Monday, October 12, 2015

Gift from Within Tour

Check out my "Gift from Within Tour" campaign video!

Please help me spread the word and share this gift with family and friends.  :)

Thank you all in advance!
Special thanks to Justin Kamal for doing this video as a last minute request!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Hilly and Rocky Training!

11 days spent bike touring on the Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast with a wonderful friend and many other fellow cyclists that we crossed paths with; I feel more than ready for anything!

The experience was amazing, and having an awesome bike mechanic friend around to support me made it easy!  It has prepared me for the worse, with many big hills and several days of rain; I have never felt better.

I am asking everyone now, please help support me through word of mouth and donations for the 2 to 3 months bike tour across Canada to raise awareness for organ donation.  This will be happening next year!

Rest stop
Pit stop
Beach stop
Rocky roads made it tough
Fellow Vancouver cyclist
Beautiful sceneries
Sleep stop
Turkey stop

Monday, June 15, 2015

Recovery is a Roller Coaster

My update over a month ago showed my mother having more energy than ever!  My mother's new kidney is functioning over 95%; however, I didn't mention that the medications and immunosuppressants cause fluctuations in her health.

She would go from being super energized one week, and the next would consist of feeling extremely sick and terrible, throwing up, and extremely fatigued.  It's a lot of being patient and staying calm, as this is supposed to be normal until she has completely healed in 6 months.

In the meantime, she is going to the doctors once a week, once every 2 weeks, once every month, and eventually once every 6 months (after she's shown to be ready in the first 6 months of assessments and tests).  Just another 3 months to go!

I've been distracting myself with fundraisers left, right and center to prepare for the big one that's to come shortly for an organization that is associated with organ donation.  Hopefully this will help future donors.

I am extremely grateful and would like to thank my family and friends for everything that they've done for me during the past several months till now, and I look forward to their continuing support.  I know that there are many who are struggling for one reason or another, and this makes me appreciate each kind act even more.

They don't know how much they've done.  They helped save a life.  I couldn't have done it on my own without the encouragement, support and help.

You are all amazing!  Thank you!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bike for Change

Today marks 6 weeks since my kidney transplant surgery. I can start biking again! For those that don't know, I have made this process public so I can begin the bike fundraiser across Canada for Awareness of Organ Donation.
It's not easy whether you're in a life threatening situation or not, but it can still be a source of stress for family and friends.
People are afraid of the unknown, but once they do know, they can make an informed decision. I would greatly appreciate if everyone can support the cause when the time comes, even if it's by word of mouth.

The ride starts next year April 2016, no hurry. I'll keep you posted with full details in mid July. 
Britannia Secondary School, Apr. 8, 2015: First short bike ride since surgery
Light House Park, Apr. 12, 2015
Bike the Blossoms, Apr. 19, 2015
Mount Seymour, Apr. 21, 2015
And the rides will continue until (and after) I ride across Canada to spread awareness about Organ Donation!  Feel free to contact me if you want to be a part of the ride!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Recovery Begins!

People have asked me, "why are you publicizing this?  What's going on?  What are your plans now?"
Dialysis needle in the arm

I envisioned helping my mother over 7 years ago when she rejected to have my kidney; I had planned to raise awareness for living and deceased organ donation.  I didn't know exactly what I was going to do, or how I was going to do it, but I knew that in order to make it a norm, people have to know about it.  

I strongly encourage people to become donors because it can save lives.  My mother wasn't the only one waiting for a kidney, her hospital (St. Paul's) and Dialysis Clinic was packed every day with many others in her same situation, young and old.  They all have to wait somewhere between 5 to 10+ years to hopefully get a deceased kidney.
Last week of dialysis!  02/22/2015
Today is the 6 week mark from the day we had surgery.  It is also the day that I had planned the "Organ Donation Awareness and Fundraiser Bike Ride Across Canada".  It will no longer be this year, as I had just been told by the surgeon and Nephrologist that it was a bad idea and to wait at least 6 months.  

This has been a long journey that seems to have only begun.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Healing Process

It actually wasn't all that bad until I laughed and coughed, but still, it wasn't all that bad.  :D

Waiting to go in was extremely exciting and nerve wrecking.  
Me first!
Mama second!
One after another we both did our thing.  It was like a baton pass, but with a kidney!  There were 11 transplants that day, our surgeons had to do them back to back.

Awake again
Waking up in recovery was easy peasy, I don't even remember a thing!

Going to visit mama right after she was done is a must.  Not knowing was probably one of the hardest parts, because her surgery turned out a bit longer than they had anticipated. 

Mama rests
My daily walk to visit Mama down the hall
Daily exercise to keep the blood flowing and the body energized for healing.  She stayed over a week, where as I was out on day 3 of recovery.  It will take her awhile longer to heal up, because she is on immunosuppressants now. 

Week 1 - Extremely bloated

Healing process was a lot quicker than I had expected, at least from the looks of it.  They blew CO2 gas into my belly so the layers of skin, muscle and tissues will separate and they can go in to see my organs during the laparoscopic operation.

I was told that my incisions under the skin were completely different from what it looks like on the outside (pictures).  There is a cut from the middle of my C-section up to my belly button.  My artery, vein and ureter are clipped together with titanium sutures.  

Anyway, we just have to rest up lots and be very careful when getting up and lifting things.  

Week 2 - All stitchy and scabby
It takes 6 months to completely heal I was told.  We'll just all have to be patient.  

Week 5 - One of the incisions' already disappeared!
Keep your eyes peeled for the Organ Donation Awareness Bike Fundraiser beginning April, 2016.

Unfortunately my mother would not allow me to take photos of her incisions healing because she is ashamed of it (it's a bit over 6 inches above her right pelvic bone).  But she's healing quite fine, just a lot slower.  She's still at that bandage peeling state. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Kidney Donation Procedure

Here is more information on how my kidney donation procedure went at St. Paul's Hospital.  Hopefully this will encourage others who wish to donate to be prepared for what's to come.  

1.     Paper work: The process began November 2013.  There I started with a stack of paper work filled with questionnaires about my health and family health history.  I sent that in, and within a few weeks I received a phone call to answer any other questions.
2.     Blood work*: They asked me to go in for a bunch of blood works to ensure that I didn't have anything that they couldn't detect with the questionnaire.
3.     Physical Examination: Within a few weeks of that, I went in for X-rays, ultrasounds, ECG, urine sample, and CT Scans.
4.     Results/Meet the Team: Once everything looks good, I went to meet the team, (Surgeon, Nephrologist, Anesthesiologist, Social Worker, Psychiatrist) to talk about the results along with any concerns and questions.
5.     Genetics Test (for young donors/other): When everything has passed, they asked to do a genetics blood work test, as they wanted to be certain that I won't have the same disease when I am older. 
6.     Confirmation: A few weeks before the surgery, they do one last big set of blood work and urine sample to ensure that nothing has changed since.
7.     Surgery Day: No food for about 24 hours.  The nurse will do one last small set of blood work.  They bring you into the surgery room where you meet the surgery team and the IV is put in.  You're then out cold dreaming about talking to Bryan Cranston while they do the laparoscopic surgery.
8.     Waking Up: You are in the recovery room when you wake.  They will teach you to use the "pain killer" button that will go through the IV.  This stuff is wonderful!  Once stable, you are brought into your room
9.     Recovery: It takes about 4-8 weeks to recover.  6 months to recover fully.  Do not pick up anything more than 10 pounds in case of hernia or injury.  You're abdomen will be extremely weak.  (It's been 6 weeks, and I can only do pelvic tilts).
10. Reimbursements (LODERP for Canadians only): Some can try to apply for reimbursements if you miss work, as well as for travel, living, and parking costs up to a certain amount.  Unfortunately I was not able to apply for this because I wasn't working at the time, neither was I travelling or living outside this city, but they still covered some of my parking tickets.

*I had several extra blood works and meeting with the counselor and psychiatrist due to my health at the time, this may vary from person to person.
**This is all from personal experience and may vary depending on the location you are doing this at.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Kidney Donation in 9 Days! :)

I'm excited to say that the day is finally coming! Surgery is in 9 days.  I made a quick video with a brief description of what goes on throughout the process so you have an idea.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Surgery Date Confirmed

Surgery day has been booked and confirmed for February 25th early in the morning, and my mother’s will be the same day right after mine (while I’m in the recovery room)!    

Test results: my total kidney function
I was first admitted over a year ago on November 6th 2013.  I went into the hospital with mother that morning; I was her translator. She was preparing for her surgery to rid both her kidneys: they were both as large as little babies.  In fact, many times she took transit, people would give her their seat thinking she was pregnant.  She was no longer fighting or spending energy to tell people that she was fine for the seat.

I was relieved to hear that they were getting rid of them; these kidneys have only caused problems for her since it was diagnosed with PKD.   They allowed her to keep it because it still had 3% function.  6 years later, they went down to nearly nothing.  Not only were they not functioning properly, they were causing her a lot of abdominal pain and problems.  She wasn’t able to eat much because it was pushing on her stomach and other organs, constantly causing gastric reflux, nausea and upset stomach.  

Visiting her grand daughter 2015
I see her and am thankful she is still alive.  She tells me all the time that if she had not immigrated, she would have been long gone.  She told me there would have been nothing for her and even if there was something, she would not have been able to afford it.  I imagined what other people are going through in worse conditions.  We are so incredibly lucky.  

“We will have to get to the kidney and crush it up into small pieces inside of her...”. The surgeon tells me to translate.  I thought about it and made a disgusted face.  This was the only way they can get those two large “babies” out of her!  Gross!  They had to cut it up inside of her, otherwise she would have too large of an incision.

This is happening for real!  I translated it to mother and she starts to cry.  I had to keep going.  She tells me to explain to the surgeon that she was scared.  I did.  I almost sobbed out loud.  I didn’t want to show that I was scared for her too.  I held it in and distracted myself with talking.  I thought about how she declined my offer to donate my kidney 6 years ago, and again 1 year earlier when I had mentioned it.  If she had agreed to this earlier, her kidney's wouldn't have grown so big.

I knew, it was now or never.  I made the decision that day to donate my kidney to her even if she refuses.    I translated as I was supposed to, but adding in questions of my own about how the donation would work.  I needed to start the process right away.  I got the package that day.  I told my mother’s entire team to not let her know till I have finished with all the testing and it is confirmed safe for me to do so.  They agreed and worked with me.  

Mother and me 2005
I think about it, and imagined myself being her.  I mean, she was my age once believing that everything is fine and will be alright, and then the disease, and still, she tells me everything is fine.  She wasn’t scared till now.  She was just thankful that we have a good health care system.  Always reminding me that I am in Canada, and the government will take care of its people.  I thought about that, and it’s true!  If I were to be homeless elsewhere, no one would care if I had a place to live or not.  For all that I know, I could have been long gone as well without any medical coverage.

The long journey awaits.  I’m not quite sure what to feel yet, but I know I’m doing this, and for the right reasons.