Your gratitude changes because of organ failure...

Posted by jolinda @jolinda, Nov 27, 2019

Have you noticed that your gratitude has changed both pre and post transplant? I watched a fellow transplant recipient walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding last weekend and I was overcome by the beauty of the moment. I struggled a second time not to cry when the bride made a special toast to the living donor who saved her Dad’s life.

Both the process of becoming very sick and knowing how blessed I am to have gotten a transplant have made me more grateful. I find myself stopping more often and feeling more deeply the little moments in life that I have gotten the pleasure to witness. I don’t think I was this emotional before being sick.

Is it just me? Have you had an experience where you feel more emotional because of this crazy journey? Are we all just more aware and grateful than we were before or is it just the meds talking?

Coming to terms with my own mortality when there seemed to be no hope and then experiencing the miracle of receiving a successful transplant has heightened my appreciation for the emotional experiences of life and the love to be found all around me. It's not just the meds talking, Jolinda. Deep and enduring gratitude is a natural human response to this journey, I believe. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. We truly have much to be thankful for.

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I think it has more to do with being extremely sick and then recovering than specifically with transplant. I am still waiting for a kidney transplant, but I have become more emotional and grateful after dealing with pancreatic cancer. As @silverwoman said when you come face to face with your own mortality and then experiencing recovery you learn to really appreciate life.

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@marvinjsturing

I think it has more to do with being extremely sick and then recovering than specifically with transplant. I am still waiting for a kidney transplant, but I have become more emotional and grateful after dealing with pancreatic cancer. As @silverwoman said when you come face to face with your own mortality and then experiencing recovery you learn to really appreciate life.

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Yes, I agree with you and @silverwoman. Since 1988 I have faced several different serious medical issues, the most recent a diagnosis of smoldering multiple myeloma. I recall that each time, as I drive away from the dr office, the colors seem more pronounced, the details sharper. A visceral response to the reminders of our mortality. @marvinjsturing we have so much to be grateful for, and as the wife of a kidney recipient, our gratitude to the donor is given everyday. @jolinda I don't think it is just the meds talking! We are reminded that life is precious.
Ginger

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I am 1 year and 5 months post transplant. I have the occasions where I am in tears with gratitude. It comes upon me at times when I see emotional connections and wonderful beauty while scuba diving. I was very sick 😷 and am so very Blessed.

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I am 10 years post transplant, and in the early post transplant period, I immediately felt a deeper sense of awareness of the little things that I observed around me. It was like my entire body and mind and emotions were reprogrammed or reset. (I know that sounds crazy to my friends, I think you will understand what I mean). I cried easily and often, too. I suspect that the medications did play a part in my emotional extremes, however, even now I will experience tears at the most unexpected times.
I have a deep gratitude for my deceased donor who gave me his organs and restored my life. He is part of me and I do not know who he is. Without expecting anything in return, he gave me, a total stranger, something that modern medicine could not provide. It is because of him that I continue to shed tears of gratitude.

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@rosemarya

I am 10 years post transplant, and in the early post transplant period, I immediately felt a deeper sense of awareness of the little things that I observed around me. It was like my entire body and mind and emotions were reprogrammed or reset. (I know that sounds crazy to my friends, I think you will understand what I mean). I cried easily and often, too. I suspect that the medications did play a part in my emotional extremes, however, even now I will experience tears at the most unexpected times.
I have a deep gratitude for my deceased donor who gave me his organs and restored my life. He is part of me and I do not know who he is. Without expecting anything in return, he gave me, a total stranger, something that modern medicine could not provide. It is because of him that I continue to shed tears of gratitude.

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@rosemarya This past Thursday, as we sat down to dinner, Bill and I expressed our gratitude, once again, for the young man who left this earth in soul, and left two kidneys and pancreas for others to continue to enjoy life. We are so aware of how this changed Bill.
Ginger

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@jolinda As @marvinjsturing commented, I think it's not just us transplant recipients who feel hugely grateful and aware of how fortunate we are every day to still be here, but anyone who has had a life-threatening condition. I am just over 3 years post-transplant (liver). A dear friend survived breast cancer and I know she and I feel very similarly.
I look on every day as a gift, one more day to be here to love and enjoy my family. As @rosemarya commented I do find myself crying more easily, I am more emotional than I used to be.
I know my transplant changed my husband, son, daughter, and sister also. My husband and sister really thought they were going to lose me. They were all hugely grateful that I received the gift from a beautiful young woman who really should not have died. Thinking of her is one thing in particular that always brings tears to my eyes because her life was snuffed out due to hospital mishandling.
JK

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Congrats to your liver transplant success. It’s a tough one! Awesome feeling, I know, & I, too, feel grateful everyday but generally not overly emotional. I just spent time with my friend/donor (kidney) and we don’t talk about it hardly ever. We just understand how fortunate we are and we value our friendship and lives highly every day. We appreciate life and do for others as we can!! Continued success and healthy life! 💜

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@contentandwell

@jolinda As @marvinjsturing commented, I think it's not just us transplant recipients who feel hugely grateful and aware of how fortunate we are every day to still be here, but anyone who has had a life-threatening condition. I am just over 3 years post-transplant (liver). A dear friend survived breast cancer and I know she and I feel very similarly.
I look on every day as a gift, one more day to be here to love and enjoy my family. As @rosemarya commented I do find myself crying more easily, I am more emotional than I used to be.
I know my transplant changed my husband, son, daughter, and sister also. My husband and sister really thought they were going to lose me. They were all hugely grateful that I received the gift from a beautiful young woman who really should not have died. Thinking of her is one thing in particular that always brings tears to my eyes because her life was snuffed out due to hospital mishandling.
JK

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@rosemarya @contentandwell I just had my one year anniversary Nov 28th and haven't written to my donor's family yet. My thoughts were that this would be a hard time for them right now before Christmas. My question is : is it too late to reach out to them and what on earth do I say? I don't know who they are or the circumstances that led to they're loved ones death. I am grateful but don't want to seem unfeeling to their loss and my gain. I've seen some guidelines on how to reach out but none of them seem to fit my situation. Please help me as I am feeling a tremendous amount of guilt over this.

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Writing to your organ donor is appropriate anytime that you are ready to do it. I find that our anniversaries and holidays cause us to reflect on the miracle that we have experienced and to remember the person who made it possible.

@gaylea1, I completely understand your sense of guilt, and your gratitude, and the lack of words to express your feelings. Please allow me to share an article that I was asked to write – How does one send condolences and say thank you at the same time?
"PS: Enjoy your life – Experts by Experience"
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/ps-enjoy-your-life-experts-by-experience-1/
Here is a discussion >Writing to Your Donor's Family.
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/writing-to-your-donors-family/

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The holiday seasons can be fraught with roller-coaster emotions, whether we are chronic illness sufferers, transplant recipients, or dealing with mental health issues. Pausing to acknowledge those who have allowed us to be here today by their gifts have become part of my traditions.
@gaylea1 Your donor family might very well be pleased to know you are doing so good, and that is in itself a celebration of their loved one, don't you think? To know that their grief is tempered because another person gets to celebrate this year, would be a comfort to them. Letting them know how you are giving back to your community and family would mean a lot to them, while allowing you to feel the gift you received fully.
Ginger

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@gaylea1

@rosemarya @contentandwell I just had my one year anniversary Nov 28th and haven't written to my donor's family yet. My thoughts were that this would be a hard time for them right now before Christmas. My question is : is it too late to reach out to them and what on earth do I say? I don't know who they are or the circumstances that led to they're loved ones death. I am grateful but don't want to seem unfeeling to their loss and my gain. I've seen some guidelines on how to reach out but none of them seem to fit my situation. Please help me as I am feeling a tremendous amount of guilt over this.

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@gaylea1 I don't think it's ever too late to show your gratitude. I was told to wait a while until their grief was not as raw, and I did. I too knew nothing before writing a letter, my surgeon wouldn't even tell me the gender of my donor! I wrote to them and received a letter back, almost a year after my letter. They were very open in their letter, signing their names and telling me the name of their daughter.
How is your situation different? Maybe we can offer some suggestions if we knew more. If I can find the guideline given to me by the local UNOS group I will scan it in and attach it if that would help you. That is, if I can find it.
JK

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@contentandwell

@gaylea1 I don't think it's ever too late to show your gratitude. I was told to wait a while until their grief was not as raw, and I did. I too knew nothing before writing a letter, my surgeon wouldn't even tell me the gender of my donor! I wrote to them and received a letter back, almost a year after my letter. They were very open in their letter, signing their names and telling me the name of their daughter.
How is your situation different? Maybe we can offer some suggestions if we knew more. If I can find the guideline given to me by the local UNOS group I will scan it in and attach it if that would help you. That is, if I can find it.
JK

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@contentandwell ..after reading your reply I guess my situation isn't really all that different. Did you write a letter and give it to the doctor in did you send an email with your letter attached? Thanks for sharing with me.

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@gingerw

The holiday seasons can be fraught with roller-coaster emotions, whether we are chronic illness sufferers, transplant recipients, or dealing with mental health issues. Pausing to acknowledge those who have allowed us to be here today by their gifts have become part of my traditions.
@gaylea1 Your donor family might very well be pleased to know you are doing so good, and that is in itself a celebration of their loved one, don't you think? To know that their grief is tempered because another person gets to celebrate this year, would be a comfort to them. Letting them know how you are giving back to your community and family would mean a lot to them, while allowing you to feel the gift you received fully.
Ginger

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@gingerw thank you Ginger. You are absolutely right.

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@gaylea1

@gingerw thank you Ginger. You are absolutely right.

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@gaylea1 here are 2 other discussions on Connect that you might find helpful. @contentandwell shares more of her experience and tips in these 2 discussions:

– Writing to Your Donor's Family https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/writing-to-your-donors-family/
– Letter to donor family: I'm not sure how to start https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/letter-to-donor-family/

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