Risky Business…

A dear and wise friend of mine posted the following on Facebook this past week: success happens when you lose your fear of failure. And of course, I “liked” it. And then went on to think quite a bit about that today. This is a blog about kidney donation/receipt, and that quote can’t be more accurate with something as big as the decision to not only choose to donate, but also for Lisa to choose to ask people to donate. To ask people to risk their lives so she would have a better chance for hers. Sometimes you hear the concept as you can’t succeed unless you try – but I think that is too simple. How many decisions do we have that really ask us to risk? Risk our lives. Risk humiliation. Risk failure. Seems to be a glass half-empty philosophy which is why I like Shannon’s (Whetstone Mescher – another BUCKEYE!) take on the concept. In health care and finances, another way to consider risk is by weighing the benefits and harms. And when the harms outweigh benefit – the risk just may be too high. But when they are equal, or when benefits outweigh harm then the risk may be well worth it. In being a living kidney donation – clinically, medically – the potential harms may outweigh the benefits. For me, the benefits are increased incentive to live a healthy life (maintain or increase my physical activity level, lose weight, drink bunches of water), feeling a sense of accomplishment of having done something that helps another, and a renewed interest in re-prioritizing my life and the choices I make in many areas. I’m not suggesting everyone reading this should go out and become a kidney donor just to prove you like potentially risky behavior –but I do think there are times in our life where taking a risk will lead to incredible rewards in so many areas.

As part of her brilliant post – Shannon finished by writing: in 2011, I challenge you to dream big, sacrifice as needed, take the road less traveled and believe that failure is never an option and mediocrity is never acceptable.

That advice is true for so many things beyond living donation….. My risk in 2011 is one that had I not gone through this experience, I would not be sharing. But in 2011, I’m going to risk getting my heart broken again. For years, I’ve sabotaged my own dating life for one reason or the other, but in my ponderings these past few days about Shannon’s post – I really think the risk that I’ve been reluctant to take, but with the biggest potential pay off is to just seriously try dating again. And hopefully, with luck and fate and everything else behind me – 2011 will be the year where I leave a mediocre social life behind, and finally meet that guy with whom to spend the rest of my one-kidney life.

And now a quick music plug – the cd that has not made it out of my car in weeks is Zac Brown Band, and the first track is Let It Go – it’s my theme for 2011.

But you only get once chance at life to leave your mark upon it
And when a pony he comes riding by you better set your sweet ass on it

You keep your heart above your head and your eyes wide open
So this world can’t find a way to leave you cold
And know you’re not the only ship out on the ocean
Save your strength for things that you can change
Forgive the ones you can’t
You gotta let ’em go
(More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/z/zac_brown_band/#share)

So to the Zac Brown band and my dear friend Shannon – thanks for your inspiration. Love ya!

Pride and Heroism

Pride and Prejudice is certainly a better title! I’ve been struggling with this blog topic; it seems I can “write” it in my head while on a dog walk, but putting fingers to keypad has been a bit more difficult. Something I have heard over and over through the process of deciding and then donating the kidney is “I’m so proud of you”. I don’t know how to respond to that. My general inclination to most things is an argument, but that doesn’t seem appropriate. Thank you seems inadequate. And responding – thanks, I’m proud of me too – seems a bit egotistical. But when it comes down to it, the latter is probably the best answer. A recent blog of Lisa’s was about Identity and it really made me think. I, also, was always the smart one, the one who would go to college and succeed in whatever I tried. But internally, I’ve always struggled with self-esteem. I wouldn’t say that I’m afraid of my own shadow, but certainly have always had boundaries and walls that I created and prevented me from truly testing myself. I’ve succeeded nonetheless, but really not from trying exceptionally hard. So then this kidney opportunity came along – and the easy route would have been to just wait for someone else to match with Lisa or for a cadaver to become available. But for once, I really felt a drive to step out of my comfort zone and try. It was certainly an act in line with my own beliefs and values, but would really require me to confront some demons. If you are in the health care quality business, you don’t willingly sign up for hospitalization and certainly not surgery. So, professionally I wondered what the heck I was doing. I never thought about scarring my body – not sure if that was ignorance or bliss. I still see my stomach in the mirror and wonder what happened. The biggest demons for one with a self-esteem issue are being ridiculed or failure. Well, with failure and kidney donation there always that chance and it’s really not something that can be prevented with certainty. So – that was a stupid reason not to do it. Ridicule – I don’t plan to run around in a bikini – so there. It’s going to be a pretty rare occasion that anyone will see my scars – so that’s not open to amusement. I really could have gone through this and told NOBODY. Well, maybe Lisa would know. …. Anyway – once I decided to do it, none of my walls worked. So, as I sit here today – 2+ months post surgery – darn it – I’m proud of myself. And I think doing this will really help me break down more of my walls and truly challenge myself.

I wrote a paragraph on heroism and don’t like it – so will have to leave that to another time. For now, I’ll just accept and embrace that donating the kidney seems to be an inspiration to others and I hope I can turn that into something that benefits many, many more people.

Brutus – the real BUCKEYE – has a big night tomorrow in the Sugar Bowl. Lisa – either you or Sophie need to be wearing that ballcap!