i've found with blogging, and with life, if you allow the moment to pass, thoughts and feelings become less vivid, less fresh. instead of lounging around on this friday night, i find myself drawn to the computer.
i've avoided blogging much about my brother's story regarding his health but as of this week, his story is becoming my story. long, long ago in 1981 obgyn's did not screen mother's for the strep b virus. its a very common thing for a mother to carry, i tested positive with both vivian and eleanor's pregnancies. now they add an antibiotic to your iv cocktail and things remedy themselves. in 1981, no one detected my mom was carrying the virus and thus she passed it along to tim. initially it made him very sick and he was life flighted to children's mercy. i remember all of this in static flashbacks. being dropped off in the middle of the night to my aunt vicky's, wrapped in a mustard yellow blanket, and the days that followed were chaotic. i sensed even at four that something was awry.
i remember him coming home and the first few years being dicey with his health. he had asthma and a penchant for danger, which landed him in the hospital from time to time. as he grew, his health improved and he developed into my mischievous, ornery little brother. around the age of 10 or 12 it became evident that he was having some new "issues" and after multiple test at children's mercy, the kidney problems surfaced. we managed to maintain with medicine for a while and things were great! when he turned 15, the onset of puberty and being an adolescent started taking a toll on him and in a matter of months, his health rapidly decline to the point of kidney failure. it was at this point, we discovered the beta strep had produced long term damage to his kidneys. as tim was wrapping up his freshman year we were gearing up for a family transplant.
my dad was set to be the original living donor and literally weeks before they were set to go, an ultrasound revealed a potential problem. nothing like having the rug pulled out from underneath you at the last minute! but my mom is a champion and she happily stepped up to the plate. on september 22nd fifteen years ago, my mom gave my little brother a kidney.
the surgery went great and with the exception of a little hiccup that november, so did his recovery. he bounced completely back to being my little shit brother. i endured more than my fair share of his high jinx and pranks through out high school and college. life has been going swimmingly for tim for so long. . . and then last summer he started to not feel so great.
if you have followed any of this blog, you will recall the bottom totally dropping out around here last july. i was tip toeing around with a placenta previa, trying my best to avoid bed rest. my dad retired from his job. my parents sold their house too quickly. my grandmother passed away. and the whole time i was keeping this deep, dark secret that tim's health was declining and we knew, he was going to need another kidney.
and i knew, i wanted to give him one.
the day after burying my grandmother, i had a c-section delivering sweet baby eleanor into this world. she was the brightest spot in a dismal summer! its horrible to say now, but i was thrilled to be on pain meds, in a hospital room, tucked away from the world while i recovered. too much had happened and i was trying my best to endure.
so fast forwarding through this year, tim's managed to maintain his health despite the declining kidney function. he soldiers on, because that is what he has always done and that is just the kind of man he is. some days i look at him and i wonder if he is in pain and if he even realizes what its like to feel really good. he kicks ass at his job every day. he volunteers. he hangs out with his friends. he harasses me. he lies to my children and tells them he works for willy wonka and that there are ninjas that live in the hillyard building. he carries on.
but i am his only sibling, his only sister, the only one in this world genetically similar to him. and i know. i know he doesn't feel awesome and i know some days, he is just going through the motions. and it kills me. it absolutely breaks my heart. because he is funny, he is kind, he is all of the beautiful stuff in this world and he deserves the opportunity to just feel good, damn it.
that's where i come in.
we always joke that he has two mothers, which is the bonus of potentially having two kidney donors! i remember thinking it was very heroic of my mom and what an amazing mother she was to give him the gift of life twice! in fact, i used it all the time as leverage, like "come on, buy me these boots, you gave tim a kidney, its the least you can do." its always been taken in stride, but now, here i am ready to do the same thing and it seems less heroics and more of just the right thing to do. the only thing to do. for my only brother, my best friend, the nicest thing my parents ever did for me.
i'd be lying if i said i wasn't a little scared. i know its going to be painful and hard on my entire family. i am not going to be able to lift any of my babies for 6 weeks and that really sucks. but what is even scarier is imagining my world without my brother in it, so i, too, am going to soldier on.
tim and i have always had this little inside joke, im not even sure where it came from but we always say "born to do it!" today for some reason, i had this light bulb moment, and i know i was born to do this. there is no way to ever repay him for the amount of joy he has brought to my life, but i am hoping this gesture will allow him to continue. i'm going to do this for him, but it's really a gift i am giving myself.
i love you, super-wonder-bro! let's do this!