firsthand account of the early days of 3HO,
the Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization According to Sat Jivan Singh Khalsa
Sat Jivan Singh
A Gift of Love
With deepest gratitude I want to thank you for all your kind prayers
and best wishes during and following the surgeries of my sister Kay,
The outpouring of love and kindness from everyone has been overwhelming.
Your prayers made the transplant successful and are making our recovery
much easier. The surgery was a complete success. Kay's new kidney
began functioning almost immediately and she is feeling better than
she has in many years. I kept telling her that she had been "down"
so long she had forgotten what "up" was like and she now
agrees. It is a blessing beyond words to see her looking healthy,
bright and shiny with so much energy and a good appetite. Her color
went from gray to pink and she says she wakes up early every day full
of energy and ready to meditate! Her doctor said her kidney tests
showed that it was functioning as well as his.
I am still a bit sore and my midsection is still slightly swollen
and looks like a bicycle ran over it, but I feel pretty good considering
what I've been through. I have begun returning to work on a limited
basis - I can make it through about 2/3s of a normal workday. However,
when I get tired, I can't do my usual "Keep Up" kind of
thing. I have to stop and rest. Naps, which I have never taken, have
become more the norm as my single kidney learns to take over the whole
process. I walk as much as I can during the day, usually about a mile
or so. It gets the lymphatic system moving and helps work out the
soreness. My energy level overall has been getting better, too.
The surgery was a marvel of modern medical technique. The care we
received at the University of Alabama Birmingham Medical Center was
terrific. They took my kidney out just above my navel. I had no idea
that it would come out the front. I was expecting the flank but the
doctor used a technique through the navel. I should have expected
the unexpected, but it was a marvel of medial science that it was
so minimally invasive. What's amazing is that the primary incision
was made vertically above and around my navel and is only about 4
inches long. There are four other 1⁄2 inch incisions at intervals
around my torso where the camera and other tools were inserted and
My Doctor, Dr. Rizk El Galley, developed a surgical device and technique
that allowed him to take out my right kidney laparoscopically. My
operation was the 35th time the operation had been performed removing
the right kidney laparoscopically. He was able to remove the kidney
without cutting any muscles, which means my recovery-time should be
shorter than if he had to take it out the old-fashioned way with a
cut from front to back through muscle. However, because he had to
separate the muscles above and below my navel point in order to remove
the kidney he has restricted my physical activities for the next three
months. I am told that for the next 3 months while the muscles knit
back together I will have to refrain from lifting anything heavier
than 10 pounds, doing any strenuous yoga and playing golf. But this
is a very small price to pay for the blessing of giving my little
sister a new kidney and a new lease on life.
My surgery began on Tuesday March 8th at 7:30 a.m. and took between
3 and 4 hours. I was completely out of it that whole day. Sat Jivan
Kaur said I looked pretty beat up when she saw me - I don't really
remember. I recovered in the hospital the next 2 days and was released
on Friday afternoon to the University Townhouses across the street
from the hospital. I was there for about a week. I have been getting
better each day since. While recovery has not been without a hitch,
it has been steady. We stayed in Alabama long enough to see my sister
begin to get up and around and feel the surge of energy from her new
kidney. Seeing Kay do so well is all that's necessary to know that
a miracle has taken place in our lives. I am so grateful that I could
do this for her. I spent the early part of my life as a taker. Kay
was always a giver. It was only right that I be able to give to her
this time. I have had to work very hard to become a giver in life.
It didn't come naturally to me. I have tried to use both my legal
training and my teaching yoga to give to people. And this has always
been rewarding and satisfying. But nothing I have ever done has been
as satisfying or moving as giving a kidney to my sister. This is one
of the most transcendent things I have thus far done in my life. Giving
her the gift of life was truly sublime.
Before I left Birmingham my sister and I were photographed in our
UAB Kidney Donor and Kidney Recipient tee shirts and I admit to a
large wave of emotion when I read the bottom line "Gift of Life."
It hit me that I really had given my sister the gift of life and I
got pretty choked up, crying my way through lunch. But I was able
to lighten things up when my sister said that she couldn't begin to
thank me enough and I jokingly said, "Oh, go ahead and give it
a try!" We laughed through our tears.
I really hated leaving her in Birmingham, but we left Thursday evening
the 17th to return to New York City where I continue my recuperation.
It is wonderful to be back home. New York looked so magical as we
flew over it on our way into La Guardia. It was crystal clear as we
flew in the night of St. Patrick's Day and the Empire State Building
and several other buildings were lit up green making NYC seem like
the Emerald City. I thought I would recover a little more quickly
than I have but it will just take a little more time for my body to
adjust to having one kidney and to heal. My energy goes up and down.
I made a promise to Sat Jivan Kaur that it would be her, not me that
determines when I was ready to go back to work and teaching. I taught
my first yoga class on Monday night without problem. My habit has
been to just push through anytime I feel tired. I can't do this any
more, at least not for a long time. My body needs time to adjust to
one kidney. If I do too much one day I feel it the next. So, when
Sat Jivan Kaur says take a break I have to stop.
I can't express the amount of gratitude and love I feel for my sweet
wife Sat Jivan Kaur. She was by my side during the whole process and
I know it was actually harder on her than on me in many ways. I at
least got morphine for my pain! She stood tall through it all, and
I couldn't have made it without her. All she went through: waiting
during the long surgery; seeing me so beat-up afterward; caring for
me through my pain; being there while I moaned and groaned and griped.
She is the Rock of Gibraltar and I love her deeply. And I am very
grateful to her.
And I love you all deeply, too. I am just so grateful to you for your
outpouring of love and kindness. Thank you so much for everything,
especially for all your sweet thoughts and prayers. They have meant
so much. Believe me, my whole family has felt them. I hope you will
keep them up for just a bit longer through the remainder of our recuperation
and healing and Kay's adjustment to all the medication she is on.
Her swift recovery allowed her to leave Birmingham for her home on
Wednesday the 30th. She will return to Birmingham once a week for
a month and then every other week thereafter for a while as her medication
and progress are monitored.