Random Acts of Senseless Kindness Redux

This blog post ran on January 11, 2016, shortly after the original surgery took place. As of this date, Mary is still doing well, although a high hormone level that existed before the trasplant, and that the doctors hoped the transplant would correct, still exists, so they’re looking further into that. All prayers have been — and will continue to be — greatly appreciated!

It appears I’m somewhat obsessed with the notion of gift-giving these days. Take my recent blog post about Epiphany when it seemed all I could think about was that gold, frankincense and myrrh were odd gifts. Then there was the blog post in which I talked about the horrors of shopping at the mall right before Christmas and the glories of internet shopping. I offered my readers pictures of my grandkids opening their gifts. About the only thing I haven’t done is show you a copy of my credit card bill.

Oh, or donate a kidney.

Because, friends, while I have been focusing on material gifts, I recently met someone who truly knows the meaning of giving a gift of love.

Her name is Jo Lynn, and she’s mostly like you and me. She is a busy wife and mother with a full-time job. She has a life filled with housework and bosses and grocery shopping and school events. In addition to these normal activities, she also is an amateur athlete who does CrossFit and runs ultramarathons. Okay, maybe that’s not like you and me. But you get my point.

But one day Jo Lynn was looking at Facebook and came across a surprising post from one of her Facebook (and real-life) friends. Could you save my life? I need a kidney, the post said, or my kidneys will soon fail completely.

Jo Lynn was aware that her friend Mary was in kidney failure and had been for some time. Mary’s father and grandmother had died of kidney failure. Mary herself was at a point where she spent every single solitary night hooked to a dialysis machine that was keeping her alive. Imagine that. She hadn’t had a dream for three years because the dialysis machine prevented her from any REM sleep.

Mary was reluctant to take the step of reaching out to her Facebook community, but her husband insisted on it. Family members were unable to donate because their blood types were wrong. Mary’s blood type was O, and the list for kidney donors with that particular blood type was in the neighborhood of six years long. Mary was unsure if she had that much time. Facebook was one way of reaching a large number of people, her husband told her.

What grabbed Jo Lynn’s attention was that Mary had type O blood. That meant that Mary could only receive a kidney from someone with type O blood. Guess who has type O blood? Yep. Jo Lynn.

Right then and there, Jo Lynn began to form a plan. After talking to her husband (who not only didn’t think she was insane, but actually was sad that his own blood type prevented him consideration), she began taking the steps necessary to donate one of her kidneys to her friend.

And let me tell you, there were very, very, very many steps. You can only imagine. Test after test after test after test. Physical tests. Counseling with a social worker. Blood draws. CT scans. Jo Lynn didn’t even tell her friend that she was undergoing these tests for some time because she didn’t want to get her hopes up only to have them shot down because of some medical anomaly that would prevent her from being able to donate her kidney.

The tests went on for literally months. Jo Lynn saw the Facebook posting in March of 2015. The surgery took place on December 23, (coincidentally 61 years to the day of the first successful kidney transplant in Boston), at a hospital in Scottsdale, AZ. It just happened to be the hospital in which Jo Lynn was born.

Did you ever hesitate, I asked her. Was there ever a time when you thought maybe you had bitten off more than you could (or wished to) chew? Did you have second thoughts?

Not once, Jo Lynn told me. None of the family members could donate. She had the right blood type. “How could I sit back and do nothing?” she said.

How, indeed.

Jo Lynn and Kris

Kris and Jo Lynn. The person on the left DIDN’T donate a kidney.

Because I simply can’t leave well enough alone, I asked her if she was spiritual. She admitted to not being a church-goer. But she would also not reject the notion that God played – and continues to play – a part in this whole affair. After all, about the time that Mary learned she had bum kidneys, Jo Lynn – far, far away in Colorado – decided to begin eating a healthy diet and exercising. Almost like she was preparing her body for what was to come.

The next four to six months are critical in Mary’s life. If her body is going to reject Jo Lynn’s kidney, the next few months will tell. She will be on anti-rejection medication for the rest of her life. That is a small price to pay for getting her life back. She has even begun to have dreams again. Probably both awake and asleep.

As for Jo Lynn, her life will have to change very little, surprisingly enough. We can live perfectly well with one healthy kidney. The doctor’s only order? No contact sports.

Rats. So Jo Lynn will have to give up her dreams of being the first woman NFL player or a professional boxer.

And I’m going to have to reassess my ideas of giving gifts. I likely will never have the opportunity of donating a kidney, and am not sure I would even have the chops to do it if the opportunity presented itself. But Jo Lynn’s experience makes me very aware of what it means to love one another.

Nana’s Notes: The blog title comes from a song with the same title written by Gary Baker, Frank Myers, and Jerry Allan Williams; performed by South Sixty Five. Jo Lynn is a friend of my sister Jen, who I thank for arranging this meeting. It was a wonderful experience.

Thursday Thoughts

Gift Giving Follow Up
I began writing this blog in August of 2013. Since that time, except for a few exceptions (mostly hospital visits, a few vacations), I have posted every day but Sundays. That’s well over 700 posts. My hits (the number of people who read my blog each day) have ever so slooooooowly increased, but even now they are only about 60 on a good day. That’s okay because I write for the enjoyment of it, though I would love my numbers to increase. Up until this past Monday, the most hits I’d ever gotten in one day was 129, and that was the blog post about our whale watching adventure while visiting Vermont. Monday’s post about Jo Lynn and her gift to her friend of a kidney has received – at the time of this writing – 462 hits. And that doesn’t count the ones that came in through my home page. Not only did the numbers flabbergast me, but the number of countries from which people accessed my blog was astounding. Again, at the time of this writing, that post got hits from Canada, Norway, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Thailand, Denmark, the Netherlands, Brazil, Malaysia, Ireland, Indonesia, and of course the United States.  Oh, and one last thing. I was contacted by the public relations department of the National Kidney Foundation asking for Jo Lynn’s contact information to do a follow up story. Jo Lynn said she has been overwhelmed with the good will she has received, and hopes that the result will be more people being willing to donate.

Ahoy Matey!
Rain Ditch 2
The past few days have been sunny, but we haven’t had great weather since we arrived in Arizona. I’m not complaining, as there is snow and very cold weather back in Denver. But the temperature has mostly been in the 50s during the day and down in the 30s at night. The past few days have been warmer, in the neighborhood of 62 or 63. During the chillier days, there was also quite a bit of rain. We have never been here during the monsoon season and this rain was apparently nothing like that. Still, it rained pretty steadily for a couple of days. Because the ground is made mostly of clay and so is very hard, the water doesn’t drain easily. That’s why in low-lying areas, there are signs saying not Rain ditchto venture forth if there is water on the road. Because water doesn’t drain, there are designed low-lying ditches all over the city for water to sit while it slowly seeps into the soil. We have a couple of them in our neighborhood, as do most neighborhoods. Kids will play in the short-lived ponds, though I’m certain they’re not supposed to. But kids are kids.

It’s Not Rocket Science
One of my go-to treats to make for my grandkids is rice krispie treats. I must admit, I love them myself. Even my mother, who didn’t bake a lot because she was was married to a baker, would make rice krispie treats. I think every mother made them in the 1950s. My grandson Alastair has told me mine were the best, and that always made me laugh. Because, let’s face it, there really isn’t much to the recipe. I always figured it’s because I use extra butter and a bit of vanilla. But I recently came across a recipe on Pinterest for what was purported to be the best EVER Rice Krispie Treats. The recipe came from a blog called South Your Mouth. I pinned the recipe, and subsequently made them. They were the best EVER Rice Krispie Treats for sure. The trick? Two bags of mini marshmallows instead of one, a stick of butter instead of half a stick, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. What’s more, you hold back two cups of the marshmallows until the rest are all melted, and then add them just before mixing with the rice krispies, resulting in pockets of melty marshmallowy goodness. Here’s a link to her recipe.

rice krispie treats

Top 40
When I work in the kitchen, I like to play music. I have finally put away my Christmas music, so while I was preparing the rice krispie treats yesterday, I turned on my iPod and selected one of my playlists. Every song that came up was one I LOVED. I could sing along and, in fact, did. It finally occurred to me that the reason I was enjoying each and every song was that the playlist I chose was called My Favorite Songs. Duh. One of the first songs to play was Louie Armstrong’s Mack the Knife. That song gets me singing and dancing like no other. A bit later, Mack the Knife again began playing, but this time it was Michael Buble’s version. I love Michael Buble, but really, I couldn’t listen to it at the same sitting as listening to Louie Armstrong’s version. There’s simply no comparison. I can’t listen to Louie Armstrong without remembering that I accidentally broke my dad’s Louie Armstrong album featuring Mack the Knife when I was a small girl. I dropped it and it broke in half. Isn’t it funny that I remember that? I also remember that I was afraid I’d get in trouble, but didn’t. I’m sure that was one of Dad’s grit-you-teeth-and-smile moments that all parents have.