The First Time I Laughed After My Kidney Transplant

It was February 13, 2016 — a Saturday. I know this date because it was the first time since the kidney transplant that I laughed.

Now, of course, I had snickered or perhaps even slightly guffawed previous to this date. But not much. The months following the transplant and then the lymphocele surgery were a special kind of difficult.

And with many things in just trying to live, I soon forgot to notice I was no longer laughing at both the boisterous level or the frequency I had prior to the latest transplant. Its absence became normal. This necessary piece of me had vanished. And I hadn’t even noticed.

That is, until February 13, 2016, while seated at the Forks Market in Winnipeg. Ironically, my then visiting niece and I had spent that morning at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. My husband, Sean, and the kiddo had spent the morning at the Children’s Museum. Shortly after noon, we agreed to meet at the Forks food court for lunch. During that lunch, Sean and I began discussing which one of us would go home to put the kiddo down for his afternoon nap, and which one of us would accompany my niece back to the Human Rights museum for the remainder of the afternoon.

And like any “in a long-term relationship” couple, we did the logical thing: We made our decision by playing rock-paper-scissors. Whoever won would get to stay.

I’m not quite sure what happened next, but for some reason, once Sean said the expected “one-two-three” count prior to us each showing our hand, I hesitated. Without even thinking, I waited a split second after he had put his hand into the shape of a rock before I showed mine. I don’t know why I even did this — it was not a conscious choice. But everyone at the table erupted in laughter, myself included. Sean being Sean, began waving his arms in the air, and a hilariously indignant speech ensued. He couldn’t believe I had broken the rock-paper-scissors rule.

This was the first time since the transplant eight months prior that I belly-laughed. There I was seated at the Forks — nephrostomy tube and bag still hidden under my well-used leggings — laughing. I fully guffawed. I bent over onto the table, head in hands, salty tears escaping down my cheeks, snorts and snot erupting from my nose, laughed. And it felt so very good.

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