about 30 cms. At one end there was a small little thing that had two small tubes connected to it. One tube was red and the other was blue. The tubes of colour would rest on my collar bone while half the small thin white tube would be placed inside of me. In a vein that connects to my heart. That is where the blood gets pumped and moved and this little thing was going to require free and unlimited access to all my blood. The tubes of different colour were for the separating the plasma from my blood.
The permacath was going to be put inside me on the 23rd of jan. It was a simple procedure that they will put me to sleep for.
The tube stays in for 4 weeks. I am told. ‘’When in hospital for the transplant.’’ Nancy tells me. ‘’You will have a catheter in for 5 days. This is non negotiable.’’
I laugh. ‘’Who would negotiate a catheter? It is so freeing to urinate in a bag without realizing that you are actually urinating. ‘’
‘’Some people find it a little uncomfortable.’’ Nancy said.
There would not only be Nancy carrying out the transplant. A surgeon called Tim would be involved also.
‘’You guys can be team AWESOME.’’ I said. ‘’You should make t shirts.’’
I paused a moment. ‘’Oh, that’s silly. I will make the t-shirts.’’
When I came out into the waiting area, my parents were chatting to an eldery couple. I showed the piece of paper with the diagram on it, to my father. ‘’They are gonna cut me right down the middle and give me your left kidney.’’ I told him. ‘’Because your left is slightly smaller.’’
The renal specialist was next. This time my parents came into the consultation with me. Dad sat on the examination table. Mum took the least comfortable looking chair and let me take the nice black and padded one. It even had padded arm rests. I sat on it crossed legged and felt like a bitch for being snappy at her back when she told me the boring story about Peter Talbot. . No matter what her ability for kindness never fails. Maybe if I had a uterus I would understand her more. My seat was also closest to the doctor and his desk. It was a new guy so we had to sit in the room in silence as he sat with my file and read all he could. He was in his late 30s and handsome in that clean sort of boring way that some doctors can look. His black trousers had what seemed to be bottomless pockets. His whole hand went into one and spent ages in there. When his hand came out, it was holding a pen. Thank goodness. I thought.
There was a long list of drug names on his desk and a booklet with a shitty picture on the front. Above the shitty picture was the words POST- RENAL TRANSPLANT. RECORD OF CARE. The picture was of a blue sky and a rainbow. Over half of the image starting from the bottom, were yellow flowers. It looked like a booklet for dying old people. It was patronizing and worst of all, badly designed. It did nothing for my moral. All those cliché ‘’happy images’’ together, simply screamed: HEY, YOU MIGHT DIE AND BE UNDERNEATH AND FERTILIZING THOSE FLOWERS IN A FEW WEEKS.
‘’I’m getting my hair dyed purple tomorrow.’’ I told the doctor.
‘’I know,’’ he said. ‘’Emma told me.’’
Does that mean I am her favorite transplant girl?’’
‘’I think it does.’’ He said.
I grinned at him and sat up a bit straighter.
‘’Now, this type of surgery comes with risks.’’ The doctor began, looking at my parents and I in turn. I sighed with recognition. ‘’I have heard this already today.’’ I said a bit quietly. I did not want to sound disrespectful. I had just realized that transplant booklet was for me. I felt a bit overwhelmed all at once. If I die I wont have much to worry about. But, if Dad dies? Oh and shit and such. It would be my fault. All. Mine.
‘’We just need to make sure you are aware of the risks.’’ He said gently.
‘’I know.’’ I said.
‘’Jess says the death rate of donars is 1 in 3000.’’ My Dad with a laugh. ‘’That means there’s a change.’’ He did not sound worried or even upset. Just amused.
‘’Lets take a look at you.’’ The doctor said. My father and I swapped places and the doctor took my blood pressure. I kind of like getting my blood pressure taken. There is a weird thrill I get as the doctor pumped up the pressure of the thing wrapped around me arm. It slowly gets tighter and tighter to a point where it gets painful. Then, it stops and the tightness loosens.
‘’it’s a little high.’’ He says.
‘’That could be due to being given death warnings twice in one day.’’ I said.
There was a knock on the door and then Emma poked her head inside the door.
‘’Hi.’’ She said. ‘’Are you ready to hand her over?’’ Emma asked the doctor.
‘’Yes.’’ He said. He turned to me. ‘’Emma will go through the booklet with you and the prescription.’’
Once out in the hall again, I held the booklet out to show Emma. ‘’This cover is so crap.’’ I said.
‘’I know. I hate it.’’ Emma said. ‘’Talk to Doris. She is responsible for that. Maybe you could create something better.’’ Emma said.
‘’Yes!’’ I exclaimed. ‘’I would love to. I could draw a black outlined image of a girl who is riding a mongoose and holding a kidney shaped balloon. The kidney shaped balloon could have a big eyed and big smile. And little feet!’’
‘’Anything would be better than the rubbish cover it has now.’’ Emma said.
Next stop was the hospital pharmacy. I had to get the list of drugs. As I waited in the line, my parents sat outside the pharmacy and spoke to Emma about housing for them. They needed a place to stay that was near the hospital. After the operation Dad would not be allowed to drive.
The people waiting in line behind me were a guy in a flannel shirt and a blonde woman in a white singlet. They were holding each other and kissing and giggling. The tv on the wall was playing the cricket and the other television had the staus of everyones prescription. My prescription had nine different items and all of them unfamiliar and hard to pronounce. The guy whispered something into the girl’s ear and she giggled again.
When it was my turn at the window. The lady took a look at my prescription and said. ‘’This will take about two hours. Is that alright?’’
‘’Yes.’’ I said. ‘’I can have lunch with my parents.’’
‘’You will also need to have a consultation with one of the pharmacists. The will explain the types of drugs these are and the possible side affects. That should take about 30minutes.’’
‘’That is fine.’’ I said with a smile.
I went back out to my parents and explained the situation. Emma took one look at me and said. ‘’There is some more stuff I need to talk to you about. But, it can wait until the 2oth.’’
‘Ah, the day I have to eat nothing and get blood tests and drink some weird liquid and then get more blood tests.’’ I said.
‘’Yep. That is the day. ‘’
‘I think…I think I have reached my limit of stuff to understand, today.’’ I said.
We said our goodbyes to Emma. My parents and I made our way through the crowded food court and ordered some food. Dad found a table and we sat and ate. Oh and Dad made me google the different types of purple hair there was available and show him the type of purple I was getting.
The pharmacy consult room was tiny and windowless. The woman who showed me into the room, picked up a yellow sign and stuck it on the outside of the door. The sign said in black: MEETING IN PROGRESS. When she left to get the pharmacist I saw the sign on the floor again. That sucker was not sticking. On the round table were two large brown paper bags. I peeked inside them and saw that they were both filled with boxes of medication.
A young Asian guy came into the room and sat across from me. For the next 30 minutes he pulled out a box and explained what side affects to look for. Things like jaundice. Incoherent speech. Itchyness. blood in urine. Coughs and fevers. Moodyness. Irritable. Short tempered. Fainting. The list went on and on. My mind wandered and I got a bit bored. Here is the break down. I hope this is not boring. I mean, Lena Durham thought to put a few pages worth of her food diary in her book; Not That Type Of Girl. Frankly I did not give a fuck about her eating habits. This is medication though and I hope that proves more riveting.
On the 15th of jan I am to start taking Mycophenolate 500mg. 1 in the morning and 1 in the evening. Also a drug called Pantoprazole, 20mg, 1 a day.
22nd of Jan I double the amount of Mycophenolate to 1000mg. That’s 2 pills in the morning and 2 pills at night.
Atorrestatin, 5mg daily.
24th of Jan I add to the mix the delightfully innocent Asperin, 100mg daily. The amount of asperin they want me to take is so minute that it is not a pain killer at all.
26th of Jan I add Tacrolimus, 1.5mg, 2 pills a day.
Each box had a bunch of warning stickers all over them. My favorite was the sticker that read; SWALLOW WHOLE.
When I finally emerged from the tiny room, holding the two large paper bags full of drugs, I felt pretty hardcore. My mum and Dad stared at the two bags and then my Dad started laughing. When he had finished, I asked if her could drive me home. It was going to be hot outside.
I was so tired.
When Mum and Dad came inside my house. I sat them down in my living room and made them some iced water and bought out some chocolate that I had been keeping in the freezer. My Dad assembled my electric fan for me and I switched it on so we had some air blowing about.