Ever feel like an ant?

Two weeks ago, we had the initial transplant meeting. It was an all day ordeal. We had to meet with the transplant doctor, followed by the social worker, and finally by the finance specialist. After meeting with all three of them, they have a “team meeting” to discuss your case and all three of them must agree to put you on the transplant list before you can get listed.

The Doctor

The doctor basically striped out all hope of her getting better and not needing a transplant. Everything we said, were we saw a little glimmer of hope, was quickly squashed and discarded.  It reminded me of a little kid playing on an anthill, just squashing the little ants. No matter how hard the ants run, just when they think they are getting away, they end up like pancakes. Yea, just like that… our hope was squashed. I guess we shouldn’t have expected anything different. After all, he is a TRANSPLANT DOCTOR. His job is to transplant organs, not try to save your “native kidneys” as they call them.

“I want your kidneys to fail and I want you to go on dialysis”

Yea, those words came out of his mouth. “It may sound harsh, but I want your kidneys to fail and I want you to go on dialysis.” SQUASH!! I think that one took out a few more ants from our anthill.  He said that with her “native kidneys” gone, he would be able to take her off all the anti-suppressants she’s currently on.  He wants Laura to be on dialysis for a few months so that her immune system can fully recover so she can recover faster after the transplant. He’s also hoping that once her immune system recovers, she’ll be able to finally get rid of that crappy parvovirus.

“I’m going to knock out your kidneys”

Our anthill is quickly shrinking. He said that if Laura’s “native kidneys” are still working when the time comes for the transplant, he wants to “knock them out.” That’s politically correct speak for “I’m going to kill them off.” He said that because her kidneys are spilling so much protein, he needs them to stop working completely so that if the protein spillage continues after the transplant, he will be able to know if it’s coming from the new kidney or not. Instead of doing a nephrectomy (removing the kidneys), he said he would just inject them with something that would “knock them out”… What a relief I thought they were going to do something bad. SQUASH!!

The doctor said that as far as he’s concerned,  he’s going to give us the thumbs up to get on the list. The only think he is going to require is an echocardiogram.

The Social Worker

When the social worker came in to speak to us, Laura was already pretty upset. She introduces her self, tells us what her role is going to be, and then asks:

“So why do you want a new kidney”

“She doesn’t” I say, “she want’s to get better without it!” Come on really, what kind of question is that? Although it wasn’t as bad as when we went to the first transplant seminar a couple of months ago when the entire audience was asked, “Who wants a new kidney?” When half the of them raised their hands, the lady said “Good, cause that pays for my salary so I’d like to do a few this year.” SQUASH!!

Anyway, after a few more ridiculous questions, she said she would clear us to be put on the transplant list with the following conditions:

  • We need to have a family support meeting with the social worker. She wants to ensure that Laura’s support group (her family) knows what will be required of them and how important it is that they be reliable.
  • We need to get clearance from any mental health professional that Laura may be seeing.

The Finance Specialist

After being squashed for about three hours straight, they finally send in the big kid. He’s going to make sure he finds the queen ant and squashes it slowly. He came in with a big stack of papers.

“I’ve called your insurance company and this is what they will and will not cover.” He gave us what seemed like an entire ream of paper. He went over all our copays and deductibles. He asked questions to see if Laura could get on disability or Medicare. Of course, she’s not eligible for either one. Apparently, you need to have worked for 3 or 4 years out of the last 7 (or something like that) to be eligible for disability and since she hasn’t worked since 2005 when our first son was born, then she’s out of luck. SQUASH!!

“The good news is that you’ll be eligible for Medicare once you start dialysis,” he says.  I think to myself, “There’s something to look forward to.” We spend the next  hour opening up our entire financial life to him. How much do you pay for your mortgage? How much do you pay for your vehicles? How much do you spend on groceries? How much…?? How much…?? How much…?? SQUASH!!

“This is the cost of the medication you’ll be on for the rest of your life once you get the transplant.” He then proceeded to go though each and every medication along with the cost of each one. “With your insurance coverage and your deductible and copays, it’s going to cost you about $8,000-$10,000/year in “maintenance costs”. SQUASH!! SQUASH!! SQUASH!! SQUASH!! SQUASH!!

“I’m going to require a fundraiser”

Yup, we knew that was coming. He said that before he would agree to let Laura on the transplant list, he was going to require that we start a fundraiser and raise at least $4,000. He said he’d really like to see $8,000 in the account but would let her on the list as long as we raised $4,000.

I think they finally found the  Ant Queen. SQUASH!!!



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