6 Month Update: Aimee’s Kidney and Pancreas Transplant

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Before I start this blog, I wanted to talk about some comments and opinions that I’ve seen. My story has been shared multiple times and I am so HAPPY that it has helped so many going through Kidney Failure, dealing with Diabetes or people telling me they became an Organ Donor because of me. I’d say 97% of the time this has been a very positive thing to share. That being said, I knew that putting something so personal online for the world to see, I would get everyone and their dogs opinion. No matter what it is, people will twist and turn your online life and think they know your real life. In my situation I’ve had comments like, “You traded one medical regiment for another. I’d rather have my Type 1 Diabetes than be fighting rejection on a daily basis.” My response was simple. “I’m sorry you feel this way. You think I had a choice? Did I choose to have Type 1 Diabetes? Did I choose for it to kill my kidneys, eyes and who knows what else? No; But I did choose to live and to fight with all I had left in me.”  It’s sad people have to act like that, especially from someone who has Type 1 Diabetes. I’d like to think what they would have done in my situation. SO JUST BE NICE and put yourself in other peoples shoes before judging.

ANYWAYS. On to the fun stuff! 😊

I left off the last blog in April. It has now been officially 6 MONTHS since my transplant! 6 MONTHS of being Type 1 Diabetes FREE, 6 MONTHS ago that a 20 year old man, who didn’t even know me, gave me a chance for a second life. I think about him every. single. day. As I celebrate my 6 months of this new life, I also think of my donors family and the loss 6 months ago of their son/brother. I pray every day for them, and will continue to for the rest of my life. I hope and pray that I will be able to find out who my donor family is and to be able to meet them. Like I said in my first blog of this journey, I wrote my family a letter to try and put into words of how thankful and happy I am. I know they have received my letter but have not written back. As much as I want them to and as much as I want to meet them, I have to give them their space and their time to heal. I will say this though, I do believe that we will meet someday. I have this connection to them that I can’t explain and I haven’t even met them or know who they are. All I know is that my donor was 20, male, it was a tragic accident that happened here in Utah sometime before January 8, 2018. January 8th is the day that I received my new Kidney and Pancreas. I feel like social media can be used for so much good if used in the right way. I keep hoping that maybe someone knows who my donor was or their family and see’s my blog or maybe they will stumble upon it. 🙏🏼

The rest of April was really busy but a lot of fun! I went to a friends wedding and was able to see a lot of people I hadn’t seen in almost a year.

I also went to Logan to shoot one of my good friends graduation photos! It was so good to see Marais and her baby Andee! I stayed up there that weekend with friends, crashed a wedding and enjoyed being out of the house! Back to the power of social media..I met a very special person that I can’t say who they are. They found my blog and had an interesting story. I am writing this for my own sake to remember when I met them and that day that changed my life. I hope I can write about it one day. But for now, know that it was an amazing experience and know that this person means a lot to me.

That next week, my best friend Hope from college came down from Montana to see me! I hadn’t seen her since before my transplant and I really had to act like I felt good and was happy to hang out at that time haha. It was hard when I felt like death. When she came down this time I was SO EXCITED. She brought her friend Kiera and later on didn’t know, but she is now one of my good friends! We did a photoshoot of course and then met up with some old friends at Top Golf! Later that month I went to a Bee’s Baseball game.Photo Apr 21, 11 48 55 PMPhoto Apr 22, 9 38 57 AMPhoto Apr 22, 12 10 25 AM

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In May I shot my first paid shoot. I felt ready enough and back into the swing of things to start shooting again.  That weekend my parents and I headed down to St. George. I finally got my first outfit for Golfing and was pretty stoked about it! We then of course went golfing but it was pretty windy and cold. I got to see my sister and her family and also do two shoots while I was there!

8D8A4904We found Mars at 10:30pm. Snow Canyon State Park.

After getting back from St. George, my friend Hope came down from Montana again. Oh before I forget, as far as lab work and appointments are going, I still have to get blood drawn once a week. I now see my Kidney Doctor once a month and I have been spaced out to see my surgeon team every three months. After I had my blood drawn, I took her to the driving range to somewhat teach her (I’m not that good haha) how to golf/hit. We then went on a short hike to this place called “Ted Bundy’s Cabin.” I have always been obsessed with abandoned buildings/shooting photos in them and found this one back in high school. It’s pretty much all blocked off now and trashed..😒 We then went to Costa Vida of course. The next day we went up to Tibble Fork Reservoir. We did A LOT of shooting. I cannot explain how excited I am that I am back into taking photos again. I just feel alive and happy! The temperature there was around 50 degrees and one of the photos I wanted to do was to put her in the water and shoot above her, but I would be putting her in glacier water.. luckily she is an awesome friend and will do anything for a photo and was ok with it!

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4 MONTHS!

8D8A6122Photo May 11, 10 05 35 PM(I forgot to take a photo of me holding #4 up but the scar is healing well.)

The next weekend I was invited to do a photoshoot and video of my story for Moonbeam Apparel. They were doing a project about Self Love and invited 10 women of all sizes and ages to tell their story. I have never met such an incredible group of women. So STRONG and have been through so much but have come out of it and made something from it! Click HERE to watch the video they did of my story.

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That weekend while I was up in Logan, my friend let me try out his drone in my FAVORITE canyon.

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Everything with my organs has been pretty good! Really the only issue I have now is that my liver enzymes have been elevated for awhile and the Transplant Team wanted to send me to a Liver Specialist to figure out what was going on. I met with them and had blood work done and everything came back fine. They decided that they wanted to do a Liver Biopsy in June to see if they could find anything. Basically what they do, is stick a needle into your liver and take a tiny piece of it to examine.

After one of my doctors appointments I wanted to go and say thank you to my nurses that took care of me while in the hospital after my surgery. I wanted to go to ICU and then the floor I was put on after for recovery. Even though I didn’t remember ICU, I still felt that they don’t see the good outcome. The front desk let them know we would be heading over. When we got through the doors to ICU, my Dad was with me and helped me remember what room I was in. I then was greeted by a couple nurses that I had no idea who they were but they remembered me. They were so happy to see me. I then recognized one person down the hall. It was the guy who helped me walk right after my surgery. We approached him and it took him a second to remember me but then he did. He instantly had a huge smile on his face! I even found the photo on the wall of the nurse that’s married and has kids that I apparently hit on when I was drugged up 😂 .

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 I went to a photographer/model meet up later that month. I figured I should step out of my comfort shell and meet some new people. We went out to the Little Sahara Sand Dunes to shoot. I kept thinking to myself that no one even cared about this place unless you were going to go ride four wheelers. That’s what we did as a family growing up. So all the sudden when photography got big its a huge spot for photos haha. While I was there I met some really awesome people. I met this girl Shanessa and wanted to do a few photos of her. A day later I was asking for her email to send some photos and then decided to invite her on a trip we had coming up with a group of “influencers”. She instantly said YES and then proceeded to help find some others to come. Which led to Dallin coming, who was also at the sand dunes that day.

8D8A6947This is Shanessa 😊 

The end of May, I woke up throwing up early morning. I couldn’t keep anything down and at that point I knew I needed to go to the hospital for dehydration. I also had no idea why I was throwing up so I figured I probably should go. I got admitted to the ER and again, just my luck, no one could get an IV in my arm. Being dehydrated didn’t help at all but man it’s a struggle. They did all the testing.. blood work, urin sample, X-rays, ultra sounds on my organs; pretty much everything they could do. Once I was admitted to the hospital I never threw up again. They wanted me to stay the night just to keep an eye on me and they were also waiting for some other results to come back. Before, I loved being in the hospital but this time I was just bored and had energy haha. I had a few visitors which was really nice! In the end they figured it out that the amount of Magnesium I was taking, plus all the food that I was eating was rich with magnesium made my stomach really upset. So I stopped taking that supplement and they told me to just eat a lot of foods high in magnesium. I’ve been great ever since!

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The day before though I got a spray tan (can’t be in the sun because the drugs I’m on make me more prone to getting Skin Cancer, so if I want any color spray tans it is!) sooo I got some sweet “tan lines” from the sensors they put on my body and also some bruising from the needles.

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5 MONTHS!

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The hardest struggle I think for me now is seeing so many drastic changes to my body. I went from being a Diabetic for 15 years, not knowing what my body is suppose to really look like. Then my body changed to being in Kidney Failure and being super swollen to the point that I couldn’t fit into my shoes or breathe very well. Then after surgery I dropped to 103 pounds. Way to skinny and felt like I would blow away haha. I then started to gain weight back, more and more and more.. now I feel very big (talking for myself). I have to keep in mind that 1. I have no muscle from being so sick and having a transplant. 2. I am on some drugs that are steroids and are making me gain some of the weight. 3. I haven’t been allowed to do much exercising because of healing and lastly I can finally eat treats and NOT feel guilty about it like I did when I was a kid growing up with Diabetes. With all that being said I can now start working out and doing whatever I’d like! I just don’t know how to even begin thats the problem. I will have to figure it out because not only do I want to look good, I want to feel good and treat my new organs the best I can!

FINALLY. The vacation I have wanted to share all about I finally can on here! 10 of us friends/social media influencers headed to Glacier National Park in June. This was my first big trip since being sick for a year and half and I couldn’t wait!! I flew up Tuesday June 12 to Helena, MT. My friend Hope and her husband Tyler live there and I wanted to spend a few extra days there with her. When I got there we went and picked up a lot of snacks from Costco for the trip and did a few other things. That night a few others from our group came up from UT/ID and we all met up for ice cream downtown.

The next day we were heading out and meeting up with the rest of our group. From Helena to Whitefish (one of the main cities by Glacier National Park) is about a 3ish hour drive. Tyler, Hope and I left earlier then the rest of the group to go meet up with Mark. Mark was flying in from California. I found Mark on Instagram and fell in love with his videos. The way he edits them and that they make you feel so happy and alive. I was so surprised when he agreed to come on this trip not knowing anyone. Mark landed before we got there so he just took an Uber from the airport up to the first place we were staying. The first place we stayed was called 22 Lupfer. It’s this beautiful bright red building with a large 22 on it. After we parked we went inside and had two of the condos for us, Suite B & D. 6 of us could stay in one and the other fit 4, so it worked perfect for our group. We headed up the stairs and walked into Suite D where we were staying. Inside we found Mark already at work with his camera. The moment I met him I could just feel how happy and positive he was. We then went down to the other condo and  checked it out!

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After we took some photos us four went and grabbed some dinner. Shortly after we got back to 22 Lupfer, the other 4 showed up! We went to the store to buy an AppleTV so we could play Quiplash (THE BEST GAME EVER) and get some other supplies. That night I talked everyone into pulling their ear wax out with a candle. Let’s just say we had A LOT of laughs and got really close haha😂. We went to dinner at this very nice hotel and I could not understand half the menu haha but we had an amazing waterfront view of the lake! About 12:30am, Ashton and Brad arrived. We all went to bed pretty quick.

Photo Jul 09, 12 00 58 PM (1)Hayden, Dallin, Shanessa and Kiera on their way to meet us in Whitefish, MT!

candlewaxPutting the candles in their ears. We compared to see who pulled the most ear wax haha

The next day we woke up and some had gone and got a tattoo, one went for a run and others slept in. We were able to get everyone together about 9am and go and get crepes for breakfast. We said our goodbyes to 22 Lupfer, packed up and headed to Glacier National Park. I really recommend bringing walkie talkies. You don’t have service in the park and these were awesome to have to communicate with each car and also to joke around with each other! Our first spot that we wanted to go to was Lake McDonald. We pulled up to the lake and it wasn’t that busy which was really nice. We pretty much had the dock to ourselves for most of the time we were shooting! Not even 40 mins went by and something went wrong. It’s not a huge deal and I figured if this was the worst thing to happen to me on this trip then I’m doing pretty good! My crown fell off my tooth… I was chewing gum and it pulled off my crown.. So that kind of sucked but like I said, I’ll take that over anything else that could have happened.

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We then stopped and grab some lunch but one of the cars didn’t get the memo and kept going. After we ate, our walkie talkies connected with the other car and we were all able to meet up by Avalanche Lake Parking. By this point we needed to head back to Whitefish to meet up with the owner of the place of our next stay. Two cars headed back and one stayed behind and explored some more.

The place we were staying at was called The Cedar Chalet. It was located right on the slope at the Snow Bear Ski Resort. During the winter time you can literally ski to the place you are staying! There are three chalet’s, we stayed in the largest one to fit all 10 of us. Since so much work went into planning this trip, when we arrived to the chalet I couldn’t believe we were finally here and seeing it in real life. I think I was so overwhelmed with everything it couldn’t sink in for an hour that we ACTUALLY made it here.

IMG_2094Our treehouse for the next 4 daysIMG_5871

 

Here are a few photos of the treehouse!

Everyone soon arrived and we all got settled in. The weather there is so interesting, one minute it’s sunshine and then the next it’s a storm. For the next few hours we edited photos and Hope attempted do glue my crown back in haha. Tyler, Kiera, Hope and I headed to the grocery store to get stuff to grill for dinner and just hang out at the Chalet that night.

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The next day was the day to do stuff outside. It was going to be the warmest and sunniest day that we had! I was so excited because we were going to go to Avalanche Lake and then go back to Lake McDonald and possibly rent boats, paddle boards or just lay out on our floaties! We attempted to get to the Park by 9am…. we got there about 11am haha. It’s so hard to get everyone out the door and make sure everyone has everything they need. Oh and it also didn’t help that the car I was in missed the turn to go into Glacier National Park and we wasted about 30 minutes. It was pretty busy for parking but we found a few spots for us. We all started walking up the trail and then went to this one area that was a little bit off the trail but not to far off because we could still see the trail/people/cars. When we all walked back to the trail and realized that Mark wasn’t with us. Shanessa and Dallin were the last ones to be with him and said that he ventured off towards another trail. We weren’t that far ahead and hadn’t made it to Avalanche Lake or the Falls yet so we figured we would see him there. We stopped a couple places on the way up to the waterfall to take some photos and videos. I spotted this beautiful area where the sun was peaking through the trees and made Ashton walk over there hoping no bears would come out 😂

8D8A8764This is Ashton. He does some amazing work that I’ll show at the end of this.

Here are some stills from Ashton’s Video he is creating from this trip.

While others were still taking photos, I walked up a bit and started to hear water. I looked around the corner and saw this bridge, walked over to it and it had one of the most beautiful little waterfalls I’ve ever seen. The water was SO BLUE AND CLEAR.

8D8A8770Avalanche Creek

Hayden was already up there and it was just the two of us. This was perfect for some photos I wanted of myself.

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I debated about dropping lower to get a better photo or should I say “cooler” photo but I was nervous because there was moss and didn’t want to slip so I decided to just stay there. I think the photos turned out cool enough! Thanks Hayden 😊 We walked back to where our group was, still taking photos at that spot and decided to look at the actual hike to Avalanche Lake. Hayden kept saying we should just go up there. I was nervous because it seemed steep, but Hayden said that was the only part and the rest leveled out. I said lets just wait for the group to get done with photos down here and then we could go up so we all stay together! The rest of our group walked up to the creek and the bridge was full again with other people, but still no Mark to be found.

Here’s where this day decided to take a 180 on us. On the other side of the bridge there was a fenced off area that led to some cliffs over the water. Some of the group wanted to get some photos over there. I stayed behind with a few others and just hung out by that fence or on the bridge.

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I was talking to Brad waiting for them to come back over and all the sudden I heard some sliding and what sounded like branches or sticks breaking and then a HUGE splash. I turned and instantly said “WHO WAS THAT.”  I knew it was someone and not something. I couldn’t see the creek from where I was at but everyone standing on the bridge had a perfect view of what happened. I looked around because I knew Hope was over there and was worried it was her. It wasn’t her. I then was trying to look and see who was standing by me and who wasn’t. Then I heard someone say “Oh my gosh, DALLIN are you OKAY?!” I ran over to the bridge, keep in mind it was packed with other visitors. I looked down and Dallin was in the water. He instantly grabbed onto the nearest place to pull himself out.

*Side note* I was talking to my parents after about what had happen and I told them I just have these feelings and have extra caution for the way I live my life. I almost died and now have a greater appreciation for life and the situations I put myself in. Not saying that others were dumb to go over there but for me it’s just not worth it if I have any sort of worry that something will go wrong.

I noticed that there was blood running down his hand and he was still wearing his backpack. Brad rushed down to help him get up to where we were. At that point we didn’t know if he had hit his head or was bleeding anywhere else. We did find that the blood was coming from his finger and was either broken or dislocated.

⚠️ WARNING ⚠️ Kind of gross photos of his finger below

 

 

 

 

 

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He then noticed that he was missing his phone. He checked his backpack which for the most part was waterproof but had his laptop and hard drives in it. His phone wasn’t there. Then Hope found it looking down from the bridge. You could see his pop socket on the back of his phone haha. The water is THAT clear. Hope and Shanessa attempted to get it but it was deeper than we thought and the water was to cold and rushing to fast.

8D8A88018D8A88028D8A8796Ashton & his future self haha. Just kidding but this guy wasn’t too amused by our group. 😂 

I asked him where his camera went and he said that he handed it to Tyler to hold while he crossed this area that was kind of difficult and not to mention that it was mossy and slick. After he handed it to Tyler he went and grabbed for a tree and ended up slipping and went head first into the water missing very large rocks.. It’s a miracle that he didn’t hit his head. He did lose a contact in one of his eyes and that was bothering him pretty bad. But like I said, he was lucky.

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We headed back to the car and we still couldn’t find Mark. Half of us went to take Dallin to see the medics and then the rest of the guys decided that they should stay back for Mark. So pretty much the day was over for us. I was so bummed but tried to keep a positive attitude and was just grateful that Dallin was ok! Before we left we told the guys staying for Mark to meet us at this restaurant by 3 and if not radio us by 4 to let us know you are okay and if you found Mark or not. So from about 1-3 we sat outside the medical building waiting for Dallin to get fixed up. Luckily he only had dislocated his finger and had a cut that just needed some stitches.

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We headed to the spot to meet the rest of the guys but they never showed.IMG_2639

I was pretty stressed out the entire time from losing Mark, to Dallin falling off the cliff and now we don’t know where the other part of the group is and if everything is ok. I was trying to keep my cool and just believe that everything is ok and then on top of that I am WAY bummed out that we haven’t been able to take photos or have fun all day. Then Dallin said well I need to go back into town (40 mins away) to get my medicine. It closes by 6pm. I finally broke and got super mad.. like to the point of almost tears. I didn’t say anything and walked away just fuming with anger. Again, not mad at Dallin because if this would have happened to anyone we would be there for them. I was just so frustrated from everything that had happened that day that it just kept piling on and then I couldn’t take it anymore. I just wanted to take photos. I just wanted to be together with everyone. I just wanted to spend my day out exploring and not stuck in the car for the whole day. We walked back to the car and I think Tyler or someone tried talking to me and I just said “I can’t talk right now or else I’ll say something I’ll regret later.” I then put my headphones in and took a nap.

We got into town, got Dallin’s medicine and then I finally cooled down a bit. We decided to head back to Glacier and go back to the parking lot where the cars were last left. As we were driving, we were messing around on the radio seeing if it would MAYBE connect with the others. It FINALLY did and guess who was on the line..MARK. We all screamed for joy and saw their cars on the road. We all parked at Lake McDonald, I got out and started yelling (but kind of joking) at them for not meeting us or even just calling us to let us know they were good! Such a weight lifted off my shoulders. I just felt so responsible for everyone that came because I was the one who basically coordinated everyone coming on this trip.

So here’s Mark story: He lost us and thought that we would be up at Avalanche Lake so he decided to hike up there and wait for us. When the other guys stayed back to wait for him, they hiked up there and ran into him on the trail! They then went back to the top and Mark told them about this place he saw off in the distance. The boys decided to go on an adventure to get to this waterfall. It looked amazing but they were pretty much hiking through all sorts of stuff and it wasn’t easy to get to. So all in all I GUESS I’m happy they got their Bro Time, but still bummed because they had such a rad day.

DSC00272 The amazing waterfall they hiked to. Photo: @mark_blevins

We shot a few things at Lake McDonald around 9-9:30pm but it was pretty cold and windy by then.

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When we were heading back, some were hungry and went to get food and then the car I was in and the other one went back to the treehouse. We all got in the hot tub and it was so much fun to talk and get to know each other more. I also wanted to do some star photos in Glacier but by the end of the day I was pretty tired, emotionally and mentally. So Tyler and I decided to go in our backyard AKA the ski hill and get a photo. It was really windy and cold so we didn’t last long. *Can you find the Big Dipper?

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The next day we were heading to East Glacier. The problem was that the main road that goes through the park (Going-to-the-Sun Road) was still closed in an area. So we had to go the other way around the park. It took longer but it was WORTH IT. It was raining all day but honestly this was my favorite day. I woke up the treehouse with Enya blasting on the TV but it shortly changed to Ashton playing his music after I woke him up 😂  We again kind of got a later start then we wanted. I’m telling you again, if you ever go to a place that doesn’t have service bring walkie talkies. They for 1 were a lifesaver and 2 half of the inside jokes and memories were made from having those while driving.

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As we were driving, it was instantly more beautiful than the west side of Glacier. We actually ended up stopping a little before entering the park to this open field/road. It was covered in fog but don’t let the photos fool you we were freezing haha.

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Our first stop was Many Glacier Hotel. This place was unreal, I really couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.

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We were here for a few hours and it was raining off and on. This whole time I was waiting for the shoot that I absolutely wanted to do. I have always wanted to do a shoot that was Lord of the Rings inspired. Today was the day. After leaving Many Glacier we were heading to St. Mary’s Falls. On our way out all the sudden Ashton and Brad came over the radio and said, “We’re heading to Canada!” That’s all they have been talking about but I didn’t think they would actually do it haha. We eventually got to the parking lot of the waterfall. It’s about a 2 mile hike and by this point it’s POURING RAIN. I was nervous people would back out but to my surprise mostly everyone was down to go! I seriously was so grateful for those who came with. In fact I was the only who brought my camera because everyone else was nervous to ruin their equipment, which I don’t blame them because it was that bad. Except Tyler did bring his GoPro.

Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 4.47.03 PMChanging behind the tarp into the dressesScreen Shot 2018-07-18 at 4.45.08 PMPouring rain and the temperature was around 58 degrees but still smiling!

As soon as Kiera and Hope stood up by the waterfall I think I almost cried. A dream coming true. Here are a few photos (You can find more on my Instagram):

8D8A93068D8A93888D8A9422Models: Hope Allen/ Kiera Spencer | Crowns: Emma Katzka | Dresses: Boohoo & Ypsilon

8D8A9455The amazing people + Hope that came on this shoot with me.

We shot for about 15-20 mins and then helped them change out of the wet dresses and back into their wet clothes. Now we needed to hike back up. This was my first hike that I had done since being in Kidney Failure and having my transplant. We started heading back up and I was keeping up pretty good with the group for the first bit. Mark slowed down a little for me but I didn’t have to stop. I finally got to a point where I was pretty tired and needed a break. I didn’t expect the girls to stay behind at all because they were freezing but as I stopped Hayden stayed with me. I already felt stupid but then a guy to stay behind made me feel way bad. I told him to not worry and I’ll catch up. He said, “Why? I don’t think I can get anymore soaked from the rain haha.” I was like, “Well true, but still I feel bad.” But he insisted on staying with me and hiking up. I stopped a total of 3 times I think… but Hayden made the situation so much better and kept me laughing. We got to the top and I was only a couple minutes behind the group. I opened the car door and stood back and looked at what I just accomplished. 5 months ago I couldn’t even make it up 10 stairs… I just hiked 2 miles.  I turned and looked at Kiera, put my hands up over my mouth and burst into tears. I don’t think she could tell at first that they were happy tears and was really concerned something was wrong but as soon as I explained she started to tear up. If the shoot wasn’t worth that hike, this moment was. I then pulled myself together and hopped in the truck. We didn’t really bring extra clothes so everyone pretty much stripped off the wet clothing and found whatever we could in the truck to wear to keep warm.

We ended up stopping off the road to take some photos. This was probably around 9-9:30pm and still super light outside!

We picked up our dinner which was pizza and got back to the treehouse and ate dinner at 11pm. A little after Brad and Ashton showed up and told us all about their Canada experience, which I wish I recorded because it was hilarious! We were all so tired from that day that it was nice to hot tub with everyone on our last night there. I then helped Hayden take some star photos of Hope and Tyler and afterwards Hope, Kiera and I went and hung out in Hayden’s tent that goes over his car.

That trip was so much more fun than I thought it would be. I could have stayed longer and 4 days in Glacier isn’t enough time to see all you would want to. We were all so different but blended so well. Thank you Hope, Tyler, Kiera, Shanessa, Hayden, Dallin, Brad, Ashton and Mark for making this an experience I’ll never forget. I can’t wait to see everyone again on our next trip coming up in September!

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 My trip in Montana wasn’t over yet, I still had a few days to hang out with Hope, and Kiera actually ended up staying as well. It was fun to explore Helena for a few days with them.

I flew home and rushed to get to a doctors appointment with my Kidney Doctor. I had blood work done before I left and she said everything looks really good and surprisingly my liver enzymes had come down! She checked with the other doctors and decided that I didn’t need my liver biopsy done TOMORROW. Seriously talk about prayers being answered. That next week I had a couple photoshoots, went to a REAL Soccer Game and had a dentist appointment. By the way, I got a new dentist and well lets hope he never reads this because he is VERY good looking and is single…. OH and did I mention HE GOLFS. Yeah I need him to ask me out ASAP, but he hasn’t and I’ve pulled almost every trick out of the bag. So wish me luck because I see him in the next few weeks. 🙏🏼😂

Photo Jun 21, 9 20 26 PMCelebrating Summer Solstice

Photo Jun 28, 5 16 54 PMI’ve been dealing with the weight gain but whats almost even worse is that my skin has so much acne and it hurts. The same drug that is half of the reason I’m gaining weight is also breaking out my skin. It sucks but I need this drug to keep my organs healthy. I went to a dermatologist to see if he could help me. He put me on some medication to see if will help and then in the Fall we will do some intense Blue Light Therapy to try and kill the bacteria beneath the skin. I’ll post a photo of my skin and I’m super embarrassed about it but it’s reality and I want to show that just because I am no longer Diabetic that the drugs I’m on aren’t the best and will most likely cause side effects.

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For the 4th of July we headed down to St. George! The hottest it got down there was 116 degrees. 😯  Last year I would have loved that weather being anemic but now that I’m actually normal I’m sweating every 5 seconds in that heat haha. For the fourth of July we went golfing at 8:45am and it was already 88 degrees.

8D8A0765IMG_2441Chipped the ball 40 yards and ALMOST made it in!

We also went swimming, ate good food and watched the fireworks! I bought a drone this trip and was literally clueless on how to use it, thank goodness for Youtube. I’m not good at all, but I think I’ll get the hang of it and be able to create some really cool footage.

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6 MONTHS!!!!!8D8A0841Photo Jul 09, 9 34 35 AM

HOLY COW. I’VE MADE IT HALF WAY. I honestly can’t believe how fast time is. It does not seem like 6 months ago I got a life saving surgery. To celebrate I went up to our family cabin and stayed with my sister Ali and a few friends! We played games, did puzzles, played on the Nintendo Switch, went for walks, took some astro photos and even hit golf balls that we covered with glow in the dark stuff.

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I had my big 6 month appointment and everyone is very impressed how well I’m doing! The only two concerns that they have is my acne and weight gain. I’ll be working on that really hard and hopefully next time on my blog I will have met that goal. On the plus side  I get to now do lab work every other week instead of every week! ALSO….check out my A1C!!Screen Shot 2018-07-17 at 11.40.38 PM

If you have read this entire blog, THANK YOU!

xxx

Aimee

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3 Month Update: Kidney and Pancreas Transplant

To read the first part about my Transplant click here: Aimee’s Kidney and Pancreas Transplant

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*I started writing this in February and updated it every week.

The first month was a pretty busy one. We were at least at the hospital 4-5 times during the week. Between blood work/labs and visiting with the Transplant team. For the first little while I couldn’t walk very far so I always was in a wheel chair. Adjusting back to home without Diabetes was pretty awesome. We decided to go through my diabetic supplies and started to donate it to people in need. It hasn’t been the most comfortable thing to lay flat on my back because it stretches out my stomach. I was lucky enough to have access to an adjustable bed at home. Everyday I have to do my vitals twice a day. I am still checking my blood sugar just to make sure the new pancreas is doing what it is suppose to be doing. My blood sugars have been PERFECT. It’s so weird not worrying about going to bed with my blood sugar lower than I’m used to. Before I would have to eat something even if I didn’t feel like eating. Now my blood sugar is around 90 going to bed and I wake up in the 80’s. I keep telling myself, “Soooo this is what it feels like to be normal.”Photo Feb 16, 10 54 32 AM.jpgCopper gets to hang out with me everyday, ALL day. 

Valentines Day was just another normal day…just being the third wheel with Mom and Dad :). Except it’s actually National Donor Day. I really felt that I wanted to do something for my donor. I still don’t know who he was and who his family is and might not ever know. So I couldn’t really send them anything or talk to them but instead I decided that I could send my donor a balloon to him. It’s so interesting to feel a connection with him but I’ve never known him.Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 1.26.57 PM.pngThese first two months I’ve had to go in and get infusions done. They would take at least 2 hours or up to 5 hours. I either needed fluid for hydration, Magnesium if my level was really low OR I just had both done. The fluid obviously helps with dehydration and with the new organs especially you need to drink at least 2 liters a day. My body is just trying to figure out what “normal” is. I was even lucky enough to have a visit to the ER! One of the main things that we have been trying to figure out and fix is my low blood pressure. Again the fluid helps a lot with raising it. So that’s another reason they wanted me to drink a lot. Also this is probably the 5th time I got a nurse in training to do my IV…This time she got the IV in my arm but as soon as she did I just felt a lot of warm liquid running down my arm..AKA BLOOD. Not cool, I thought I was going to pass out. Anyway, they put me on some blood pressure medicine to keep my blood pressure up. I thought this was kind of funny because before transplant, I was on medication to try and lower my blood pressure. I’ve gone from one extreme to the other with a lot of things since having the transplant. In February I started to finally get all my staples out.Photo Jan 31, 2 41 06 PM

20180126_155229 Infusions. Lots of Netflix and lots of snacksPhoto Feb 11, 3 26 37 PMER visit. Weird to be here when you’re not super sick

It’s been fun to see peoples reactions to what I look like now from what I looked like in the year before. Everyone can’t believe how thin I am now compared to how swollen I was before! They also say that I have so much color now and I even glow.. whatever that means haha. I’ve also had to start investing in a new wardrobe because nothing fits. My shoes don’t even fit. I mean thats the thing, I’ve had Diabetes for 15 years, so I really don’t know what my body is actually suppose to look like! I’m also not freezing anymore, I can walk around, up stairs and not be out of air. I honestly feel so good. It’s really such a miracle, especially because it’s only been a couple of months.8D8A24681 Month! Starting to gain more weight back and almost had all of my staples out.Photo Feb 09, 12 51 02 PM

Here are a couple things people have asked me since my transplant:

  • How it feels to not have diabetes anymore? At first I couldn’t really answer that just because I was still sore from surgery, but now I can tell a difference. I just feel better. I can’t really pin point anything specific. I think the biggest thing I notice is not having to wear all my gadgets. I can now sleep on my sides and not have something digging into me. I can now wear my clothes and not worry about my insulin pump showing. I can shower and not worry about ripping it off or knocking it off on something. I also now don’t have to carry cans of juice around for low blood sugar or carry around all my devices. My purse is a lot lighter now 🙂
  • Do I like to eat specific things now? YES. I also eat A LOT. I love to eat Malt O Meal and Avacado toast for breakfast, obsessed with Costa Vida and Cafe Rio; mainly cheese quesadilla (if anyone knew me before I hated any type of Mexican food, I think my donor must of liked Mexican food haha), I love these Coconut Strips that you get from Trader Joe’s ( I buy at least 10 bags of it every time I go), Starbucks Strawberries and Cream Frappuccino’s and Graham Crackers dunked in Milk. I don’t like eating fast food anymore(my favorite type of food used to be American food like Crown Burger). I DO NOT like soda and especially diet drinks. I used to drink Diet Coke like it was water.

 

 

I think one of the hardest parts about this recovery is not being able to see people and also figuring out what to do at home all day. I know my job is to recover and get better right now, but it gets pretty lonely sometimes. Now, since it has been 2 months I can finally start being around people and go places without wearing a mask. My immune system is suppressed from the anti-rejection meds and will be really suppressed like that for a few months until they can lower my dosage. Things I do to keep busy: watch TV shows and movies (I even watched all three Lord of the Rings, Hope you would be proud haha). I do a lot of writing and editing photos, going through old pictures and trying to organize my hard drives better. I’ve gotten really good at Mario Kart on the Nintendo Switch, so if anyone wants to play I’ll probably crush you haha. I think the best part about having this time to heal is to help others who are going through Kidney Failure or Diabetes. It’s been really cool to see people reach out and ask me questions and being able to talk about our experiences.

A few weeks ago I had a doctors visit and now have me doing labs only once a week. HALLELUJAH. This visit I had a really important question to ask… I had to ask them when I could start kissing boys. Haha I wish I could record the looks I get when I ask my questions. My doctor just starts laughing 😂, “Well I’ve never had that question before, let me go check with the team.” They came back in smiling ear to ear and explained that I need to live my life and go ahead if I felt like I wanted to.8D8A3264I still don’t like winter very much but it makes for cool pictures. Helps me to keep busy taking self portraits.

 

2 MONTHS!8D8A3571

Photo Mar 08, 3 37 36 PMAll of the staples are out!

March 9th was starting out to be an amazing day. I had a job interview that I thought went really well! It was for a Creative Photographer/Admin Assistant. I then had a meeting for the Transplant Games. The Transplant Games happen every two years in a different city around the nation. This year they are actually hosting them here in Salt Lake City, UT. I can’t participate in any of the games because you have to be 9 months out from your transplant, but I am able to still be apart of the Utah/Idaho Team. I am also able to run in the 5K and I signed up to help volunteer! If you are interested in volunteering here is the link with all the info: Transplant Games

My mom and I got home around 8pm that night. I came in and my brother and my dad were sitting in the living room. I was pretty excited to tell them all about the good stuff that happened that day. After talking for a little, my dad looked at me and said that he had some sad news. I was like “ok…what?” He then took my hand and we walked towards the dining room area. As we were walking he turned on the light and told me that Copper had been hit. All I could say was, “Wait are you serious? Are you kidding?” He then said, “No I wouldn’t joke around with something like this…” I then looked ahead and there was a box. I started to walk closer and I could start to see in the box a blanket and Coppers legs. I backed away and it literally felt like someone shattered my heart. I started to break down. My dad turned to me and I looked at him and he was crying. I collapsed into his arms heartbroken. We then walked over to the box and I collapsed again to the floor not being able to breath and crying even more. Copper looked like he was sleeping, He looked totally fine. I looked up and my brother and mom were sitting there with tears in their eyes. It really feels like you lose a family member. He was with us for 13 years and could have gone a lot longer. After I had calmed down a little, my dad told us that the front door was left open from him and my brother taking some stuff out to the truck. During that time Copper got out and was hit. Someone pulled over ( I’m not sure if it was who hit Copper or just someone driving by) but they asked if my dad knew whose dog this was. My dad walked closer and he said his heart sunk. It was Copper.

After sitting there for a bit and said our goodbyes, I went and grabbed his favorite balls and a bone to put in the box with him. We then went outside and buried him under our apple tree. That night was one of the worst nights, I couldn’t fall asleep and eventually went into another room to find my dad sitting there too. The next morning our eyes were burning and swollen from crying and I really needed to get out of the house as soon as possible. It was too hard being there without Copper. Before leaving the house that morning I felt that I needed to take some pictures to capture how I was feeling that morning.

 

The morning after Copper passed away.

That day we stayed busy with errands and also went to Antelope Island to spend some time with family. I also needed to take some photos for the company I interviewed with. We have had a lot of time to talk about what happened to Copper and why it happened. I think what my sister in law said is the most truthful and right answer. “Devin (my brother), brought Copper home for you when you were struggling the most with your Diabetes. Copper has been there for you through your whole journey with the Diabetes, he was there for you through your Kidney Failure, and now your Transplant. He did what he came to do and it was now his time to go.” I believe in this with my whole heart and with more time to think, I believe he is now with my donor and keeping him company.

 

 

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April 11th, a little over a month since Copper passed. I wanted to do something small for his grave. When it gets a little warmer we plan on doing something more permanent.

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Back to March. That next weekend after Copper had passed away, we were thankfully heading out of town to our vacation rental. ( Check out the rental home HERE.) We really needed this break between everything that happened with me and now with Copper. We were able to spend a lot of time with my sister and her family while we were visiting St. George. I can’t really do much exercise yet but while I was there we took a walk up Snow Canyon, went on a bike ride and I FINALLY was able to go golfing. Oh I was so excited! I had bought my first driver and wanted to test it out so bad. I’d say it was my best golf game yet!

 

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That next weekend I got asked out on a date. I had met him once before, so I knew at least I could stand being around him 😂. He knew my situation and gave me a few options like: go to dinner, get a treat, go bowling…ya know your typical first date options haha. It basically had to be somewhat of a short date because he worked at night. When we were talking before our date, I was kind of joking around that I should just go to work with him. For work he drives a Snowcat up at Snowbasin Resort from midnight-9am. When he came to pick me up I hadn’t told him what I decided on doing. I’m pretty sure when I had my backpack packed and said lets go he was in shock that I really was going to go ride with him at work. Before we left he was talking to my dad for a bit and while we were walking out the door he was like, “So what time do you want her home? 9am?” I’m pretty sure no guy has ever said that to a parent haha.

We had a little time so we stopped and got some ice cream before heading up to the resort. When we got up to Snowbasin I kind of started to get nervous and was thinking “what the heck am I doing…?” We got our stuff together and got in the snowcat. It was about 12:30am at this point and we were going to be doing this till 9am. I probably looked so dumb asking all of these questions and trying to figure everything out, but it was so cool! It was a lot of fun to talk and listen to music but it didn’t get so fun when I had to pee…apparently you just stop where you are, turn off the lights to the snowcat and the person behind you does as well and your only option is to just go right there on the ski run. I literally was thinking to myself “wow, what a first for first dates haha.” They take a “lunch break” around 4am and then start back up till 9am. I was holding in there pretty good but got really tired around 5:30am and fell asleep for probably 15 mins. The final run was all the way to the top by Mount Ogden. The sun started to rise and it was the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen. After we finished around 9am, we went to the lodge and grabbed some breakfast. I had a lot of fun and really glad I decided on that as our first date!

Photo Mar 24, 7 22 16 AMWhen the wind would pick up the snow it had the coolest look to it!
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I went to an event called “Storytelling Festival”, at IMC. It was for people who were/are donors, recipients, families and friends. It was amazing the connections I was able to make with people there. I was also able to share my story with everyone and I hate talking in front of people but I felt the need to share that day for some reason. Come to find out after I told my story, this woman and her husband who had a pancreas and kidney transplant came up to me and we were able to figure out that I was his backup if the organs wouldn’t have worked for him!

 

The artwork: everyone there put a stroke of paint

About a week after I went for a ride on the snowcat, I had a dream about this photo I created. I had one last chance to do it before the season was going to be over at the ski resort. I took my friend Damian with me and we went up to Snowbasin around midnight and shot star photos till about 6am. I wanted to get a picture of Steve and the others working that night of them driving the snowcats up and down the mountain with the stars in the photo. It took Damian and I awhile to find a good spot to be able to see them and then we had to time it right to capture them going up the mountain. It was really cold and took awhile but I am SO happy with how it turned out!

8D8A36678D8A3692Above is my dream shot.8D8A3693

 

3 MONTHS!8D8A3759

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It was now my big 3 month appointment. Back in January/February I created some photos to give to my Transplant Team to say thank you for saving my life. April 12th I was finally able to give them these prints. They had everyone gather in the conference room and when I got there they were all there except my surgeon. I hadn’t seen him since I was in the hospital. He came in a min after I got there and goes, “WOW, you look different! You did your hair and everything.” I said,” I only did it for you!” Everybody laughed and smiled. It was so amazing to see him again. I then was able to present my gifts to him and the team. It was a very touching and cool experience to be there with everyone and share how passionate I am about my photography and organ donation.

 

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My Surgeon. ❤️ 

Seriously the coolest guy I’ve ever met. I just want to hang out with him and the team all day!30688827_10156280121364350_1549431133026910208_n8D8A3715

My surgeon and the director of solid organ transplants were discussing where they think these prints should go. They have talked about some pretty cool places to have them hung. I can’t wait to hear the final word of where! These prints were printed on metal and are 20X20s. Thank you Nichols Photo Lab for always doing an amazing job with printing my photos!

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“Hand of my Angel”

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“Wings of Life”

Butterflies are deep and powerful representations of life. Many cultures associate the butterfly with our souls. The Christian religion sees the butterfly as a symbol of resurrection. Around the world, people view the butterfly as representing endurance, change, hope and life. The little butterfly on my finger represents my donor. The color is the color for organ donation. When I gave these gifts to my surgeon he told me the butterfly one touched him the most. He said,” I believe donors/organs find who they are suppose to be for. The butterfly on your finger is your donor and he was meant to find you. All the other butterflies are other donors looking for their match.” When he said this I was so emotional about it. He is 100% right. Even though I had multiple offers and they never worked out, this beautiful butterfly found me and matched me perfectly.

Life is going so good and I have no complaints. How could I? I’m still recovering but I am starting to find my new self and try new things and I am in love with life and the people in it. ❤️

To watch the video I did about my Transplant click the link below.

 

Kidney and Pancreas Transplant 2018

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Aimee’s Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Story

After reading below, click HERE to read my 3 month update!

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What a rollercoaster 2017 was. My life completely went a whole different direction than I thought. I wanted to write and tell my story and be able to share it in hopes of helping someone. So here we go.

At age 10 I was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes. Growing up I didn’t have the best control of it. It’s a disease that never sleeps. I mean what teenager would want to have that responsibility? Now 15 years later I am in Stage 5 of Kidney Failure.

I found out October 2016. I got stung by a bee and went into the doctor’s office to have it checked for swelling. While I was there they checked my blood pressure and it was 210/ something. The nurse looked at me like I should be dead. I then got some blood work done. My kidney function came back at only 26%. The blood pressure is a sign of kidney failure. I was put on blood pressure medication that in a few weeks started to have a reaction to making my feet swell. I literally could feel the water bouncing around in my feet as I walked.

In November and December I was starting to notice that I would get really cold and tired. We did more blood work and saw that I was Anemic because the kidneys weren’t producing a hormone that produces the red blood cells. The blow dryer became my best friend the next year haha. I also felt like I ran a mile just walking up stairs because with not having enough oxygen in my blood. January rolled around and got more blood work done. My kidney function had dropped from 26%-23%. I met with my nephrologist( kidney doctor) and he told me that I was in Stage 4 of Kidney Failure and would eventually need a kidney transplant. It was the most terrifying and heartbreaking news I’ve ever heard. All I could think of was what an idiot I was and why did I not take better control of my Diabetes. He also explained that I could not begin the process of getting on the Transplant List until my Kidney function dropped 20% or below. He also talked about that I have the option to do a Kidney AND a Pancreas Transplant. That meaning I wouldn’t have Diabetes anymore with a new pancreas. He said this could take a year or so. So in my head I’m thinking “Ok, I’m good for now and I have time to figure everything out.”

Couple months later, March. My Kidney level dropped below 20%. I am now in Stage 5 of Kidney Failure. My doctor sent In the request to the hospital of my choosing for the Transplant Team to send me a packet of info. I received my packet and before I could get on the Transplant List I had to complete a bunch of tests and exams to see if I am healthy enough to get a transplant. I wanted to get these tests checked off ASAP. Between April and May I probably went to at least 50 doctors appointments.  Keep in mind this whole time I am super sick and trying to function. May was probably the hardest month. I was so sick. I was throwing up, couldn’t keep anything down, swollen, exhausted from doing nothing and freezing in temperatures of 70+ degrees. I tried everything and nothing seemed to help. I then had an impression to ask my dad for a father’s blessing. A complete miracle happened and I was never sick like that again.

End of May we finally got everything done and were able to go in and meet with the Transplant Team. It was from 7am-12pm that we met and learned all about Kidney/Pancreas Transplants. I decided that I would like to have a Kidney and Pancreas Transplant instead of just a Kidney Transplant. I will no longer be Diabetic and that’s what started this whole mess. Also the donor has to be deceased because we cannot live without the pancreas. We met with the Transplant Coordinator, Financial, Social worker, Dietitian and even the Surgeon who will be doing the operation. He explained the whole surgery and what they do. The surgery is 7-9 hour surgery. They keep my old organs in my body and add the two new ones. They also take out my appendix and gallbladder so down the road I wouldn’t have any chance of getting infection. I then figured if he was doing all that he might as well give me a boob job while he was at it. He just kind of sat there and stared for a second and then said no.. haha.

In June I had two last tests to do. An Angiogram and a liver test. I passed the Angiogram with flying colors but in the liver test they found that I had Gallbladder disease. That was what was most likely making me super nauseated and throwing up. They decided to leave it in until my transplant and take it out then. June 28, 2017 I was officially put on the Transplant List for a Kidney and Pancreas. The Transplant Coordinator told me it would be weeks not months to get my transplant. My expectation was set high.

July 3rd, not even a week being on the list I had my first call. I was the backup for the transplant, meaning there was one person ahead of me. Let me tell you when you get these calls you basically have anxiety for 48 hours. You just have to wait and wait until they say yes or no. The person ahead of me accepted the transplant so I did not receive those organs. The next three months I didn’t get a call. I always had to keep my phone with me 24/7 so I wouldn’t miss a call. I also couldn’t be more than 2 hours or less away from home.

October 9th at 2:19am I got my second call. I was again the backup for the transplant. I ended up not getting those organs. I was pretty bummed but I knew everyone that is on that list needs those organs just as much as I do. Also because my expectation was set that I would get my transplant in weeks and not months. Later I got my third call October 31st at 10:30pm. I was the backup AGAIN. I guess this time I was bumped down on the list because someone had more antibodies than me. Meaning it’s a lot harder to find them a match. I waited till November 2 to hear that I did not get the organs. November 28th I got my fourth call and I was a backup again. At this point I seriously thought the system was rigged or something, But all I could do is just wait and pray that my time is coming. I didn’t get the organs.

December I didn’t get any calls. This whole time I pretty much have needed to be on dialysis. I refused to go on it and tried to live life with out it. I was so swollen that I tried to put my boots on and I tore them haha. December is also my birthday month and I was turning 26 on December 31st. The stressful thing is that I hadn’t been able to work since March. Meaning I have no insurance except my parents. Well as everyone knows when you turn 26 you’re kicked off your parents insurance and that’s exactly what happened. We had been trying to get an extension on the insurance and it didn’t get done by the end of the year.

Now its January 2018. No insurance and if I got a call I would have to pull $400,000 out of somewhere to pay for my transplant. Obviously that wasn’t an option so at this point I’m pretty stressed and scared. By some miracle the insurance company made it happen on January 3rd. I was put back on my parents insurance for a year. Friday January 5th was my Dad’s birthday! He told me all he wanted for his birthday was a phone call for a transplant. I told him yeah right we will see. Well at 6:13pm I got my fifth call. I waited for my parents to come upstairs and told my dad I had another birthday present for him, I got the call. He couldn’t believe it haha. This time I was sort of a backup. The donor and the family wanted to direct the organs to certain people. So basically if it didn’t match up with someone it would most likely go to me. The next day I was called off alert and that the others had accepted the organs. I was so bummed. I just felt like this was going to go on for forever and that it would never happen to me.

The next day January 7th that was all about to change. I was laying in bed not wanting to get up when my phone rang at 9am. It was ANOTHER CALL. This time I was number one spot! They said that it was still pretty early to say if I would get the organs or not but they did the matching and it was a perfect match for me. I hung up and went and told my mom what happened. My dad had already left for church but I decided to call him anyway. He didn’t answer but texted me. I told him what happened and he told me he would be home after his last meeting which would be around noon. That morning I did not feel good at all. So I didn’t eat until 12:30 or so. My mom decided to go to church anyway because we had been down this road so many times that she just figured it was another false alarm. I decided to eat some chow mein for lunch. I sat on the stairs in the sun waiting for another update. My dad got home and we were just hanging out and talking when my phone rang at 1:25pm. She told me to not eat or drink anything and that it was time to come into the hospital to start the testing to make sure I was healthy and had no problems just in case I got the transplant. My dad and I broke into tears. I couldn’t  believe this was happening. I needed to go pack my bags and get ready to go. We tried calling my mom and of course she didn’t answer so my dad went to go get her. They got back and decided to start doing the dishes. I was like uhh what are you guys doing! We need to go!

We arrived at the hospital probably around 3ish, I changed into my gown and started getting blood work done and my vitals. They had the hardest time trying to get an IV in my arm so they finally brought in a professional from the ER and he got it in like 2 seconds. I was so thirsty and hungry while waiting and pretty anxious the whole time. My brother and sister showed up. The nurses came in and told me that the donor was going into surgery about 8pm to retrieve the organs and that if everything went well I would be going into the OR around 11pm. They came in a little later and said everything looks perfect and that they will come back and get me ready to go around 10:30pm. I still felt like this wasn’t really happening and I started to get even more anxious. We headed to the OR floor at 11:47pm, when we got there that’s where I was able to say my see ya laters and I am going to take the best 6 hour nap of my life haha. It was pretty emotional but I was ready to do this. This was also the moment that I took my insulin pump off. They rolled me back to the OR room and all I remember is I switched to  a table from the bed and then they put a mask over my face. I started to feel really light-headed and dizzy and I remember telling them that and then I was out.20180107_1446538D8A2119Waiting to head down to the OR. This picture is embarrassing but I looked like this for about a year with all the swelling. I weighed 150 lbs.IMG_20180107_151547They took 12 vials of blood to make sure I was healthy enough for surgery.Photo Jan 17, 10 04 31 AM8D8A21298D8A21368D8A21396am, January 8th, 2018 I was done with surgery. My parents stayed the night in the waiting room. The nurse gave them updates every so often through the night. The surgeon came in around 6:30am and told my parents that everything went really well and I couldn’t have received any better organs than I did. He also said that they found a hernia and took care of that. The gallbladder was really diseased and he said that it took him longer to get that taken care of then the transplant. I was put in ICU and really don’t remember a whole lot while I was in there. I guess some stuff that I did and said while I was there was pretty funny. I told my mom that I was dying and going to where my grandpa was, she was like no you’re not haha you are fine. Also I guess I kept saying I felt like sh*t to the nurse while my mom was in there, she wasn’t very happy about that. Oh and apparently I was hitting on the nurse that was in there and he told me he was married and had kids and my response was that “well my ass isn’t ever getting married.” Again my mom was in there haha. They actually had me walking the first day which is crazy after having a surgery like that.  I was then transferred up to my own room the next day.8D8A21468D8A2155Walking in the ICU the day I got my surgery.8D8A2161I was pretty nauseous that first day and a half.

I had a really good view of the front of the hospital and we could watch the helicopters take off and land. I pretty much did the same thing everyday from there on out. One of my parents would sleep on the pull out couch and my sister stayed one of those nights too! I didn’t get really any sleep. Between the beeps from my IV’s, the nurses coming in and pain I was in there wasn’t sleep. In fact my favorite thing to do at 3am is go for a walk around the floor. Mornings they would do my vitals and then have the nurses switch shifts. My favorite HCA was a girl named Leslie. She was so fun and loved to have her there to help me and hang out. Through out the day a lot of different doctors stopped in. I didn’t like to do much the first few days because it was hard to focus and I would sleep a lot (or try to).  Thursday I had a few visitors which was nice and one of them was my best friend Ali! She was so sweet and brought me some beautiful flowers.8D8A217120180108_0938178D8A2176Seriously one of my favorite things to do was to go for walks around the floor.

8D8A2186 copySaturday was a big day, I was able to get my nose tube/drain out and also my catheter. That meant I could finally eat and drink! Getting it pulled out of my nose was uncomfortable but it didn’t last very long. They let me start drinking which was the best feeling. Jeff came and visited which was really nice to see him and he even brought me some flowers. My sister stayed the night that night which was really fun. We played Disney Scene It and cards. Sunday I could finally eat a full liquid diet. I got three different jellos! You have no idea how good it was to have flavor. Later that night I was surprised by my brother and his wife and kids with my dog Copper! I was so excited to see them all.8D8A2188They came in asking what Jello I wanted and I picked all three!8D8A2195A surprise visit from my dog Copper! 20180114_193603Photo Jan 14, 7 11 30 PMPhoto Jan 17, 10 03 41 AMPhoto Jan 17, 10 03 46 AMMonday, officially one week with my new perfect organs. It was a pretty mellow day, my diet changed to whatever I would like to eat which was nice but I had a hard time eating because the tube that was down my throat made it raw. They actually were ready to discharge me because of how well I was doing and they didn’t want me to get any sickness from being at the hospital. So about 8pm we left the hospital and headed home.8D8A2214Heading home, I honestly loved staying at the hospital but ready to get home.8D8A2218Arriving at home was a little weird it felt good to be home but I also missed being at the hospital and the comfort it brought. I was now in charge of myself, I have to do my own vitals and take my meds. I take my pills twice a day and there are about 18 different pills plus the pain meds that I have. I won’t take all of these medications for forever they will slowly get less and less. I came home with a drain for my stomach still in too. I guess I didn’t really talk about the incision that I have. It’s about 12 inches long and it’s pretty sore. They put the new pancreas down in my front right side and the new kidney in the front left side.8D8A2223feetcomparisonBefore and afterPhoto Jan 19, 2 42 41 PMI have now been home for a week and it has been 2 weeks since I had my transplant. Things are up and down. My weight before surgery was 150 and now I’m at 105. I feel pretty good but sometimes still in pain. But I am so blessed and grateful for what I have, a second chance at life. The social worker gave me a box with some stuff to write to my donor’s family. I have started writing my letter and It’s so hard to put into words how much it means to me that they decided to donate. They literally saved my life and gave me the ultimate gift for a new chance at life. I don’t know a whole lot about my donor other than that he was a male in his 20’s and that he is my angel. I hope and pray that I will be able to get in contact with his family so I can express in person my love and gratefulness to them. I am so grateful for my family and especially my parents who have been there through it all. Thank you to the people who reached out and for all of the prayers. Most of all thank you to my donor who decided to donate his organs.8D8A2392Holding my Kidney and Pancreas pillows (:8D8A23362 weeks after transplant and NO LONGER A DIABETIC. I haven’t had insulin for 2 weeks now!

 

 

Jordyn&Angie|Utah

K so can we talk about how perfect this mom and daughter photoshoot was? Not only were they just gorgeous they were so fun to shoot and hang out with! This was my first time doing a shoot for a mom and her daughter. I LOVED doing it and want to do more! We shot on a day when it was snowing and I am so happy with the way the images turned out! Make sure to follow my Instagram to keep updated on what I am up to and traveling to!

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Holman Wedding|Snowbasin Resort Utah

Alex and Kait were so much fun to work with! They were so natural together and made my job 20x easier to shoot these two who were in love with each other! Their wedding day was spent up at Snowbasin Resort. I had never been there besides the winter time to ski. I was so stoked to shoot here in the Fall time! Here are some photos from their perfect day.

Dress: Alta Moda Bridal

Venue: Snowbasin Resort, Utah

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Liberty|Utah

A few weeks ago I shot with Liberty! She was visiting from LA during the holidays. We decided to drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon and shoot with the snow! It was probably around 20 degrees while we were shooting. I’m stoked about the images we got! Check them out below and I’ll add her IG account so you can check out her amazing photos.

Liberty’s Instagram

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