Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Evolving & Adapting

I was once friends with a wonderful woman.  "L" was funny, gregarious, and loving to a fault. 
I lived with L and her family, which included her two children, for a brief moment in my life and it has affected me more deeply than I ever would have thought.
You see, we were inseparable.  We did everything together, and I loved her children with a fierceness I didn't know I had in me. 
And then I had children.  And my child got sick.
All of a sudden, the friendship started to suffer.  We drifted apart, and I thought it was just a phase.  I never imagined that it would come to the head that it did, and implode in my face. 
When you have a kid that has special needs, it stands to reason that there are adaptations that have to be made above and beyond "normal" child-rearing.  I guess, though, that L could not handle that.  She didn't realize how severe things really were, and thought that my life revolved "too much" around the challenges I faced as the mother of a medically fragile child.  Of course, I took great offense to this, and things quickly got nasty.
Now that I have yet another medically fragile child, I know that I did the right thing in standing my ground.  In no way did I cause my childrens' problems, and I know that deep in my heart.  It doesn't mean that I do not have my moments of mommy guilt, and it surely doesn't mean that I don't have pity parties for myself now and again.  (More frequently lately, I have to admit.)  But I still miss my friend.  I don't get to see her children grow and blossom, don't get to be there when they receive their diplomas.  There are no more inside jokes and shared remembrances-they exist only in my memory.  And that leaves an ache behind.
I am so very grateful for all the wonderful friends that I have.  They pick me up when I fall, hand me a piece of chocolate (cause what good friend wouldn't have chocolate just for this occasion?) and tell me to get over it and get on with it.  And I do.  I would like to think that I do the same for them.  Thankfully, I also have friends with the bravery and tenacity to say if I am being a little self-absorbed, and they snap me out of it.
When you have a friend who has a child that's "different", please take heed: we do want to know what goes on in your life.  We do want to hear about your problems, your challenges, and your triumphs.  We love to celebrate with you, cry with you, and most of all to laugh with you.  We want you to understand that even though things are different in ways, that doesn't mean that we can't adjust and still be the same friends that we once were.  It just takes a bit of an effort.
If you have a friend that's going through some tough stuff, make the effort.  Listen.  Be there.  And then tell her about how you locked yourself out of your car this morning, how you think your mother-in-law is the devil in disguise, and how your daughter won't stop wearing her ballet costumes to school.  We want to hear it.  Trust me.  When so much is beyond our control, old friendships become a stabilizing point.  An even keel in a sea of turmoil.  Our good friends remember who we are deep down inside, even when we ourselves forget.
It may be hard.  You may get frustrated.  You may not want to ever hear about another blood draw, hospitalization, or medication change again.  Listen anyway.  Be there anyway.  You never know when it might be you that ends up in a place in life that you never imagined. 
And in that moment, you will find yourself again.  You have your friend to remind you.

PS-L, if you read this, and you may, just know this: I still remember the you that's deep inside.  And that L is sorely missed.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Organ Donation: Myths & Facts

Did you know that April is Organ Donation Awareness Month?
Most people don't. 
It's no secret that I am an organ donation advocate, being as my own daughter Madi was saved by organ donation.  But what about those that are on the fence?  There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about organ donation and the process that brings about transplantation, and they tend to lead people away from consenting to be a donor.  We already have far too few organs available for the people that need them, so it's my hope to bring a bit of awareness to all of you, thereby helping you to realize what a wonderful, selfless, and beautiful decision organ donation is. 
Please take the time to read the following information, and BECOME A DONOR!  ONE donor can save some 60 lives!  What a great legacy to leave behind.

"Don't take your organs to Heaven; Heaven knows we need them here."

Myth #1:  If I have checked the donor box on my license and I am rushed to the hospital for something, the docs will not try to save me so that they can use my organs.

Truth:  Any doctor's number one priority is to preserve life.  Medical personnel will do everything possible to save anyone that enters their facility.  They do not view organ donors as a means to procure an organ, and in fact do not even know if someone is a donor while trying to treat the person and save their life.

Myth #2: Only hearts, livers and kidneys can be transplanted.

Truth: Needed organs include the heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines. Tissue that can be donated include the eyes, skin, bone, heart valves and tendons.

Myth #3: A donor card/notification on my driver's license is all I need to be a donor.

Truth:  In most states, hospitals can legally proceed with organ, eye or tissue donation, without consent from next of kin, if you have a driver's license with an "organ donor" designation or have signed up with an organ donor registry. However, it's important to talk to your family about your decision to donate LIFE so they are aware of your wishes and will feel comfortable honoring them.

Myth #4: Celebrity or financial status determines placement on the transplant list, so ordinary people don't get the organs that they need.

Truth:  When you are on the transplant waiting list for a donor organ, what really counts is the severity of your illness, time spent waiting, blood type, and other important medical information.

Myth #5: There's a danger of being heavily drugged and then waking up to find you are missing a kidney for a black market transplant.

Truth: This tale has been widely circulated over the Internet. There is absolutely no evidence of such activity ever occurring in the U.S. While the tale may sound credible, it has no basis in the reality of organ transplantation. Many people who hear the myth probably dismiss it, but it is possible that some believe it and decide against organ donation out of needless fear.

Myth #6: My religion prohibits organ donation.

Truth: All major religions approve of organ and tissue donation and consider it an act of charity.

Myth #7: I am too old to be a donor.

Truth: People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors. Your medical condition at the time of death will determine what organs and tissue can be donated.

All information provided by UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) and can be found at