I drove myself up knowing full well I was going to be going through one of the toughest periods of my life.Read More
What is was like to see my partially amputated big toe.Read More
I can attest that there’s nothing more exciting than finding your organ donor. But imagine coming home after a hard dialysis treatment and wishing you didn’t have to do them anymore and there was no light at the end of the tunnel; only to have your best friend, soulmate and wife tell you that she got a call and that she was an excellent match for a kidney transplant.
I had been battling cancer and dealing with dialysis treatments 3 days a week for 2 years. I had been given the news that my cancer was in stringent remission however, I still needed to do dialysis treatments until I could get accepted into a transplant program. I finally did get accepted into the transplant program at Vanderbilt University, the only problem was with my blood type. I was looking at a six to eight year wait. I was happy just to be in the program.
My journey continued, day after day, dialysis treatment after dialysis treatment. I felt like the walls were closing in on me and there was no end in sight. The dialysis treatments were exhausting and really depleted my spirits. There is the diet, the lack of fluids, the venerability to heat and the physical tole the treatments put on your body. I would have an easy treatment and think, “I got this” one day, only to be followed up with a hard treatment that would leave me drained, tired and cramping. This would go on for weeks and months.
After returning home from a hard treatment, my wife excitedly greeted me at the door. I felt happy to have made it home and to be greeted with this excitement was very welcoming. The first thing I noticed was my phone had several missed calls on it from her, as well as some text messages. I started to get concerned and asked her what was wrong. I felt bad having missed these attempts to contact me. I started to get worried. She told me to sit down she needed to tell me something. I refused, I had been through so much up to this point I knew there was nothing she could tell me that would make me loose my balance. I was tuff and knew my limits. I told her to just tell me. That’s when she dropped the bomb on me. She told me that she had sent in her blood samples for the kidney donor swap program and she received a call last night.
It was at this point I expected her to tell me that she had been accepted in to this program. She then explained that we had the same blood type which was a shock to me as we thought that she was a different blood type all together. Not only that, she had matching endogens which makes her a perfect kidney match. They were working on getting her qualified to be a living donor for my kidney. The emotions ran over me and I fell to my knees, with tears in my eyes I looked up at her and asked her if this is what she really wanted to do. She knelt down beside me with her arms around me and said of course she did. I really don’t think I had felt an unconditional love from anyone more than her at that moment. I almost come to tears as I look back at that moment in my journey. Having being dealt with bad report after bad report, I had never expected to get this news.
My whole attitude changed. I felt as though I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was not alone in this journey of getting a kidney transplant. It has been 2 months since I got that news and we are currently waiting for the date to be set so I can receive her kidney. There is not a day that goes by where I see her and think to myself how lucky I truly am to have found my soulmate angle, and having the ability to spend my life with such a selfless person. Just knowing that I will have a piece of her with me makes me feel honored.
When you are lying in a bed without the ability to get up and walk away, it makes you to really face the feelings of hearing the words “you have cancer”. You don’t truly know the seriousness of the situation until you hear the words “you are within hours of expiring” and that everyone is going to do everything possible to give you a fighting chance. I was told that the type of cancer I had, Multiple Myeloma, was not going to be a sprint to the finish, where they could just remove the affected area and work with the chemo drugs. But a marathon, and that I needed to pace myself for a long process of treatments and recovery, and even after all the treatments I would always have the cancer. We would have to control it for the rest of my life with drugs. On top of all the cancer and treatments, I was additionally told that the cancer had taken my kidneys. So not only was a now a cancer patient I was also a dialysis patient.
The reality in my mind was, had I gone in as soon as I felt bad, I may have been able to get ahead of this whole situation. I would not be sitting in an ICU unit with a catheter, diagnosed with cancer and in complete renal failure. There I was, given a couple of days to feel sorry for myself. Then a switch flipped and I realized, I’m not done. I had more things to do, and it was not time to say good bye to everyone I knew and loved. That was the beginning of the fight for my life.
I am able to sit down and write about it 2 and half years later. I still have not lost that drive and fight. I actually feel stronger than I did before the diagnosis. I’ve gone through a stem cell transplant and the cancer is now in stringent remission. I do take chemo injections 2 times a month and keeping our eyes open for the resurgence of the condition. I am also on a kidney transplant list at Vanderbilt, where I expect to receive a kidney within the next few months. Life is good.
I had just started a job with Home Depot. So, I was up for anything that would bring me some recognition. We had been having a lot of theft in the store and whenever I could be of assistance I was right there. The one thing that I can’t stand is a thief. One evening I got a call from my store manager. He needed some help and asked for me to give him a hand. This was the opportunity I was looking for. I handed off what I was doing to another associate and went in pursuit of my manager. On the way to catch him I passed a display of pipe wrenches, so I picked one of them up as I was not sure what I was walking into. I caught up to him outside in back of the store. He looked at me and told me to be quiet. We slowly approached the back corner of the store, to find a guy picking merchandise off the ground. His partner had been throwing products over the back fence to him and he was collecting the bounty. My adrenaline started to pump and I was ready for anything. We were recognized almost immediately. My manager told me to grab him, and that’s just what I did. I had my arms around him in a bear hug. The thief was trying to break my hold and wanted to get away. There were a lot of names being called out and finally my manager told me to take him down. So, I picked him up and slammed him on the ground. Then everything went quiet, there was no more struggling, no more cussing, hell I had to check to see if the guy was even breathing. Fortunately, he was. I really thought that I had killed this guy. I have to say that I was a bit shaken from this. When I grabbed him, I still had the pipe wrench in one of my hands. So, when I slammed him on the ground, the wrench struck him on the jaw, knocking him out cold. At one point I thought I heard him snoring. Finally, the police arrived and took charge of the situation. The guy made a full recovery and was later arrested. I think I got a pat on the back from 3 different officers that night. That was the first guy I ever knocked out.
Two weeks after my final test for my kidney transplant, I received a call from my oncologist. He was reporting to me that the PET Scan test came back and everything looked as he had expected. However, he wanted to know what was going on with my right foot, more specifically my right big toe. Without disclosing this to the doctors or testing staff, I felt as though I had an ingrown toe nail and that I was going to go to a pediatrist when I returned home. I laughed and told my oncologist the situation. He prescribed an antibiotic to help with the infection, and I told him I would go see my doctor. I was able to get with my doctor a few days later and had him look at it. It was determined that we stay the course with the prescribed medication and the he wanted to look at it in a week.
A week had passed and the toe felt the same. My doctor wanted to try one other type of antibiotics to see if they would help, and if not, he would get me in with a Pediatrist. Needless to say, his prescribed medication did not work either and I was quickly sent to see a foot specialist. This specialist found that I did have an ingrown toe nail and was able to get it out. However, he wanted an MRI done to make sure that the infection wasn’t in the bone, and he felt that he had taken care of the problem.
Later that evening, I received a call and was told that unfortunately the infection was in the bone. I was given 2 options.
1. Endure 6 weeks of intravenous antibiotics and hope that it takes care of the infection. And if not, the toe would need to be amputated.
2. Go straight to the amputation.
I had been dealt with problems like this in the past 2 years with my physical wellbeing and I knew the direction that I needed to go. I opted for the amputation. I didn’t want to deal with all the logistics of doing a 6-week run of antibiotics just to have the toe amputated anyway. Let’s just get is over and done with. So, I could just focus on getting my kidney transplant.
As I write this, I am looking at a bit of a nub where my big toe use to be. I feel like the soreness that I am experiencing is my body realizing that there is something missing. I have a sharp pain where my toe should be it lasts for a few seconds and it goes away. I’ve mentally dealt with the fact my toe is gone, I guess my body now needs to catch up and realize it is gone and it is for the best. It is difficult to know that I am going to have to stay off of my foot for a couple of weeks, and just let it heal.
After my diagnosis, I was forced to slow down a bit from my everyday life. In doing so, I was able to appreciate the little things in life. Things that I would have just passed over without a second thought, like:
1. Colors—Colors are more vibrant and I see so many more then I ever had before. It’s as if I’m seeing things with different eyes.
2. Taste—I developed a taste for foods that I never liked before. All the things that I liked had bolder flavors.
3. Relationships—I felt a need to listen to people when they spoke. Instead of waiting to speak, I actually was listening to what people had to say. I found a greater desire to connect with people.
Having cancer did feel like a death sentence at first. However, after living with it for a couple of years and finding my new normal, I really don’t think that I would change a thing. I have a new appreciation for life and if my cancer comes back… I would do it all over again. Because, I’m not done yet.
After being diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, I found a new desire to connect with people. I learned that talking to people is one of the most valuable things we as humans can do to grow and develop. No pre-conceived judgements or thoughts about anyone. You can’t judge a book by its cover. Just a one on one discussion about life and sharing time. It’s one of the most valuable things to me. We’re not guaranteed tomorrow, we only have right now. If you are reading this, contact me. Let’s talk and get to know each other. You might just be surprised how much you like it. Start living your dream and share your passions…
Took these in the rain…
This little guy was getting all wet.
Thing are starting to look colorful.
Noticing new flowers blooming each day.
I got home from work early and when I got out of my car, I saw this. The rain drops just holding on to the leaves. I wanted to get my camera out today and this was the perfect excuse.
I never seem to get use to sitting in an empty examining room waiting on the Dr’s arrival.