Day 1: Post Surgery

Tristan and Liina are doing GREAT! Of course, they both have some pain and feel a little groggy and sleepy, but for the most part they are doing really well.

Liina walked around today and Tristan was able to stand up and sit up in a chair for awhile, maybe walking tomorrow. The kidney is doing amazing – pumping liquids out of his body at a rapid rate, controlling his once crazy high blood pressure, and decreasing the toxins in his body at a steady rate.

The care here at Stanford is truly excellent. Everyone is extremely communicative and on the same page. They are consistent in their approach and we aren’t hearing any mixed messages. The specialized nursing team in Tristan’s unit are on top of everything, and they are so great at communicating with us all about what is going on, and they ask for Tristan’s opinion about what he wants to do in various situations. It’s really ideal for us right now.

T & L’s surgeon is a total rock star. She is like an olympic athlete when it comes to surgery, and in this particular metaphor, I would guess that she has multiple gold medals. She is really really good at what she does. She has stopped by to see both of them numerous times. She said that one of the first things Tristan said when he came off anesthesia was to question when he needed to start dialysis next, which has been a continuous and common question he has to ask each day for the last nearly 2 years of dialysis. The answer… NO DIALYSIS!Mahatma Gandhi

Yesterday I was more worried and anxious and upset and feeling out of control than I have ever felt. Liina and Tristan’s lives were in the hands of someone else, and it was excruciating to get through. But we all made it. Wow.

Liina saved her brother’s life, and therefore all of our lives, too. At some point I will be able to process and put into words what this means to me (and us), but it’s really difficult to describe. Tristan and Liina have always been so close and connected, and now they share an organ. It’s incredibly special and profound.

It’s been euphoric and energizing to watch Tristan and Liina heal, knowing that none of our lives are going to be on hold anymore. I feel peace for the first time in a long time. We are not totally out of the woods yet and there are days and weeks and months of recovery ahead, but this has been the launch, the propulsion, and the beginning of moving forward in a real way.


With happiness and joy in our hearts this evening, coming to you live from the hospital (:-)

~The Gruener familyStairs

2015: Goodbye and GOOD RIDDANCE!

Tristan and I were planning to make our “year in review” blog post a second annual tradition today by going through the highlights of 2015. However, when we sat down to start plotting out the post and reflecting on the year, we (somewhat frustratingly) realized we don’t have that many highlights from the year. There are plenty of extreme lowlights, but those are reserved for a salon service, so we might as well leave them out.

Here’s the BIG positive take away from 2015: we are nothing without you all, our friends and family.

The love, generosity, and kindness bestowed upon us this year was profound. For each negative instance we can remember (and there are a LOT of them, trust us), there was some small or large act of kindness by someone we know or by some stranger to bring us back around to the light when the dark felt so seductively alluring.

To go to the dark side for a moment (yes, we saw Star Wars twice already), I want to talk about the surgery getting cancelled. At the time, it felt like the most unbelievable crushing blow that could have happened. After all of the time, work, planning, ups and downs of the medical system, logistical nightmares, etc. etc. etc. etc. … we returned to Monterey without the new kidney and tried to get back to life, living with a continuous feeling of disappointment. I always like to point out that Tristan and I have learned enough lessons along this whole kidney failure journey and we don’t need ANY additional lessons to build our stamina or character. SHIT! This has been hard and we already have ENOUGH character. But, I have to begrudgingly admit that something about the transplant being postponed changed our outlook on this process, which I didn’t think was possible. I think the level of build up and subsequent letdown built a level of respect – dare I say reverence – for the fragility and uncertainty of this process.

The surgery, and any surgery actually, can be canceled at any point. The surgeon could be standing over you with the scalpel in hand, and something could happen that could throw it off. Of course, most surgeries don’t happen this way, but this one did. And why? Because Tristan and Liina’s badass surgeon made a call: Tristan was not healthy or strong enough to be operated on. If I could figure out what makes Dr. Amy Gallo immensely happy, I would do a billion times of whatever that is, because I am pretty sure she saved Tristan’s life right then on November 17 before any cutting could even start, thereby saving the rest of us too. Don’t get me wrong, I am not glad that it happened. I don’t think it was “meant to be”. But it happened… or didn’t. Anyway, the call was made and thank GOD because it wouldn’t have gone well.

Fast forward one month to December 16: Tristan got his lab work back and finds that his blood count had increased above where it had been lingering over the last year. As of last week, Tristan’s blood count level was above where the Doctors were hoping it would simply stay for 2-3 weeks, and it just keeps going up. This means that Tristan will be much stronger and physically ready for this surgery, and the outcome is predicted to be better, too.

The new transplant is scheduled for January 13, 2016, in just two short weeks.

So on the precipice of this new year, we are extremely happy to report and confidently proclaim that 2016 WILL be the year of a new kidney for Tristan. Will it happen on January 13? Maybe. Probably. Who can really say? Not us, that’s for certain.

2016 is also the year we will enter into our 30s and happily leave the tumultuous 20s behind. (And may I just say that the joint 3oth birthday party we are planning to have in Hawaii – open invite! – will be the MOST joyous occasion we’ve ever experienced?!)

What else will come in 2016? We don’t know, but we are SO excited to leave 2015 in the dust. Kick it to the curb, let it live in misery where it belongs, and remain as the hardest year of my life. Please stay the hardest year of my life? Yeah, maybe, but probably not. That’s how it goes… we are young, and there’s a lot more amazing and a lot more bad to grace us in this life. The beauty of it all is that we have no idea.

Onward we go into a new year, taking along the immense gratitude we’ve felt for all of you through this process. Carrying thankfulness for my job that brings me fulfillment and comes with great benefits and some of the most supportive colleagues. Relief because thanks to your generosity, we haven’t struggled financially and can still make a Bay Area relocation round 2 a reality. Pain because the last year hurt and there aren’t bandaids big enough to take away these scars. Excitement because life is short and we’ve spent way too long wrapped up in all of this to really live, and we are SO close to taking our lives back. And maybe most importantly: love. Love for our amazing families, love for our friends – near and far, love for all of the little things that bring us joy each day, love for health and energy, love for the future, and love for each other, which is stronger than we ever thought possible. This is so hard, but we are some of the luckiest people alive to have each other.

And with that, we bid a heartfelt ADIOU, AU REVOIR and ADIOS to 2015. GOODBYE! So long and see ya around 2015.


With anticipation, excitement, gratitude, and contentedness,

Alisyn & Tristan

Exhaling Through the Ordinary

I need to take a moment to say a deep and heartfelt thank you for sticking by us during this time. After I posted that blog post last week, the outpouring of emails, calls, texts, in-person hugs, facebook posts, etc. etc., really deeply touched me. [And sorry for crying in front of a bunch of you on Friday…. real life, people.] Sorry if I didn’t get back to everyone yet, it’s actually kind of hard to keep up, but talk about cathartic. I really think that this blog and all of you following it are really keeping me sane during this time. We are nothing without our people, and Tristan and I sure are lucky to have you all. Tristan thinks we should probably move to the middle of nowhere and write a book about this journey when it’s all over and done. It’s kind of a fun idea, but then again anything on the other side of this surgery seems like a fun idea. 🙂The ordinary

Today feels like a good day – and not because anything amazing or miraculous happened – but simply because nothing remarkable at all happened. These are the days that I once took so for granted, and now I look for the ordinary and unremarkable to give us a break.

Nothing speaks to me more right now than these two quotes from LR Knost, who is an international writer who focuses on parenting. She also happens to be battling a very rare form of cancer right now. While I am nearly certain that we will reflect on this entire time (one day….) as some of the “awful” for us, I also know that finding some semblance of peace and tiny moments of joy through all of this has kept us going. And it’s built our perseverance – as Tristan says, “after going through this, I think we can get through anything together”. Did we need to have more perseverance? Did we deserve all of this? No. No, I really don’t think so, but there it is, and what else to do but accept and move forward?Peace in struggle

A few pieces of good news since I last wrote. We went ahead and secured a house in the Palo Alto area to stay in during the surgery + recovery time. We had to book the house for five weeks, which is how long the hospital stay and subsequent recovery time for Tristan is going to be. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Palo Alto is INSANELY expensive. That’s why the fundraiser earlier this year has made, literally, all the difference for us. There is absolutely no way we could have made this work without your support. Have I said THANK YOU yet? Seriously, thank you all so much.

Tristan’s oncology appointment is still set for the end of this month, but we are really moving forward with the Nov. 18 date for surgery. My mom booked her flight for her and my step-dad to stay in our house and watch our kitties for us during the month, Liina and JJ are working out their plans to travel here in November, and their parents Bob and Kasandra are making their arrangements, too. I’m working out work leave details and Tristan is trying to do the same. If this all comes together and we reach the other side it’s going to be one of the most gratitude-filled thanksgivings of our lives, that’s for damn sure.

In the vein of keeping things a little sappy tonight, I’m going to leave you with a few lyrics that are resonating with me right now.

Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, “Live Forever”

Laughter is the only thing that’ll keep you sane // In this world that’s crying more and more everyday // Don’t let evil get you down // In this madness spinning round and round

I want you to live forever // Underneath the sky so blue

Some people say faith is a childish game // Play on, children, like it’s Christmas day // Sing me a song, sing me a melody // Sing out loud, you’re a symphony

I want you to live forever // Underneath the sky so blue

Take courage when the road is long, Don’t ever forget you’re never alone


I have to say, I feel anything but alone these days, and it’s because of you.

Once again fully filled with gratitude,