Pretty much starting this year, I’ve gone to school, but when I was in kindergarten I went a tiny bit, in first grade I went for maybe two months, and when I was in second grade I went for two weeks. So I haven’t really been in school that much!
It’s really fun! And I like it because I’ve been able to meet some good friends, and before I couldn’t really. I was mostly with adults. That’s why I have such a large vocabulary. By the time I was two, I could say stethoscope!
Seeing my class on Skype
Walter: I like seeing my class. It’s really cool – we use Skype, normally just to visit them, to keep up, which is really neat. That allows me to stay with my class, and I can just talk and chat and do school work. I mean, after my transplant, I was out for three months. I got really bored, but I did that: my mom had brought home all my math books and all of the things I needed to do as we were progressing, and so I was able to use those, and I would just be on Skype. And I remember I got the highest on a test just after my transplant, so that was really cool!
If I missed school because I got sick with any viral infection, I made sure that I was covered. I went and got a note from the transplant coordinator, which said that I had a kidney transplant – if I did get sick, this is why, or if I did miss school, this is why. So just making sure that that’s all covered…I don’t think it got in the way of my college experience, quite honestly. I feel like I definitely was more responsible, but I don’t think that took away from my experience at all, at all.
Second senior year
After I got my transplant and returned to school, everybody at the high school was very happy for me and they were so glad to see me. I was gone for fourteen months and it was weird to be back in school, but at the same time it was nice to be back and nice to be healthy. It felt great to be able to be just like anybody else. So it was a really good feeling to return to school and to be all right. At first I went back once a week for a few hours a day, just to get back into it. And then we increased it to twice a week, and I did that from March until June. That was supposed to be my senior year, but I wasn’t able to graduate because I didn’t have enough of my classes finished. So I returned in the fall for what I called my second senior year. I did mind at first, but I got over it because I figured that everybody would like a chance to go back for another year. So I figured I might as well take advantage of it. It really was nice; the following senior class really took me in just like I was one of them because they knew who I was.
I never really felt limited
I never really felt limited to what I could do in my life because of my transplant. Obviously, making life decisions, the transplant was something to consider, but I graduated from high school, got a part time job at the local grocery store, and I went to college and graduated with my Bachelor’s degree. My school was about an hour and a half away from home, which I thought was far enough away where I wanted to be on my own but close enough where I could come home if I needed to.
[Later] I lived on campus, and I did communicate with the nurses at the school. That was another benefit, that my transplant team at Children’s really communicated well with the health services office at the college and faxed records back and forth, and requests. If I needed to get blood taken to check my cyclosporine level, I could do that right on campus and they sent it out and the results were sent in to Children’s Hospital. Again, that was a really good relationship.
Transplant and the college experience
I guess it affected me because I always had to be mindful about taking my medication, taking care of myself, trying to get exercise in…mindful about getting to my doctor’s appointments and focusing on that part of my life. So yes, it was a part of my life, but I don’t believe it affected my life in a sense of college and academics and things…it was just something else on my plate, I guess. Another thing to do. Maybe somebody else might feel differently, but I don’t think personally it got in the way of it. It was just probably another stress in my life that I had to deal with, but I felt I dealt with it appropriately.