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.

Right place, right time concluded

You can find part 1 here.

There was only one person in the waiting room besides myself, a woman sitting patiently in the corner. This particular waiting room is not a very chatty one, it is mostly populated by very sick people. It was not lost on me when I was under their care that I was one of the healthier ones there, I was only getting shots and infusions for anemia and other renal-related issues. Most people in there were getting chemo. I respected them and consequently felt a sense of reverence towards the woman in the corner. I took out my phone and played around for a while.

“Do I know you?” she asked. Startled, I looked up from my phone. I wanted to give my usual response to that question and say “Do you watch porn?” but I restrained myself.
“I don’t know. Maybe.” I replied
We talked for a few minutes and it was determined that she didn’t know me. It was at that time that Lauren poked her head out the door and I politely excused myself and went to talk to her.

Lauren brought all of the ladies of the center out one at a time. One by one they asked me how I was doing and what I had been up to. I gave them all the Readers Digest version and I kept it very positive, I hate to burden people with my problems. I touched on dialysis, some of the issues I have dealt with and my possibility of transplant in my most self-deprecating, humorous, and matter of fact manner. One by one they excused themselves and went back to work. Except Lauren. She stayed. She wanted me to tell her the truth. So I did. But I still did so in a positive way. Then she had to go back to work so we said our goodbyes. I jokingly asked her if she was still married. She laughed, wished me well and then gave me my fourth huge hug of the day. I turned to leave and as I did my sole companion in the waiting room said something to me. I don’t remember what but it was enough for me to go over and sit down.

What I remember was that she commented on what she saw and heard. She was taken back by my positivity and remarked that it was just what she needed that day. I decided that it was a good idea to stick around and talk to this very nice woman.

She told me her story and I told her mine. She was there for treatment for Rheumatoid arthritis. I didn’t have to tell her that I knew how bad that can be. I listened intently as she told me about her RA and how it has affected her life. She was very brave and I knew immediately that like most with a chronic illness she was a fighter. But something in the way she was talking told me that she was wearing thin with it and like most of us, she was looking for a good reason to keep fighting. As the conversation continued I realized that I was right. She actually said it, that she needs a reason to go on.

I don’t consider myself the best listener. In theory I am, I want to hear what people have to say but my problem is that I want to interject, offer advice. All because I want to help. But in this case I just listened to her. She clearly needed to talk to someone. I was momentarily taken back by the similarities in our situation. One big one…give me a reason to feel optimistic. My take on this is simple, looking for a reason to go on isn’t merely to counteract those dark moments, which all people with chronic illness experience, it is much more, it is looking for something that is stronger than the nagging urge to give up.

When it was my turn to speak I seized upon one thing that she spoke of that piqued my interest. Purpose.
“Ok. You noticed how the nurses all knew my situation and commented how well I’m doing with everything? That’s not an accident. It’s my purpose, my role in life. To be the one that makes that caregiver a break from the sad and miserable people. To be the one that shows that attitude matters. And do you know what else, it’s all an act sometimes.”
“It is?”
“Sure, often I feel like absolute crap but I tell ’em that I’m doing great because that’s what they want to hear. It helps people. Some know better but they respect what I’m trying to accomplish. It’s my purpose in this world, unfortunately not a paid position, to offset the negativity. It’s a role I fell into but once I did I realized that it was something that inspires others into being more positive.
“It’s hard sometimes” she said.
“Believe me, I know.”
“Well, I find you inspirational” she said.
“Well, I find you inspirational as well.”

At that time the door opened and she was called in for her treatment.
“Well, it was nice talking to you” I said. And it was at that time that I received my fourth big hug of the day.

Here’s the rub. I shouldn’t have even been there that day. I was there the day before to do my lab work and I hadn’t noticed the caveat about 12 hours fasting before doing it so I dropped it off and went home. So is it a coincidence or destiny that I would come back, foul mood and all, to see Nichole who wasn’t there the day before; Lauren that didn’t poke her head in while I was there; and meet my new friend?

get the reference?

I don’t believe in coincidences and I don’t believe in destiny. I do believe that sometimes things happen for a reason. I got as much out of talking to her as I think she got from talking to me. It was a very good use of my time.

Be open to opportunities to talk with someone who may be down.
Be nice.
Find your purpose.
When you find it…go with it.