In the spring of 1997 I had surgery to restore arterial blood flow to my right leg. The vascular surgeon attached a tube to my aorta and my right leg artery. I will have to have periodic checks for the rest of my life to make sure it is still working properly.
Once I recovered from that surgery I was allowed to go back on the waiting list for another kidney transplant. It wouldn't take very long to find a match for me.
My sister, Kelli called me in the end of June 1998 a couple weeks before she turned 18. She was trying to get a job and needed a parent's signature. She asked me if I would call our dad and see if she could go by the house with the paperwork. He agreed and she went to his house. She wound up staying for several hours while her boyfriend waited in the car. Shortly after she turned 18 Kelli found out she was pregnant. I remember her telling me that was afraid to tell our dad. She thought for sure he'd stop talking to her. But it was just the opposite.
Her daughter, whose name is Kaya was born in early 1998. I remember going to the hospital to see them. My dad had called me in the morning to say Kelli had had the baby. I remember Kelli pulling down the blanket, patting her stomach and saying, "Look my stomach is flat again."
I went on with my life. I had gotten my license in January 1998 before the baby was born. I went to a family reunion for my mom's family in Lewiston, Idaho in July 1998. It was the first one I had been to in a very long time. I left to go over there on Saturday the 25th because I had to dialyze on the 24th. I came back on Sunday the 26th because I had to dialyze on the 27th. I did not care, though because I had not had my license very long and I was anxious to drive on my first road trip. When I came back I got a big surprise.
I was scheduled to do dialysis at a different kidney center and we had time to kill so John and I rented this little sail boat on Green Lake in Seattle that was really made for one person. I cannot swim and I am terrified of the water, but I let John talk me into getting onto this thing. I had on a life jacket. Anyway, to make a long story short, somehow we capsized. We both wound up in the water. While John worked to turn it right side up I was freaking out inside. I didn't want to make a scene and draw anymore attention to us than there already was. He eventually got it turned right side up. We had to hurry up and go home so I could change clothes. I was late to dialysis.
Two days after I returned from my family reunion on July 28, 1998 I got a call for another kidney. It was a six antigen math. That's a total of three six antigen perfect matched kidneys. I accepted it and I went to Swedish Hospital once again to be tested. I think the waiting is the hardest part of it.
I will never forget the phone call that I received in my hospital room telling me that I was getting a kidney. It was one of the transplant nurses, Kristy, and her exact words were, "This is where I get to tell you you're getting a kidney." I received my fourth kidney transplant on July 29, 1998. Everything went great and I was in recovery. As I'm waking up from the anesthetic I hear, "There's a problem with the kidney, we have to take you back to the O.R. The ultrasound technician had remembered me from the previous transplant and decided to do an ultrasound just for the hell of it. Thank God he did. The kidney had shifted and rolled onto its artery cutting off it's main blood supply. The surgeons rushed me back into surgery and were able to save the kidney, but it had suffered some damage. Because of that damage it wasted everything such as fluid, electrolytes, and vitamins.
I lost two aunts that summer. They left this world eight days from each other. One was my great grandmother's sister and the other was my grandmother's sister. My great grand aunt, Bernice, passed away on September 1, 1998 in Tacoma, Washington. She died of Cirrhosis of the Liver of unknown origin. She never drank a day in her life. I had to get the okay from the transplant doctors to go to the funeral. It was still a critical time and I was at high risk for infections. The doctors said I could go, but not to hug anyone. I could not drive yet so I rode with my dad.
My great aunt, Ilene, passed away on September 9, 1998 in Kellogg, Idaho. Ilene was Bernice's niece. Aunt Ilene had been misdiagnosed with Alzheimer's a few years earlier. She was later correctly diagnosed, far too late, with a brain tumor. Once again, I had to get the okay from the transplant doctors to go to Idaho for the funeral. This time I could hug people, but not if they were sick or had been around someone who was sick. I rode over there with my dad. I remember that trip very well because we had to stop at ever bathroom between Seattle and Kellogg, Idaho. It had been so long since I'd had a working kidney that my bladder had shrunk.
Kelli Married the baby's father, Chris, later on November 19, 1998. They were married at the local courthouse with my dad, me and Chris's mom, chris's aunt in attendance. We all went out to dinner at Red Robin afterward.