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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chapter 11: The Sticky Situation

Well, it's been about 10 days, how about the next part of the story, already?  Catch up starting at Chapter 1, or refresh yourself with Chapter 10.  And now, moving on...

Chapter 11: The Sticky Situation

We were driving on route 322, on our way to Creation, windows rolled down, music blaring, when a 
Harrisburg phone number came up on my phone.

It was the transplant office.  The blood work was in, and the results were great.  Herb had the choice of two kidneys.  One was Denise, the woman who had known Herb since birth and considered him to be like one of her own kids, and one was me.

Just a week before we left for Creation, I had finally convinced Herb to let me get tested to see if we were the same blood type.  On the day of my testing, Denise, the family friend, also got tested.  The testing entailed seven vials of blood, some low key counseling, and a delicious breakfast.

After finding out about two potential matches, Herb had a grueling decision to make; this was one he could not take lightly.  I tried to convince him that I was the best candidate for the job since I was his girlfriend, but in his mind, that was exactly what had complicated things. The straw that broke the camel’s back was that the doctors said because technology has advanced so much since his last transplant, if all went well, his next kidney could outlive him.  The other potential donor was in her fifties and I was in my twenties, making the choice clear.

From there, the whole situation got a bit sticky. 

Some people asked, “What if you break up, and he has your kidney?”

The only answer I could give was, “We’re not going to break up.”

“You have to give her a ring before she gives you a kidney,” our pastor bluntly counseled Herb. 

Herb said, “I was already planning to.”

I didn’t want it to look like I was trading body parts for marriage, and Herb didn’t want to put me through the trouble of a painful surgery. But we trusted God and modern medicine and decided to move forward.  Surgery was scheduled for December 20, 2005. 

The humid summer gave way to cooler weather, and Herb and I scrambled to finish up our classes.  He was doing a music store internship, and I had several gen eds to finish before student teaching.  We began to discuss a marriage timeline, and made plans for a wedding the following summer after graduation, which was less than a year away.  I told Herb if he wanted to marry me in the summer, I needed to be able to have at least six months to plan a wedding.

Herb said we’d be engaged by “the end of fall.”

I worried how we would pay for a wedding, and out of nowhere, a part-time music teaching job literally fell into my lap.  It was at a Catholic school in York, and because it was private, they didn’t mind my lack of a teaching certificate.  This job was a wonderful chance for me to experience a classroom of my own before I did my student teaching, and it ended up providing the funds for most of our wedding expenses.

During this semester, we both commuted from home, 45 minutes in opposite directions of Millersville.  Herb needed the comforts of home for his nighttime dialysis ritual.  I needed to save money and be closer to my family; my dad had just been diagnosed with stage-four lymphoma.  Luckily, my new job was close to Herb’s house, so we still managed to see each other several times a week despite the 50 mile difference.


Honestly, between health issues, finishing school, working extra jobs, and planning our future, the upcoming transplant seemed like the least of our worries.

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