Sister thinks twice about becoming a kidney donor

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I'm currently waiting to donate my kidney to my sister, who is a year older than I am. My husband and I traveled many hours to get evaluated and tested at her clinic, so the insurance would cover the cost.

Before heading back to our home state, we decided to stop by to pay her a surprise visit and, honestly, she did something that's making me rethink my decision. She was eating pizza and drinking a can of soda. Abby, my sister is on dialysis and supposed to be following a strict diet. It upset my husband, but he didn't say anything to her because we had just had an argument in the car about my decision to donate to her. It upset me, too, but I didn't speak up either.

I have been disciplined all my adult life, living a healthy life and making smart choices to benefit my body. Now that my sister needs a kidney, I feel this may have been the reason for my good habits. How can I stress to her how important it is to me that she adopt better eating habits if she is to get my kidney? I don't have another one to donate if she ruins this one. My husband and I will also be sacrificing time away from our four kids (ages 1-15) for the surgery and recovery. -- SECOND THOUGHTS IN TEXAS

DEAR SECOND THOUGHTS: Your concerns are valid. Donating a kidney is a decision that needs to be well thought out. It is also a decision that is ultimately up to only you. It shouldn't be made because you feel pressure based on who you're donating to, in your case, your sister. Keep in mind, it's impossible to control another person's behavior. Once this precious gift is given, there's no going back. Speak up now and let her know how you felt about what you saw, but understand it won't necessarily guarantee that she will make any changes.

My suggestion is to continue this conversation with your living donor social worker or ILDA (independent living donor advocate) at the transplant center where you were evaluated. These professionals can help to guide you toward making the best decision by further exploring your concerns, not only for you, but also your family.

While being a living kidney donor can be a positive and beautiful experience, it is equally important to make sure that it's the right decision for you. The same is true for anyone considering donating. For those who are interested in being a potential kidney donor and would like to confidentially connect with someone who has already donated, contact the Patient Information Help Line of the National Kidney Foundation ((855) 653-2273). However: This is NOT a substitute for speaking with a living donor social worker or ILDA.

DEAR ABBY: I understand that nonbinary folks prefer the pronoun "they" instead of "she" or "he." It's going to take some getting used to, but that's OK. My question is, when using "they" but referring to one person, do you use a singular or plural verb? Singular sounds weird, but plural is confusing. -- THE GRAMMAR NERD

DEAR GRAMMAR: I agree that the usage will take some people a while to get used to, but language is constantly changing. Use the plural form of the verb when speaking about a nonbinary or gender-fluid person who prefers "they." Example: "They are a new member of our company." Or, "I love singer Sam Smith. They have won four Grammy Awards."

DEAR ABBY: My 53-year-old daughter is an addict. First it was alcohol, then hard drugs and opioids. This has been going off and on for 40 years.

She hit bottom recently. She became homeless and ended up in a women's shelter in another state. She says she's been clean about six months. The shelter helped her find a place to live, and she draws a disability check, so she has everything she needs.

She constantly contacts me and her father saying she wants to come home. We have helped her to the point of mental, physical and financial exhaustion, and we just can't go there again. It's the most difficult thing we've ever gone through. We know we shouldn't continue to enable her, but if we don't, we feel like terrible parents. Any advice would be much appreciated. -- TERRIBLE PARENTS IN INDIANA

DEAR PARENTS: You already know what will happen if you cave in to your daughter's begging to "come home." From now on, when she asks, remind her that she already IS home, in the place the people from the shelter helped her to find. Her troubles have nothing to do with you. They are the result of the life she created for herself. You already know that enabling her hasn't worked. The time has come for you and your husband to take better care of yourselves.

DEAR ABBY: My ex-wife and I separated after 56 years of marriage. I recently found out she had been raped. Twice. The first was somebody I worked around at the air base. The second was by her father to "teach her a lesson" for getting raped the first time.

When I asked her about it, she said it was none of my business because it happened before we met, but I think she should have told me. I worked around the first guy. Who knows what he told the other airmen behind my back? I also asked very personal questions of her dad, which I now regret. My question is, was she right or should she have told me? -- UPSET PERSON IN THE EAST

DEAR UPSET PERSON: I doubt that the person who worked with you on the air base would have spent much time bragging about having raped, so please, stop obsessing about what the person might have said. That your wife was raped later by her own father must have been devastating. Both of the animals who abused her belonged in jail.

That said, although your wife probably should have told you what happened to her, she was not obligated to do so. Your marriage is over. Let it go!

DEAR ABBY: With the stay-at-home order still in place in many states, take-out or delivery is the only option for nights when we don't want to cook. How much should we be tipping the people who deliver our food? With sites like Grubhub, which offer free delivery, do these drivers/deliverers get paid? I feel bad for someone coming to my house and leaving a bag of food on my doorstep, and I want to make sure they are compensated. How much would be a reasonable tip? -- LIKES MY DELIVERY

DEAR LIKES: The Grubhub website recommends a $5 or 20% tip -- whichever is greater. When you tip, the money goes straight to the delivery drivers, as it should. Some orders may include an additional delivery fee, but it is not a tip, and drivers don't receive that money, so make sure not to deduct it from the amount you tip.

DEAR ABBY: I wrote to you 12 years ago as a suicidal teenager. I'm thankful to be writing now from a very different place. I'm 28, happily married, with one child.

I was born into a hyperconservative cult and home-schooled until I was kicked out at 18. I then fell into a predictable pattern of abusive relationships and substance abuse. I have been sober for six years now, and have been in various kinds of therapy longer than that. I now self-counsel daily with journaling, meditation and exercise -- and regularly return to therapy when my old patterns resurface.

My gripe: I'm now a happy, energetic person, so much so that I am routinely mistaken for a teenager and summarily dismissed. Everyone -- employers, friends, even family members who "conveniently" missed out on my troubled years -- does this. It never happened when I was miserable, hiding behind makeup and uncomfortable clothing, barely able to function. How can I again command the respect I did as an angsty teen, but without the angst?

I'm an awesome mother and a loving wife, not to mention a healthy person because I've worked hard for years to get this way. I'm proud of what I've accomplished, and I'm tired of my personal satisfaction being misconstrued as naivete, or worse, vanity. Advice? -- CAME THROUGH THE OTHER SIDE

DEAR CAME THROUGH: You have every right to be proud of what you have accomplished. Do you act the same way at work as you do when hanging out with friends or family? You may need to adjust your behavior according to the situation. If you have trouble doing this, some sessions with your therapist might make the process easier.

DEAR ABBY: I am angry at the lack of praise given to respiratory therapists who are on the front lines of coronavirus patient care. Everything is doctor, nurse. By all means they deserve praise, but who do you think is also a vital part in fighting this respiratory virus? We manage those ventilators many hotspots are in desperate need of. We give those breathing treatments that help to calm the airways as this virus takes a toll on the lungs.

All health care workers, as well as individuals who work in hospitals and are considered essential, should receive this praise. We come to work each day uncertain whether we will be exposed or contract the virus. Yes, it's a trying time for everyone, but I want the world to be aware of these unsung heroes. -- TAKING A DEEP BREATH

DEAR TAKING: So do I, which is why I am printing your letter. All of the courageous men and women who put their well-being at risk in service to their patients and their community are heroes as far as I am concerned. I, as well as my readers, pray for your safety and success in this battle against this novel virus.