Hartford, a dream, and videochat with my recipient!

  • It’s official – I registered for the Hartford Marathon, to be held Saturday, October 9, 2021! They’re very thoughtfully giving the option to get a full refund if you change your mind before June 1, and there will be capacity limits and other safety adaptations. I hope the finish won’t change – it’s under the Memorial Arch with hundreds of mums lining the final approach, and it’s been described as one of the most beautiful marathon finishes.
  • Like many people’s, my anxiety dreams evolve to include new aspects of my life – the common “exam I forgot to study for” was joined by “class I forgot to prep” when I briefly taught adult ed, “role I forgot to learn” when doing theater, etc. But I was not expecting a “need to go back and finish kidney donation” dream! In it there was a second surgery I had forgotten about, so I was late and unprepared. I had driven myself to the hospital, neglecting to coordinate with Jonathan and not realizing I’d be in overnight and he wouldn’t be able to pick me up because the car was in Springfield. I got lost trying to get back to my room. But the funniest part was that I went ahead and started the surgery on my own (!) and my wonderful (real life) surgeon, Dr. Kurbanov, was angry at me. I sheepishly told him “I don’t know what I was thinking.” It was such a relief to wake up!
  • Best of all, super-duper exciting and wonderful: I was able to videochat yesterday with my recipient and her husband. Valentine’s day is also National Donor Day so it was extra-appropriate. We have a lot in common, especially our love of reading, and it’s so cool that she lives not that far away. We’ll all get together for dinner someday when the pandemic permits. She looks wonderful – she says her color is back! I was already so happy about having donated, but being in touch with her is the lovely extra cherry on top, the icing on the cake, the bonus I didn’t count on. There’s something about seeing her that feels like tying a bow on the whole experience – visual confirmation that my previous kidney is working and doing its job in its new home. It’s like a halo of joy around the contentment I was already feeling.

New one-bean baselines

On Tuesday I had my six-week post-nephrectomy follow-up – a quick meeting with the coordinator and the surgeon, and a blood draw to establish my new one-kidney creatinine levels. I’ve felt 100% back to normal since about week 4! These are good numbers so I’m pleased.

Pre-surgeryDay after surgery6 weeks out
Creatinine (mg/dl)
EGFR (ml/min/[height^2)965056

Important side-note: you will often see two EGFR (estimated glomular filtration rate) values, “African-American” and “non-African-American.” This “race correction” is bad science and is one of the many ways the health care system disadvantages people of color, especially black patients, who spend longer on the waitlist if it is used in the algorithm. The Institute for Healing and Justice in Medicine has a helpful toolkit for learning more and helping to end this bias.

To accompany this bloodwork baseline, I timed a one-mile run on the nearby Smith College track. I’ve done this several times over the years but I haven’t properly kept track (pun not intended!) The last time would have been within the past couple of years and I’m certain it was over 10 minutes; a decade or two ago it was under. Normally I use annual races as my benchmarks. I miss them very much; I did run a virtual 5K in August, but it’s hard to keep the pace of a real race. I was over 50 for my fastest 5K ever, where my mile time would have been around 9 1/2 minutes, but that’s race conditions and downhill.

1/20/2020, 10:40am11:14 mile
Resting HR58
Temperature/humidity36 F/62%

I was a little surprised not to break 11 minutes, especially because I’m at the low range of my normal weight. I’m definitely slowing down with age, which is to be expected, but maybe even though I’m feeling totally healed, my running has room to come back? This Runner’s World article indicates that from 40 to 70, most runners slow down by about 1% per year. I’ll try to do this timed run on a monthly basis.

I mostly don’t mind aging at all. I keep growing as a person and getting better at dealing with life; each decade I’ve become happier and more fulfilled. But it’s an adjustment to acknowledge that I’m no longer competing with myself, expecting to get faster and stronger over time; now I’m racing the aging process, which will always catch up. My goals have to change to flattening the downward curves – appropriate for the pandemic world.

The really exciting news from this week is that I am now in touch with my recipient via email! Needless to say I won’t share any details in public, but I am so delighted to have a direct connection now. I hope we get to meet in person some day!