April 8, 2012


Alex donated his kidney on Wednesday.

Anyway, back to me.

Oh I know, I'm terrible. Totally self-consumed, but welcome to the story of my life. Isn't it kinda always about us even when we pretend it's not?

Alex gently shed light on this fact at 4am this morning as we sat in the hotel lobby in a lame attempt to distract him from his pain and insomnia post-surgery. After sipping chamomile tea and talking to Paul--the late night receptionist who shared with us the inner workings of the hospitality business--we slowly walked back to the elevator, Alex walking at the speed of a 95 year old grandmother. Suffering from a bit of vertigo as he walked, I compassionately inquired whether he felt like he was going to pass out. "I just need to know," I whispered, "because you'd be a lot of dead weight to drag back upstairs."

Alex suddenly stopped in his tracks and looked at me bewilderedly. Then he started shaking and for a second I thought he was sobbing. He wasn't. He was hysterically laughing. At me.

"You are freaking unbelievable," he mustered out as he gasped for breath, obviously high from sleep deprivation.  Then he slowly recounted the past four days.

There was the first night after surgery when I woke up with him and held his hand as he slowly walked around the hospital floor every two hours. The next morning, as he grimaced in pain and stared at the ceiling restlessly, I talked about how exhausted I was considering I didn't get my usual consecutive 8 hours of sleep. Al encouraged me to go back to the hotel to take a nap.

The next day, I graciously stayed the night in the hospital with him again. However, due to my self-diagnosed "heavy sleep disorder," I failed to get up with him each hour when he woke up and painstakingly dragged himself to the bathroom. At one point, he was unable to get back in bed and had to call a nurse, who assisted him as I slept angelically on the cot amidst stolen plush hotel blankets. When I awoke in the morning, I yawned and held my back, noting how many knots I had gotten from the plastic mattress. "Oh man, I think I need a massage," I groaned. And then I assured him that I would get him his breakfast soon, "just after I have my cup of coffee first." "Of course," Alex stated understandingly.

The day Alex was discharged from the hospital, he walked in on me sitting in a bubble bath crying in the bathroom telling my mom how tired and overwhelmed I was. When I got out, I grabbed a box of tissues, sat in my robe, and blubbered all over Alex as he rubbed my back and soothed, "there, there Kerbear," while ensuring that the four puncture wounds in his belly didn't pop open. After he gave me a pep-talk, I felt much better.

Now, I'll give myself some credit in playing nurse. But if I'm going to admit how nurturing I can be, I need to admit how terribly self-consumed I am as well. It doesn't mean I have to hate that part of me, because, well, self-absorption is a part of who I am. I'm working on it. But just as Alex can laugh me, I have to laugh at myself. Because if I didn't laugh, I'd certainly cry.

Anyway, back to Al's kidney donation . . . .

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