What is there to say, really? As I write this, I’m always thinking about those who are just now starting their journey toward donating. At that point, we do really want to know what the long term outcomes are and feel reassured.
Well, for me it’s been 3 years and it does seem like my life has been able to proceed as normal, at least physically. I definitely think that the experience of donation, all through the planning and on to the recovery, changed some things about how I see life and what kind of decisions we make as a family.
Choosing to donate meant kind of wiping the slate of my future plans. As I prepared I had to change a lot of my plans and then I had to dedicate time to recovery. I opened up my schedule, so to say, to be available to help someone else.
And right after I went home from the hospital, right as I was just beginning to formulate a plan for my future again, another need in my extended family came up. For various reasons which I won’t get into, my nephew needed a place to live. About 2 months after the transplant, he came to live with us.
Since I didn’t have any plans it wasn’t hard to proceed with shaping my new plans to allow us to meet this need. I’d already created space in my life and I realized I didn’t need to just fill up that space with self-focused endeavors. It was good to have a lot of margin to allow me to actively care for others in more time-consuming way.
I feel like there is a certain level of help I’m willing to ask for and accept. Post-transplant, some of the barriers came down and I recognized that asking for a little bit more help as ok. It didn’t make me a mooch or a lazy person. In fact, it meant I connected more deeply with some people than I had before.
Sometimes, the resistance toward asking for help is a resistance against not being in control. Three afters after the transplant, I’m able to let go a lot easier. Especially with things that I couldn’t really control in the first place, but was still tempted to try.
I realize I’m being somewhat vague, but there are details about my life you just don’t want to hear. Trust me. I think the valuable takeaway, regarding this transplant, is that the experience was life-changing. The physical aspect of it was definitely challenging, but my body handled it well and recovered well.
The other stuff, the relational stuff, has all changed. On the upside, I speak to my liver twin all the time. He calls. We text each other silly memes. We send each other gifts. He’s like a brother.
On the rollercoaster side (because it went down and then up again), the experience of donating created opportunities to see the issues that existed in other relationships. That forced me to explore some things about my life that I hadn’t excavated; namely my adoption and my multiracial identity. And in the world of ever-widening cultural divides, that led to me making big changes as to who I allow to have access to my life.
So in that regard, the past 3 years have been hard. For sure. But I believe it has been healing, overall, and I wouldn’t change it.