31 one days ago, I read my test results on my phone app. Then I stood in my kitchen and cried soft tears as my brain registered "GFR = 12".  Under 15 is bad, bad, bad.  12 gets you a call from a specialist at big-name Chicago hospital whose brash bedside manner may not be the best fit for most people.

"Shit, you are still a kid," he said when I told him my age. "Get in and get a transplant now."

His next piece of advice was softer. "Be pro-active. Call the hospital now, and then call back to follow-up. Don't wait for them."  He even gave me his personal email if I had additional questions. 

So I did as he advised.  I called. When they told me they couldn't see me until May 22, I asked to be put on a wait list if someone cancelled.  The man was surprised - they don't do that sort of thing. But I didn't let that stop me.

I received all the paperwork in the mail. I found my possible donors.  A few of them faxed or mailed the forms in immediately. I faxed all my paperwork. I had my doctor release all medical records to the transplant center. They requested an EKG, chest X-ray, a couple more invasive type tests/procedures.  I did everything within the week of their requests.

I bought myself a binder (green for kidney disease.... and hope, in my mind). I'm super-organized to the point of OCD. Nutrition is a big thing with kidney disease. I cut out pop, chocolate, ice cream, cheese, wine, and red meat... my six basic food groups.  I lost six pounds from stress and the fact that most of my meals are chicken, rice and steamed veggies. I lay in bed every night from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. because the steroids make it hard to sleep. I stress that the upcoming blood work may show that I need to start dialysis. Do you know they insert a central line into my chest to do that? And install a fistula into my body as well? 

On Friday, perhaps impressed with my pro-activeness, the transplant center called and moved up my appointment to next week. "Is that too soon?" the man asked. "Hell no!" I say to myself. Politely, I responded, "That date works for my schedule. I will be there."

Yesterday I had my monthly blood work done.  I didn't realize until my 2 a.m. wake-up call that it was exactly a month from the day I received the bad news. My doctor, spending a vacation in Turkey, checked my labs from across the world and by 4 p.m., my hope was renewed.

GFR = 18.

It went up! My kidneys had been leaking a ton of protein. 3 times what they should be doing. (In fact, they shouldn't be leaking at all....)  The leak has been cut in half. The mega-dose of steroids that makes my face chubby and sleeping just a distant memory is working! No dialysis! Maybe I can treat myself to a kids' sized Coke from McDonalds.... ;)

But I want it known: while I know the steroids are working, none of this would be possible without God.  This is all Him.  I don't know why this is my cross to carry; I'm sure He has a reason.  I won't say that this never tested my faith, because it surely did. But regardless of the reason why, it happened. And I'm moving on, pulling through, and keeping on.

I have HOPE.

Hope dangles on a string
Like slow spinning redemption
Winding in and winding out
The shine of it has caught my eye

VINDICATED - Dashboard Confessional
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