Art Teacher Michelle Green Loves Life—and Glitter!
Seven is a lucky number for the Green Family, but 18 is the number that Michelle Green says saved her life.
Born and raised in Grand Prairie, Michelle went to live with her mother in Lancaster during high school. She originally wanted to become a doctor, “But when I was introduced to Art, I wanted to become an artist,” she says.
Michelle received a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from Texas A&M in Commerce, and plans to add a Masters to her resume. She’s applying to Texas Tech for the fall.
She met her husband, Michael Green, in high school. “We married in 1999 at 19 and everyone thought we were out of our minds!” Michelle says with a laugh. The two just celebrated their 18th anniversary. That’s half of the reason the number is special to Michelle.
The other half is due to an anonymous 18-year-old who saved her life through a Kidney transplant. Her donor, in her untimely death, saved many lives that day.
“They don't tell the recipients of organs much of anything about the donor. All I could manage to get out of anyone was her sex and age.” Michelle is hoping that after she writes a letter of gratitude to the donor’s family, they will reach out to her. She admits she I hasn't been able yet to find the words to express her gratitude and sympathy for their loss.
Michelle was 28 when she went to the doctor for her yearly exam. Michelle’s sister-in -law was younger than Michelle and had just recently been informed her that she had high cholesterol, “so I was worried about me, since I was older. I requested additional lab tests.” Her worries turned out to be valid.
“A day later I got a call from my doctor explaining to me that I needed to see a nephrologist immediately.” At that point Michelle still didn’t realize the severity of her condition. “I figured I would see the nephrologist, he would give me some medicine and I would be fine. However, that was not the case.”
Michelle was in kidney failure—her kidney was function was at 6%. She needed to be admitted to the hospital immediately. A kidney biopsy determined her kidney failure was due to a very rare auto immune disorder called Wegener's Granulomatosis. They gave her six months until she would need a transplant.
But her kidneys lasted about seven years. Michelle says, “Prayers, diet and positive thinking gave me those extra years.”
Last November her kidneys couldn't fight any longer and she was put on dialysis. Michelle opted for peritoneal dialysis so she could be home with her family: children Michael, 16, and daughters Isabelle, 12, and Gabrielle 10, and her husband. Michelle was determined to “try to live the most normal life that I could.”
Peritoneal dialysis is a type of dialysis that uses the peritoneum in a person's abdomen as the membrane through which fluid and dissolved substances are exchanged with the blood. It is used to remove excess fluid, correct electrolyte problems, and removed toxins in those with kidney failure. Peritoneal dialysis has better outcomes than hemodialysis during the first couple of years.
She was on the wait list for two years.
Then a call came at 5 a.m. on Dec. 7, 2016. “Our family’s lucky number,” Michelle ex plains, “all of our children were born on a day with a seven.”
Still half asleep, Michelle didn’t answer at first.
But when her phone buzzed for the second time she realized it was really ringing and answered the call.
“The nurse told me they had a kidney for me. She asked me a ton of questions. One was if I had been sick within the past 30 days and I had, so she wasn’t sure if they would be able to do the transplant but told me to come to the hospital immediately so they could run tests to see if they could. I didn't find out that it was a go until that afternoon. They transplanted me at 5 p.m. that night.”
Principal Rachel Dzurrilla at St. Elizabeth of Hungary also remembers getting an early morning call—from Michelle. “She wanted me to know immediately that she would be needing a substitute teacher that day,” Ms. Dzurilla said. “And we all began praying for here her at the school.”
The transplant surgery took about three hours and Michelle was sent to ICU for a night for observation, then she was transferred to the kidney floor for the rest of her week-long stay. After being released from the hospital she still had to go to the doctor three times a week for lab tests. She explains, “They monitor you very closely right after the transplant. And recovery was much harder than I anticipated.”
But soon she’ll be back in her Art room, ready to dazzle her students with glitter and great projects. “All Art teachers secretly love glitter!” she divulges with a laugh.
Michelle elaborates, “I LOVE art! And I love that I get to share what I love with so many students. I hope I'm making at least a small impact on their lives.” She explains, “Every day is interesting in the Art room. Each grade level does totally different projects, so every 45 minutes I'm doing something new. I've had students paint themselves, (one boy painted his hand blue, then tried to hide it) give themselves haircuts (one girl refused to admit she had cut her hair even though her hair was all over the table) cut their clothes (I had one boy cut his shirt twice) and the list goes on and on."
She says, “They are so quick, you literally have to have eyes everywhere! Last year we did a project with paint filled water balloons. The students got to thrown the balloons at a needle-ridden canvas. They thought it was awesome, and it really was.” The painting they created was sold at the school’s annual silent auction.
As her health improves there is only one thing she says she struggles with now: “Knowing my donor was an 18-year-old girl. I struggle daily with that knowledge, and pray that her family finds comfort in knowing that she saved a life.”
You can contact Michelle at: firstname.lastname@example.org or meet her at the Open House on February 8, 2017. St. Elizabeth Of Hungary Catholic School is having an Open House from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 8, 2017. The school has classes from pre-k3 to 8th grade. The public is invited to come tour the school and meet the exceptional faculty and staff. For more information, see the school’s website www.saintspride.com
Sandy Walkley, Administrative Assistant:
(214) 331-5139 x21
Judy Porter write stories about local heroes, small businesses and non-profits. Contact her at email@example.com.