The Gift of Life

Sunny Frazier 5Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, is here today with the story of her recent adventure and how all the stars aligned in her favor.

The third Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, A Snitch in Time, is in bookstores now.   //

Of all the Christmas gifts I’ve received over the years, this year I received the best one ever. It was from an anonymous person. The gift was a kidney.

Backstory—in 2004 I had a severe allergic reaction to topical cat flea medicine. One kidney died right away; the other held on for 10 years. In 2013 it was functioning at 13%, which meant dialysis.

Dialysis is not a death sentence that people make it out to be. The 5 a.m. shift is daunting but once in the chair and bundled in blankets, it was easy to go back to sleep. Three hours passes quickly.

Fools Rush In 2Three years later the long awaited call came in from Portland, OR, VA where the VA does kidney and liver transplants. It’s the #1 transplant center in the nation. I had 3 hours to pack, drive 40 miles to the Fresno VA for my plane ticket and catch the plane. I had little time to contact key people who would watch my house and have my check book to pay the bills.

I was checked in on Friday night; surgery was Sunday afternoon. The doctors were pleased with the donor kidney. My speedy recovery amazed them. I never even took a pain pill. I was released from the hospital on Wednesday and sent to the military lodge to stay.

We are required to have someone to take care of us, make meals, count out daily pills (56) and pretty much play nurse. Most of the vets were men and had wives; I had the daughter of a college friend. We were bussed to the hospital for the many lab tests and check-ups. They flew her in from Utah and neither of us had to pay a penny. Your tax dollars at work.

But we heard that a patient had died from his stay at the lodge. Black mold. Overnight we were transported to the Marriott. I stayed there for just under 2 months. We went from basic necessities to a kitchen in every room, maid service, free breakfast and appetizers 3 nights a week.

sunny-frazier-after-surgeryI was released just before Thanksgiving. My friends expected me to be frail and I had to convince them that I’d never felt better. I get to eat more things now that I’m not restricted (cheese, ice cream, chocolate!). But the idea of a transplant frightens people. Is it the surgery, a foreign organ inside them, the side effects? People freak at taking lots of pills, but I’m already down to 38 a day. It seems a small sacrifice to pay. My hands shake from 2 of the meds, trying to use scissors is tricky. So is turning a page in the newspaper Yes, I have an impressive scar (which I posted on FB) but I wasn’t planning on wearing a bikini anytime soon.

The message I hope you take away from this post is this: Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Don’t underestimate your resilience. Learn about your illness in order to make informed decisions Concentrate on the positive in every situation. Accept prayers.


14 thoughts on “The Gift of Life

  1. Sunny, thank you for your encouraging words. First, I’m so happy our tax do Monday I go into surgery for a vascular transplant. Had one done on the other leg, which failed and resulted in the loss of a leg. Needless to s ay, I’m a bit nervous, but will take heart on your inspirational outlook and face Monday with positive thoughts. Thank you, and the best of luck in 2017,with your books and for yhour continued good health.


    • I’m so sorry the first surgery didn’t do well. We’ll all hope for the best with the one coming up. Keep me informed.


  2. Sunny, I picked up pieces of what you were going through from various brief comments in other posts, but I never had the full story. First, congratulations on coming through so successfully. And second, I’m so glad to hear the VA is doing such good work. For some reason, that really cheers me up. (I have no idea why.) Your final words of advice are relevant to all of us, now or in the future, and it’s comforting to think about all you’ve been through and how well you’ve come through. Thanks for sharing all this, and I hope things only get better for you. (And the daughter of your friend sounds like a fabulous girl.)


    • There is so much negativity about the VA these days, but I have to say I’ve had the best doctors and treatment from the Fresno VA and the Portland center. They weren’t set up to treat women when I got out of the Navy (1976) and after the Desert Storm women, they really started giving us the benefits we deserved.


  3. Sunny, I’m so happy for your successful surgery. Your positive outlook is probably the same outlook you had when you entered the WAVES–entering the unknown but determined to succeed. I’m so relieved for you. You’ve been in my prayers.


    • Joining the military was the best thing I ever did. Although my parents and friends were against it, I thrived. And, when I got out, I got a free college education, housing discounts and medical, all from the GI Bill.


  4. You’ve been through so much! And from flea powder–ugh!! So happy the donor came through for you and that you’re doing well, and escaped the black mold. One thing after another, but now you’re whole and healthy and, yay, eating ice cream and chocolate. May your new part continue to give you health for many, many years


    • I don’t know if the writer in me kicks in, but I’m always curious and when all this happened, my reaction was “Well, this is new, let’s see what happens next!”


  5. I’m so glad the waiting is over and you are doing well. You’re certainly the poster gal for taking on and conquering challenges. Thank you for being one of the early supporters of my writing career. You dug my manuscript out of the slush pile and the small publisher you were workrng for published it. It was only my second book in print!


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