by Anne-Maria Yritys, Featured Contributor
Editor’s Note: See Part I HERE.
DUE TO RENAL FAILURE, my mother went to dialysis thrice a week starting in April 2011. The year before, one of my aunts had gone through lung transplantation due to a very rare lung disease, which today is still being researched by doctors around the world. She had never been a smoker, but a few years earlier her lungs slowly started failing. Her condition was actually much worse than my mother´s, since she was literally attached to a mechanical ventilation machine providing her lungs with air. Her own lungs were no longer functioning. In fact, she was very close to death as the organ transplantation law in Finland was changed on August 1st, 2011.
Through some miracle, the transplantation unit managed to find her new lungs in the very last moment – probably thanks to the law change which made the process of organ donation easier in Finland. Thus, on August 1st 2011, my aunt received new lungs at Meilahti Hospital in Helsinki, Finland. We later found out that the lungs she received had belonged to a male person (larger than her) so the doctors had to cut them into a suitable size before the transplantation was possible.
It was a coincidence having two organ failure cases in our family. However, knowing that my aunt´s lung transfer went well, our family had high hopes that my mother´s future kidney transplantation would be successful as well. We just had no idea for how long she would have to undergo dialysis thrice a week, which of course, was exhausting for us all.
We all made an effort to continue living our lives as normal as usual, but I never really realized the mental pressure my mother´s medical condition caused me. I felt I had no one really to discuss it with, outside my family of course. I was working full time in retail banking and as I was finalizing my MBA studies, I started working on my thesis project – a market analysis for a large global brand in the food services industry. During that time, I also translated a business book from English into Finnish, Swedish, and German. Work and studies was about everything I had on my mind beside my mother. I buried my worries into as many work and study-related activities as possible.
I had also been quite frustrated with my work, not offering me much of a challenge, so I took a risk by deciding to jump out of the rat race, and simply quit after a longer period of consideration. So, there I was, without a job, finalizing my thesis project, looking for work, while my mother went to dialysis regularly. That was in November 2011. I had to earn a living somehow so I started by selling my apartment, moved, and found work as a part-time teacher to begin with. I taught Swedish to adult students from various industries, and had a group at the same hospital where all organ transplantations take place in Finland. I finished and submitted my MBA thesis, taught part-time while looking for full-time work. Deep in me I knew I really would have wanted to move abroad, but because of my mother I decided to stay in Finland, and so I soon found work in a boutique investment firm as an investment adviser/investment sales person.
Soon I realized that the work, for many reasons, and to some extent, collided with my personal values, and private life. While my mother was sick and suffering, I had to show a happy face and act as a greedy sales person, competing with my colleagues and trying to achieve as much sales as possible. I no longer thought about anything else but work, and how much sales I would achieve this or next month. At night, I felt empty and had nothing else but work and my mother on my mind.
Perhaps I was just extremely stressed since I had consumed my energies in so many different directions – in everything else but my personal well-being. Too many changes and too many directions: banking, translations, teaching, MBA studies, courses in humanitarian affairs and psychological support and the list continues. In summer 2012, I took a month´s unpaid vacation from work and booked a last minute flight ticket to Phnom Penh, the capital of The Kingdom of Cambodia. My trip to the Pearl of Asia was a trip that only strengthened my personal journey of transformation.
I will continue the story in my next post. In the meanwhile, feel free to download and read Leadership Lessons Learned, a product I created together with other MBA´s while processing my experiences, thoughts and feelings during the transformation period that affected, and still continues to affects my life and my core values.
– A patient healthy enough to undergo a kidney transplant might someday no longer need dialysis. That would free up a slot for a new patient. (Sheri Fink).
– I was on dialysis for 18 months before the transplant, so it was important I tried to look ahead to days like my comeback this Saturday. You need those big goals to drive you on. (Jonah Lomu)
– More than 100 people are involved in a transplant operation, and we cannot waste time or resources if there is a chance that the caretakers are not up for an awesome responsibility. (Leonard Bailey)
– The brain is not like the heart. They learned how to transplant a heart. The brain is more complex. (Adam Ant)
– There is nobody else on the face of this Earth that is playing a sport at a highest level, with a transplant. That alone continues to inspire me, because I realize throughout the whole world the struggles that people are going through. I need to inspire them the best way I can. (Alonzo Mourning)
– It was in 2003 that I realized there was no choice but to have dialysis treatment – by the time of the World Cup that year, I could barely walk. A year later, I finally had a kidney transplant. (Jonah Lomu)
- All the above quotes are borrowed from Brainquotes.com.
- To learn more about organ transplantations in the Nordic countries, please visit Scandia Transplant.