A little over 6 weeks ago, Kelly and I headed to the airport. Excited, nervous, anxious, sad to leave our girls, and unsure of what was ahead of us. We left after work on Wednesday, arriving in the Atlanta airport late that night. We drove through an unknown city with only a few cars on the road at the midnight hour to our hotel.
We woke up in the morning and looked out the window to a view of the busy morning commuting traffic. That afternoon we headed to the hospital. Kelly had appointments with at least 4 medical professionals, more lab work and Kelly enjoyed a final meal for the day before he had to begin his fast. Chris and Carol were across town in a different hotel room. Even though we were in separate rooms, different hotels I don't doubt that both couples were experiencing the same feelings.
Friday morning before the sun came up, we drove across the same deserted streets that welcomed us to the city to the hospital. Kelly checked in, and there sat Chris and Carol with open arms, ready to share with anyone willing to listen that today was the day Chris would gain his life back. Kelly and Chris were taken to the pre-op area to prepare for the surgery. And then Carol and I began the waiting process. Kelly would be out of surgery first, after about 4 hours of waiting in the crowded hospital waiting room. Chris done just a couple hours later.
As proof of the organ Kelly lost, and Chris gained, the doctor at Kelly's request took a picture of the kidney. It was only out of the warmth of a human body for about 5 minutes. We were warned that Kelly would struggle through the recovery a lot more then Chris would. Kelly was going from being a healthy man to adjusting to the loss of an organ. Chris was coming from a place of being sick on a daily basis, feeling terrible most of the time to feeling immediately better. His kidney would begin working immediately.
I arrived to the hospital room before Kelly made it up from the recovery area. He was visibly in a lot of pain when he was wheeled in on the hospital bed. I remember feeling overwhelmed with emotion. I couldn't believe I was witnessing one of the most selfless acts a person could do right in front of my eyes. I was so happy to see him, but struggled to see him in so much pain and there was nothing I could do to make it go away. He slept for a long time. All the while, I stayed in touch with Carol eager to here Chris's status. He too finally made it to his room on the same floor just down the hall. Here, Kelly and I would spend a couple days and Chris several more.
After both men were released from the hospital we met up with Chris for dinner. Kelly had very little appetite and was in significant pain. Chris looked like a new man. It was amazing to see the delight in Chris just by being able to drink a coke, and order anything of the menu. For so long Chris's fluid intake was restricted due to the lack of kidney function. On a daily basis he was only able to drink maybe one cup of water a day. Now he could drink as many coke's as the waitress could bring. We spent a total of 10 days in Georgia. Enjoying the city, we traveled to South Carolina for a quick visit and got to see Kelly's sister and nephew who live in Georgia. We loved our time in Georgia and enjoyed our time with Chris and Carol.
On Friday afternoon, a week after the day of surgery, we met Chris and Carol one last time for Lunch. We had grown so close to these two over the last week. We just endured a journey together, and came out on the other side victorious.
Six weeks later, Kelly has returned to work and is still building up his strength. Chris is back to living a relatively normal life. Enjoying all the fluids he can with just as many trips to the bathroom, signs of a healthy kidney. The day before the surgery, I asked the surgeon if Kelly's last drink would be Chris's first pee. The thought of it made me smile. These two men were truly connected. Although the doctor assured us that they flush out the kidney prior to putting it in Chris's body, I still chuckle at the thought.
I am grateful for this journey. It has shown me so much. How wonderful it is to give, selflessly. In this holiday season, it is an important reminder, that the true spirit of the season is giving. Not recieving.