Last Thursday I posted my thoughts about my dad’s kidney disease, his decision to consider a donation of a kidney from a family member, the rush to proceed once this decision was made, and my own concerns about the timing particularly as it relates to the uncertainty in my own life.
Over the weekend, I started to feel more relaxed about this. I want to note that at no point have I felt coerced into being tested or into offering to be considered as a donor. I made that decision and offer fairly unhesitatingly years ago. What I have felt is anxiety about the rush to action after six years of my dad’s reluctance; sadness about some personal politics that have been played out elsewhere in the family; and about whether and how a determination (as yet unmade) that I would be the best candidate might affect my being able to continue to search for or accept a new job, potentially derailing my own professional and personal life in DC for more than just the short-term (if I had to give up my condo and move back home for some period of time, say).
Over the weekend, though, I came to a few realizations that made me feel better. First of all, the next step is completely out of my hands. I’ve given my blood to be tested, and now I just have to wait. Though my sister and I are likely to be the two best candidates (my dad’s siblings aren’t able to participate, and the other closest relatives being tested are his nieces and nephews; and the other three being tested are not related by blood), it’s entirely possible for any number of reasons now or throughout the lengthy donation process that I might not be, or continue to be, a viable candidate. I’m not hoping for that outcome, but it’s a possible one I can do nothing about.
But the greater realization was that, despite my initial fears to the contrary, I haven’t relinquished control over my life. Yes, I want to help my dad. Yes, I’m willing to give up a kidney for him. But, no matter how outside forces may seem to be propelling events, this doesn’t have to be done on any particular time frame. I’m not a cadaver whose organs are only viable for a short time; admittedly, Dad’s quality of life would continue to be less than optimal without a transplant, but his life itself is not at immediate risk due to the availability or lack thereof of an organ. And he has elected to put this off a number of years; at most, I might want to delay a few months in the hope that I could establish myself well-enough in a new job to be able to take time off for surgery and recovery.
The potential irony there, of course, would be that I might elect to wait on the prospect of finding new work, and yet still not find a job, leaving both Dad and me no better off (though arguably, but not particularly convincingly even to myself, no worse off, either) than we were a few months earlier.
Time enough to negotiate all this, though. First things first, and we’ll wait for the test results to come back in a few weeks.