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Friday, January 26, 2018

So I wrote a thing...Well, a different thing

I've decided to lean into the only skill I think I have and that's writing. Here is not where we shall debate whether that's true or not. To that end, pursuing writing, I've been developing my own stuff and writing on websites that accept submissions from anyone with something to contribute. One day I'd like this to lead to someone paying me for writing but who knows. Anyway, I wrote a thing tonight for a website and it's being reviewed/edited right now and I don't see why it wouldn't get published apart from there being quality standards. However, if for some reason it doesn't get published, and in the name of getting my writing on more than one platform and hence to more people I've decided to publish it here as well. Let's not focus on any sentence structure faults or any grammar issues. I write I don't edit. Different skills and I can do both, just not at the same time. So here it is, a piece I wrote on the depression that accompanied my life with a chronic illness and how I didn't so much overcome it as keep it at bay. I hope you enjoy.

I've been sick since the day I entered this world. So sick in fact that the doctors told my parents not to expect me to live past the age of 5. I'll turn 40 in less than 3 weeks and I've had my good times and more than one person's share of bad times. 
I've been through the highs of kidney transplants and the deepest of lows in my sixth, seventh and eighth years of dialysis. How did I manage to get through any of that with my sanity intact? I'm not sure I did. But I am sure that I got through it without being committed or doing harm to myself because I had friends. Great friends. And I had my family. 
Under no circumstances should you get the idea that I persevered through any of my health struggles like a ray of positivity sunshine. I spent a lot of it as a sullen dick. Especially five years into being on dialysis for the second time and every doctor's visit having the same result: You're just so hard to match. With that refrain in your head combined with the physical effects of thrice weekly dialysis treatments, and the fact that you haven't had a job or romantic relationship in years you end up with a recipe for serious, dangerous depression. And that's exactly what I had. 
I have suffered for years with depression and just because I sit here today writing this in the best physical health I've been in since I was in my 20's doesn't mean I don't still slip into it from time to time. Granted, I don't feel the utter hopelessness and downright suicidal tendencies that often plagued me due to experiencing much of my 30's from a dialysis chair. However, I still can get low and sad, and wall myself off from everything to just wallow. But today, as I have my entire life, when I need to bring myself back it has always been my friends and family that have been my Green Lantern's Light, to use a reference I feel most comfortable with. And when I couldn't turn to any of them I had the people at my dialysis clinic. Anyone who knows me knows I am not one to suffer strangers let alone seek any out for a conversation. But some of the best talks I had with anyone during those years on dialysis were with other patients, particularly those close to my age or younger. They made me feel like a veteran who those coming up behind me could use as either a cautionary tale or a roadmap. Or both. Other times, however, it made me feel even more helpless because it shone a light on the relentless nature of kidney disease. Those were the times that my friends were most helpful.
That sounds schmalzy and cheesy and I honestly wish I had something more profound to attribute it to, but that's it. When I was feeling that particular weight on my chest it was always family and friends that kept me one step back from the edge. It was my mom's voice reminding me, "There are a lot of people way worse off than you are." It was my friends and their goofy asses distracting me, sometimes merely with their presence, at times when I was particularly low. Like when I found out another patient at my clinic had passed away or my doctor was particularly foreboding that day or I just simply woke up with that "Why go on?" mentality.
None of this is me saying I conquered and cured depression through the power of love. No. That just sounds stupid. I felt stupid typing that. No, I also needed to see a professional which, thanks to our health care system, I wasn't always able to have access to. I had all the anti-depressants I needed, at my disposal, but one-on-one therapy with a professional was rarely something I could take advantage of. So, if you're in a similar position I am not suggesting you go make friends and suddenly feel the good mental health strike you like a bolt of lightning. Mental health care in the United States needs a major overhaul and because of that many don't have the moderately happy ending I was blessed with. This needs to be fixed yesterday. 
I honestly can't imagine being alive today without the people in my life. It didn't make any of my experiences with kidney disease/failure easy to deal with. It is something hundreds of thousands in the U.S. deal with every day. And with the number of organ donors so low, only a tiny fraction get to experience the joy of getting the phone call telling them a transplant is in their future. But what having my friends and family did for me was every bit as important as the doctors and nurses who monitored me and checked up on me. And every bit as important as the hospital staff who worked for close to a decade to find me a match. I can never properly thank all the people who put up with me for all those years. All the times they made me laugh when I wanted to cry. All the times they came to the hospital because I was so self-destructive that I ignored all common sense and did things I knew were dangerous to someone in renal failure. They were the anchor that kept me from jumping off the edge and now that I have my health back I hope I eventually make them glad they were a part of my journey.

Those of you out there dealing with a chronic illness and the depression that so often comes with it are going through battles most will never know and could never understand. I implore you all to seek help in any manner available. Tell a doctor, tell a nurse, tell your family and friends. Tell a stranger. Whatever you do, don't hold it inside and let it do just as much damage as the disease ravaging your body already has. There's help and there are people who care. Whether you believe it or not. I often felt alone in a group of my friends but when I left my own head and lived in that moment surrounded by people who I knew cared about me I felt that much more healthy. If even for a moment.

Authors note: I said don't pay attention to the grammar and sentence structure mistakes and I meant it, but rest assured after re-reading this after a couple hours since posting it I have realized I should have paid a little closer attention. I have discovered new levels of cringe-worthy. I have since fixed some of the more glaring mistakes. Not all, but some. Awful. Just awful.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hi! So obviously I'm not too good at keeping this thing up to date. Most of that's my fault, some of it is the fault of a little thing the kids are calling a kidney transplant. Yes I got the call on October 4th and the deed was done the next day. Three months out  and I feel amazing. No dialysis, no dietary restrictions, no fluid restrictions. It's a freedom I long dreamed of. As of now my plan is to find some work to fill my time and in the Summer I'll be back in school to finish my degree. Also I've been writing since my transplant. I thought the last 8 years shouldn't be a total waste, might as well make some art out of it. Anywho, I swear I am going to do my best to keep this updated more regularly with my post-op progress and tips and such for those who are heading down the same path or even those still on dialysis and dreaming of this path. For now, here's the opening to what may one day turn into a book or a play or a movie or just something I show people to bother them. Til next time kids.

He woke up with a strange feeling he had not felt in almost a decade. Not the grogginess and pain, that he had experienced more times than he cared to mention. No, this was the feeling of better health. The first words out of his mouth when he saw the nurse come in the room was, “Does it work? Am I gonna be ok?”

“Look for yourself.”, as she held up a bag of burgundy-tinged liquid that he slowly realized was coming out of his brand new, working kidney. With all the strength he could muster he let out a long-wished for sigh of relief and fell back under the spell of the mixture of leftover anesthesia and pain meds. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

"The Got Stuck Podcast" Coming Summer of 2015 (Title almost certainly destined to change)

   So keeping busy seems to be a popular form of advice I get to stave off boredom or depression or any other of the non-physical maladies that can get ya when you're unable to work, lack the resources to move about on your own except in a very limited sphere and have anywhere from 16-24 hours to kill a day, depending on dialysis schedule and sleep patterns. So I've been wracking the noodle trying to figure out what I can do inside this "fortress of solitude" to while away the hours until...well, hell, I don't know what I'm wasting time til. Anyway, I've tried all manner of things from watching tv, to watching movies, to watching my Twitter feed refresh. I'm quite the watcher but I think I've got that particular skill nearly perfected. If it was what was needed to take down the bad guys in any of the Taken movies I could have given Liam Neeson a movie off and done pretty well for myself. But I digest...

   I've started reading again. Got myself into a couple different books at the moment but I've got the attention span of a 2 year old so I can only sit and read a book for so long. It doesn't matter that the stories are great. At some point something shiny gets my attention in the form of a passing thought and off I go onto search for something else. Another hobby/time waster I've been into for years now has been podcasts. If you are unfamiliar, a podcast is essentially a radio show released independently on the internet with very few, if any, restrictions on content. I listen to quite a few and they go a very long way to helping me pass the time whether it's in the dialysis chair, going for my short-lived jaunts about downtown Schertz for that "fresh air" everyone raves about, or just sitting around the house when there's nothing on tv and I don't feel like falling down the rabbit hole that is Netflix. 

   After years of listening to the likes of Kevin Smith, Chris Hardwick, Jay Mohr, Marc Maron and pretty much anyone employed by National Public Radio I have decided that producing, hosting and distributing my own podcast sounds like a lot of fun and a hell of a way to kill some time. So for the past couple weeks since I've made that decision I've done the requisite research into gear and software, etc. I've also given a lot of thought to a theme or through line for my podcast. Something that guides my conversation with the audience each time I "go on the air". I suppose I could make it a spin off of this blog and have it be about my experiences as a dialysis patient and anxious needer of a transplant. But it would be a very loose framework. While intellectually I know that since I literally don't do anything but go to dialysis and kill time until I have to go back to dialysis, that that is really all there is to me, but emotionally I like to believe that there is more to me than that. Even if I can't prove it, not even to myself. (Maybe that is part of what this podcast venture is about,)

   Anyway, that is my assignment for myself over this coming summer. I am going to be piecing the gear and software I need together and hopefully my August I will be posting regular shows to this website or another I may create. If any of you creative types have any ideas on the direction or make up of the podcast (i.e. title, content) or maybe you have something way more interesting to talk about than my dumb shit and want to come over and talk about it for the whole internet to hear I would love to hear from ya. Either leave a comment below or find me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  Til next time, (God only knows when that will be,) Ciao!

Facebook: http://facebook.com/jtully1

Twitter: @UncleJJ78

Instagram: @Jastul78

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thoughts on a May day

Today a friend of mine is getting her new kidney and as I type the surgery should be wrapping up successfully. While sending out good thoughts for success today I started thinking back on that great day in my life. Seems like it was three lifetimes ago that I went into the hospital with no clue what was going to happen but being happier than I'd been at any previous time in my life.

My donor/best friend/savior/littlest jarhead both checked into the hospital the night before the operation. Either to make sure we didn't get ill or to keep tabs on Jeremy who was deathly afraid that for some reason he would wake up mid-operation. Having already been through more than a few surgeries at that point I found his fear naturally hilarious and open game for ridicule. What are friends for?

I really thought I'd be tossing and turning all night before the surgery. I knew, barring an emergency, we were at the top of the docket for the day and they would be coming to retrieve the two of us fairly early. I slept pretty soundly, unaided by chemistry. Now the day of my transplant is probably not the way transplant day goes for most. Because Jeremy was a Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps and a, soon to be, two-time visitor to that paradise in the desert, Iraq there was apparently an angle that was newsworthy if not human interest-y. So at 0600 I woke up with a camera guy asking a nurse where he could stand and not be in the way. After being wheeled down to pre-op in side by side gurneys we were welcomed by said camera guy and both laid there trying not to acknowledge that we were being filmed. It was super awkward. Then an idea struck me. I'm kind of a jerk sometimes and I know how to get a laugh. To that end, it was now time to get what the nurses in every pre-op I've ever been in affectionately refer to as "the margarita". If my memory serves it's something similar to Ativan. It's what's called a "twilight drug" and its purpose is to chill you out right before they wheel you in and put the mask on your face for sleepy time. Jeremy, already nervous as all Hell for his very first surgical experience, was watching me to see how I was reacting as I was something of an old hand at that stuff. Never one to pass up a chance at a laugh, when the nurse pushed the margarita through my IV line I instantly dry heaved, feigning a bad reaction. I looked over at the giant saucer eyes on Jeremy and thought, even if this day goes down hill for me I'm going out with a laugh.

No more than 2 minutes later, after the same drug was administered to Jeremy flawlessly, an impromptu Cheech and Chong routine broke out. It's one of the funniest things I'll ever have been present for. But because the drug was so effective I barely remember any of it.

The surgery successful, I wake up in the ICU to another friend, and another never to pass up a punchline, Justin was at my bedside. The first words I heard after being reborn with this great gift were, "You have Jeremy's organ in you." Touche sir. Touche.

A day or so passes and I am in a regular room and feeling great. Not great for someone in my condition. Not "great considering". I felt better than I had felt on any day I had ever been alive. It was amazing. I was genuinely surprised at this. Jeremy was not exactly having the same transcendent experience I was. Because they removed his kidney laproscopically they had to expand his abdomen with nitrogen gas to be able to work around in there without opening him all the way up. Well that gas doesn't just magically go away. It stays in your gut and produces some of the worst pain. Being the friend I am I checked on him regularly, being up and mobile as I was. He was not a happy camper. I made fun of him.

He got the last laugh when he was released a good three days before I was. Overall I believe I was there for a week and it was the most pleased to be hospitalized I ever was or will ever be again. The television and print interviews before and after the surgery definitely made the experience a unique one, but as far as the surgery and recovery aspects of it all everything went according to plan. I couldn't have been happier.

Though five years on from that time the transplant went south and now no longer works and I'm back on dialysis Jeremy Duncan will always be my brother and hero for what he did for me that May day in 2004. I don't think about all this very much because though the memories are happy juxtaposed against my life today it doesn't lead to good places mentally. But today, with my friend Valarie being wheeled in, most likely high off her ass, and getting that most special of gifts I thought about fake dry heaving and smiled.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Nothing funny, I just need your help.

This is probably going to be the hardest, most scrutinized (by me) post I will ever write. This goes against every instinct I have but this post is essentially going to be me telling you why I need your help.

I don't know really how to begin something like this so I guess I'll just come out and say what's up. Last week, in the course of catching up with my doctor at dialysis he basically laid my situation out for me in this way: Find a living donor that is either a match or can go into the paired donor exchange or face the fact that you most likely will never be matched to a cadaver kidney. Meaning basically, find someone to donate a kidney or stay on dialysis for the rest of your life. A life that would be significantly shorter because of the aforementioned decades on dialysis. I have no exact numbers but every study I've read on the subject suggests that long term exposure to regular hemodialysis treatments will result in a higher than average morbidity rate. In plain English, I will have many more years ahead of me (not to mention better years) if I get off dialysis as soon as possible.

This is not easy news to get. Or process. I was given the option, basically, to put it out there and basically ask all of you to consider helping me or just keep this to myself and do God knows what. A lot of options entered my mind. I'm not going to lie, one option was to just stop going and let nature take it's course. This is not uncommon among dialysis patients with no chance of transplant. I've decided to take some very wise advice and not go that route and instead put myself out there in this way. Something I've never been comfortable with. Essentially try to save my own life.

It's been suggested that my attitude towards my dialysis and health in general can be interpreted as flippant or nonchalant. I guess I do that on purpose. I generally go out of my way to seem normal, or to seem less affected by dialysis and kidney failure in an effort to avoid pity, or to avoid the guilt of making people worry about me. By doing this, however, I can see how I could make it seem like my health situation was no more than an irritant and not something much more troubling.

I know that I have also given the impression that things are "normal" with my actions. Namely my smoking and my blatant disregard for certain aspects of my care that would probably make my condition more noticeable if I took better care to follow. I've done these things mostly out of some sense of rebellion. End Stage Renal Disease and dialysis come with so many do's and don'ts (mostly don'ts) that to avoid the feeling of totally losing control over my life I chose to keep smoking and not following my diet as closely as I should have been. While these things caused me trouble with my health more than if I had just quit smoking, took my binders when I ate and ate the right things, I wrote off the consequences as the necessary collateral that comes with retaining even a tiny portion of my autonomy over my own life.

I've come to realize in the past 6 months that disregarding my diet, while freeing, was only hurting me and recently I learned that it gives off an impression of not caring about my health that I never meant to put out there.The smoking I realized was not good for me many, many years ago but that was and has been harder to change though I have. I've quit many times with varying degrees of success and I'm doing it again.

The bottom line is this (and the hardest part for me to actually write): I need a kidney. I'm not going to get one through the UNOS list of cadaver donors and that doesn't bode well for my life expectancy.

I know there are concerns beyond my commitment to my own health. What would donating mean to you? It is a major surgery and should not be entered into lightly. Everyone in your family should have input into your decision to help. If, after all the pertinent parties are consulted, you still feel this is something you want to do and you get through the testing you may wonder what consequences giving up a piece of yourself would have on your own health. What is the surgery like? Will I be limited in any way? One question I've heard more than once, do I have to quit drinking? First off, no, you don't have to quit drinking. It'd be nice if you weren't drunk the day of the surgery but beyond that go nuts. The surgery is almost exclusively done laproscopically meaning they make two or three tiny incisions instead of one long one. There will be post-operative pain from the fact that they will fill your abdomen with gas to make room for the laproscopes to maneuver around and grab the kidney. Getting rid of that gas from your body is not painless but you will be prescribed pain killers to help you deal with it. Donating a kidney has never been found to have any effect on getting pregnant or having a healthy baby.

From the University of Maryland Medical Center website: "The risks of donation are similar to those involved with any major surgery, such as bleeding and infection. Death resulting from kidney donation is extremely rare. Current research indicates that kidney donation does not change life expectancy or increase a person’s risks of developing kidney disease or other health problems"

The following links have every base covered. The answer to any question you can think of is answered on these websites but should a question not covered arise feel free to ask me and if I don't know the answer I will move Heaven and Earth to get it for you.



 If you are interested in helping and want to know what criteria you need to meet, they are fairly straight forward. For an actual you to me transplant you're going to need to be my blood type first off. I'm A positive. After that you will have a lot of blood drawn for matching and to check you out to make sure you are in good health. If you do not match my blood type but still want to give this a go that's great too. We'd do what is called a paired donation. Essentially you would be worked up the same way by the doctors then they'd go out nationwide and find others in the program who have non-matching donors and find one of their donors that I match with. Once found I'd get that kidney then, in as many steps as necessary to complete the chain, your kidney would get donated to someone else in the program, then their donor would donate to someone, and on and on until the person whose donor I matched with would get theirs.

I don't know what else to say except I understand if you don't feel this is the right decision for you, for any reason. But I have to try. I have to put my actual condition out on Front Street so I knew that all of you knew what I was actually facing. I know this isn't an easy decision and it definitely shouldn't be taken lightly. I understand what I'm asking for is a huge sacrifice and an un-repayable debt. I understand that I'm asking you for my life. Any consideration you give this matter, whether known or unknown by me, is immensely appreciated. Again, any and all questions are welcomed and encouraged. This has to be a very educated decision on your part. Please don't hesitate to contact me at all.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Your kidneys: Beans of stability

The old adage that "You don't know what you have until you've lost it" is applicable in so many facets of our lives. In love, friendship, with work or money. But most people never stop to think about how it might apply to their bodies. Sure we all grow older and as we do some of us may find that we have a little less hair, a bit poorer eyesight or the occasional aches and pains that our younger selves never would have dreamed of. But what if a part of you just stopped working altogether? It's not something most would think about. And thankfully, they really don't have to. But I think it would behoove anyone to stop for a minute and think about what any one part of your body does for you and how totally screwed you would be without it. Obviously without a heart you wouldn't be able to live. Same for your lungs. And because of their very obvious necessity those two organs garner all the glory in the game of keeping you alive.

I think you can see where this is going. I'm here to shill for the often overlooked regulators of so much of our bodies consistency: the kidneys. We all learned in school that the kidneys main functions is to filter our blood and produce urine, the means our body has to get rid of all the bad stuff that you might not even know is in you. But do we really know what that entails. What exactly is it getting rid of? Even I, who have had kidney problems since before I was even born, didn't fully appreciate the importance of the kidneys until I found myself quite literally without any.

Let's look at some of the unpleasantness that the kidneys get rid of for us. The excess sodium that we all take in every day is filtered and sent packing by those magic beans. If they didn't we'd all bloat up like a Macy's balloon. Hypernatremia is the technical term for this eventuality and it can lead to anything from the aforementioned swelling to lethargy all the way to coma.

The kidneys are also in charge of regulating the amount of potassium in the body. Do you know what the main ingredient is in that little lethal cocktail they give inmates on death row? Potassium. An overabundance of the stuff will cause every muscle in your body to completely shut down, including your heart. And as I've mentioned the heart is kind of important if you want to keep from shuffling loose your mortal coil.

How about calcium? Think that stuff is important? Yep. Your kidneys regulate the levels of calcium in your body, as well. Without kidneys you are sure to suffer from what's called hypocalcemia. Because your kidneys no longer work your body lacks sufficient amounts of a vitamin D which helps redirect the calcium in your diet to your bones so you can grow big and strong. Without vitamin D to do that your bones don't get the calcium it needs and we've all seen Sally Fields in enough Boniva commercials to know what that does.

So where does that calcium go? It has to go somewhere, right? Well another job of the kidneys is to keep the levels of phosphorus in your body in check. Too much phosphorus and your body starts to take that calcium and deposit it into your blood vessels and harden them eventually leading to good times like heart attacks. High phosphorus also leads to deposits of said calcium on your skin and the most irritating itching you could possibly imagine. Where does all that phosphorus come from you ask? Rare foods such as milk, cheese, anything with protein in it, chocolate, beer, ice cream, beans or anything with whole grains.

Another important and little known function of the kidney is to regulate your blood pressure. By getting rid of the excess water in your body, your kidneys keep your blood pressure at a constant, normal level. When the kidneys shut down you are unable to get rid of that excess fluid you take in in the form of drinks, soups or really anything that melts. 30-50 ounces a day is the recommended intake of fluid for a dialysis patient. That's roughly one Sonic Route 44 drink a day and that's it. Otherwise your body finds places to put anything more than that you may drink. Places such as in between your cells. Or maybe in your lungs. Eventually you will find yourself unable to breathe and your heart unable to beat because of all that fluid crushing it under it's weight and those extra drinks you had are the reason you are on a ventilator in the hospital.

How do you feel about red blood cells? Kind of important, yeah? Well without functioning kidneys your body doesn't produce enough of the hormone erythropoietin which controls red blood cell production in your body. Without sufficient red blood cells you are prone to anemia which most end stage renal disease patients are. Luckily there is a shot you can take to boost the production of those cells. It's called EPO and it just got Lance Armstrong in a lot of trouble. No entering the Tour de France for me.

So while the heart and lungs get all the glory it's your kidneys that are doing a lot of the heavy lifting to keep your veins from calcifying, your bones from weakening, your blood pressure from shooting through the roof causing you to stroke out and they keep all that fluid you drink/eat from sitting on your lungs and heart keeping them from actually doing the jobs they are so recognized for.

Those inconspicuous beans sitting on your sides are what keep everything else in your body in check. So next time you are getting a check up have the doctor give your kidneys a pass and see how they're doing. Thanks to dialysis, losing your kidneys isn't a death sentence like losing other things. At least not immediately, but it can lead to pain, illness and just general unwellness if they aren't looked after. Keeping your kidneys healthy also keeps one off of dialysis which brings with it it's own set of problems and surprises. Just something to think about.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

6 Degrees of Dialysis

I'm making myself write on a regular basis whether I think I have anything to say or not. This will, hopefully, get me into a rhythm. I'm not one for forcing the artistic process. (I'm not calling this blog artistic, it's just that I tend not to write unless I think there's something very pressing on my mind.) And since there is a  tendency for me to judge nothing on my mind as worthy to commit to a blog post, I go weeks then months between writing them. Next thing you know, I haven't written in years and can't remember the password and I just pretend it never happened. So to combat this eventuality I'm gonna pop on here whether I think I have a point to get across or not. Gonna do a stream-of-consciousness thing and see where it leads me.

Maybe that's what this blog will become. Just a place for me to spill my brain out every night before I hit the rack. It wouldn't even have to change the subject of the blog. I'm thinking about dialysis or it's affect on my life about 97% of the time I'm awake. There's actually no part of my life it doesn't touch in some ways. Dialysis is my Kevin Bacon.

To offer another metaphor, dialysis is a dam holding me back from correcting the surprising number of mistakes I made in the first 25 or so years of life. It's not the fault of dialysis that I don't hold any degrees, but it is being on dialysis that prevents me from remedying that by paying back loans currently in default. It's not the fault of dialysis I don't have a career, but being on dialysis prevents me from remedying that by going back to school. You can see where this chain reaction leads. It leads to the day that I hope is coming soon, where I'm in my late 30s, starting over again with a fresh kidney and the mistake of last time to learn from.

When I got the transplant back in 2004 from Jeremy, it was the greatest thing I thought would ever happen to me. And so far it is. But it was also a trap Admiral Akbar wouldn't have seen. For the first time in 25 years I was healthy. Completely healthy. It's hard to describe that to someone who has experienced good health most of their lives, but when I woke up fully from the transplant I felt like a completely new person. Once I walked out of the hospital I was amazed at the difference. I felt like I could do anything. So to that end, I did nothing. Like a jackass I spent the next 5 years doing as little as possible. Enjoying, for the first time, that sweet feeling of good health. Don't get me wrong I worked but at menial jobs. I lived a very fluid life. Worked when I had to, hung out with my friends every other minute of the day. I never saw a day coming where I'd be back on dialysis. Surprisingly and sadly, it was coming much, much sooner than I thought.

25 years was a low end estimate on the expiration date of the new kidney. I had the world in front of me and nothing holding me back. I was gonna enjoy this weird feeling of health for awhile. I enjoyed it for too long it turned out, and after a trip to Las Vegas in January 2008 I went for a routine check up on the old bean and was told that something was wrong and I had to be hospitalized for tests. Those tests gave me the worst news I could imagine. Five years of good health was all I was gonna be given this time. Back to the machine.

Everything I wanted to do, that I thought I had time for down the road was now gonna be that much harder to accomplish. Nobody wants to hire someone who can't be at work 15 hours a week and then might be sick when they are there. And if there's no income then loans that a stupid teenager defaulted on can't be paid back to get back to school. So I cash in on Social Security disability in my 20s and 30s and "live" off that until that elusive second transplant comes around. It's been 5 years now that I've been listed on the UNOS list. I'm Status 1 which I'm pretty sure means I'm in the group best suited for a transplant. The average wait time on the UNOS list is 3-5 years. I can't decide if that's good news or bad. I always tend to lean to bad, but who knows. I have had two false alarms in those five years but beyond that I haven't heard a word from anyone at the hospital. In this case, no news is bad news. It means that nobody anywhere is matching me at all. At least nobody who is dying around here.

 I don't write all this for sympathy, empathy or even judgement or anger. I don't care what you think about what really is at fault for my lot. That's not anger just the truth. I've come to terms with the mistakes I've made in the past.  If I focus too much anger on dialysis to avoid my part in what's happened, that's your opinion but it's what I live. I think I focus appropriate anger on all parties. But this is what streams through my consciousness most nights. As well as, other things related to dialysis. It's not all-consuming but it tries pretty hard to be. Didn't mean to get this serious just three posts back into our relationship, dear reader, but these things happen when I let my brain be in charge of my fingers for awhile. I hope we can still be friends. :)