ALOHA "TEAM AWWWRITE!!!"
I APOLOGIZE FOR NOT KEEPING ALL OF YOU FOLKS UP TO DATE AS I NORMALLY DO. MY WORK SCHEDULE CHANGED UP A LITTLE BIT AND I ALSO SPENT THAT NIGHT AT THE FIRE STATION AS VOLUNTEER EMT-1 STAND BY.
BUT THE GOOD NEWS IS I'M STILL WORKING OUT AND RUNNING AS SCHEDULED TO!!! SO MY LIFE IS STILL "AWWWESOME!!!"
THE WEATHER IS FINALLY WARMING UP FOR THE BETTER AND THE KUSKOKWIM RIVER IS SOON TO BREAK UP SOON AND I'LL DEFINITELY WILL POSTING PICS AND VIDEOS WHEN IT DOES HAPPENS!!!
AS FOR MY WIN THIS WEEK... I LIKE TO SHARE THIS STORY.
MY GOOD FRIEND GIFF ALEXIE.
GIFF & I HAVE BEEN FRIENDS SINCE 2005 WHEN HE GOT HIRED AT THE BETHEL YOUTH FACILITY. AND YES WE DID HAVE OUR MOMENTS OF DISAGREEMENTS AND THERE WERE TIMES WHERE I WOULD GET SO FRUSTRATED WITH HIM FOR THE STUPID THINGS HE'D DO WHERE IT EITHER BE WORK RELATED OR NOT. BUT OVERALL HE'S JUST A BIG GOOF OFF AND IT'S IN HIS NATURE TO BE THIS WAY BECAUSE HE IS A VERY LOVABLE GUY. AND I'VE SEEN THIS GUY GO THROUGH SOME MAJOR UPS & DOWNS IN HIS PERSONAL LIFE LIKE ALL OF US GO THROUGH TOO.
BUT WHEN IT CAME DOWN TO BEING SERIOUS AND WHEN THE "S.O.S." SIGNALS WERE SENT... HE WAS FIRST TO BE IN LINE TO BE THERE FOR YOU.
THEN THIS CAME UP...
Giffa Alexie found out that he had kidney failure, his whole family stepped up to give him a kidney. It was a very difficult and emotional time for the Alexie Family. In the end, Giffa’s sister Carvalena was the one to donate one of her kidneys to her brother. She was a perfect match, and was strong, healthy, and brave.
“When we first found out that his kidneys were failing, it was just really shocking,” she said. “When they told us that he needed a kidney transplant we didn’t know anything about any of this so we kind of all thought it could be done right away. We could take anyone’s kidney and put it into him. But it was a lot more serious that that. All of us were willing to give their kidney to him.”
The choice was narrowed down to two of Giffa’s sisters.
“Me and my other sister Helen we were getting all of the tests and doing everything that we could whatever we had to do to be able to do the transplant and we had some setbacks. It was a long process but eventually we were finally able to get it done. I was very grateful that I was a perfect 6 out of 6 match for him and they said I was healthy enough and my lifestyle was good for what needed to be done.”
How does it feel after donating a kidney?
“I feel normal. Like sometimes I don’t even realize that I have just one kidney,” said Carvalena. “I feel just the same as I did before. It was hard because afterwards there was 6 weeks of healing and after being able to run 5 miles straight and then just having to sit around and stuff was really hard. But you have to heal.”
Giffa, who’s real name is Richard Paul William Alexie was 39 when he got the kidney transplant from his sister. The surgery took place on September 14th, 2012 at the Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle. He shared his amazing story with us.
Can you start to tell us about the symptoms and when you found out? And please describe how it was like.
Well, when I first found out it was the 23rd of November 2010. I actually didn’t feel any symptoms. What I had was a real bad cold and I couldn’t get rid of it so I went to the hospital to get checked. While I was there they needed to update my bloodwork for my blood pressure pills so they went and did that. And then, of course I was prescribed medication and they called me back at home with the results and they said they needed to do another check.
So I went back in and they told me this time to stay behind at the hospital. So I went in, did more bloodwork and everything else that they needed. I waited at the group for the doctor. When he finally came in, this was at about 5 o’clock in the evening, he comes in and asks me if I knew anything about kidney failure. And I said no. HE asked if any family members had it and I said I don’t think so. Finally he said you have a kidney failure going on.
It kind of hit me… I asked him if he could explain this to some of my other family members - to my sister and to my parents. It was just already too much information for me. He said he wanted to finish up so he finished with his explanation for kidney failure.
I called up my parents told them what was going on. I called up my boss at home and he also came to see me along with my parents. When the doctor came in along with my family they all heard the story of what the doctor was saying. And even the second time I couldn’t comprehend what was going on. It was still too much shock for me.
So finally he said I had to be medevaced to Anchorage. So I was asking him, okay when am I leaving and if I was going to catch the last flight of the night out of Anchorage on Alaska Airlines.
And he said no, that I was leaving as soon as the medevac plane gets here. He had to call a medevac plane out of Anchorage to come pick me up.
At that point I wasn’t able to leave the hospital. I had to ask my parents to make a travel bag for me at home. They brought me to ER where the medevac team would meet me at. And so by 7 o’clock the medevac plane finally arrived. My parents were there, my auntie Elsie and uncle Sam came and visited me too. Everybody was saying their prayers and saying everything was going to be all right. And of course I believed them, because that is how we grew up was believing God’s trust.
And so once it was time for me to go my mom was able to travel with me. The medevac team got me on the gurney and finally got me up to the airport with the ambulance and we took the flight to Anchorage.
I got admitted to ER there in Anchorage at the Alaska Native Medical Center. I spent Thanksgiving over there, spent my birthday over there. Probably that Tuesday or Wednesday I was finally able to get released.
But on that Friday they took a sample of my kidneys and sent it to Seattle to get them tested. At that point my kidneys were 40% dead on one side, 60% dead on the other and they were going to have to start me on medications.
I didn’t have to start dialysis right away but they said to go ahead and just watch what I eat. The doctor basically said I shouldn’t have any problems as long as I take my medicine and watch my food and everything as instructed with all my other meds, that I shouldn’t have any problems and that I should be able to not go on dialysis before my kidney transplant.
And they said I was going to need to have kidney transplant. So I was able to go home about 2 weeks later finally and got released to go back to work so I was working and living with the fact that I’m going to need kidney transplant later. So I just took it day by day, one day at a time.
Finally on March 11, I had this weird feeling come over my lungs and chest area. I thought it was just upset stomach or heartburn or something until later that night when I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t lie down. Everything was just uncomfortable to try and sleep. Finally my mom and sister told me I should just go get checked at the hospital. So I went and did that and let them know what was going on. They did checks on me and I had told them already that Anchorage knows about my possible kidney failure going on.
They looked into it and they talked to Anchorage and requested more bloodwork and finally they said that I need to go back to Anchorage.
I was like, okay. At that time I thought they were just going to help me out and change my medicine or something.
When I finally made it to Anchorage I saw my nurse practitioner on that following Monday and when I asked her she told me that my kidneys had failed and I got to start dialysis. So I went about 4 months after finding out my kidneys were going to fail before dialysis.
I spent a year and half in Anchorage doing dialysis treatment and this past May I finally had my job transferred from Bethel to Anchorage. I was still working and dealing with dialysis treatment which took 4 hours a day, three days a week and sometimes 4 days a week to take care of and clean my system of all the toxins that your kidneys normally get rid of.
Because mine didn’t the toxins would build up in my lungs and if I had too much fluid all that fluid would build up in my lungs and make it hard to breathe. So that was pretty much my life for a year and a half.
So finally after all our other tests were done, I went into Seattle for more testing first. I got there and it was more bloodwork and more tests for my sister. She went down to Seattle saw her own nephrology team in Seattle at Virginia Mason.
About 2 months later we finally got the clearance to go ahead and do the surgery and it was set for late July. I think it was July 27th when we had planned on it.
My arm had gotten infected. To do this transplant you have to have no infections within your body and you have to be perfectly healthy so they had to postpone my transplant because my arm got infected where they did the treatment. In order for it to heal they had to put a catheter back inside my chest to be able to continue my treatments without using my arm and let it heal up which took about 2 weeks.
By that time when it finally healed up they redid bloodwork again and sent it to Seattle and it showed there was no infection. The next surgery was set for September 14th. So by that time to get myself healthy I did everything I could. It seemed like the time sometimes went by so slow waiting for that time to come. Some days it went by pretty quick.
When the time finally came for us leave, there was mixed emotions going on. We’re going to go through surgery - we’re going through, you know, how am I going to feel afterwards? Is this going to work?
My family did prepare the night before and then we went forward with the surgery the next morning, which was actually kind of hard because my sister and I were going into surgery and at the same time my daughter was in Oregon going through her own surgery when she fractured her femur - a lot of mixed emotions going on there too. That’s pretty much what led up to the surgery.
Probably about 7ish on September 14th when my sister went into surgery we all said, hey we’ll see you later when we get out of surgery, gave everybody hugs, and about half an hour my team came with me and my mom followed along.
My sister Diane was there with my sister so they went in. Half an hour later me and my mom went in. All my dad could do was wait for us in the waiting room.
Once we went in, I got asked all these other questions making sure I was the right patient. The doctor was making sure to mark which side the kidney was going to go, making sure beforehand so we don’t mess anything up.
From that time I was given one of the drugs to start making me drowsy and it pretty much became a blur after that. When I woke up out of surgery the anesthesia finally wore off. It was about 6 at night when I finally woke up and was more aware of what was going on and you know, I felt like a new man!
I could already feel the difference and the kidney working I already felt like I had more energy. It was just amazing. There’s pretty much no words to describe how exactly I felt, but great, and gracious, and wonderful and very thankful that my sister did what she did for me to give me a second chance in life.
There’s no other closer brother sisterly love than that.
I actually didn’t get to see her for about another day, I believe. They kept me in critical care the first day and the second day they finally got me onto the same floor as she was and we were finally reunited and finally got to see each other. And then again it was another emotional moment for my family and I when we finally got to see each other and we shared some tears, all of us together.
How are you feeling now overall healthwise?
Right now I feel…you know, telling this story is kind of emotional, but overall healthwise, I’ve never felt better in a long time. I feel like I can do just about anything, it is awesome.
L-R: TWITCHMEISTER, TOMMY B., GIFF, GILLETTE, WAIPA.
I AM HONORED TO CALL THIS MAN... "MY FRIEND... MY BROTHER". AND TO CONCLUDE MY STORY WITH THIS MAN... HE DID HIS FIRST 1.75 MILES INTERVAL RUNNING DRILLS THIS PAST THURSDAY!!! HE DID "AWWWESOME!!!" AND I LOOK FORWARD TO KEEPING HIM ON TRACK.
MAHALO BRADDA KA'IWA FOR ALL YOUR HELP AND MOTIVATIONS FOR MAKING THIS DAY A POSSIBILITY.
MAHALO COACH CHRISTI FOR STARTING THE FIRE IN ALL OF US TO CONTINUE LIVE STRONG.
MAHALO TO MY COUSIN TROY FOR OPENING UP MY EYES TO THE BIGGER WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITIES AND POSSIBILITIES... OCEAN LIVING!!!
AND TO EVERYONE IN "TEAM AWWWRITE!!!"... MAHALO NUI LOA FOR INSPIRING ME AND DRIVING ME TO DO BETTER EVERYDAY!!!
I LOVE YOU ALL!!!
WE AS "TEAM AWWWRITE!!!" ARE COMMITTED TO PROMOTING & LIVING A HEALTHY & WELL-BEING LIFESTYLE... STEPPING UP TO EVERY PLATE OF OPPORTUNITY... TAKING AND ACCEPTING FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR OUTCOMES & RESULTS... ENCOURAGING ONE ANOTHER ON A DAILY BASIS... UPLIFTING & PULLING YOUR TEAMMATES UP TO A HIGHER LEVEL... AND THE LIST GOES ON!!!
MY WEEKLY RESULTS:
DAY 19 - "393 CALORIES BURNED!!!"
BOWFLEX CIRCUIT TRAINING
DAY 20 - "314 CALORIES BURNED!!!"
2 MILES INTERVAL RUNS
DAY 21 - "295 CALORIES BURNED!!!"
BOWFLEX CIRCUIT TRAINING
DAY 22 - "388 CALORIES BURNED!!!"
1.75 MILES INTERVAL RUNS WITH GIFF ALEXIE!!!