Work ethic

The prospect of going back to work has been on my mind a lot lately. Probably because it is inevitable that I will be forced to, it is food for thought nonetheless. I have to say that despite never really reaching a level of security and financial well-being I did accomplish a lot in my career and if n0thing else I know that some of the things that I did mattered to someone. I was never a guy that took a day off and noone noticed.

My father was a huge influence on me as a worker. More than one person remarked on my work ethic over the years and I simply explained that it is impossible to not be this way if you knew who raised me. My Dad was always working, either at work or on the house or yard. It came naturally to me to help him without being asked and it was unacceptable to sit inside and watch him work. So from an early age I was cutting grass, splitting wood or pounding nails. I didn’t mind, in fact I liked it.

My Dad was the epitome of old-fashioned. He believed in loyalty to a company. He believed in retirement parties and gold watches after 25 years of faithful service. He believed that the company rewards loyalty and that noone will ever succeed by changing jobs every few years. Most of all, he believed in shutting your mouth and doing your job, if you don’t like what you are doing then quit. Otherwise be quiet about it. This approach worked for him and was permanently etched into my psyche. He was a Union truck driver for a good company that he retired with. My mother wasn’t so fortunate.

My mother was the first in our family to experience the “new” corporate America in the 80’s. She was a manager for a now-defunct publishing company that sold textbooks to schools and colleges. They put her through school and she moved up the ladder steadily. 6 weeks before her 25th anniversary with the company she was laid off. They had already ordered the watch. When she asked what the company planned to do about replacing her she was told that S.O.P. (standard operating procedure) would be to replace her with 2 or 3 young college graduates who wouldn’t make cumulatively in one year what my mother did and farm some work out to a developing country. It didn’t matter that she was experienced and very good at what she did and none of her replacements knew the first thing and that the job was sure to suffer.

My parents had very different work experiences. I wanted to believe in my father’s way but my mother’s experience was not lost on me. I vowed that I would be a loyal employee and work hard but if the company was not loyal to me then I would always be prepared to look for something better. But I always stayed true to the basics my father taught me; your employer and you have a contract that if you provide a service then you get paid. It’s not a complicated relationship so don’t let pride and hubris get in the way.; work harder than everyone else and you will move up; be the guy who offers solution, not one who points out the problems; do good work and the rest will fall in place.

I started out in retail, then food service, then sales and finally management. I always managed to be a guy that my employers relied on to go the extra mile per the lessons of my father. I also learned to recognize a zero-sum game when I see it and if the job was a loser or the employer didn’t value me then I applied the lessons of my mother, move on before you become extinct. I developed my own hybrid work-ethic, work hard for those who value you and suck up what you have to because an an adult with responsibilities I needed the job and there was no room for ego unless somehow ego can pay my bills for me.

So going back to work is an intimidating prospect. On one hand I would like to be needed again, especially now that my kids are older and my parental superpowers are no longer needed. On the other hand I don’t know if I am too old-fashioned and jaded to work in certain industries. The last job I had before I got too sick to work was one that hired me for my experience and then never asked me to apply any of that experience despite having more of it than my manager. It was the final time that an employer failed to deliver to me when I delivered for them. How do I avoid that happening again?

I guess that I will know the right opportunity when it presents itself. I have learned an awful lot about people, in particular employers, in my life and my Bullshit detector is calibrated and fail-proof. I will know right away if I can work for someone or not. I know there is someone out there who appreciates a guy with his father’s work ethic and his mother’s resilience.

There has to be.

Pet peeves

Pet peeves, we all have them. Those things that people do and say that just make our skin crawl. We can’t help those things that go against our grain it’s how we’re wired. I probably have more than most, I’ll admit it. Spelling, grammar and punctuation always get a rise out of me when perusing social media. I hate to make it an indictment of intelligence but some people should really proofread their posts. It is very revealing, even more than the often stupid or controversial political nature of the post itself. I try to keep myself in check and worry about my own presence online. I’m spoiled by WordPress, my fellow bloggers actually know how to spell and structure a sentence.

My biggest pet peeve is one that bothers me more than most. I find myself calling people out when they say it. That saying is “to be honest”. When you answer an inquiry with “to be honest” what you’re really saying is, “I may not always tell the truth but this time I am”. It’s one of the most disingenuous things I’ve ever heard and it is everywhere! I hate it.

The very least that you can do for anyone is to be honest. That’s why they call it a virtue. It might as well be a virgin because nobody uses it anyway. Honesty is synonymous with the truth and we’d all be better if we told the truth. It’s less painful, it doesn’t require a good memory (see compulsive liars), and it takes a lot less time. Have you noticed that in the process of sugarcoating the shit out of something you take a statement that could be short and to the point and drag it out with filler words and lengthy diatribes just to soften what is the truth because we are so afraid to offend?

It’s painful to watch and as society gets more concerned with feelings and the line between right and wrong becomes blurry and grey this will only get worse.

People admire honesty. They admire the courage that it takes to tell the uncomfortable truth. I made a pretty decent living in sales just by being honest. Of course, my honesty has always been served with a side order of bluntness. I sold luxury cars and Honda for a long time. I was always top dog at every dealership I ever worked. And I was never slick and polished with customers. I just talked straight, knew my product and its competition and I told people the truth. More often than not I said things that could have gone either way but most people left me feeling that the car buying process was the best they ever had and it was just because I was honest. A lot of situations that often derail a sale were avoided by doing it my way, the biggest being when someone explained their budget and being able to keep them on a vehicle that they can afford. Many people don’t understand financing and may really believe that they can afford a vehicle when in actuality they are completely shocked at the numbers when presented and they leave. Time is wasted by both parties and a sale is usually lost. Totally avoidable. Especially when people often tell you in the beginning something that you recognize as not manageable. So when a customer asked. “Can I get this car for 200/month with no money down?” and you know that it will actually take $10,000 it is helpful to say no, not wait an hour to tell them that it isn’t possible. I had a customer thank me for saying no.

In short, don’t say “to be honest” because all it really infers is that you lied to them before. Nobody needs that. Just be honest all the time. It’s so much easier for everybody.

Good things

I really AM the luckiest sonofabitch alive. It’s official.

One exciting thing about getting my transplant is that I may return to work. i always liked to work, in fact I loved some of my jobs. The idea of being needed and valued and making a contribution has always meant the world to me. The problem is that I am afraid of losing my Medicare. Insurance became the deal breaker or deal maker towards the end of my career. When I was forced to change jobs after the finance company closed I found that insurance premiums were through the roof, had additional deductibles and were selective in what they covered. I’m sure that in the time that I have been out of the job market it has only gotten worse. That means that any job I may get may, after health insurance costs, may not be worth it.

Now hear me out. I am not a guy who wants to have anything handed to me. But good insurance is really hard to find and prohibitively expensive and may make the difference between getting by and not. If SSDI decides that I have to go back to work until 67 when my SS kicks in I may be in trouble.

So where does the luckiest sonofabitch in the world thing come in? Last month I met a guy in town that flips houses and does property management in his spare time. I cleaned 3 cars for him and we became friends. He learned my whole story and did his part to help me get some business. When he learned that I had many years experience in the hospitality business his ears perked up. “We need to talk ” he said. He had just bought a closed down convenience store in town and he wants to put in a full kitchen and he wants me to run it. He told me that whatever I want I will get it if I can run it without his supervision. This is an opportunity of a lifetime; cash, flexible hours and it’s less than a mile from my house. See, lucky. Of course it isn’t all luck, if I didn’t put myself out there in the world and make a name, and most important a reputation for myself, I wouldn’t be present and available for the good things to happen. I am very excited.

This will be a great experience for me. I really like Vin and I know that I can work with him. I really like the idea of working in my community and to be part of the gradual revitalization and gentrification of our little town. This is my home now and every day I feel more and more like I belong.

It’s a good feeling.

Stay tuned because I think I want to write about my work history and some of the cool things that I have been a part of. I’m enjoying this positivity thing, I think I’ll keep it up!

Change is good

I suppose that a good place to start, as I redirect my subject matter to a more positive place, would be to take a hard look at what is different about my life since I started this blog. As you remember, I began this project at a low point, possibly the lowest, in my life when my blog served as therapy. To be exact, I would write something and know that I had put it out there and hope like hell for catharsis of some point. To recap; Illness, bankruptcy, foreclosure, divorce and near homelessness. I was angry at the world, I was intensely hostile and bitter towards my ex-wife and I wasn’t thrilled about living with my mother. Nothing against her, but the whole thing felt like a massive regression with no end in sight.

That was 4 years ago.

Things really have changed for the better. My health just took a massive turn for the better. I am one month out and I already have my staples out, the bladder stent was removed today and today’s checkup was so good that I am now on biweekly doctor visits. Most important is that I feel fucking great. I have color, energy and for the first time in a while I have hope for what the future brings. As opposed to sitting around while sick waiting to see how life could stick it to me yet again. The improvement in my attitude is almost as satisfying as the improvement in my health.

I now have a healthy relationship with my ex-wife. I forgave everything for her and I both. I couldn’t carry the emotional weight of all that anger anymore. We are co-parenting well and we talk often. Divorce has been good to us both. This has been good for the kids as well, for too many years they watched us tear each other’s throats out and I know it was hard for them. To their credit they are all thriving. The only one who is in need of adjustment is me, I still have a hard time knowing that I am not as needed as I once was. But all parents go through that I suppose.

As for my living situation, my mom is the best. She was never the problem I only disliked not having my own place. But she, and the whole town for that matter, have made room for me and I have quite a few friends and more than one business opportunity ahead of me due to my working and volunteering in the community. My detailing business has allowed me to supplement my income, save a few dollars and meet some great people. One of which offered me a full time job today at the convenience/sub shop he just bought. Things are indeed clicking along.

I know now that the key to everything is to keep a good attitude even when things go wrong. Life is about how you react to things it throws at you. I am truly blessed, not just a little lucky and grateful beyond what modern technology can measure. What I thought was the end has turned out to be a new beginning. Let’s see what I can do with it…

30 days

Well, today is 30 days since my surgery. The 30 day mark is big with transplants. It is usually known at this point how well the organ is working and if it is not adjustments are made and if it is working well then they give you a little more freedom. I have been going to the hospital twice a week (2 hours each way) and have been required to monitor every drop of fluid going in and out. It isn’t difficult, just tedious. Because I’m doing so well, I am down to once a week effective immediately and today I can stop monitoring my fluid. It really is going as well as can be possibly expected. I feel good about things.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought as to the direction of my blog now. With notable exceptions I have dedicated most of my posts to illness and the obstacles associated with. I think I’ve told my story about illness, now it is time to write about the joys of being healthy. Yes, even at 30 days out I already feel healthy. My head is clear, I have energy to work out, I’m recovering some muscle and putting on a couple of pounds (I need to, dialysis robbed me of all the muscle I had) and I’m remarkable impatient to start doing the rehab work in biking, hiking, lifting and hitting the heavy bag. I’m probably already pushing it but I can’t help it. Shit to do and places to go.

This whole thing has been a blur. Despite being of clear head I still haven’t completely grasped the magnitude of my good fortune and sheer luck (or divine intervention?) and the series of cosmic alignments that allowed it to happen. The realization that I am done with dialysis is the big one. The timing of this was nothing less than amazing, I was really suffering through dialysis and it was making my life miserable. I feel like I have a whole new level of freedom. I am giddy at the thought of riding Sturgis and the Americade next year. Free to ride, free to travel and no need to find a clinic nearby. The extension cord aspect of my life is over, at least for now. The fantasy of Kerouac’ing my way across these United States is now more reality than ever. I can take the RV and just go. This is not just a pipe dream, it is something I am going to do someday. And I’m going to take my time. Dreams have now become reality.

So I was thinking about new directions for the blog. I have always wanted to write about my work history. I feel that my experiences may help someone. I also want to write about marriage and family, raising children and of course divorce. In the process of forgiving both my wife and myself and letting go of a lot of anger I feel that my experiences as a husband and father may also help or at least be of interest to someone. I don’t think I have had a great life, I certainly wouldn’t call myself successful, but I have had some interesting experiences and I have lived some funny stories. The sky really is the limit.

I look forward to sharing the other side of me, the healthy and again optimistic me. Brace yourselves, none of you have ever dealt with me when I felt good. Parental guidance suggested. You’ve been warned.

Trees

Sometime in the near future NASA is going to reveal that they have found the center of the Universe.

A lot of people are going to be crushed to find that it’s not them.

I am growing so incredibly frustrated with the materialistic, self-centered, selfie society we are becoming. Rampant consumerism has a firm choke hold on the throat of moderation.
Savings have dwindled, debts have soared, and landfills are heaping with the scraps of our throwaway mentality.
Self-obsession and promotion has become the new normal. We’d rather film a person beating beat up then stop to help them.
We are becoming too power obsessed, fighting for our little scraps and destroying everything in our path in the process. I fear that we are losing our humanity.

While I always tried to avoid participating in such a life, I was forced to live along side it. Fortunately, in the downsizing of my existence I was able to walk away from it completely. Once free from the pursuit of a larger everything I have embraced normalcy. I have welcomed my average. I celebrate, and surround myself with the regular. And I have never been happier.

One of my favorite movie scenes is from The Great Outdoors, starringJohn Candy and Dan Aykroyd. They are in Canada on vacation, sitting on a deck overlooking a lake. Dan Aykroyd, a materialistic businessman, goes off on a tear about what he sees when he looks out over the water. He describes a vision of future Industrialization, urban sprawl, forestry, and medical waste dumps. John Candy’s character is a simple man, and when asked what he sees, replies
“I just see trees.”
He is then summarily insulted for being short-sighted and simple. Sorry to say, but that’s me, I just see trees.

In order to appreciate the world we have to take our eyes off of the screens and look up and around. We need to appreciate the power and beauty of nature. The beauty is everywhere, the power rearing its mighty head unpredictably. Both manifest in subtle sights and awe-inspiring displays. The flight of the bird, starlit nights and sunsets, the reflection of foliage on the still waters of a pond on a late fall afternoon. Such sights fill me with wonder and give me cause me to question my place in the world and to seek a spiritual connection to the Universe.

The looming mountaintop, the endless horizon seen from the beach, the mighty Oak, the rushing river, wind tearing through trees, waves crashing and receding with a massive riptide serve another purpose entirely. They remind me of how small I really am in the grand scheme of things. Instead of being intimidated, I embrace my smallness. I recognize my relative size and overall significance. No man is a match for the tide, despite his wealth, power and amount of Instagram followers. Man is only a force in, not of, Nature when he embraces his fellow man. But instead of coming together as an advanced society we have drifted apart and we are regressing. Our humanity is what makes us great, the increasing lack of it is destroying us.

This is a call for humility,
A wake-up call to recognize and embrace our smallness.
A damper of ego and hubris.
For less stuff and more quality.
Less interaction and more connection.

To just see Trees…

Support Network


I am a blessed man, rich with the greatest commodity of all, friends and family that have never failed to be there for me when hit with adversity, of which I have faced a lion’s share.

To think that not that long ago I was seriously considering ending my life. Dialysis had finally gotten to me (depression is common among dialysis patients) and my thinking was poisoned with helplessness and despair. I just couldn’t imagine my life as it was having any quality and I was beaten down by one sickness after another. I have read some of my blogs during that time and they read like a Sylvia Plath poem, pills, hangman’s noose and loaded gun not included in the package. I’m proud to say that guy no longer exists. I have to do better, apparently many people are counting on me.

I came across this letter that I had written as part of a 30 day letter challenge. It is addressed to my best friend and it was written 3+ years ago. If anything our friendship has grown stronger. Here is the letter, I plan on sending this to him along with many others who I need to recognize as having kept me on the right side of the dirt for so long. It is part of my ongoing campaign to let the people in my life know how I feel about them while they are still here and not speaking to an inanimate slab of granite.
I hope you enjoy:

A letter to my best friend

Dear Friend:

You are on the very exclusive 3 AM friend list. The guy that I could call at 3 AM and you would come and do anything to help me. Your friendship knows no bounds, not that I am likely to test that statement.

Miles now separate us but I think of you often. Of course, you are always reachable by phone or by text. You always answer no matter how busy you are because that’s the kind of guy you are. You must worry about me because your first reaction is often “are you ok?” Sometimes I am not ok, you are correct. Sometimes I need to hear the voice of reason and reality. You always tell me the truth. And I need that. Because you’re also really smart, way smarter than me, but you would never rub that in my face.

I miss coming over for Scotch and Cigars. Pulling you away from your wife and kids so that you can have a little me time. Not to be a dick, you know how much I respect you as a family man. But between you and I you also know that she dumps the kids on you all the time and she should let you have an hour and a half distraction. That distraction is me and you thank me for it. I hate how she treats you and at the same time admire how you never say a bad word about her. You tell me what bothers you over a cigar but you never stoop to insult her, I admire you for that. It’s hard for me too because I like your wife a lot but I see what she does to you. I guess I get mad enough for both of us.

We are unlikely friends. To think that we both joined “the club” at the same time and went through the courses at the same pace and emerged best friends. It’s probable that we would like each other, but not be like brothers in 3 months. The one thing we had in common was that we were both very open people that appreciated lack of pretense and honesty. I needed a friend like you and the timing was perfect.

Since then you have supported me, visited me when I was sick, invited me to your beautiful home and listened to me as my life completely fell apart last year. You never judged me and I can’t thank you enough for that.

Please know that your friendship has sustained me during those times when I thought I had no one in my life to turn to and I hope that we continue on this path. There are things that I can help you with and know that I will with the entirety of my resources If I am able.

I hope you share my attitude that good friends pick up where they left off, no matter how much time has passed. Because I am working some shit out right now and I’m not ready to talk about it but when I am, you will be the first person I call. Until then, the phone is all that I have I hope it is good enough.

If I die tomorrow, you will go down as one of the very few people who really knew me. Many think they do but they don’t. You made the effort.

Monsters


“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster . . . when you gaze long into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you”

― Friedrich Nietzsche

As a father I was often asked to check under the bed for monsters. It was my fault in some cases, I let them read my old Calvin and Hobbes books in which the precocious lad would fabricate visions of drooling carnivores waiting to devour him when the lights go out. They also, especially my youngest boy, shared my love of horror movies at a young age. Chuckie was a favorite. I indulged them, waiting for the time to tell them that monsters in the movies and books are not real, the true monsters walk among us. Other people.

We hope when we bring home that swaddled cherub from the hospital that we will raise someone with a beautiful soul, a happy demeanor and positive outlook on the world. Many choose to attempt that by sheltering their children from the harsh realities of the world. It is a beautiful place indeed but danger really does lurk around every corner. How do you tell your children that the world is dangerous without making our children afraid? How can you tell them to be kind to strangers while also teaching them “stranger danger?” How do you teach them that it’s ok to smile and say hi to strangers but don’t accept anything they offer you and don’t get in the car even if they’re looking for a stray puppy? It’s a balancing act for sure.

I know that the real monsters; pedophiles, murderers, rapists, etc. have always been there. It wasn’t talked about as much when I was younger but disappearances, kidnappings and other crimes against children happened with alarming frequency. I saw the results clear as day as awareness rose. The generation (mine) that played outside all day, went many blocks or even miles from my house with only a home number of whose house I am at, and used the streetlight as our call to go home begat a generation of scared parents who are afraid to let their children leave their sight. The ensuing generations will consequently never learn the value of breathing fresh air, the exercise gained from playing with friends and riding bikes, using imagination to play games with each other and the valuable lessons learned on the playground such as learning to interact with others and having the occasional fistfight. Perhaps worst of all, they don’t know what it’s like to lose a fight or a game.

I taught my kids to be cynical. Follow your gut, if it feels wrong it probably is. Be nice but be careful. Be aware. I did this through humor, much to my wife’s disapproval. I joked about the white van, I had fun with their overprotective mother who would have wrapped them in bubble wrap if she had her way. She was black and white. Either be protective or not, there is no middle ground. Yet my way prevailed. My kids grew up cynical but polite. Cautious but funloving. Always with dad’s inappropriate humor in the back of their minds.

I got in pretty bad trouble with wifey in 2010. We were living in an apartment after we lost our house. We had a first floor unit on the courtyard and there was a lot of commotion always. One day my wife was just outside the door talking to a new neighbor. My youngest approached her mom and asked if she could go play with friends in one of the play areas that was beyond our sight. My wife reluctantly agreed and said “what do you do if a white van pulls up and asks you to get in? My 8 year old daughter, without flinching, said “hold out for the big Snickers” and jogged off. Our new neighbor was horrified. My wife put her head in her hands. I got an earful. My argument was that it worked, she understands and is still living her life.

Monsters walk among us. There is nothing a “monster” can do that is more horrific than the crimes against humanity that we see every day. Serial killers, sexual predators, kidnappers and even entire governments that continually raise the bar on how to commit savagery on the innocent. When Nietzsche said “those who fight monsters should look to it that he himself does not become one,” it is easy to see what he means. Rogue police officers who abuse their authority and become what they were charged to fight. Politicians who murder their own people to further a personal sometimes horrible agenda. Soldiers who commit war crimes because the fog of war blurred the line for them as to who the protector was and who was the enemy. Abused children who grow up to be the parent they despised. Of course how much of the population these animals consist of is small, they are infinitely more dangerous than an idiot with a machete killing kids at a summer camp.

Brian Laundrie is the latest example. I know that I am convicting him without knowing the true story but in my extensive studies on human behavior and a avid follower of all those who created the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit (formerly the Behavioral Sciences Unit) there is a 95% probability that the boyfriend killed the beautiful 22 year old Gabby Petito. And Gabby’s parents trusted their baby with him, not knowing that he was a monster. Because we don’t know, we can only use our best judgement and hope that our children make good choices. My mantra to my 4 children about “if it feels wrong, it probably is”, has served them well.

For all of the advances in society that we have made, the worst one is the escalation of just how awful people can be to each other. Cruelty, abuse and general savagery aren’t new. But the decline in values such as respect for each other and human life in general have fueled the fire of escalating violence both random and intentional.

Teach your children who the real monsters are. They are to our left and our right, hoping that it’s not in your neighborhood is simply not enough.

Reflections

It is starting to settle in how different my life is now. In just 13 days my life has gone from “can’t” to “let’s do it”. Restrictions on diet, travel (the extension cord is only so long), and countless other things that I had long dismissed as just not possible are now doable.

The big one is no more dialysis. It has finally settled into my mindset that I am done for dialysis. At least for a while. The goal is 15 years and I’m going to fight like a cornered Wombat to reach that goal. I hated dialysis and that is enough reason to prolong going back to it as long as possible.

When I first started dialysis I was the model patient. I walked in with my characteristic “proud peacock” walk, sat down with a book for 4 hours and then strutted out again (sounds cocky but that’s how people see it so I guess I have to go with it). The treatments didn’t kick my ass as it did some other patients. The older and seasoned (to be fair I was one of the younger patients) patients looked at me with jealousy. On a side note the walk or strut that I have become known for is not new. When I was a Cancer patient back in ’97 I overheard another patient remark “what’s he doing here? He looks like a fine specimen”. And I was, I was going to the gym right after radiation treatments and I was in good shape. But I was 31, at 56 I still have that walk. Anyhoo, I made it a goal that I would never get to the point of deterioration that most patients do. There are a few who always looked good, I’m not saying I’m the only one. But eventually I did anyway and I hated myself for succumbing to it.


First came the sepsis/near death infection episode 2 months in. I almost died, no exaggeration. But I bounced back from that. I cruised for about a year until I hid a bad stretch of infections and diet-related complications. On a Renal diet even healthy foods could be taboo. A tomato, a healthy food contains Potassium. Without a functioning kidney to process it it may as well be rat poison. I see-sawed back and forth between too much and too little Potassium, Phosphorous and Magnesium, just to name a few. Sodium and fluid restrictions, if ignored would mess me up for weeks. I never really got those things under control despite uncharacteristic attention to my diet. It got to the point that I was hospitalized several times and the actual treatments became so uncomfortable that I was sometimes unable to complete the treatment. Imagine having a reaction to Phosphorous in which I was itchy all over, the itch would pop up like a whack-a-mole and it was so bad that I was thrashing in my chair. Imagine being held down and being tickled with 2 1 inch needles in your arm. It was miserable. Towards the end I was everything I detested in that room, I was just like the others. I must be an arrogant fuck to think that it wouldn’t. In short it sucks.
I heard yesterday that one of my friends there chose to stop treatments. He was dead in a week. It happens more than you want to know.

One positive is that I really love my dialysis nurses. I think they do God’s work and I appreciate them. They did more than stick needles in my arm, they   my welfare and genuinely cared about me; first in making a very difficult transition for me easier and then keeping me on course when confronted with challenges. Of course, I can only speak for myself, but nurses have a special place in my heart. I plan on visiting them when I am able and thank them for everything they did to make it to where I am today.

One nurse I am particularly fond of is Jesse. Jesse is one of the youngest nurses at the clinic and I have felt a special chemistry with her since the day I met her. We share a devilish sense of humor which is tampered by the strict codes of conduct in the clinic regarding patient interaction. Still, we manage to have flirty and somewhat sexy conversations in sneaky ways, even the exchange of glances or funny faces. I loved it when she was there, it made the time pass a little better. It’s safe to say that if there wasn’t a clinic policy against dating patients I would have asked her out.

Now I can. And of course, now that I can I’m seeing someone else. No regrets, Lisa is awesome and I’m nuts about her. And there are considerations with Jesse that make me reticent even if I was available. She is much younger than me, almost 15 years younger and she has small children. I’m not sure that I have the patience for young children and I also wouldn’t want them to get close to me and then not be there one day because their mother and I didn’t work out. Jesse and I talked about it. We had discussed covertly a few times about the possibility of dating and it was always “get a transplant and we’ll talk”. So we did. I put it all on the table and as it turns out she doesn’t want a relationship at the moment. She works a lot and spends every available free moment with her girls. As it should be. She’s a great mother and her girls are very sweet. She’s doing a great job as a mom. I don’t know what the future holds but I look forward to hanging out with her as a friend over coffee or lunch. As with everything in life, you never know what’s in store for us but it helps to be ready when opportunities arise.

Luckiest sonofabitch alive

Day 12 post-transplant. I feel great, no exaggeration. My blood pressure is regulated for the first time in more years than I can remember. A transplant does not guarantee lower blood pressure, there are many causes and I didn’t get much relief the first time. My blood pressure remained chronic. A kidney isn’t the only cause of hypertension but hypertension will destroy a kidney 100% of the time if not handled. So I already have a head start in keeping this one.
The pain is formidable but the Oxy’s are gone and I’m not refilling it. I’m walking around the neighborhood, with some difficulty but just the same. My head is clear and I can already feel the difference in my thinking and cognitive function.
I’m over the moon.

So, regarding the events surrounding that wonderful day let me just say that I was spiritual before that day. Today I am a believer.

In 2018 I was hospitalized with a septic infection related to dialysis. I received a blood transfusion. I would later find that the blood contained antibodies that reduced my compatability with the general population, with regards to donation (cadaver or live donor), to less than 20%. It was quite a blow. My doctors didn’t downplay it, it was going to hurt my chances. So when the brilliant head of the transplant department came in my room the morning after my surgery I asked him about it. So remarkably fucking amazing event #1 was revealed. 30 people had a shot at this kidney but inexplicably turned it down or didn’t answer their phones and other circumstances that I am not aware of. Usually the amount of people offered such a chance would be at the most 4 or 5 people. Kidneys have a short shelf life even when preserved. This kidney was out of the body for 16 hours before they even called me. Good thing I picked up.
I then asked about the antibodies. Dr. Brilliant, the most no-nonsense and honest doctor I have ever dealt with and never uses hyperbole looked me in the eye and said “no-one was more surprised and happy for you than me. Your odds were in the millions.” Winning the lottery type odds in other words.
Wow.

Remarkably fucking amazing event #2 was the timing of the call. My daughter and I were out on the motorcycle most of the morning. I took her all around for a total of 3 hours. My phone was in my pocket. Had the call come in I may have missed it and been passed over. As it turned out I would have had time but I wouldn’t have known it at the time. I received the call when on the boat. If the battery had not been dead and we were not waiting for a repair I would have been out on the water. I turn my phone off on the lake because it roams and kills the battery.

I don’t believe in fate. Only rarely do I entertain the notion of “things happen for a reason.” I am not religious. All I can think of to justify how I was fortunate enough to receive this gift TWICE is that I try to lead my life with a good heart and a clean conscience. I try to help people and I like doing good deeds. While my zest for life diminished a bit as I declined in recent years I still tried to be about others. Selfishly, it does keep your mind off of your own problems. Maybe that time I cleaned the snow off of the roof of a lovely elderly woman in town. I spent 4 painful hours doing a task that I was not in shape for but it felt right to refuse her money. I did it because I care about her. Maybe that was the one. Maybe my work on my Masonic charities, mostly anonymous giving which is the best kind, pushed me over the edge of good fortune. All I do know is that I am, to quote my oldest son, “the luckiest sonofabitch alive.” Is luck a thing?

I do know this with great certainty. Deeds done in exchange for deeds is doing business. It’s not charity. Doing for someone who can do nothing for you in return…it’s just the right thing to do. I want to believe that it was an unexpected award from the universe in exchange for the positive energy I have always tried to put into it.

Or maybe I really am the luckiest sonofabitch alive. I’ll take alive any day.