Tuesday, May 10, 2011

One Year Later -- A Kidney Transplant Anniversary

May 10, 2011

One year ago at this moment I was waking up in the recovery room after receiving a kidney transplant.   I still can't believe it actually happened.  After all the dialysis and struggle, I received a kidney from an anonymous living donor.  Yes, this is as humbling and amazing as it sounds.  You can read my previous blogs and Don Colburn's Oregonian articles for the full story behind my unique experience.

It's been the fastest moving and most joyful year of my life. I've seen my wife smile for the first time since my kidneys failed. I've met my donor and her family. We've developed a beautiful and unexpected friendship with them. I've had the privilege to leave behind the food and fluid restrictions that come with chronic kidney disease and indulge myself. Oh, the simple pleasures like chicken soup, strawberries, and beer. So much delicious beer. Thank you Portland!
I've had terrific success with my poetry. I won a few contests and was lucky enough to have a poem published in a journal right next to the work of former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser.  I've also had great professional success. I've taken a new job as the brand manager with a healthcare technology start up founded by Intel and GE called Care Innovations. This allows me to continue my mission to advocate for healthcare reform and new models of care for all of us. Even with all those changes, I've managed to take a vacation for the first time in years. The pictures in this blog are from Maui where Tracey and I ziplined atop the trees and over the canyons. This serves as a pretty good metaphor for my life this year.

Still, I continue to think of those who wait endlessly for transplants and struggle to live a day longer. I brood over the idea that Medicare, which served me well and is so important to our seniors, is under political attack. I lament the widening gap between rich and poor. I ask myself why I can't do more to help. Most regrettably, I find myself returning to old, bad habits, obsessing with work and not communicating often enough with the friends and family I love so much.

Mostly I just feel lucky as hell that I get a chance to keep learning and trying to be a better person. Thank you, Brenda Hanson for this opportunity. I promise to keep zipping above the trees and canyons for as long as I can.