374) In Which I Meet a Real Survivor

July 7, 2009

Laredo: I am here in Laredo today to facilitate a Youth Leadership Conference that Mario has organized. I arrive at the facility about 30 minutes early and there is a youth there already... asking if he can help me unload and set up. He carries the heaviest of my supplies up the stairs to the second floor of the building and goes about the process of assisting me in any way he can. He tells me he is a college student at the community college in Laredo, and although he is a little older than the rest of the youth he is anxious to be involved with the group and excited about this day of leadership activities designed to pull the group together and to practice some ways of communicating with their community about substance abuse and how to move in the direction of a drug free community.

As other young people arrive and partake of the generous snacks that Mario and adult staff have provided, this young man, Luis, goes around talking to some of them, ever aware of any other way he can help. After the first round of ice-breaking activities and setting the day's goals for the conference, Luis approaches me and reports that he is so happy to be here and participate in this event because it is still new to him to be up and around and able to do these kinds of things.

He continues that three years ago he had a heart transplant! I exclaim, "Wow! I had a kidney transplant last March!" We share our scars and I hear his story... he was born with only one ventrical and lived the first 15 years or so with very limited activity... bed or wheel chair bound with home schooling, etc. until he got the heart transplant and recovery in San Antonio. I am astounded! Here is this young guy who is enjoying... actually LIVING life to the fullest [he reports now riding horses and roping calves ~ which the doner girl did before passing on] and going to school and working on his dad's ranch, and being fully aware of his new abilities to experience reality from a new stand! It is awe-inspiring and adds some humbleness to my situation. This kid had a HEART TRANSPLANT and has a new life to live!

I am just an old guy with some extended years... but, here we have a person who has a full and long life to live because of our modern technology. Later we compare diet, meds (he takes something like 37 a day... all through the day... AND remembers them faithfully!) to my measly eleven every 12 hours; morning and night.

This trip to Laredo, and meeting my young friend, Luis and his peers becomes another of those meaningful experiences that we find in living that help us to remember "all the blessings already are". Thanks to all the youth leaders that were present that day; and especially to Luis. And thanks to Mario and SCAN for again inviting me down to work with them.


373) July Meds and Clinic

July 7, 2009

Transplant Clinic: Liz and I come in for my clinic visit and Dr. Lewis is right on time. My weight and BP are up slightly and for the first time since coming to these clinic meetings, Maxine, the intake nurse gives me a copy of my lab results, saying "...you wanted to see them I thought". These reports are pretty cool I think. They have a full review of everything that they find with columns of the category, result, flag (if needed), and reference. So, for example, the first line under BASIC has:

Sodium 140 ___ 136-145 meg/L (and so on down to...)
Chloride 108 _H_ 98-107 meg/L (etc..)

So, this gives me some things to highlight while we are waiting between the medical folks and I have 7 H's or L's to ask Dr. Lewis about. After my questions and his answers Lewis does a perfunctory exam and continues to indicate I am doing well, from his perspective.

I tell him I've been having some water retention in my feet and I think it might be from the heat these past few weeks... which is unseasonably hot for the past few weeks. Dr. Lewis doesn't think it’s the heat. He asks how much salt I am eating and I reply, "according to the labs I seem okay..." So, he asks me to "watch" my salt intake for a while. I agree.

Now, from my perspective, this is a constructivist way to give a sort of Ericksonian command or "suggestion" in which you suggest a behavior without ordering it. When orders are given, like, "Stop eating salt" or "Don't eat so much salt", some people's defenses or hesitancies have a difficult time following the directive, either consciously or unconsciously.

So, when we say things like "watch", we circumvent most of the person's defenses and they think of it more like a challenge, rather than a command. "Watch for red pickup trucks" helps you to notice them when they appear in your vision, and you do so because there is no pressure to do it: you just remember to do it.

I probably shall remember my self attending to salt and how much of it I am ingesting.

So, the visit is entertaining and I am going to watch my salt intake and notice the foods that I eat with lots of salt in them.

Bernadette comes in and gives me a new med sheet, noting that I am going to go back to taking the Dapsome because they should have had me on it for 6 months instead of 6 weeks. All other meds are remaining the same.

We are all happy and we begin to set some dates for August labs and clinic.


372) July 4th Weekend Rept

July 7, 2009

The Weekend Report:
It was a busy and friend-filled fourth weekend, with my birthday dinner date to Fino's with Friends... celebrating mine and Ken's birthdays and a belated Cathe birthday too. Then on to the fourth and a fish fry at Lake LBJ with more friends, and Sunday brunch with in laws paying us in migas, pancakes, and eggs florentine for caring for their hamster for a week. As a transplant recipient I can only report that it is so nice to eat almost anything I want now!

Sunday John and Katie visited and Katie stayed for steak and my traditional birthday pineapple upside do
wn cake.

Monday back to work and today I should get my new talking pocket watch in the mail. Of course, since last
mention of med time slippage, I've been doing great on remembering the 8 am and 8 pm pill times. Wouldn't you know?

So the USA is 233 years old and I am 120 days post transplant.

Later: An email from Shauny that I want to pass along to you all... with her permission.

I know you know I have the volunteer spirit. I wanted to pass this along because when you click on the link to find volunteer opportunities it gives you so many choices. I found two new ways to help today. I will start taking inner-city kids on nature outings for Sierra Club, and I will start being a community outreach volunteer for greater Houston's Collaboration for Children. Volunteering gives me peace of mind. It takes my mind off of my own worries. It makes me grateful. It makes me feel I'm doing more than what is required. I feel I'm giving part of myself and my experiences so that my life has a purpose. These feeling sustain me. I hope you can find something for yourself here. And that it will enrich your life.

Love, Shauny


371) DAD Report

July 1, 2009

Lunch time: I'm in a thought provoking workshop with Leslie Moore on "parenting", utilizing all the great theorists' ideas in a developmental view of the challenges of parenting... with a number of friends from STAR agencies from Round Rock, Austin, and San Antonio. At lunch Emily from LifeWorks asks about my kidney adventure and reports she was an assistant social worker in a Frensius dialysis center in SA and so I share parts of my story with a knowing person... which is somewhat unusual... since most people don
't know so much about renal disease, dialysis, and transplants. I tell her about this blog.

report via Tracy... my dad transferred today from the hospital to the Towers' assisted living center, Parklane West, where he can stay up to 30 days with specialized care. Tracy reports that she wants him back up in his 17th floor roost by the weekend, but the doctors aren't sure at this point. She also reports that he is doing much better but still doesn't want visitors or calls from anyone. I am glad to hear that he is doing better.