5th Anniversary of a sacrifice

If you have not already read my early writings, please check them out on my website, here’s the first one. I have written about the process and journey of becoming a live liver donor for a friend’s husband.

October 22, 2020 will have been 5 years since we had surgeries. Here’s our update and story.

Can you believe that it’s been 5 years since I donated part of my liver to Lupe? Me neither – only it feels much longer than 5 years! Time is a strange thing.

Last I heard, Lupe is still cancer-free. He was permitted to go to work, but with him having a sensitive immune system, he is not working because of covid-19 in our world. He still has pain daily but has a good attitude. He’s also very grateful for each day he gets with his family and friends – and for each opportunity he has to share Jesus with someone.

Since the last update, I am still having abdominal pain as well as back pain. I was not approved for back surgery and doctors say that there is no way to really see if I am allergic to titanium. SIGH! I am still using a cane and have been unable to drive since February 2019. I have been blessed with SSDI and also In Home Support Services has allowed me to have care providers come into the house where I live to help with laundry, bed changing, errands, cooking and taking me to appointments. I would have never imagined being in pain for 5 years, being this young and needing care providers, not being able to drive or even walk very far by myself – BUT GOD…

GOD is faithful, GOD has not left me and I know that GOD loves me. I know that GOD is sovereign, GOD is in control and that GOD has a plan. I’m not sure why He has allowed this for me, but I trust GOD completely – more than I did 5 years ago. More than anything now, my prayer is that GOD will be glorified in and through all we have been through.

If you haven’t known GOD or JESUS personally, I would encourage you to seek Him while He can be found. Your life won’t become suddenly easy, but you will know a peace that surpasses all understanding. You will know that the GOD who created you still holds you in His hand and He loves you more than you can ever imagine.

Waiting on God was worth it….

Oh my goodness, it’s been two months since I was on here! I am still in school at De Anza College getting my Accounting certificate. I am in my second of four quarters, well God-willing I will be able to finish in a year.

It’s been 19 months since I donated 60% of my liver to a friend’s husband and I still have pain daily in my incision – of course, it’s something that you can never plan for! I was supposed to be without pain after 3-4 months. My pain specialist told me last month, “I don’t want to bring you down Michelle, but this may be your ‘new normal!'” Sigh!!! I am doing all to trust God, knowing He must have a good plan in store despite the pain.

I have been out of work since October 20, 2015 except for a little work here and there. I had received short-term disability for exactly a year but Social Security and Unemployment both decided that I do not qualify for their funds because I am “employable with limitations”.  Between that and school, it was extremely hard to find work. It was really starting to get hard to live financially without a job when I sent my resume to my school counselors and teacher.

Finally on Wednesday, May 3, my OTI (Occupational Training Institute) counselor at De Anza contacted me to ask if I would like to interview for an accounting internship on Stevens Creek in Cupertino. I was excited because I could ride the bus if I needed to, so I said yes to the interview.

In my last post, “Encouraged to write another Psalm“, I posted a video of eleven cars God provided for me from June of 2015 to March 20 of 2017 while I did not own a car of my own. By the time of my interview, I was driving car number 12 that God had provided but I had been taking the bus to class when no car was available to me.

When I “Google-mapped” where the interview was, I found out that it was not on Stevens Creek and it was not in Cupertino! Instead I found out that it was on Bascom in Campbell which was not going to be an easy bus ride! In fact, it would take me over an hour and a half each way – possibly more! Ugh!

I went to the interview anyway since I had a car to get to it. It is in an area that is very familiar to me. The lady I interviewed with was pretty awesome. I think we laughed more than anything during the 45 (ish) minutes that I was there. She told me that she usually isn’t so forth-coming but said that she really wanted to hire me but needed to talk to the owner – I’d be getting my job offer by 5pm that day – if she got her way.

Ok! A job, an accounting internship, with a decent pay and hours that would be worked around schooling was most-likely going to be offered to me. On the drive home, I was scared! I cried out to God, “LORD, I don’t know if I can handle riding the bus to work, working 5-6 hours, then riding the bus home or to school! I have pain as it is…will it increase with that much more activity and sitting?” At that point, I could see something in my heart and life that I had not seen before. “LORD, please forgive me of the fear I have had inside of me. Please forgive me for not looking for a car as I should have because I have been so afraid that I would get another lemon! Please forgive me. Thank You so much for providing the 12 cars despite the fear I have had. LORD, will You please bring me a car?”

Within about 15 minutes of getting home (about 30 minutes of praying that prayer), my housemate sent me a text saying that she had sent out information about me needing a car to a group that she is connected with AND a friend of hers had a car for sale in my price range….did I want to see the car???

I got God-bumps all over my body! I had forgotten that my housemate and I talked that morning about what would happen if I got a job across town. She also knew that it would probably be too much on me to try to take the bus, so she posted my need.

I started texting with her friend trying to say I could come to her, but she insisted on bringing the car to me. At the same time, I received an offer email from the lady I had interviewed with. I called her to let her know I have a disability. When she answered the phone, she sounded depressed. I asked her what was wrong. She told me that no one called her when she offered a job, they always respond to her email – she thought that I would not be taking the job. I said, “no, I am excited about the job – I want the job!” She cheered up immediately then asked why I called. I let her know of the pain that I have and let her know that I would need a sit to stand desk or something compatible to that. She had no problem with that request, so I got the job!

And, on Sunday after church, my housemate’s friend brought the car to me….Let me rephrase it….GOD BROUGHT THE CAR TO ME!

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I knew immediately when I saw the silver car drive up that I was supposed to buy it. I got into the car to test drive it and the owner, sitting in the passenger seat opened the glove box to show me the paperwork. Everything was clean and orderly! She was very impressed with my knowledge of cars as I opened the hood to check everything out, turned the wheels to check the axle and struts, and looked under it as best as I could. It had not been steam cleaned, it was just 14 years of dust – no liquid spills or leaks, new struts, good tires…it was the best looking car I have seen since I started looking for one in May of 2015! And it was an excellent price! Yes, I knew it was from God.

I’m not going to tell you that all has been easy since then. In fact, I was not able to get the car for several days, I had to go to Department of Motor Vehicles twice because I didn’t have enough money to pay the taxes the first time (but praise God the car was already smogged and registered only weeks before so I didn’t have to pay for either of those!), I have had higher pain levels (ranging between 5-6 sometimes) because my standing work station hasn’t been put in yet, and I won’t get paid until June 15th!

But, waiting on God for a job and car has been worth it…Actually, I can say waiting on Him for housing has been worth it too! My housemate has been a very special blessing to me.

And today I learned again that waiting on God for finances is worth the wait too! I was not sure how to pay for my storage unit so I have been waiting on God for direction. Today I felt I was supposed to go to my Chase credit card which meant I would need to pay $100 for it to be enough credit available to pay the rent. When I got on-line, I found out that I had over 10,000 points on my card which meant that I had $101+ change to credit to my account! I couldn’t imagine why I had the points, but I was praising God for the unexpected money to pay for the storage shed. Turns out that two of my friends took up the invitation to get themselves a Chase card with $50 for them and $50 for me! So cool! Thank you whoever it was that helped me out! If anyone reading this wants to get yourself a Chase card with $50 for you and $50 for me, let me know…hee hee! I still have half a month til I get paid!  But I know God will provide! Maybe I’ll even have another story about what He will do.

Waiting for an answer – steps of faith to a sacrifice.

For awhile now I’ve been getting email updates from my friend Hilda asking me to pray for her husband Lupe’s health. He’s had some liver issues so has had to get regular testing. Now he has liver cancer and had hoped to get on a list for a liver to be donated. Unfortunately, there are far more people who need livers than there are people who are dying who have signed up to donate their organ, so Lupe’s chances for getting a healthy liver donated by a dead donor are slim.

Hilda’s last email update described a growing sense of urgency but with a new request. You see, Hilda and Lupe have a beautiful little girl who is kindergarten age. If Lupe doesn’t get a new liver, he may not get to see his little girl grow up. So Hilda’s request was not just for prayer for Lupe to be healed, but also for God to provide a living donor.

I am a single woman who lives in an area where the economy is insanely crazy. It’s near impossible to make it financially for a lot of people. I am a senior caregiver working part-time, so in order to make it financially, I rent a room from a friend, who praise God is charging me below market value. The thought of being a live liver donor for Lupe crossed my mind but my thoughts were, “there is no way I could ever be able to do that financially!”

After praying a little, I asked one friend from church to pray and then did some research. The answers started coming. I could receive short-term SDI and another friend suggest we set up a go-fund-me account to help cover some of my lost wages plus Lupe’s insurance would cover all medical.

I asked more friends to pray I would have clarity on what to do. The more I prayed, the more peace, joy and excitement I was having. I also started believing that if God wanted me to be a liver donor for Lupe, then everything I need would be provided….everything.

Easter Sunday, I let Hilda and Lupe know I wanted to know what the next step was to get the process started. Because I had already researched I knew I would need my primary care physicians (PCP) approval and then I would have to do a medical questionnaire on-line. Let me tell you, Easter takes on a whole new meaning to a person who is considering to sacrifice part of their liver.

I read about the scar – either called a Mercedes or Lexus scar. The first goes from above sternum and goes out to the sides, like a Mercedes symbol. The second starts at sternum and goes to mid-belly then goes to the right side, like a reverse “L”. I immediately thought about being single. What would my future husband or my possible children say? Later, while reading John 20 in the Bible, I read Jesus saying, “Look at my hands and my side.” He was talking to me, “Michelle, look at MY Scars!” It was all I needed to stop worrying about what people might think. I also better understood Jesus’ sacrifice.

So, I sent my PCP an email believing I wouldn’t hear back until Monday or Tuesday. I was very surprised to find an email just a few hours later from her acknowledging that I have prayed and encouraging me to move forward in the process.

I then thought I would have to wait until Wednesday to fill out the questionnaire but my client’s daughter cancelled me for the day giving me time to contact Kaiser for my first interview. Adele informed me of the process but also listened to my story of faith, answer to prayer for clarity and doctor’s approval. She said I was “lucky” and that her “fingers were crossed” that I would pass the questionnaire and move forward to become Lupe’s liver donor.

Since I still had time before my PM shift, I was able to fill out the questionnaire without it “kicking me out” which means I would be able to move forward! Wow! Excitement completely filled me.

Before I went to bed Tuesday night, I had already had an email from UCSF Living Liver Donor Program. I’ve been accepted so far but have to wait for Lupe’s medical insurance to approve me for blood tests, physical and other tests. It’s been six days since I started praying for direction in regards to donating part of my liver to Lupe and now I am waiting to approved by his insurance to move forward. I feel like a little girl waiting for Christmas morning.