Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sixth Hike and We're Done

As always, coming to the end of a stay at our beloved Green Valley Spa is always hard.  This time it was especially so, since we don't know what the future will bring.  Under new management, our destination spa is changing and we don't know how things will shake out.  We were able to cobble together our usual complete package and the accommodations, treatments, food, and hikes were pretty much the same as always but lack of guests and the rumblings of renovations were a worry.  We will watch to see what happens and know that our hiking guide friends should always be around to walk us and entertain us through Green Valley Hiking no matter where we might end up staying.  The grounds, and especially the many roses, are a big part of why we love it.

Our last hike was with Kim and was a good one. We went out along a road in Snow Canyon Park and then up into Padre Canyon when we said that we wanted a little more hike than walk.  The scenery was beautiful as always and we used some of Marc's techniques learned earlier.

I remembered to use my arms to support some of my body weight to keep me out of the water.

My sister put too much weight on her foot and slippage occurred!

Hopefully this isn't the end of an era.  The trip this year was to celebrate my recovery from the kidney donation surgery and to thank my wonderful sister and daughter for their good care.  Next year will be our regularly scheduled spa year due to a major birthday with a large number attached.  We will see what the year brings and where our adventure takes us.

Day Five Hike

This time we hiked with Marc, who is a wealth of information, entertainment, and technical advice.  As he leads, he shows us alternative ways to approach whatever terrain is ahead.  Here he leads my sister up a stone incline, no doubt explaining the proper foot placement and the value of walking on the toes.  When we come to a downhill section, he will show us how to go backwards to minimize slipping and also how to place feet and use hands to increase confidence and stability.  While in many cases just walking normally would work, being aware of other techniques is very helpful and getting used to using your body in different ways and calling arm and core muscles into play can really make a difference in confidence.  I always learn a lot from Marc.  Plus, he loves my hand knit hats and I was able to increase his supply this time!  Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo.

The desert plant were blooming like crazy this time.  

This is indigo, which is so much darker and richer in color than what is captured here.

We were really up on top of a big rock but it looks like we're just sitting on the ground.

Day Four and Back on Track

This was the day of the petroglyphs.  We've been on this hike before, but it's always so interesting to see these ancient carvings.  What do they mean?  They could mean anything..."expert" interpretations are probably no more accurate than our guesses.  Everyone seems to see something different but it's fun to speculate.  This was our first day without our Princess, who had to go back to work, and we missed her a lot!

Our intrepid guide, Kim, pointed out some interesting things he noticed in the drawings.  If you're in southern Utah and in need of hiking guides, check out Green Valley Hiking.  They're on Facebook now but are working on their website.  All the guides are personable and very knowledgeable about the area and are now no longer formally attached to the spa but have a separate company. We love them! 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Day Three and Feeling Fine

Our third hike was a good one; not as strenuous as the previous day's.  There was some uphill climbing but not too much. We had to walk through quite a bit of sand, though, and that makes for sore legs the next day. We saw more beautiful views; the colors and rock formations never cease to amaze. It's so different here from what I'm used to in the northwest and also in the California desert. We got to see the butterfly rock again and that's always a treat. 

Second Day Hike and I'm not so Cocky Anymore

We've been here to the Green Valley Spa and Resort in St. George, UT several times and many of the hikes are repeats for us. Nevertheless, there is always something new to see and experience. This hike to Scout's Cave in Snow Canyon State Park is always a favorite but yesterday it kicked my butt. I know I'm just barely three months post surgery, but I was feeling pretty cocky about how much energy I had regained. Sure, I can walk 5 flat miles at home without having to rush to take a nap, but somehow 4+ miles of up and down (mostly up!) in high desert altitude is different. Imagine that! My pounding heart, shortness of breath and slow walking made me realize that I'm not quite back yet but I'm very grateful to still be able to do this, even at a slower pace. But look out next time!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Yesterday - Seattle, WA

Today - St. George, Utah

No comparison! 😎

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Three Months and the Long Awaited Meet Up!

On Tuesday, April 4th, we were three months post surgery.  The doctors and/or kidney exchange officials have a rule that no contact between transplant exchange partners (donor and recipient) can be made prior to 90 days.  Even though all four of us were doing well and had given prior permission, we had to wait for that time to pass.  Finally the day was here!

Facilitated by the University of Washington's public information editor, a television interview was scheduled to document the event.  This was the first time two transplants had been done in the UW hospital at the same time with organs donated by living local donors.  Publicizing the program and the event will hopefully bring awareness of the great work being done at our university's transplant program and also encourage more living donation.  (I just typed loving donation accidentally but that's a pretty accurate description of it, too. 😊)

Our meeting was set to take place at the UW research facility at South Lake Union.  Pat and I arrived a little bit early and were met and put into a conference room after going through a dark walkway.  There was to be no catching sight of the other pair!  They were in another room being interviewed by the TV crew (Matt Lorch of Q13 news in the Seattle area) and his photographer, Marc LeCuyer.  When they finished, it was our turn.  We were asked a lot of questions and given an opportunity to explain the circumstances leading up to the double transplant exchange.  After that, we were taken into a room where Steve and Janis were waiting.  I was nervous, but seeing their smiling faces waiting for us was so reassuring and I headed right to Janis for a hug.

We visited for a few minutes and Steve (my recipient) gave me a beautiful  bouquet of flowers.

The cameras rolled as they caught our initial reactions to each other and as we talked to the doctors who were there and looked at the poster sized photos of Janis' kidney being removed and readied to be placed into Pat.  Amazing!

After all the tv stuff was finished, we continued to chat to each other and eventually decided to continue our conversation over lunch.  We live about an hour south of town and Steve and Janis live a couple of hours north of town, so getting some nourishment before heading back out onto the road was a good idea!  Janis' lovely daughter Taylor was along for the morning and we enjoyed getting to know her, too.

During these conversations, we discovered some amazing coincidences between us.

*Janis drives a Volvo S40 and we also have one.
*Janis had thyroid surgery to remove part of her thyroid gland and I had surgery to remove all of mine.
*I have been doing yoga for 16 years and love it.  Janis recently started practicing.
*Taylor said "You both have the same pants on".  Good observation - they looked identical.
*Janis mentioned that her health testing took longer to complete because the doctors had noticed a cyst on her right kidney and she had to have an extra ultrasound.  I had the same thing! Usually left kidneys are removed for donation since they are easier to reach but we both gave up the right one.
*Janis works in the Costco bakery and I've eaten my share of bagels and muffins from there!

Our meeting was wonderful and couldn't have gone better, in my opinion.  Steve and Pat shared dialysis experiences and surgery/recovery stories.  Janis and I had a lot to share about the process of being approved for surgery, the excitement of finding out that there was another couple in the area that were perfect matches, and our recovery experiences.  I recovered much easier and quicker than she did, due to the placement of my incision and I'm sorry she had more problems and pain.  But I thank my Dr. Baktha for his excellent work and my great outcome.

Then we had the fun of watching our story (maybe more than once 😉) on the local tv news.  It's always amazing when you see a couple of hours of interview footage condensed to a four minute story but they did some nice editing and I think it turned out well and got the word out about the University of Washington's wonderful transplant program and also the possibility of living donation.  I don't think that many people think about living donors unless the opportunity hits them right in the face, but altruistic donors are saving lives of strangers every day.  PSA:  take care of your body and  your health in case some day the opportunity arises for you to share.  Drink lots of water for kidney health!  And the lesson for the transplant recipients is "Live like your donor is watching."  In this case, I keep an eye on Janis' former kidney (named Wilson) and she can keep an eye on mine (unnamed by me but Steve has my blessing to name it!)

Here is the story kindly provided to me for download by the folks at KCPQ Channel 13 in Seattle.  Enjoy!