Journal

Journal entry by Debi Hamm

It’s Spring and my daffodils are in full bloom.  I had 300 bulbs planted last year and it was the best thing I ever did.  Seeing first the crocus, then the daffodils, and now, even a few gorgeous tulips, has been the best thing ever to brighten our spirits.  The weather is getting warmer, and Mike and I look forward to spending as much time as possible sitting outside on our patio.
 This may be our last summer in this house, so we will not take one moment for granted.  Last year we put quite a bit of money into redoing our landscaping, planting flowers everywhere, and getting the outside of the house totally looking the way we always wanted.  Then we were going to totally revamp the inside.  Well, after a lot of serious discussion, we finally decided that our home could possibly end up being too much for us in the future.  We live in a two story, and the stairs are becoming harder for me to get up and down. Nothing I cannot handle at the moment,  but we asked ourselves “Could this house become problematic in the future for us”? Not only the stairs, but the upkeep of a large home. That answer was Yes! Neither Mike or I have great health, so we thought, let’s not wait until it becomes really hard to make a move. With that, the decision was made, and as much as we love our neighborhood and our neighbors, we are actively searching now for a new home. We have discovered that just the search itself is hard, tiring. So I am glad we are doing it now while we still can, but we are heartbroken to leave our beloved cul-de-sac!  We have literally the best neighbors in the world. Most people hardly know their neighbors. But we are all more than that. We are friends. Good friends that you can count on in a pinch. It is scary to start over. There is a lot of fear surrounding just that!
 Mike is doing well, or as well as one can be on dialysis. He is gaining weight back very slowly, about one pound a week. It’s hard with such a strict diet, but he is counting those calories every single day to make sure he gets enough for that 1 pound. He has begun to walk on the treadmill every day, and is also exercising and lifting very small amts of weight.
All of this will help keep his body transplant strong.  He naps more than he used too, and he tires much more quickly while on dialysis.  But like me, he too is now learning to pace himself. That was a hard one for him, he was always so active from the time he woke up until he went to bed.  His fistula has started to be problematic, so they may have to start poking higher up in the arm. We had hoped it would last longer because they really do cause a lot of deformity of the arm. But it is what it is.  
 No leads, no activity as far as finding a donor.  This last month was very hard for me personally. I felt so defeated, angry and heartbroken that I had not been able to find a donor for Mike. We spent every single day, and most of the day for me searching. Maybe I started out with hopes too high to achieve. Mike and I have discussed it a lot, and have resigned ourselves that it will probably be a cadaver kidney in his future. That means many more years on the list and on dialysis.  I am slowing my search, although I will never give up looking, I just need to also take care of myself and my sanity.  Our every waking hour was on finding that kidney, and it is exhausting for us both. We want to just take a moment for ourselves right now, and find that happiness again. One day at a time.
 I will continue Mikes updates. Things can change so fast around here. We will be busy in the coming months, house hunting, purging and getting our home ready to sell while we look for our last home, and every other minute will be on our porch enjoying the summer.   It will be a good distraction, and I think we need that for awhile.
 Happy April, Debi
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Journal entry by Debi Hamm

Hi all. March has been a tough one so far for us!  We had Mikes one year re-evaluation with the transplant team.  It was an extremely hard day for both of us.  Our dear friends drove us to the appointments for which we are so so thankful. It’s almost an hour drive downtown from where we live.  We must have seen every Dr. they have.  These one year appointments discuss everything from not only your health, but your mental status going forward, your insurance and financial resources, your support system, dietitians, and the nurses and doctors.  We spent over 4 hours in one room, one chair the entire time. Then another hour drive home.
  Because of my chronic fatigue and chronic pain, I was shaking, exhausted, and in quite a bit of pain on the way home. Mike also, just from the nature of kidney disease and dialysis was also exhausted by the time we got home.  It sent me into a 10 day crash, and Mike was done for the next couple days himself. 
  The appointment was discouraging. The first thing noticed and touched upon was Mikes weight loss.  The Dr. actually told Mike that she never would have recognized him outside of the room. Then we went into the whole entire story of how PD failed, it had to be removed, he bled out in recovery and had to be rushed back into surgery, the blood loss, the ICU stay, the E.coli and staph infection in his body.  Then the issues with his weight loss affecting his dry weight and it not being recognized by the dialysis team. The ER and hospital stays for this, the Ups and downs of medication changes, more ambulance rides, more hospital visits.  You see, these doctors are far away from all of that. They have no idea this is all happening because it’s all handled by a different team of doctors. So it all had to be repeated to every Dr. that came in. 🙄 (There just has to be a better way?) 
  Mike has been trying to gain weight for months. The best he can do with diet restrictions is about 1 pound every couple of weeks.  Now remember, he lost more than 20 pounds.  But somehow they made us feel like he was not gaining fast enough. Even though we have been working with dieticians, the one we met with on this day also had to give her entire evaluation on how to put weight on. Yep, heard it all, and have been working hard at it. Bottom line, get that weight back on!  NOTED 😬!  Ok, starting to feel a bit guilty and don’t even know why!!!
  Moving on.. when Mike got his 6 units of blood during that frightening surgery, we knew that it was going to affect his antibody levels.  Today was the day to find out just how much. At the beginning of this journey he had very low antibodies, which is GOOD.  As we were discussing with the Dr. that we had an acquaintance with 100% antibodies and how difficult it was for her to find a match, he made a flippant remark about how it would take an alien to find her match. OOOoKKkkaaay! 😳. A few minutes later the nurse came in and informed us that Mikes antibodies were at 99%.  😱 WTF was that about Aliens?  Of course the Dr. was doing some fast talking now, reassuring us, blah, blah, blah, but the damage had already been done.  We knew it was  going to change, we just had no idea how much.  For those of you that may not understand the seriousness of this, it means that Mike will only match 1% of the population.  Finding a kidney now has literally become seeking a needle in a haystack. We were gutted of course, but what can we do? Mike needed the blood to live at the time.  If we had to do it again, we would. And we are so thankful to all the blood donors out there.
  Thinking we are past the worst, the surgeon comes in all hippity hop wanting to know who our donor is!. 🥺. Now I know these doctors are all about the transplant. But maybe just a little less eagerness could have helped our already rising concerns and our helpless feeling about not being able to find a donor. This  is where I start to notice that I am beginning to shake with anger. He is throwing it out, what have you done to find a donor.  Did you try this, YES! Have you done this, YES! Have you reached out to, YES, YES, YES!!!  I have tried it ALL! Daily I am consumed with posting and reaching out, searching for ideas, talking to others, shedding a lot of tears.  Still, very few have offered.  So now, I am feeling bad. Really bad! 😥. I feel I have let my husband down. The guilt starts  washing over me, “have I done enough?”   After his pep talk, he leaves and the final nurse of the day comes in, AND, I lose it. Crying like a baby.  I’m done...we finalize the appt. assured that Mike will be continued on the list for another year.
  I am not kidding when I say how relieved we were that this appointment was done!  It has taken me weeks to come to grips with it.  I know we are doing everything we can. Mike works on getting his body in shape, and continues to have a good frame of mind about his illness. I work endlessly on his behalf to champion him on. 
  But no lie, it’s been a few tough weeks here. The stress on our already stressed minds and bodies can get quite overwhelming.  But you dwell on the madness of it all for awhile, then you pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, and march forward. I am sorry if this post is not uplifting, our days and months are not all good. Some more than others are downright defeating. But we are Ok. I am Ok, pissed off maybe, but it gave me more strength to continue the fight. We will fall a lot, but we will always get back up. 
  Spring is around the corner. Some of our bulbs are peeking up thru the soil. We are making plans for the future. We look forward to the summer and warm weather. We are thankful we can!  Our journey is not unlike thousands of others out there. Some much worse off, some better. Our journey is ours, all the highs and all the lows. And we are in it together. Hopefully next month is better. 
  We do not take a day for granted. We know the road ahead is tough. Even once we have found a donor, the stressors become different, difficult as well. The medications will be hard on Mike. The drives weekly and sometimes daily to have blood drawn and any medical procedure to make sure the kidney is not rejecting will be hard. Our battles are only just begging. But I do know what a new kidney does mean for Mike. He will be able to eat and drink lots of water. He will be able to travel further from home. He will gain so much strength back. No more every other day of sitting in a chair hooked to a machine. His arm will heal, we will heal. 💚 Debi 💚

Journal entry by Debi Hamm

It’s February and I can hardly wait for spring.  We had 300 bulbs planted last fall, so we are both excited to see what our garden has in store for us this year. And summer, well summer just lifts our spirits. The warm sun, the smell of grass, and most of all just sitting on our patio watching the birds and squirrels.
 
Mike has had no further hospital visits, and he has been doing as well as we could hope for with dialysis   He is still very weak however.  The dialysis is hard on him physically and emotionally.  Physically he is still very thin. Gaining weight with the kind of food restrictions he is on, is near impossible. he manages to put on about one pound a month, and still he is only at 130 pounds.  The actual treatments leave him exhausted at the end of the day, and for the most part of the next day.  Any errand will exhaust him, and napping is a daily activity for him now.   He will fall into deep sleep naps that are hard to rouse him from.  He is trying to exercise, very lightly in hopes of gaining some strength back.
 
Mentally, its very difficult for him to keep doing the grind of every other day dialysis.  But he has no choice in this, dialysis is life. I think more than anything it’s the years ahead that get daunting for us both.  It’s a grind, like work, only worse. It’s a routine that just keeps looping. His life, my life, it’s all on this indefinite hold. With both of us sick, it just makes life a little harder.  We have both decided that getting old is not for sissy’s!
 
We have discovered how to work around much of this. Groceries are ordered and packed for us for pick up. Or they can be delivered. Shopping on line provides us with anything we may need for us, our home, or life in general. I have special meals we order for his particular diet needs. Eating is a means to an end, not necessarily a joy at this time. We have discovered Lyft and Uber for emergency rides when friends or family cannot help, which I might add is rare!  Milk and bread are delivered weekly.  Medications are mailed. We can do Dr. appts. online or by phone, although Mike manages to keep up with his appointments pretty well.  He may crash afterwards, but that is normal and expected. And if we really want a change, we will cheat with his diet and order out with Door Dash.  Always the night before dialysis though, so he can make sure his blood gets cleaned of the overindulgence in sodium and potassium. 🤫. In this day and age, you can do almost everything and never leave your home.  Not the life we want, but it keeps us going.
 
However, a new kidney would change the course of our life drastically. It is that one single thing we hold out hope for. Mike with a kidney, is a total game changer.  We talked the other day about how wonderful it would be if we had the energy to just take a day long drive through the mountains.  Or if we felt we had the energy to adopt another puppy.  There are things we still want to do.  Not big things, just small things.  When you no longer have your health, positivity and hope are hard to hang onto.  But you have no choice but to get up every day, do it again, and somehow, somewhere we find the strength to not get too down about it all. 

Summer is coming, and the flowers are going to bloom and delight us.  And we can sit on the porch together again every moment we can and watch the squirrels and the birds, and feel the warm sun And that’s enough for now. It seems that summer always rejuvenates us.  Mike is a warrior, my warrior!  He is strong, and he is a fighter, and we will just take it as it comes. Right now we are just so grateful that he has not had anymore hospitalizations, and we hope to keep it that way. 

We we return this Friday for re-evaluation by the transplant team to stay on the donor list.  All of his tests came back really good, but we are concerned his weight could be a problem, but with such a long wait ahead of us, I can’t imagine that it would change his status. For now, all is well as well can be.  
Until later,
Debi


Journal entry by Debi Hamm

Hi all!
Well I had just made my last update in December with all going well, when Mike throws another scare into my day!  I got a call around 4pm in the afternoon, and a man on the other end of the line says “Hi, this is Sgt. so and so with the Parker Fire Dept., and I am here with your husband Mike, AND he’s just fine, please don’t worry, but well he passed out during dialysis and we need to take him to the hospital”. Ok, now I don’t know about you all, but every time I get one of these calls, my heart leaps out of my chest, I panic trying to figure out how to get to him since I no longer drive, and I want to reach thru the phone to who I am talking with and throttle them for telling me not to worry. Don’t get me wrong, I am soooo thankful for our fire dept. and medical response teams, but in that moment, no amt of “don’t worry, he’s fine” just does not do it for me. 😬. 

After I got off the phone and made a desperate call to our friends who have been our angels, to take me to the hospital, I got a call from Mikes dialysis nurse who explained what had happened.  Toward the end of his dialysis session his blood pressure tanked, and as a result caused him to pass out and um, Throw up all over himself! 😱. Now if you know Mike, this is possibly one of the worst things that could happen....Thankful he was passed out at that moment. 😬. They took care of the situation quickly and called for a response team.
 
I got to the hospital just minutes after they brought him in, and my poor man was white as a ghost, and none too happy about what had taken place in front of all his dialysis gang!  But he was still too sick to complain much about it.  After hours in the emergency room getting checked out, administering to what needed to be taken care of, everything was determined to be fine, and we were able to get him back home that night.

We were both exhausted, my chronic fatigue sent me reeling, but it just once again reminds us of how unpredictable this disease and dialysis can be.  One day you are going along fine, and the next day can have it all crash on you again.  Again I say, Dialysis is hard!

But we managed to get thru the holidays with no further incident, and I must say, I am glad they are behind us, and we can start a New Year.  There is something always hopeful about starting a New Year.  You see it as a new start over, although we really do not know what lies ahead, we are hopeful a new kidney will be one of them.  Right now, in this moment, Mike is okay.  He sits downstairs recovering from another day of dialysis.  I was able to cook dinner for him for the first time in awhile, and tomorrow is his day off.  And we really cherish those days he is not hooked up to a machine pushing and pulling blood out to clean the toxins from his body.  But we are also thankful that there is a machine that can keep him alive.  

If you are reading these updates, Thank you!  If you can pass the word on that we need a kidney, that would be great too.  I will continue to update at least once a month, the ups and downs of our journey.  Hopefully 2019 will be the year of the kidney for Mike.

Hope you all have a great new year. Be kind to each other, find empathy for others, and be mindful of the decisions you make in life.  If that decision could be one of a living organ donation to Mike or someone else in desperate need, that would be the greatest gift.  Most of all, sign your donor cards. Make sure someone in your family knows your wishes after death, so that life saving organs are not wasted.  Life is wonderful, fragile, live each day completely. 💚

Sincerely,
Debi Hamm 


Journal entry by Debi Hamm

Well, it has been over a year now since Mike went into rejection, and about one year on dialysis.  It has been a long year and a half in the Hamm household.  We did not have a Thanksgiving or Christmas last year because Mikes health was so unstable.  This year, although Thanksgiving was still a bust for us, things have improved enough that we actually got our Christmas tree up and decorated.  Thank God for the newer fake trees that already have the lights built in, and the tree is put together in 3 pieces!  Or seriously, we may have not had one.  
The last few weeks, Mike has finally been able to stabilize enough that he actually has gained some energy back.  He is feeling better, his smile is coming back, the Christmas music is playing, and the house has a bit of joy back.  Quite a change from last year!  We find we our missing our Golden more than ever right now because he was always such a big part of the Christmas Joy.  But to fill that hole, we are supporting a few animal causes this year in his memory. It feels so good to see Mike feeling better and happier than he has been in the last year.  
Having a kidney transplant made it impractical to do a few things, that now he can do again while waiting to find a donor.  He is back out tending to the birds, which was a hobby put on hold due to fear of infection or disease while harboring a new kidney.  So he is taking full advantage of that hobby right now.  He has the bird bath full and heated and some crazy nice new bird feeders (since I gave all the old ones away) 😬.  The birds in our yard are very happy this year to have a place to eat, drink and bathe.  And he loves just sitting by the window watching all their shenanigans!  
I have continued to try to make life as easy as possible for both of us this year.  Although my chronic fatigue makes things twice as hard for us, I have been able to keep up a search for a donor, but in all honesty, the search is not going as well as I had hoped.  I have had a very hard time coming to grips with this reality, but I am learning patience and acceptance in this.  Cooking is the hardest thing for us.  Mike has so many restrictions in diet, that he becomes very bored at eating the same thing over and over.  And he has just been unable to put any of his 25 pound weight loss back on.  Every time we try, he throws his labs off which is much frowned upon.  But I have found a meal delivery that specializes in dialysis diets, so we have been ordering meals to keep in the freezer for his dinners.  It has helped immensely in 1.) making sure he has a meal every night if we are too tired to put something together, and 2.) keeping his labs within safe parameters.  His dietician is working hard with him to find things that will help put some weight on.  It is however going to be a long slow process.  
We are becoming more adept at our routine, and we can only hope it is one we do not have to do for years.  But however long it takes, we will take it as it comes, but continue to work hard to make it happen faster, and pray that more and more people will think about being a living donor.  I know there is a lot of fear surrounding it, and no matter how much I try to dispel that fear, I realize that I have absolutely no control over it.  We will keep the faith that his donor is out there though.
We hope everyone who may be reading this has a great holiday season, as I know Mike and I look forward to our own quiet time around the tree this year.  This time last year, I almost lost my husband.  There are no words for how grateful we are that he has come so far.
Debi

Journal entry by Debi Hamm

When I say Dialysis is Hard, I mean everything about it is hard.  Mike is still trying to fine tune dry weight, liquids in, liquids off.  since he was in the hospital, he battles daily with blood pressure being so low, they have to add fluids back from what they took off before they will allow him to come home.  Before, he would black out cold, now he gets home, and before he totally blacks out, he will go to the floor and wait out the bp drop.  He has no energy left anymore, and not only is dialysis day bad, but his rest days are exhausting as well.  He no longer has the energy or interest in doing anything.  He is just too tired.  
We still cannot get his weight up.  With all of his diet restrictions, it is almost impossible to get the calories he needs without going over his maximum amts of sodium, potassium, phosphorus, liquids, protein, and so many others things.  It is like fighting a losing battle.  Both of us too exhausted and tired to cook much, means that many times he must resort to processed foods, which contain copious amts of sodium, phosphorus, and potassium.  An extreme amt of any one of these can cause sudden cardiac arrest.  So eating is even a painstaking and scary endeavor. 
He is in his yearly testing again to reaquire an authorization to be on the transplant list.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that his last severe weight loss does not interfere with getting back on the list.
His life has changed so much from what it used to be, I see depression at times seeping into his soul.  He does not talk about it much, but I know him almost better than he knows himself sometimes.  He does not need to say anything for me to know or see what is going on in his head.
It has been over a year now since his last kidney rejected without warning.  Our lives turned upside down overnight.  I now use IG to find a village containing people just like us to converse with, to learn from, lean on, to even laugh with.  And all of us looking for a living donor.  Hoping that someone sees something in our story that will make them think they could be a donor for us.  But there so much disappointment as the years go on.  For those of us still new and hopeful, we too begin to worry that this fight, this quest to find a kidney will takes us years.  There are only 2 directions to go with this.  One leads to a kidney, the other death.  There is nothing in between.  And that is scary.
Dialysis is like trying to fine tune an engine.  Incorrectly done, it does not run right.  It can stall, burn, or even quit. It’s been a rough year.  Dialysis is Hard!

Journal entry by Debi Hamm

Hi all,
After Mikes last visit in the hospital for high blood pressure and low oxygen, we got him home with too low blood pressure and significant amts of fluid pulled off.  He had 15 pounds of fluid in his lungs that was wreaking all kinds of havoc.  But we now know what the cause of the problems was and hopefully we can avoid any future problems like that.
With that said we are still trying to get his blood pressure stabilized.  Now it is too low, causing extreme light headed episodes and one so bad he actually passed out in the kitchen one day.  Loud crash, his lights went totally out!  Got a good bump on the back of his head, and took a few minutes for him to shake it off.  Scared me good.  Now we can laugh about it, but at the time it was a bit frightening.  So we are just trying to get his dosages right without sending his blood pressure up again.  Just a matter of slow adjustments, but it has him a bit decommissioned still.  I am hoping another week of fine tuning, and he will be walking without fear of passing out.
It also seems that all that extra fluid was possibly the cause of his chronic extreme nausea, causing him to lose a great amount of weight.  Because now that it is gone, his appetite is back, YAY!  Hopefully now we can get his weight back up.  He went all the way down to 125 pounds.  I think this is possibly the thinnest I have ever seen him.  He has also lost all muscle, and that will take a bit of work to get back.  But ya all, you have no idea how good it is to have gotten it figured out.
For now, things are looking better and I am feeding him lots of pie trying to fatten him up a bit.
The search continues, and I must say that all of this social media takes a lot of time and is still extremely confusing to me. It is exhausting work for me, who also suffers from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.  But I do it all in hopes that his kidney donor will find us.  
For anyone following, Thank you, and please continue to share and keep our search going.
Debi

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Journal entry by Debi Hamm

Mike has been having some difficulty breathing lately, and On Friday it became so bad we had to go to Urgent care.  After 7 hours there, Mikes Oxygen levels continued to drop, and required oxygen to get his level stabilized.  After x-rays and blood test, they found fluid in his lungs, and he has an enlarged heart.  All of this hopefully is just dialysis related.  But it was off to the hospital by ambulance to get it all under control.  It is a fine line to keep patients fluid levels low, without taking so much that it leaves him incapacitated after each session.  But it looks as if we are only going to get the fluid out of the lungs by taking more out.  It’s hard on his body, and his heart has become a bit enlarged by all the work it is doing.  Hopefully we can adjust all of this for maximum benefit, but not so much that it weakens him more.
We are hoping he can come home tomorrow after another extra dialysis treatment.  And I think that next time this happens we will understand better what is causing it.  He is breathing better but much fatigued still.  But he is a person who never ever complains.  I admire his strength, and our strength together as a couple to hold each other up in such trying times.
The search is still on for a living organ donor.  We have not had any word on any offers or inquiry’s.  But I do not think we would know unless a true candidate is found.  They have to pass the phone interview before we would know anything.
For friends and family that do know him, he is doing his job. And that is to remain hopeful, and in good spirits.  My job is to continue to lift him up in any way possible.

Sign your donor cards!  It saves lives when yours is over.

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Journal entry by Debi Hamm

We have been using some of the tools that have been shown to us to get the word out that Mike needs a living kidney donor.  Finally put our first real post on Facebook. I think that was the hardest one to do, but information from others say this can be the most effective way to get a message out.  I must admit that a lot of this social media stuff is hard for us because it is a platform we have really not used much.  Hopefully it will be shared and reach that wider audience that we need.  I would gladly take any suggestions on this topic.  For us, this is the hardest part, going public to strangers, asking someone to actually take a leap of faith that they can save a life.  It’s a commitment to be sure, but if I could save a life, and I do mean save a life, I would not hesitate to try.  Being the wife of the man that needs a kidney, that’s easy for me to say though. 

Mikes update:
Mike goes to dialysis 3 days a week for 4 hours at a time.  I know that does not seem like a lot, but I guess what I would like for people to understand is how hard dialysis really is on a person.  He has a permanent fistula in his left arm above his wrist.  This site will eventually run its course, and they then begin to build more fistula sites up the entire arm.  The scarring and bulging is permanent.  This area is maybe 2 inches long, so each time he has two 15 gauge needles stuck in the same general area every other day.  Have you seen a 15 gauge needle?  They are huge, and per Mike, can hurt like the devil when they hit a nerve, which is about once a week.  When on dialysis, diets are restricted, water is restricted, and the monitoring of sodium, potassium, and phosphorus are constant.  Any one of these can cause a serious health crisis if not controlled.  Mike has lost 20 -25 pounds since starting dialysis.  He is not a big man, so right now, unfortunately, my pant size is bigger than his I believe. 😬. He has extreme nausea and GI problems every day.  Without an anti emetic, he would keep nothing down.  He is chronically fatigued, to the point that I have difficulty rousing him when he has fallen asleep.  The other day he slept almost entirely through his football game. 😳🤭🤫.  Unheard of for my husband.

What I want people to know is that, we are thankful that dialysis keeps him alive.  Long enough hopefully until a donor, whether living or cadaver can be found.  We are grateful for this. But many do not realize just how sick a dialysis patient can be. How depressed one can get waiting to live a somewhat normal life again. To be able to take a few days off and get out of the house and go somewhere.  Some can, Mike cannot.  He is simply, too sick.  My husband is not a complainer.  Hardly a word of discontent about his situation ever hits my ears.  But I can see the light and the sparkle leaving his eyes.  Chronic illness, no matter what it is, is rough. But a kidney could change everything for him, for us. He is a fighter, he will do whatever is necessary to live.  And, he would probably never ever have shared a single bit of any of this information, because he is so private.  I on the other hand know that people die waiting. People die by not sharing, or speaking up.  So I will get loud, I will put it all out there.  Just as any one of you would for someone you love.

Please share our story.  Help me find that one person willing to give Him one of their kidneys, so that Mike can live. Really live.  He is my hero, now I just need to find one for him.

Thank you if you read this long monologue.  To leave on a good note, the weather today in Colorado is beautiful, warm and sunny. We are grateful that we were able to sit on the porch today and take it all in.

As time goes on, I will keep the journal updated on any major changes in Mikes health or status.  For now, every day is pretty much the same.

Debi
 
Mike’s Story

Site created on August 11, 2018

Hi, my name is Debi, and I am Mikes wife.  I will be the author of most if not all of his journey.  Mike grew up in Kansas, and as a young boy was ill with kidney disease, diagnosed as nephritis brought on by strep throat.  He knew that he could possibly have problems in the future.   After a few years he seemed to get better and went on to graduate from Kansas University with degrees in Accounting and Business Administration.  He is a die hard KU Jayhawks basketball fan, but loves all sports including his Denver Broncos.  Before he became ill, Mike enjoyed camping, fishing, hiking, and just about anything outdoors.  He moved to Colorado in 1978 where he got a job at Kaiser Permanente in Denver.  That’s where he met me!  We married in 1981, and Mike retired after 35 years at Kaiser.  He did keep me around though.  We are the truest of soulmates.


Now the kidney part.  In 2005 we became aware that Mikes kidneys were failing, and finally was diagnosed with IGA Nephropathy, an autoimmune disease with no cure.  In 2008 Mike got very sick and we knew his kidneys had finally gotten so bad that dialysis and or transplant were the only answer.  He was then put on a waiting list for a kidney transplant.  And we began to prepare ourselves for what lie ahead of us.  As we were preparing for dialysis, a friend stepped forward and said she had been tested and was a match.  Unknown by us that she had done this, we could only ask Why?   Her answer, “because I can, I can do this.  We were overjoyed that she had stepped up and gave Mike another chance at a healthy life.  In January 2009, the transplant took place.  Our donor soared through it and is still strong and healthy to this day.  Mike with a few ups and downs over the next few years, did well and was able to live a very full life.  With Lola, the name we had given Mikes new kidney, life was good.

In August of 2017, Mike again became very sick rather quickly.  We rushed him to the hospital and found out that the kidney had gone into acute cellular renal rejection.  We were in shock.  He had only had the kidney for 9 years, and we had hoped for many more.  The Drs did everything they could to save Lola, but things continued to get worse, and Mike got sicker.  Between 2017 to now, many things happened very fast, including almost losing him around mid December 2017.  He finally began hemodialysis in December 2017, after failing a try at Peritoneal Dialysis.  Mike must be hooked up to a machine ,  three times a week, 4 hours each session.  It keeps him alive, but he still suffers from extreme fatigue, nausea and weight loss that limits his activities on his off days.   Dialysis is just a temporary way to keep him going until we can find a new donor.  Dialysis also has many risks including additional health complications and infections that could eventually end his chance of ever receiving a transplant in the future, leaving him on lifelong dialysis.  Life as we knew it has once again been dramatically changed.

THE PLEA FOR A LIVING KIDNEY DONOR!
So now, we share the plea “The Big Ask” for someone to step up and be his second living donor.  Receiving a kidney from a living donor can cut years off of being on dialysis and living donor organs survive longer than organs received from deceased donors and gives Mike the best chance of living a longer life.  As well as giving him his life back to do the things he loves.  
We have been unable to find a donor among our circle of family and friends, so we are asking for someone to search their heart to step up and donate one of their heathy kidneys.  It’s a Big Ask, and it’s not for everyone.  But I just know that there must be that someone, that ONE who will “share their spare”.  Mike’s wait on the list could be up to 5 years or more.  Over a 100 thousand people are on the waiting list for a kidney, and only about 20 thousand a year receive one.  Of those only approximately 6000 come  from living donors.   Sadly, many die while waiting.  Daily 12 people will die waiting for an organ that could have been donated. For more information on kidney donation, go online to the National Kidney Foundation at  (kidney.org).  It can answer most if not all of your questions regarding donation.

DONATING
If you feel you can be the One for Mike, please call to see if you are a candidate.  All of this is done anonymously.  We will never be notified unless a possible match has been found.  You can call PRESBYTERIAN/ST. LUKES MEDICAL CENTER in DENVER, CO. at (tel:720-754-2155 (tel:720-754-2155) ) and ask to speak to a transplant coordinator for inquires about being a match for Mike Hamm.  They will do an initial phone screening at first, to see if you can be considered as a donor.  Mikes blood type is O, but even another blood type that is a good candidate could give through the pair donation transplants.  We cannot pay for a kidney, but new laws allow for a donor to take time off work through FMLA without fear of losing their job to donate.  The transplant recipients medical insurance pays for all of the donors medical bills, including all tests before surgery.  What is required from you is knowing the procedures and tests involved are as much for your safety, as his. You must be fairly healthy, although donors with some medical issues can donate. You must be aware of the procedure you would be undertaking and the recovery time of donating.   Donors are out of work sometimes for weeks recuperating, and may lose income if their employer does not allow for some type of paid time off.    They also have other expenses for travel, lodging, etc. for visits to a far away transplant center.  Currently there is a push to cover these costs for all living donors, but fortunately Mike and I may be able to cover most of these additional costs incurred by the living donor, and if so there would be no financial burden placed on you or your family.  If you are accepted, then we would make sure at that time all arrangements are made and as much of the costs as possible are covered.  The hospital will inform us if a possible match becomes available.  

This is not an easy ASK, but I put my pride aside to save the husband I love with all my heart.  We know now that we must come forward, put it out there, or he can die waiting.  Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please share this post with others.  Begin the conversation, “Can I be a living donor to save a life.”  Don’t take your gift to the grave. 

Mikes match IS out there. You may be the one. Please search your heart.  ARE YOU THE ONE?
Please share this account on Facebook if you can.  The further out we can reach,  the better our chances for finding Mike a kidney.  


--Do you have questions for us?  We have set up a special phone line to take any questions you may want to ask us personally.  You can call at any time and leave a msg., name and number and we will get back to you ASAP!  You can call at 303-350-8894 (tel:303-350-8894).  
--You can also go to www.pslmc.com/service/becoming-a-kidney-donor  to complete an online living donor questionnaire.
—Or call  for a living donor coordinator at PSL/St. Luke’s at 720-754-2155, option 3 and speak directly to them about becoming a donor for Mike.
—You can email any questions you may have to LivingDonorsPSL@HealthONEcares.com


With the most sincerest of thanks,
Mike and Debi Hamm.





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