An Update for the New Year

I know, I know, you want to know what’s going on. So much has changed in the last few months that I knew I needed to write one big blog post to fill everyone in. If you have sent me messages or emails asking for an update, I admit it, I’ve just been ignoring them because there was just too much to say. So here is the update, and it’s a long one, for everyone that is still following this crazy turn my life has taken.
I guess the biggest change is that I have moved back in with my parents in Lawrenceville, GA. There were several factors that led to this decision. The first is a very happy reason. As you all know, I was living with my sister and brother-in-law, Carrie and Jason, in Orlando. Well, we learned that their family is going to get a little bit bigger in May because they are expecting a little girl! I’m thrilled for them, and I’m so excited to be an aunt to my little niece. Although they made it clear that I didn’t have to leave and that they would make space for everyone, I wanted them to be able to have the normal excitement of preparing for their new arrival. Their house just isn’t big enough to accommodate us all comfortably. The second factor was another great gift. The short version is that I was given a beautiful cedar infrared sauna…for free! Saunas are used to draw toxins out of the body, and since my kidneys aren’t working properly, I’m chock full of toxins. But as I’ve already mentioned, space was an issue. Perhaps the biggest reason why I decided to move is that my health has continued to decline. I have quickly developed a nerve condition in my feet called neuropathy. Basically the bottom of my feet and my toes are completely numb, except for the sensation of pain. If I am on my feet for any length of time during the day, my feet burn and sting. It feels like I know longer have feet, just flames shooting out of my ankles. I’ve mentioned many times my struggle with Restless Leg Syndrome, and it has only gotten worse. My body keeps building up a tolerance for the medications used to treat it, so I max out the dosage and have to switch drugs a lot. These two health issues have made it almost impossible to drive because my legs start getting twitchy, and I can’t feel the pedals. My mom is retired, and my dad drives a school bus, so they are both home a lot, and they have the time to take me to the places I need to go. The final factor contributing to my decision to move is the donor/transplant saga. I just felt that doors kept closing on me, that maybe I should seek other options.
Now that the move is complete, I know it was the right decision for now. I have plenty of room for my sauna and all my medical equipment in my new room. I have my own bathroom, so I know that the risk for contamination after transplant is lower. My mom is carting me around to most of my appointments. I feel a lot more at ease, and I am able to relax a little more.
As for the donor situation, I am planning to get on the transplant list that Emory and Piedmont Hospitals share. I am hoping that now that more of you will consider being a living donor since now the transplant can take place in the Atlanta area. I’m not on the list yet, so if you are considering it, wait until I give the go ahead. As far as donor updates, I’ve learned that I have been sharing too much. If I tell everyone I’ve got a possible donor, that keeps anyone that was thinking about applying from doing so. Then when something happens and the deal goes south, there’s no back-up plan. That’s why everything is taking so long. Just so you know, the second donor in Orlando is still willing, but more testing needed to be done, so that is still a waiting game. I’m hoping that since Atlanta is more my home that I’ll have a greater response. I just have to play my cards a lot closer to my chest so I’m not hindering those that would apply. Remember, I need a donor with a B or O blood type. Positive or negative doesn’t matter. If you don’t know your blood type, here’s an easy way to find out what it is. I won’t even know you’re getting tested unless you tell me.
So that’s the haps. Even if I don’t respond to your messages and emails, they do mean a lot to me and I thank you for them. Hopefully I can update a little more often so there isn’t so much to say and one time. Thanks for all your prayers.

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Becky’s Bingo Bash/Raffle Fundraiser

Let the raffle-ticket buying begin!

That’s right, an online raffle, and you don’t have to be present to win. The tickets are available for a suggested donation of $1 each. You can make a payment directly to my fundraising website, or send it through paypal.  My email is beckyray7@yahoo.com.  Or you can come track me down in person.  I’m pretty sure that with my fundraiser and papypal, there’s a $5 per transaction, so you’ll have to get at least 5 tickets.

“But what are the prizes?” you ask!  Let me tell you!

SO FAR there are four fabulous packages you can win.  There will undoubtedly be more than that, but I have to designate which prizes will be for the Bingo rounds, and more donations are still coming in.  Here are the four prizes I have designated for the raffle:

  • Hair Care Package – CIBU HiYa! Keratin Reconstructive Shampoo, Conditioner, and Ancient Serum courtesy of The Hair Cuttery AND a Hot Tools 1″ Flat Iron —- a $100 value!
  • Cozy at Home Package – a King-Size Handmade Quilt (110″ X 97″) in shades of white, purple and pale blue courtesy of the Humble Hands Sewing Ministry of First Baptist Church Orlando, fuzzy slippers made by Becky (also purple), a jar candle and a hardback copy of A Year in the World by Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun —- a $150 value!
  • Something to Wine About Package – A bottle of Merlot courtesy of Redlight Redlight, a Waring Pro Cordless Wine Opener, and four wine glasses —- a $110 value!
  • Living in a Griller’s Paradise – a tabletop camp stove, a George Foreman 8-Serving Classic Plate Grill AND a $25 gift card to The Meat House —- a $125 value!

And there’s more coming – I’ll post as soon as I know.  The winners will be announced at the Bingo event on Sunday night (the 17th).  You obviously do not have to be present to win.  If you purchase tickets using my fundraising website, NFT, it will automatically email me notifying me of your donation with whatever email address you put in there.  When I receive the email, I will immediately enter your tickets in the drawing for you.  Should you win, I will email you at the address NFT gives me.  If you use paypal, send me a quick email with your preferred method of contacting you because paypal will not automatically send me anything.  It seems confusing, but really it isn’t.

I wanted to make this available since most of my friends are out of town.  However, if it is at all possible for you to come to the Bingo event, you should.  There will be more amazing prizes to win including Disney and Universal tickets, and the jackpot prize is a Bose Sound Dock Series II for your iPod – a $200 value!  Please come!

But no matter what you do, share this post with all your friends so they can buy tickets, too!  Thanks!

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What Selflessness Look Like

Well, the auction on my blog didn’t work out so well.  Actually, it went okay, but I didn’t think I could use ebay/paypal without involving my bank account.  Then I discovered that you can request a check from paypal.  So I can just sign the check straight over to the fundraising account.  Once I figured that out, I started listing things on ebay and etsy.  If you’d like to take a look at what’s for sale, my ebay site is birdietoldme, and my etsy shop is bisforbirdietoldme.  (I wanted to name them “a little birdie told me,” but that was taken.)  I have a lot of stuff that I haven’t listed yet, so check back in a week or so to see more items.

Now that we’ve taken care of that business, let’s get to the real reason why I wanted to post today…here they are…

grace and katie

These two amazing girls, Grace and Katie, are the daughters of one of my best friends, Chrissy.  They have been working hard to stock their booth at Jasper Days in Missouri to raise money for MY transplant.  Can you even believe their selflessness?  How many kids do you know that would work this hard to raise money just to give away their profits?  I’m so humbled by them.

Now I know there will be someone out there that will think, “I can’t believe she’s going to accept money from those girls!” The truth is I would rather tell them to keep their money, but they have chosen to be a blessing, and I won’t take that away from them.

The stats are: I’ve got to raise at least $25,000 to cover my medical costs.  Right now I’ve raised about $12,000.  The only way I can reach my goal is if other people help me.  Have a yard sale, sell something on ebay, host a silent auction or a raffle, have a kickball tournament, or just find a way to make money using your skills and talents like Grace and Katie.  I’ve already asked my friends and readers to give enough out of your own pockets – now it’s time for my friends and readers to ask other people to give out of their pockets.  I’m going to be sending out a list of ideas and suggestions to those who have shown any type of support, from donating money to “liking” a status update.  Please consider being a blessing by helping me reach my goal.  I can’t do this alone.

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Humble Hands Garage Sale

I won’t go into great detail, but I wanted to share about the success of the garage sale that Humble Hands sponsored.  If you count the things that were purchased by friends and neighbors before the sale began, and I do, the sale raised $2100! That’s almost 6 months worth of anti-rejection medication, which is the main reason why I’m having these fundraisers.  Here’s some pictures of the event…

So many people just dropped by and made donations, probably because of that banner.  It was kinda big...

So many people just dropped by and made donations, probably because of that banner. It was kinda big…

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Lots of cars = lots of shoppers!

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The shoppers could hardly wait for us to set up.

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This is Susan. She volunteered her house immediately when the idea of a garage sale was presented. She did a ton of work setting up, transporting donations, and pricing everything. Plus she talked just about every customer out of their change by asking them to donate it. This whole event would not have been as successful without her!

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Some of the beautiful ladies of Humble Hands! Some of them worked, some shopped, but we won’t say who did what! It was all appreciated.

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On the left is Hazel – I think it was her idea to have the garage sale in the first place. On the right is our fearless leader, Dawn. I’m betting there’s some English tea in that mug she’s holding!

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We had 8 racks of clothes!

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Winding down on Day 2. What a wonderful group of women!

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Feeling thankful…

I’m sure all the ladies would agree – all glory goes to God for the success of this sale.  HE WILL PROVIDE!  Now, we just need that kidney to show up…

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Humbly Helping

My recent health situation has afforded me quite a bit of free time on my hands. Since I love arts and crafts, and I’ve dabbled in some sewing, I decided to check out a ministry at my church called Humble Hands. This is a group of ladies that sew and quilt and knit and crochet in the name of Jesus! Everything they make is an act of service and done in love and prayer. And they do some beautiful work. Since I’ve joined them, I have become quite the avid knitter, and now I don’t go anywhere without a knitting project to work on just in case I have a spare minute. I would love to try quilting someday, but I’ll stick with the knitting for now. Here are some pictures of my work….

1361897592645             pink blanket

I would rather show you some pictures of the ladies at Humble Hands, but I don’t have any. That will change this weekend. You see, these lovely ladies have been working very hard on a different project. They collectively decided that they would sponsor a garage sale, and they are generously donating the proceeds to my medical expenses. Now who’s humbled? Here’s an example of how much stuff there is to sell…

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If you’re local, come to Wilder Lane in College Park Friday and Saturday 8-4. You’ll get some good deals and probably meet some amazing ladies!

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Milestone

Here’s what’s going on with me. . .

It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year. I’ve attempted to write this post many times, thought about it for months. You would think I would know exactly what to say by now. The difficulty is that I have information that I need to share, but there is a lot of emotion tied up in it. Well, I’m just going to type, and hopefully you’ll read, then maybe we can both take some kind of action.

One year ago from today I went to the emergency room in Rochester, NY for swelling ankles and high blood pressure. Three days later I was told that my kidneys were not functioning, and I would need dialysis until I could get a transplant. I was already planning on moving to Orlando, FL in a month. I didn’t want to establish treatment in Rochester and then start all over in Orlando, so I just got on a plane. My poor parents had to caravan with all my stuff since I only had 24 hours before I would need dialysis again. It was decided that I would stay with my generous sister and brother-in-law, which was the plan anyway. However, now there really wasn’t a plan – just taking it day by day.

The first few months were rough. Dialysis takes a lot out of you – literally. Eventually I would be on peritoneal dialysis, which is a lot less draining, but that took some time. I couldn’t take a shower because of the dialysis catheter in my chest. I had to completely adjust my diet to make up for what my kidneys weren’t doing and what dialysis was doing. I was having crazy symptoms all the time because my electrolytes were all out of balance. Most of all I was just exhausted.

(If you’re getting bored, please keep reading. Your part is coming up.)

Now things have kind of settled out. I hook myself up to my dialysis machine every night. It runs for about nine hours, solution absorbing all the toxins and extra fluid, then draining away. I sleep a little, but there are too many things working against me to get a full night’s sleep. I’m on the transplant waiting list, but the average wait time for my blood type in this area is 2-3 years, and no one in my family is a match. This is where you come in. You are about to learn everything you ever wanted to know about being a kidney donor!

  • The first step is finding out your blood type. My blood type is B+, so my donor needs to be B or O (the positive or negative part doesn’t matter). Most people don’t even know their blood type, so here’s your chance to find out.
  • Everything is kept completely confidential. Unless you tell me yourself, I’ll never know if you got tested, if you’re a match, none of it.
  • My insurance and other fundraising efforts will pay for everything. Travel expenses, babysitters for your kids, whatever you need as it relates to you giving me a kidney. Please don’t let money hold you back.
  • The testing process is very thorough, and you will not be approved to donate if there is any risk to your health whatsoever.
  • The surgery is laparoscopic, so the recovery time is very short. You would be in the hospital for only 2-3 days. The incision is only 2 inches right on top of the bellybutton. Once it heals, you can hardly tell it’s there. After 6 weeks, you’ll feel just the same as you did before. It’ll be like you never had two kidneys in the first place!
  • Two healthy kidneys give about ten times the about of kidney function that you actually need. It’s like we’re supposed to share our kidneys with each other.
  • Even if you aren’t a match for me, there’s still hope. I call it the Switcheroo program. If you want to donate to me, but we don’t match, they can match us with two other people that are in the same situation. Switcheroo!
  • The benefit for me is that living donor kidneys last longer than deceased donor kidneys. I am on the waiting list for a deceased donor kidney, so eventually the transplant will happen. However if I get a living donor transplant, and all goes well, I’ll have that kidney for the rest of my life. If I get a deceased donor kidney, I’ll probably have to do this again in 15-20 years or less.

So there you have it. I need one of you to give me a kidney please. Seriously, you have no idea how much it would mean to me to get back to normal. So here’s what you do – go to the Florida Hospital Transplant Center website, click on Learn More under Living Donor, and download the application. Don’t forget to put MY NAME in the Name of Person you want to donate to space. REBECCA A RAY is my name.

I know this is asking a lot, but this is the way it is. I think we should all be able to just ask each other when we need something, even if it is an internal organ.

I’ll keep you updated on the happenings along the way. There will be some cool events coming up (online fundraising auction!), so keep checking back. Thanks for reading, and please share, share, share!

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Up To My Old Antics

I always knew this day would come.  I really thought I would see at least my 50th birthday before I had to worry about dialysis.  I was diagnosed with lupus in 1995, and it has always affected my kidneys.  A doctor once told me that dialysis would be in my future, but I still had about 50% kidney function at that time.  Last Tuesday I noticed that my feet and legs were swelling.  I tried to ignore it for a few days – see if staying off my feet and actually taking my blood pressure medicine every day would help.  By Friday the swelling was worse, and I knew I had to address it.  I went to Walgreen’s to get a free blood pressure check.  It was 156/107 – normal is usually 120/80.  The pharmacist told me to go straight to the hospital.  I was hesitant to do so.  I’ve fallen off the health insurance train.  Ever since I moved to Rochester in November, I’ve had trouble finding a job that would offer health insurance and pay me enough to make ends meet.  Once I found myself single again, and I started making plans to move to Orlando, health insurance was something I was going to pursue once I relocated myself.

As most of you know, I started a fundraiser a few weeks ago to help with my moving costs.  I was just so desperate to get away from Rochester – my time here did not turn out to be the happy ending I thought it would be.  One of the things that inspired me to start the fundraiser was the rerun occurrence of my favorite 30Rock episode on Comedy Central.  It’s the one when Jack is trying to determine whether or not a man named Milton Greene is his actual birth father.  When Jack reveals the true reason for their meeting, Milton reveals that he needs a kidney transplant.  Jack is so desperate to avoid undergoing the surgery himself that he organizes an all-star, We-Are-The-World-type benefit concert.  Sheryl Crow, Cyndi Lauper, Adam Levine, Elvis Costello, Mary J. Blige, just to name a few, all sang a song that was stuck in my head for days – “We just need a kidney…”  When the episode was over, the idea was already planted in my head that I should just do a fundraiser for myself.  It didn’t matter that my reason was a little non-traditional.  Lots of people had told me they wanted to help me, but the moving costs were so high that no one person would be able to give that much.

I had NO IDEA when that episode inspired me how prophetic it would be.  Now I actually need a kidney.  Crazy.  I’ve been in the hospital all weekend.  My kidney function is bad, and it is not improving with the use of steroids.  My kidneys are just scarred too heavily to get any better.  They’ve had enough.

I know that there are some people that reacted negatively to the idea of me starting a fundraiser for something that didn’t seem that crucial.  (Yeah, I know about you.) That is totally fine.  The last thing I would want anyone to do is give to a cause they didn’t believe was right.  Well, I’ve stepped it up a notch.  Now I’ve got a need that no one can argue with.  The fundraiser was already successful enough to allow me to make plans to move in May, mostly because a friend and I were going to do a moving truck switch-a-roo that was going to cut the cost drastically.  Dialysis is something that is going to be an ongoing need, at least three times a week, and it will take some work to get my treatment plan established.  Therefore I don’t want to do it more than once.  Therefore the move has moved.  It has to be now.  Therefore the costs are back up to about $1500 for a truck, plus about $300 for gas…

…PLUS a big, fat, no-insurance hospital bill.  I know there will be government assistance available at this point, and we’re looking into that, but I don’t know when that will happen.  Therefore I’m putting this fundraiser back in the open.  I’m still in need, and if you can help, it would be greatly appreciated.  I know God has plans for my life, and you can be a part of that.  Paypal is safe and easy to use, but if you prefer just send me an email and I’ll send you a mailing address.  beckyray7@yahoo.com

Big time thank you to those that have already given, and of course, prayer is even more important – and it doesn’t cost anything.

Click here to donate. 

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