Four years ago today, I gave a kidney to my big little brother. He’s younger by about 8-9 years, but he’s been much taller for most of those years. He’s had a handful a different medical conditions since he was a baby that made my heart break. However, he has handled like a pro! Oh and he is so wise beyond is years. Truly an old soul. He developed kidney issues, and it finally came time to discuss options. I saw this day coming several months prior and asked if I could please help. We weren’t crossing that bridge yet so the discussion was tabled. God had just pulled me from one of the darkest years of my life so I wasn’t a family favorite at that moment. God was still healing me. Side bar: it’s incredible the difference one year can make!
Fast forward to the day I saw my now husband. God showed me that He was the one and I was going to be ok. Not long after we began dating, my brothers kidneys were getting worse. I knew God had plans for me. I could feel it. My mom and stepdad weren’t able to be donors so I asked if I could be tested for a match. They agreed and thankfully, I was. I told my boyfriend (now husband) and he thought it was incredible and was fully supportive. This man God had given me went with me to appointments, held my hand and watched all of the emotions and obstacles. We got to a point where we needed to fast track testing and appointments as dialysis was coming into conversation, and we didn’t want that. Talk about miracles, we got scheduled right as it was looking like it would have to happen. Timing is a beautiful thing.
While some thought I wasn’t thinking about the future enough, I knew that God was allowing this because my son and I are and will be fine. I had all the love and support I needed. At the time I was a smoker, but wanted to quit and I had been asking God to help me drop habit. But when I felt stress, I’d light right up. On June 13, 2013, I smoked a cigarette because I was so anxious for the next day and ready for my brother to get better. Little did I know that would be my last (basically). June 14, 2013 was surgery. It would be long, and with any surgery, there would be risks. When they cut out my kidney, they’d put it in a cooler and take it across to the children’s hospital via an underground tunnel (very neat!). Easy peasy, let’s do this thing!
Nope. I don’t remember much, but it was not so easy peasy. I had to redo a test the morning of, which delayed start time. I remember waking up in a strange place, alone, crying and wanting a familiar face. I was hurting and I knew nothing about my brother, or even myself. They finally got an open room and I was being wheeled down a hall when I saw my mom, my stepdad, my cousin (Brandi) and that incredible man God blessed me with. I was going in and out but I saw faces I needed to see. … Now let’s be clear, I think those are the faces I saw. It’s a vague memory. Then they told me my brother was having a rough time and was in the ICU.
Wait! That’s not how this was supposed to happen. He’s supposed to be fixed! The next few days were tough. I was extremely foggy (the series of events may be out of order). I remember Terrance, my family, and Chick-fil-A (that’s a good start). All I wanted to do was see my brother. All the nurses wanted was for me to walk. My mom relayed messages between Lee and me. I had Terrance so I wanted parents to be with my brother. Lee was still fighting and he needed them. Terrance helped me when the nurses wouldn’t, he sat in silence with me, watched me sleep, and even washed my hair. (God, you are so good!) I finally got up and moving enough to walk down the hall and RING THE BELL! Talk about exhaustion. The next big thing, they were finally going to wheel me across the way to see my bother. Bittersweet. He was doing better but he wasn’t doing better.
When I went home my brother was still in the hospital, but thankfully he came home about a week later. We both struggled through recovery, him more than me but we had an incredible support system. I battled for 6 months with pain medication but through God I let go and moved forward. I had a thyroid issue pop up, but it has been resolved through prayer. I’ve delt with depression and anxiety, and I’ve also ended up with a collapsed disc. You see, my kidney was attached to a rod in my spine which cause difficulty with my surgery and when they disconnected it, it may have, through the years, caused the collapse. I pray for relief, and some days are better than others, but no matter what it is, I keep on living life. I’ve been so grateful for the love and light of my Heavenly Father. Lee has definitely had ups and downs over the past few years as well. He went to college, and is hopefully going back in the fall. So praise God for that for sure! He has been colorblind for years and through a fall (which wasn’t good) he was given back his ability to see color! It was fun asking, “What color is that? What color is that?” With a weakened immune system, sickness really gets him hard. He’s had several trips to the doctor and the hospital. His body even tried to reject the kidney and THAT was scary. I didn’t understand, but I had God to lean on and pray that He heal my brother. It’s been a long road and continues to be a journey best placed in the hands of the ONE who can carry us through.
It’s amazing to look back on the past several years and see how God has pieced things together. He works in unbelievable ways and I pray I always pay attention to just HOW MUCH He has accomplished through us. I know without a doubt that He leads and carries my family and I. The mountains and the valleys create beautiful testimony. God is SO good!