Tag: Stories

Topic: Kidney A-Go-Go

Cindy Thinks

Ally Thinks

If you read last week’s post on True Love, this shouldn’t surprise you…if you haven’t, you might want to scroll down or click here …or not.

As this post posts on Monday, I will be going into surgery to donate a kidney to Brian…my ex-husband.

And there are only two things I am worrying about before I go in: 1) that my kids are OK throughout this whole thing and, 2) that for some reason, the kidney won’t work once they get it in Brian.

In actuality, I know Ally & AJ will be fine and well cared for (emotionally more than anything) by our family and friends…but that mom thing is hard to squelch.

And…honestly, I think Brian’s body is going to take that kidney and embrace it with all he’s got. He made me promise that I wouldn’t take it personally if for some reason his body rejected it.  And, I guess it could look at my girly little kidney and say HELL NO.  But I really don’t think that will happen.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if my girly kidney provided him with a new appreciation for shoes, or an improved sense of color and style …and a desire to decorate!  OMG, he could even become a person who hugs!

We can only hope.

This whole thing started in earnest in late May when Brian’s regular check up with his kidney doc showed that his kidney function had finally declined to the point where he should begin the process of getting a new kidney now to 1) avoid dialysis and 2) live…a lot longer.

He’s had Lupus (that immediately hit his kidneys) since the early 80’s and we’ve known that this time would come sooner or later.  So when he told me the time was now…I instantly made my pitch that his donor should be ME.

He laughed.

He adamantly shook his head no.  He thanked me and said no.  He patted my hand across the table and told me I was sweet…but thank you…no.

But it made perfect sense that it should be me, so I kept pitching.

We really couldn’t go to our kids (normally the most logical choice in these situations) because his disease could potentially impact them at some point (it won’t…but we couldn’t/wouldn’t take that chance) and his sister (the next logical choice) has Lupus too.  So it made sense that it should be me.

He just kept laughing and telling me that I was crazy.  But I’m not crazy.  I’m logical and rational and generally get what I want in life, and I wanted to give him my kidney.  He gave me two wonderful, healthy kids…so it made perfect sense to me that I would give him a wonderful, healthy kidney.

FINALLY, he backed down and agreed to let me “try” to become a kidney donor for him, partly because he was starting to agree that it all made sense, and partly to get me to shut up and go away.  I know he didn’t really believe that we’d actually be able to go through with it.  After all, what were the odds that we would actually be a match!?!

So in early June we went to the transplant center at Porter Hospital in Denver and began the process together.

We sat in the doctor’s office and met with the surgeon and listened to him explain how the whole transplant process worked and how Brian could either go on the transplant list (a 3-5 year wait for a donor), or bring in his own “live donor” to provide him with a kidney.

PERFECT!  I promptly declared that I would be his Live Donor.

The doctor said “right…well, we’ll see.”

I’m like “no…really…I’m gonna be the donor.”

He gave me one of those “of course you are” looks.

So I followed with, “Oh, and we’d like to get this all taken care of by the end of the summer please.”

He gave me another sideways look and left the room giving his staff the opportunity to chore of dealing with the crazy lady and the kidney patient.

Of course it wasn’t as easy (or quick) as I thought it would be.

There ended up being tons of tests that I needed to take (THAT TOOK FOREVER) to make sure my life and my health would not be adversely affected (AT ALL) by losing a kidney.  Don’t get me wrong, I totally appreciate the attention to every single detail, and the fact that they take this whole thing very seriously…but those people (referring to almost everyone I dealt with in the medical profession) moved at a snails pace throughout this entire process!

It drove me crazy.

And to be perfectly honest…there were times, many times that I didn’t handle the process all that gracefully.  I bitched and moaned and griped (and even cried a few times) at all of the inefficiencies in the system.

But the worst part was the waiting.

Because, I guess, I’m not the most patient person in the world.

All I could think about was…come on people…we have a kidney transplant to make happen here!!!!

And I tend to move pretty quickly, and very efficiently when I do things.  So I had more than a few moments of utter insanity as the folks on the other end of the process (and those controlling the process) seemed to handle our case with as much sensitivity, efficiency and open communication…as an auto mechanic who holds your car hostage while claiming to order the only parts to fix the problem, from somewhere in Outer Mongolia, while assuring you that he has only you and your cars’ best interest in mind.

That part of the process sucked.

But lo and behold…we ended up being a match, and I ended up being healthy enough to give a kidney, and Brian was going to get a second chance to live a healthier life…so all of the other bullshit flew out the window.

As soon as I found out I called Brian and practically shouted into the phone “SEE…I told you we were compatible!”  He laughed and replied “who knew?”

I knew.  I knew from the start.   Because it made sense that it should be me.

And I’ll tell you…I CAN’T WAIT to wake up and see how much better that wonderful man feels with a healthy (albeit used) girly kidney.

I never grew up thinking that I had a sick dad.  He was a doctor, he was hilarious, he was the smartest person I knew, but he was never a sick person.

Why?  Because he’s never let Lupus define him.  He’s never let himself act like a sick person.  He has an illness, but it’s never had him.

And even now, when he’s going into surgery to get a new vital organ… he still doesn’t act like a sick person.

If you saw him at a coffee shop, or talked to him, or even spent some quality time with him, you’d never know that he was sick until he actually said something like, “Yeah, I can’t go to that concert with you next week, I’ll be getting my ex-wife’s kidney.”

I would like to go on record as saying that I offered my kidney to my dad a couple of years ago when this whole thing started.  I told him he could have mine, and he refused it.   I’m not gonna lie… that hurt.  “What?”, I asked, “Is my kidney not good enough?  Does it not know enough long words for you?  Is it, *gasp*, not pretty enough?”

He and my mother explained that since I take after my father in so many ways (the same skin tone, the same long fingers, the same sarcastic sense of humor that’s gotten us in trouble from time to time), chances are pretty good that I’ll need both of my kidneys some day.

I suppose I can’t argue with that, but it would be nice to at least be considered as a possible kidney donor.  Even if only for my own ego…

When my mom told me that she was going to try to donate her kidney to my dad, I wasn’t shocked.

I wasn’t surprised.

I didn’t even raise an eyebrow.

This isn’t because I don’t know how amazing  and crazy awesome it is, and I never really expected it.

But it made sense.

Of course my mom was going to step up.  Of course she was going to go through the hours and days and weeks of testing.  Of course of course of course.

So they’re divorced.  My mom loves him, and would do anything to make sure he’s around and healthy for as long as possible.

And more than that, my mom is just the type of person to do this.  She gets shit done, and she gets her way.  My dad needs a kidney, and she wants to get him a kidney.  She doesn’t have the patience to wait around while his kidneys get worse and worse.

For her, it’s logical to just do it herself.

I know that a woman donating a kidney to her ex is rare, and let’s face it, even a little bit odd.  But she’s not just donating a kidney to her ex.  She’s donating a kidney to the father of her children, to her best friend, to a really great man.

What’s unique about the situation is that she’s one of the few people out there who would actually go through the trouble (and it is SO MUCH TROUBLE).

What’s unique is that she exists.

It’s nerve racking having both of my parents go in for major surgery.  Actually, it’s kind of terrifying.  The hours of waiting and the constant “what ifs” and did I mention that I HATE hospitals?

But I’ll have Mike and my family there to distract and support me.

And, if I’m lucky, copious amounts of prescription drugs.

I just want my parents to be OK, and I want the surgery to be a success.  Because even though he doesn’t show it, and even though he doesn’t let his Lupus define him, he is sick.  And I’m hoping the surgery makes him feel better… even just a little bit.

I’ll be tweeting because it helps to get it out of my head and into the world.  If you care to follow along, you can do so by visiting my personal account, here, and the twitter account for She Thinks, here.  (Just keep refreshing the page to see the latest updates.)  I’ll be labeling all of my surgery updates #divorcedkidneys, so if you have a twitter account and would like to say something – that’s hopefully encouraging or at least pleasant – go ahead and do so.

Finally: Thanks Mom.  Really.

Topic: Do you believe that each of us has a True Love or Soul Mate out there?

Cindy Thinks

Ally Thinks

Yes I believe in True Love!  And, Yes!  I believe that we all have a Soul Mate…or two…or more, out there…somewhere.

Inherent in the idea of A True Love or A Soul Mate however, is the idea that we must be limited to having only one love or mate in our lives.  But I believe if we’re lucky, we can have many different loves over the course of our lifetimes.

I’ve been truly lucky and have fallen in love several times over my 50+ years.  My first was a long term relationship in high school that I was convinced was “it”.  And then we broke up.  Then I found the “man of my dreams” when I was a freshman in college.   And then we broke up.  Then, in my Senior year of college, I met the “man who would become my husband” (Brian).  And yep…we too broke up (I guess they call that a divorce).  And now…I’m in love again (with Matthew).

Each time it’s been True Love.  Each time he’s been my Soul Mate.

And just because none of them lasted forever, doesn’t lessen the love I had/have for each.

Maybe that makes me a slut. (?)

Or just really really lucky.

We live in a society that values monogamy.  We expect that everyone will find their “one true love.”  We strive to find that one person who will “complete us.”  We applaud couples who stay together for their entire adult lives and we want that for ourselves…and for our children.

And I always wanted that for me.  When I was young(er), I believed there was one man out there who had the secret recipe to make me happy.  He would join with me and together, we would become “one.”  One perfect couple.  One True Love.

But then I realized…over time…through these relationships, that no one person could make me happy.  I kinda had to do that for myself.  No one could complete me.  I kinda had to do that for myself.  And nothing, and no one…was the end all.

But that didn’t mean I couldn’t find/have True Love.  And, that didn’t mean that I couldn’t be in a single committed relationship…at a time.  I am loyal and true and committed to each of my men (I sound like a girl scout…or a dog), while I’m in a relationship with them.  But when that relationship ends…I move on.  I know that sounds kind of cold and uncaring…but it isn’t.  I feel nothing but warmth and caring for those I have loved in my life.

When you get married you’re basically telling everyone that you’ve found your “ultimate” True Love.  And when I got married I felt that was true for me.  I fell completely and totally in love with Brian.  He was my Soul Mate.  We had the same values.  We had fun together.  We were…compatible.

And quite frankly, he was the man I chose to make babies with (and women are the ones that make that choice in our species)…so we got married and raised two incredible children together.

And then, twenty five years later…we got divorced.  Did I think I’d ever get divorced?  Hell no!  IT NEVER CROSSED MY MIND.  Until we stopped appreciating each other.   Funny thing is, since we broke off our marriage, we’ve become loving, caring friends again, and quite frankly…more appreciative of each other now, than we were during the last years of our marriage.

I think our marriage just ran its course.  It was time for our relationship to evolve into something more meaningful for the next phase of our lives.   But I realize just how unique we are.  Marriages are supposed to end.  Angrily.  No friendship.  No evolution.  Just end.

But I didn’t believe that was necessary.

I didn’t believe that we could have so much love for each other at one time in our lives, and then have it all go away with nothing left to show for it.  I just figured that our True Love would morph into a new type of love.  A love based on our history, our mutual respect, our friendship and…our children.

And thank goodness Brian’s been open to that evolution.

And thank goodness Matthew is open to it as well.

(Or my life would be MUCH more difficult to pull off!)

But I worry about our children.  I don’t want them to believe that just because their parents got divorced, they won’t be able to find their own True Love.  I don’t want them to think it’s all a lie.  It’s not.

I know Ally has found her True Love (yeah Mike!), and the world of love has spread its arms wide open to A.J. for his whole life to come.

But really…I don’t want them to think I’m a slut.  :)

I just want them to know that True Love does exist…as many times as they can find it, in as many ways as they can embrace it.

I think the first question here is whether or not I believe in “True Love”.

The answer?  Absolutely.

Now if the question is whether or not I believe in “Soul Mates”, then my answer is no, I don’t think that I do.

I believe that two (or more) people can be compatible and pretty perfect for each other.  They can love each other and can spend their entire lives together, and die still in love with each other.  I’ve seen it.

I also believe that sometimes it doesn’t work.  Sometimes love isn’t enough.  I’ve seen this too.

I also believe that two people can spend their whole lives together, even when they’re not happy that way.  Sadly, I’ve seen this many, many times.

I don’t believe that each of us has only one True Love or Soul Mate.  Some people are better suited for each other, and some people are a better “match”.  But I don’t believe that you only have one chance, and if you miss it, you’re done.

I do believe in relationships and I also believe in truly loving someone.

I believe that relationships look different, act different, and are different, but they should all have value.  And if you can’t see the value in your relationship…?

I believe that all relationships are flawed, even the “perfect” ones.  I believe that all relationships take work, and sometimes it’s just a shitty day at the office.  But I think that having to work at a relationship, and taking the time to do so, means you care enough about the other person to fight for it.

I also think that you know when it’s worth the fight, versus when the fighting is just an act to postpone the end.

I thought that my parents were Soul Mates.  Then they broke up.  I remember the night that they told me they were separating, I said (sobbed) “but you guys are my heroes; I want to be just like you.”  What I meant was, “but if you break up, what hope is there for me?”

Now, I’ve come to realize that 25 years together is amazing.  I respect the fact that they saw what had to happen to make our family work, and they did it.  I appreciate that, because things have worked out pretty damn well.

And I appreciate the fact that they’ve taught me to always strive to be happy, even if it’s not easy.

Because even if it’s tough, it can work.

I’ve also managed to move past my fear that if they couldn’t last FOREVER, it doesn’t mean that I can’t.  It’s also taught me that there’s always a chance that my relationship won’t last forever… and that’s OKAY.

I’ll work my ass off to see “forever”, but we can survive if it doesn’t.

I believe that I truly love Mike.  That he and I fit together.  That we work as a couple and as a team.  We’ve changed and grown so much in the many years that we’ve been together, but we’ve changed and grown together.  Is he the only one for me?  Is he my Soul Mate?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

But I do truly love him.

And I know that I choose him, and he chooses me, and that’s what’s really important.

I may be a little cynical, but I do believe in Mike and me… and I will fight for us, because we fit.

Because we work.

Because it’s true love.

I’m not sure why this particular question (or any variation on the theme) seems to absolutely baffle most men…but it does, so I really appreciate receiving this topic from a man!

My typical question has always been, “Honey…do I look fat in this outfit?”  And I swear nothing has consistently sent my man into a complete panic quicker than those eight little words.

And I’ve really never understood why.

For years when I was married, I would ask the question and Brian (my ex) would visibly cringe and then daggers would seemingly fly from his eyeballs and he would mumble some kind of incomprehensible huff and walk away as if he considered the matter closed.  And I was left wondering if that meant I did or did not look fat in the outfit?  (Note: Never a good start to an evening out.)

These days, Matthew (my boyfriend) says that I’m simply not allowed to ask those types of questions.  He considers them to be:

“Loaded questions with absolutely no possible right answer in sight”, or

“Land mines waiting to blow up in his face”, or

“Evil, hateful attempts to send men into the fiery depths of hell.”

I think most men feel the same way.

But I disagree.

And so I’m grateful for the opportunity to give men the secret to providing the right answer…

WE DON’T REALLY WANT THE TRUTH.

We want reassurance.  We want to know that we look beautiful to you.  That no matter what we put on our bodies…you LOVE OUR ASSES in it!

The truth is that by the time I come to my man with any of these questions…I’ve pretty much made up my mind about what I’m going to wear and I’m just looking for a compliment when one isn’t forthcoming.

There.  I said it.  I’m fishing for compliments.

So for me, the correct answer to the question “Does my ass look fat in these jeans” is quite simply… ”HELL NO honey! Your ass is what makes those jeans look great!”

Oh and guys…none of that mumbling the words without looking at me bullshit.  I want you to turn around, look at me in those jeans, and say those words with absolute conviction.

Do it and I’ll be one happy puppy.

Now…there are times when I really do want my man’s opinion on an outfit.  Not a shallow compliment (see?  I’m admitting that I know that’s what I’m fishing for above), but his actual opinion on what looks good and what does not.  Take last week for example.  I tried on a dress I was going to wear for a family Bar Mitzvah in Miami over the weekend, and I really couldn’t make up my mind on the shoe/necklace/earring combination.  So I called Matthew upstairs and asked his opinion.

Wisely…he asked “Are you really asking my opinion or do you just want me to tell you how good you look?”  (Obviously the man is starting to know me).

“No honey, I’m giving you choices and I REALLY WANT YOUR OPINION.  I have this sexy black dress with a hot pink liner that peaks out as I walk or spin…so I want the whole look to be perfect!”

Cautiously he agreed to help.

So we started with the shoes…of which I was wearing two different styles on each foot.  I did the classic lift one shoe up at a time to showcase two very different black evening shoes and without hesitation he picked the one on the left (a lovely black satin shoe with crystal ankle straps).   Thank you very much Matthew.  That was perfect!

Then we moved onto the jewelry.  First, I tried on a large pink crystal necklace & a pair of delicate diamond-like earrings and he hesitated and asked if there were any other options.  He said it seemed unbalanced.  OK…we instantly stepped onto shaky ground as this was my first choice, but I was willing to work with him to get it “balanced.”  So I tried on option #2, a delicate diamond-like ball on a simple white gold-like chain with delicate (i.e. small) diamond-like earrings.   This time he thought it wasn’t enough.  In fact, he thought the delicate combination was a bit “too old” looking (quickly adding that I didn’t look old…but the jewelry made me look older – SMART man).

Clearly that wasn’t going to work, so we kept at it.  HE then suggested putting the large pink crystal necklace back on, but with a pair of larger dangling diamond-like earrings and WHALA!  It was perfect.

And I knew it was perfect because he stepped back and a huge smile came across his face and he said those magic words…”Babe, you look beautiful.”  And I knew he meant it.

But if I had pulled the whole thing off on my own, and uttered the question “Honey, does this dress make me look fat?”  I hope that he would turn and look at me, and without hesitation say “Babe, you look beautiful.”

And I think now he always will.

I think I’m pretty logical when it comes to this question.  I‘ve been known to ask it, or a variation of it, from time to time a lot.

The truth is that if I’m asking the question in the first place, I already know my ass looks too big or my dress is too tight or I’m wearing something that just doesn’t look good.

I’m actually OK with Mike telling me the truth.  Really, I am.

(Notice that I say “Mike”.  The situation that I’m referring to is when your loved one or someone you’re close to asks this question, not someone you don’t have a good or close relationship with.  If someone asks and they’re not a loved one who you have a good relationship with?  Lie.  It’s not worth the hurt/drama/crap.  And let’s face it: odds are that they’re fishing for a compliment anyway.  And if you’re the asshole who asks these questions of your friends/acquaintances/strangers (you know who you are), cut it out.  Please, stop making others feel uncomfortable with your “do I look fat?” or “how old do you think I am?” questions.)

(Ahem…)

I’d rather Mike tell me before I walk out of the house looking less than awesome.  If I ask it, I’m already thinking I should change, and his answer will usually just sway me one way or the other.

(Or his answer is irrelevant and I’ll do what I want anyway.)

Granted, if Mike ever looked at me and made a gagging sound or some horrid comment, I’d probably punch him in the throat.

Hell, even if he said a simple “yes” in response to the above question, I’d probably kick him in the knees…or at least cry a bit.

Thankfully for both of us, he’s very polite and tactful (and I’m not really that physically violent).

I say that the key here is to stay polite.  Go ahead and tell them the truth… nicely.

I’m a big fan of “that’s not the most flattering thing you could wear”.

Or “it looks nice, but not great”. 

Honestly, I appreciate that…

If I ask for his opinion.

Let me say that again, this time in all caps: IF I ASK FOR HIS OPINION.

If Mike just looked at me and said something negative about my outfit without my asking for his input… I’d probably cry.

This especially goes for people other than Mike.  If a girlfriend were to walk up to me and tell me my ass looked too big, without my asking her opinion, I’d have a problem with that.

If someone walked up to me on the street and said I didn’t look good – even if they said it politely and then gave me a few bucks and also handed me a brand new puppy – throat punching would be imminent.

So, only say something if you were asked your opinion.  Otherwise, keep quiet.

NOTE: be careful about the context.  If you’re loved one asks this question in reference to something that he or she has no choice but to wear (for example a bridesmaid dress or a work uniform), say they look awesome.  Say they look amazing.  Say they took your breath away. There’s nothing they can do about the situation, so don’t do anything to make it worse.

It’s also important to say that I never ask this question unless I truly want the answer. 

(No, really.)

If I ask it, I accept the response.  And I’m very clear about my intentions when I ask.

Before we left for Miami last week, I tried on the dress I was planning to wear and asked Mike for his honest opinion.  Mike looked at me, smiled, and said I looked great, BUT the dress didn’t look perfect.  He said that the fabric fell wrong in one place, but other than that I looked good.  I was already a little iffy about my dress, and let’s face, “good” wasn’t gonna cut it, so I changed into a different dress.  This time, he said I looked amazing.  He told me I looked fabulous.  He said he wouldn’t change a thing.

Without his honesty, I would have never tried on another dress, or felt nearly as confident.

I don’t ask these questions because I’m fishing for compliments, or looking for an ego boost.  When I was discussing this question with another woman (not my mother), she said she didn’t believe me.  She said that all women ask men these questions as a test or as a reason to hear how amazing they look. 

But I honestly don’t. Why?  Because the odds of that little test backfiring and resulting in a huge, horrible, messy argument just isn’t worth it to me.  In the beginning of our relationship I probably did play that game, but now?  I’ve learned my lesson.

If I want a compliment, I ask Mike how I look.  It’s simple, it’s to the point, and he always tells me I’m beautiful.

And a lot of times?  I don’t have to ask.

(I feel the need to point out that you have to figure out what your significant other is really saying when he or she asks these questions.  In discussing this topic with many women over the past week, it seems that my thoughts aren’t shared by many other ladies.  Maybe take another woman’s (<——-) advice?  At least to start with?  Because I’m not going to be responsible if you go tell your girlfriend/wife/friend-with-benefits that her ass totally looks huge and then scream “BUT ALLY THINKS I SHOULD BE HONEST!!!” while she’s beating you with her hair dryer.)