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.

Fingers crossed

I had my appeal hearing for my Social Security Disability claim yesterday. It’s been 8 months since a bureaucratic hack, in all of the infinite wisdom that can be collected by living in his mother’s basement, decided that I wasn’t disabled. I was deemed “technically able to work in the field previously worked.” This decision was made despite the overwhelming evidence that would prove to the simplest of minds that I could barely walk due to massive edema, and was immunosuppressed to the point that a common cold would result in pneumonia for me. It could, and it did in fact.

For 8 months I have been without income, angry and bitter about the denial and waiting for a chance to try again. I hired an advocate and they lobbied heavily for an early appeal, the original projection for an appeal was 12-18 months. Thankfully it only took 8.

As the date grew closer, my advocate and I scrambled to make sure everything was in order. Medical records were chased, prescription lists were updated and I was taught what to expect. My preparation was flawless, my nerves on end. No longer believing that Disability is a slam dunk, and with my history it certainly should be, I had little confidence that the right thing would occur. Coming within a week of the trial I felt like Red in Shawshank Redemption up against the parole board towards the end.
red
“I know what you think disability means Sonny, you just go ahead and mark your little paper there because me, me I don’t give a shit.”

It’s called rejecting them before they reject you.

Then, after speaking to my attorney, I found that I had a very good case. They are routinely reticent about statements like that for fear of false hope (Me, I’ve had plenty of that) and letdowns. Dialysis, which I am scheduled for but not on due to my recent surgery not being healed yet, is almost a guarantee. I only needed to get past the “Vocational Consultant” that would be on speakerphone during the hearing deciding if I was fit to still work. Probably the same one that kicked me in the pills the last time.

Day of the hearing my attorney and I met one hour before going and game planned. Her strategy, besides familiarizing herself with my medical history (here, memorize these 3 encyclopedia’s before lunch) for a knockdown opening statemen, was to shift gears on the vocational part. She wanted me to tell them what I used to do for work, and to not hold back.

We went in. The judge had a nice face and a pleasant demeanor. She immediately demured that my medical history is powerful and my work history solid (meaning not a slacker by resume). It was encouraging. My lawyer looked happy in her seat. We came to the vocational section and I was asked to describe my job skills and responsibilities. I took a deep breath and painted a picture, a true picture, of a frenetic but wonderful position in which 2 days were never the same. I told of a workweek without prediction, of being called away at the last minute, of long days and early starts. I told of being the go-to guy with any and all problems that no one else in my office could, or wanted to handle. When I was done, the judge, clearly impressed, asked the “vocational expert” if there was such a job out there that matched that, and did she think I was able to perform it.

After careful consideration she admitted that she had nothing. No such job exists.

My attorney believes it went well, that I should definitely be awarded. The only question is how far back they will date the claim. If all goes well, it will be retroactive to November of 2016 when I was initially rejected.

I will know by the end of this month. I am quite (cautiously) optimistic.

If you consider yourself my friend, please cross your fingers for me. I never use the word, but I deserve this.