One Year Down: Reflections after a Kidney Donation

kidney donation

HAYDEN JOHNSON|GUEST

It’s trusting in the Father, looking to the future, and being thankful for the miracle.

It’s not all get-well texts and cards. It’s more blood tests than you can remember. It’s crying yourself to sleep on the regular because you are in so much pain. It’s not being able to sit up on your own because you lost your core strength. It’s praying that you will be able to take a nap instead of lie awake and feel the pain. It’s feeling every single bump in the car as if someone was beating you up. It’s having someone bathe you and dress you because you can’t do it. It’s shaking and trembling because you’re in so much pain. It’s screeching and bawling because your legs feel like they are on fire.

It’s counting down the minutes until you can take your medicine again. It’s wishing you could switch the pain you’re feeling to other awful injuries and pain you’ve felt in the past. It’s realizing who your real friends are when seeing those who visit and check up on you. It’s not being able to sleep in your own bed because it’s too painful. It’s calling someone in the middle of the night to come get you something because you can’t get up. It’s being proud of yourself when you can walk around your house without someone else’s help. It’s having a swollen stomach to the point that you can’t fit in your clothes. It’s extreme back pain that lasts for weeks. It’s feeling nauseous on the regular. It’s pulling off bloody bandages that reveal the scars. It’s realizing that very few people understand. It’s a whole lot of “I cannot do this — but you can.” It’s realizing that it’s not about you and your abilities. It’s trusting in the Father, looking to the future, and being thankful for the miracle.

It’s being a kidney donor at the age of 18.

It wasn’t easy and, quite frankly, it still isn’t easy. Now, after one year, I feel a little lost because I don’t have a major surgery to look forward to or the biggest event to date in my life, thus far, to expect. I have had to come to terms with the fact that I could not have done this on my own. I like for people to think I am independent and strong and fearless, but I am not. I was afraid, nervous, and prideful. I didn’t know what to expect after the surgery, but I imagined it would be taking pain medication for a few days and walking about half a mile the day I got home from the hospital. I didn’t realize I would be taking some sort of pain medication even by the time I started school and was in a place, where absolutely no one knew what I was feeling or what I survived. It’s being comfortable in a very vulnerable place.

I’ve shared some of my horror stories and moments, but my story is so much more than my personal struggles. My story includes the clarity and calling to be tested, pure excitement that I passed the tests and heard that I would be a donor, peace leading up to the big day, and realizing that my Dad would not be hooked up to a life saving device every day. My story includes the fact that my left kidney worked immediately when it went in my Dad’s body. But there is something so much more important than my story and what happened: it’s the joyful realization that my Savior had the whole thing planned out, made our bodies in a way that we can accept something foreign and have it heal us, and that He cared for me before, after, and during it.

I relied heavily on Psalm 55:22, “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you. He will not let the righteous fall.” I couldn’t endure everything that I did if I didn’t have Jesus. I cannot do it. I did not do it. That verse reminded me every single day that He is greater. I can do nothing aside from Him. But through Him and in Him? Through Him I can be a vessel. I had a kidney to give because of Him. I have a story to tell because of Him. I had someone to trust because of Him. One year later (as of June 19) I can look back on this past year and be filled with so much peace, gratefulness, and utter joy because He sustained me through it all. To Him be the glory forever. Soli Deo Gloria.

IMG_4603Hayden Johnson attends Riverside Community Church in Cartersville, Georgia where she serves in children’s ministry. Hayden is a sophomore at Anderson University in South Carolina where she is studying Theatre (Acting Concentration) and Communications (Digital Media Concentration). She enjoys writing, traveling, hiking, and spending time with her family. For more articles and posts from Hayden visit her Odyssey page or her blog, Simply Southern Belle  

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