When I last made a post here, it was February 23rd and Charlie and I were scheduled for the pre-op all day meeting for the transplant at the hospital the next day on the 24th. We were excited that morning and Charlie had to run into his office to do a few things before we went over to the hospital. It was at his office that I received the call that blew my world apart.
My oldest brother lived and worked in the United Arab Emirates as a nuclear engineering instructor, and his friend was calling me to let me know that he had passed away that night. As you can imagine, that news is shocking and devastating and so began the tearful phone calls to other family members.
Because he lived so far away and there is a ten hour time difference, there is truly nothing to do but wait and make calls, so Charlie and I continued on to the important pre-op meeting where more tests and tears ensued.
In the next couple of weeks, I tried to work as best I could with his company and friends to understand and do the necessary things to bring him home. We had previously scheduled the Chamber of Commerce After Hours event and the Leap Day Tea Service for that week. I have to say, I really didn’t think I could get it all done, but I have amazing friends and family who helped with every step of those events. My gratitude for them is eternal. Both events turned out wonderfully!
The process of bringing a loved one home from the UAE is a long one, and while I had even considered at one point on postponing the transplant, it would not have been fair to the 7 other people involved who have also waited so long for this to happen, so we just kept moving forward and on March 12th, Charlie took me to the hospital where I went into surgery and donated my kidney.
We were asked to be at the hospital at 5:30am, but the surgery didn’t take place until about 2:15pm. It was a lot of waiting. At one point I met the surgeon and she explained that since Charlie was on dialysis, that it wasn’t advisable for him to wait for me in the waiting room. He should go home and they would call him when I was out of surgery. I didn’t expect him to drive all the way back since he had his own prep and dialysis to do before his surgery the next day, but when I opened my eyes about 7:30pm, there was my love, smiling at me. Amid, my drugged up stupor, all I wanted was a cup of coffee and he got the approval and brought me the largest cup! I’ve never had any type of surgery before, and in fact, have never been in the hospital for anything, so the whole, I’m awake one minute, and the next minute I’m fast asleep, thing was completely new to me. At some point Charlie went home, and I would wake up here and there, and walk the halls as requested by the nurses. They want you to walk as much as possible to help with the healing process.
The next day, March 13th, has got to be one of the greatest days in Charlie and I’s lives. Charlie was back that morning, for his transplant! Since I was supposed to be up and moving around, I went to search for Charlie and found him!
Not long after they took Charlie to surgery, I was discharged from the hospital and my brother and sister-in-law took me home. The nurse called me when he was done and told me how well it all went. Charlie’s new kidney is functioning wonderfully!!!! As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t go back to the hospital to see him, but his brother was there for him when he woke up.
It was around this time, that people were explaining the Covid-19 virus to me. Charlie and I had been so wrapped up in the cafe, the transplant, and my brothers death that we weren’t really in tune to what was happening in the world. I was hugging my dear friend Olga after her visit to me at the hospital, only to find out later that I shouldn’t have been hugging anyone. Maybe it was the hydrocodone stupor, but I couldn’t wrap my head around how the world was exploding around us.
Charlie has labs that need to be done 3 times a week at the hospital. I only had one check up after surgery, and I have to tell you, that Northwestern looked like a ghost town compared to how we’ve always seen it.
So the two weeks from surgery till today, have been recovering, understanding the changes in the world, getting my brother shipped home (yes, that took an entire month), and protecting Charlie as much as possible since his immune system is now gone. Next week will be the services for my brother and with the Stay At Home orders, I’m sure it will be a strange event.
Everything seems surreal, but as I read posts, I am joyful that people are helping one another through these strange and difficult times.
Charlie and I feel blessed for all the love and help we have received. It’s been one very crazy month for me, and though there has been a great amount of sadness, I am also happy that the love of my life has a better life ahead of him.
I hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy, eating and laughing together, and taking this time to be close and enjoy your families. We can’t wait until we can open the cafe and make you part of our family.
My big brother taught me many things, one of which was to use strength and humor in times of hardship, so I have no doubt at all, that sooner or later, everything will be okay. Humans are amazing and resilient creatures. We will get through all of this together.