The day I got the call saying I was a bone marrow match was one of the happiest days of my life. I thought it was my chance to really make my mark. I started the screening process and before long received a message saying that the procedure was canceled. I was devastated! My life-saving dream was shattered! That’s when I decided to donate my spare kidney. I started the lab work on my 40thbirthday. It was my way of celebrating health and good fortune.
I wasn’t always so healthy. I grew up in a household full of cigarette smoke and pet dander and spent the first half of my life tied to a rescue inhaler. As soon as I separated myself from those allergens and got a big dose of Prednisone, I found myself making up for lost time. I started running and eventually ran a marathon. I also took up cycling.
Some co-workers talked me into participating in Bike to Work Day. I did the 45-mile round-trip on my mountain bike and loved it. My brother was into road cycling, so on a long layover in Denver, I rented a road bike to see what the hype was all about. When I beat my big brother up a four-mile climb, I was officially hooked. Shortly after, a friend gifted me a subscription to Adventure Cyclist. This magazine opened my eyes to a whole new world. When I learned that everyday kind of people ride cross-country, I knew it was something I wanted to do. After a couple short bike overnights to test the waters, I took the leap and rode my bicycle 2,000 miles from Canada to Mexico along the Pacific Coast.
The following year I went under the knife. My kidney was flown from Dallas to Denver to save a stranger. It was a dream come true. I wanted desperately to save a life. To leave a legacy. To do something epic. Nothing up until this seemed like enough. I volunteered and donated pints of blood and long ponytails. I left my thirteen-year career as a project manager to own and operate a Pilates studio. I knew all of this was impactful, but it wasn’t quite what I dreamt about.
I had an easy surgery and quick recovery. Being in good shape prior helped. So did reading the book Prepare for Surgery Heal Faster and following their guided mediation. I also didn’t tell many people about the surgery to avoid potential negativity. I stayed one night in the hospital and had a wonderfully supportive husband that did basically everything around the house for at least a week. My Mom came to visit shortly after and we ate out every single meal, which jump-started my appetite. My husband was especially happy when I felt up to having a beer with him again!
I babied myself for the first year after surgery. I had plenty of energy and felt great, I just didn’t have the desire to push myself physically. I trusted my gut instinct and simply thought of it as a way of thanking my body and honoring the medical miracle. Fifteen months post-surgery I rode the Hotter’N Hell Hundred. My body felt great throughout the 102-mile ride. My heart, on the other hand, broke for those dealing with mechanical issues and major crashes along the route. I’ve always been a sensitive soul, but my concern for others has been amplified since the kidney donation.
I try to drink plenty of water. I get my nutrients from plants and avoid protein powders. I’m still searching for ways to help others. I recently founded the Lone Star Wheelers. It’s a free community service offering wheelchair bicycle joyrides to the sick, elderly, and disabled. Life is good!