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2014 - The Year That Our Lives Changed Forever

“I can’t sleep, actually, I haven’t slept in nearly 2 weeks,” said Lukeman, my husband of 14 years at the time. We talked about it and felt like it would be important to go see the doctor. Friday, June 27th he went for a chest x-ray and the doctor that reviewed the scan showed that there was fluid around his lungs and an enlarged heart. He was told he should see his primary care doctor. My husband called the PC and shared the information about the chest scan, and they scheduled an appointment for next Tuesday, July 1st. He then told them that he hadn’t slept in 2 weeks so the office said he should come in the next day, Saturday, June 28th.

It was a sunny and warm summer morning; I headed off to my client’s home to work for 4 hours and my husband went to the doctor’s office for his appointment. 2 hours into my client session Lukeman called me which is rare because he only calls in an emergency. I paused and thought, uh-oh what could the doctor have said? I answered the call and he shared with me that his blood pressure was high and that they were concerned. He said he would keep me posted and call me back.

Welp, as most women that I know, I immediately got worried. So thankful that the client I was working with was a doctor and they shared some of what was transpiring at the doctor’s office. It helped me keep calm and rational, but I didn’t want to wait for another call. I wanted to leave and get to him. We kept working but I was completely distracted. My client was amazing and patient and kept talking to me and asking about our relationship. I barely remember what we talked about but felt like it was forever till the phone rang again.

Ring….I answered quick. It’s Lukeman telling me that they are taking him by ambulance to the hospital because his blood pressure was 240/160. What?! They took the blood pressure on both arms and kept getting the same result.  They asked him if he drove, and he told them yes. They couldn’t believe it but gave him oxygen in the ambulance and he said, “this oxygen is amazing”. He was serious but joking at the same time, trying to make light of a difficult situation. If anyone knows this man, he has the absolutely best sense of humor, but his timing could use some work. Especially on this day.

I couldn’t get to my car fast enough, my client understood and said I could call them if I needed anything. Sometimes people are put in your life for a specific time and reason, and I know the Lord used this doctor to walk along side of me as I received the news that would change our lives forever. My dear friends were already caring for our 3 boys, who were 10, 7, and 3 at the time. They were my first call, I shared I was heading to the hospital because Lukeman was being taken by ambulance to the Emergency Room. They told me not to worry because the boys were with their friends and in good hands. I knew this to be completely true. It was a relief but the ride to the hospital felt like an hour, it was 15 minutes. I could not get there fast enough.

When I arrived, I found him quickly and sat down next to him. He seemed fine communicating with me but over the next few hours we would find out that his heart was failing, his kidneys were failing, and he had a collapsed lung. This was so much information to take on in such a short period of time. We learned that the kidneys could possibly restart with steroids. He was moved to the 4th floor where heart patients go because they believed that his heart was the main issue causing everything else. This was not the case.

Fast forward to Monday, the nephrologist (a doctor that specializes in kidneys, as we found out) shared that Lukeman would need a kidney transplant. But wait, what about the steroids given to him to restart his kidneys? They did not work, and they should have worked by now. The collapsed lung was the least of their worries, he needed a new kidney and needed to go on dialysis. What is dialysis? How does he get a transplant? Is that something someone can donate to him? Does he have to get it from someone that passes? How long does it take to get one? Does he need to get on a list? How does he get on a list?

Don’t know how you handle hard things like this, but I went into “How do I control this situation, mode?” What can I do to fix this? Can you open me up and just give him one of my kidneys? Is that allowed? Where do we go from here? Does he go home? Is dialysis only in the hospital? Does he need it all day and all night? We got an education on how all this works, and he was discharged with the information that he needed a kidney as soon as possible and that he needed to go to a dialysis center to get treatment 3 times a week for about 4 hours each time. What we knew and understood about our lives changed forever.

Our new normal was dialysis 3 times a week for the foreseeable future, dad no longer working daily, and 3 little boys that were uncertain of their dad’s future. It was a scary and difficult time. We didn’t know how Lukeman would feel daily. He was often tired and slept a lot because the dialysis was taxing on his body. He had like 1 or 2 good days a week but even those days were short and sometimes only part of the day when he felt good enough to be with us and not in bed.

Over the next months he switched to peritoneal dialysis which was dialysis through his abdomen instead of through his veins. He could do it at home and do it through the night for 8-10 hours. That’s better right? He is home, he can do it thru the night, he will be available during the day? Yes, he was home, yes, he could do it through the night, and yes he was available during the day but he was exhausted all the time now. Now he was having maybe one good day a week. Lukeman is a fighter, and he had an amazing attitude and constantly looked to the Lord for guidance and strength. He would say that he is glad that he is enduring this rather than anyone in his family.

To say were proud of how he carried and handled himself through this trial was an understatement. Lukeman is a strong man of faith, present father, and loving husband. We couldn’t have asked for a better man to lead our family. Fast forward 3.5 years, testing, dozens of doctors’ visits, hundreds of ounces of blood drawn from the both of us, a biopsy, a car accident, he received his gift of life on October 17, 2017. After 6 scheduled surgeries and then 6 cancelled surgeries, it finally happened on the 7th surgery through the paired exchange program where someone is willing to donate a living kidney on your behalf so you can receive a living donor kidney.

After nearly 7 years since his transplant, he gets yearly check ups and is doing great. His kidney is working well, and he feels good. He can wrestle with his boys, maybe not as much since he’s older and our boys are bigger than him but still thankful that he is with them and continues to make memories. We had the opportunity to travel internationally in 2022 and that would not have been possible if it wasn’t for his transplant.  

April is organ donor month, and we want to celebrate this selfless act of giving an organ by living donors as well as the selfless act of those that lose loved ones and follow through on the organ donors’ desires to give their organs to those in need. What an extraordinary blessing to everyone involved. It’s hard and beautiful all at the same time! Thank you to living donors, thank you to the families of organ donors, and thank you for sharing in our family’s joy, because every day we celebrate the gift of life!

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