Guest Post by Jason Garcia - Week 3

Well, here I am three weeks into my search for whether I can donate a kidney to Niem and things quickly turned a corner when I found out that I might be pre-diabetic last week. Nice to be finding out before it’s actual diabetes, but I certainly don’t want this to turn into a pre-diabetes blog here anytime soon.

As before, the third-party test center made it easy to schedule a convenient appointment time near me. This more official Fasting Blood Glucose test required a twelve-hour fast, so that my system would be free of any calories or sugar for the test that would determine if I’m pre-diabetic, or only have glucose levels on the higher side of normal. If I’m pre-diabetic, then the kidney donation is a no-go and if I’m not, then I just need to take some time to improve my health and I could move onto the kidney health and tissue typing stage. Neither is good news for making my kidney available to Niem now, but the former is more troubling because I know enough about diabetes to know it’s not good news.

I had my four-year-old daughter, Lily, with me for this test, so we loaded up on toys and activities for the two-hour test. The clinic was in a nice residential neighborhood and seemed out-of-place yet serene somehow. Checking in was a breeze and they got me in quickly. Lily was by my side the whole time and provided me with good support for the needle I was about to endure. It wasn’t so difficult this time and they only needed one small vial. I then had five minutes to finish a sweet, orangey drink that went down easily, albeit with some jitters from the sugar rush.

We had to wait in the lobby and not leave the clinic, so as to not spend any of that glucose. That might lead to a false reading from burning the sugar. Unlike the previous glucose test, also known as a random or casual glucose test, this one is pretty damn accurate. In two hours, they would take out another small vial of blood to see what the spike in glucose levels is like, and determine which of the two I am. It would also set a PR for the amount of needles I’ve had inserted into me in a two-hour period.

As I played Shopkins line-up with Lily, I looked at her and wondered about her own health and unforeseen medical situations that could come up like this for her or my other two girls. She might be one of the many people who lives a perfectly healthy life with only one kidney. People can go with only one and never even know it. Our overall anatomy and the conditions we come down with can often be so random that you almost want to say you luck out not to be in a situation where you’re in need of an organ or come down with some fatal illness.

Lily, herself, was in a situation when she was seven weeks old in which she came down with double pneumonia in which her life hung by a thread. The care of some amazing doctors, nurses and many small miracles came together to get her through her near two weeks in the PICU. Melanie and I truly learned the humility that random illness can bring and our own friends and family were there when we needed them most. Blessings come in many shapes and sizes and the one Niem is in need of is in the shape of a ginormous bean.

The more I read about the safety of living as a kidney donor, the more I am reassured that this is a safe option for me and my family. Minor risks are present and the actual surgery is a big deal, but I know there will be caring people that would be there for me if this ever became a reality.

Once I’m in the back office awaiting the phlebotomist, I’m not so worried about the needle and tell Lily she can wait outside if wants. She came in to support me anyways.

I get a call from Rachel on Friday, which happens to be the day of Lily’s fifth birthday and the day Melanie has her interview for UCSF’s Nurse Practitioner Master’s program. She says I’m not pre-diabetic! She also adds that this more accurate glucose test revealed that I’m within the normal healthy range and can move on to the next phase of testing!

I’m beside myself and immediately call Niem with the great news. We rejoice for a moment on being able to continue on our path and no sooner do I get off the phone with him then I get a text from Melanie telling me her interview went really well. On this day that our new president is sworn into office, it seems that some things can still go right.