Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lush and Green

A new start. Isn’t that what we all are always asking for? I’m always screwing up all of my grand plans. Time to begin again. Too often the reminder comes from another’s end. It’s that reminder of mortality that shocks my mind into realizing that I waste all of my time and achieve none of my goals.

I’ve always envied those who believe in an afterlife. I never have. Not as a young toddler. Not now as a jaded and tired adult. It sure would make things easier to handle - believing that this is just a stopover before some sort of paradise. Of course, since I have not been blessed with an all consuming faith, I will instead apparently be headed towards a torturous eternity. Or so I’ve been warned. I don’t care. I don’t pay any attention anymore.

How does one ‘move on’ from a loved one’s passing? I sure haven’t figured it out. Are we supposed to? Why is it that I can feel guilty when I’m not completely absorbed in sorrow for those who are not here anymore?

I contemplate these thoughts as I stop on a small dusty platform that has formed alongside the steep pathway that has been forged over years of hikers passing quietly through this forest. A partially exposed tree root the size of my leg keeps the crackled hard pan level. I can feel my heart pound and my accelerated breathing dries my throat. Sweat drips from my temples and coats my exposed arms. I never remember the ground getting so dry when I grew up near here. Now, that I’m a tourist, it’s always sunny and warm. I take a deep breath as I try to restart my stiffening legs and return to the uphill trek. Not much farther to the top. Dust rises as I shuffle my feet to regain momentum and get back to stepping up the pathway.

Once I reach mostly level ground along the pathway, the trail widens and the surroundings become greener.  I can see the sky and some clouds have partially obscured the bright sun.  A sign post marks the name of the trail I walk along.  It portrays a sketchy map of the remainder of the trail that ends in grasslands high over the ocean, but I only know that from experience.  The lines on the map don’t really tell me anything.  A crinkly pile of paper snagged together by a dangling clipboard waves in the freshening breeze displaying guest sign in sheets.  I glance through the handful of names written down in varying styles of handwriting.  There have been visitors on this very day from as far away as Germany, Japan and Australia.  I wonder how they knew about this place.  I lived less than 10 miles from here as a kid and didn’t know about it until I hung out with a school chum whose family lived nearby.  Most of the people who have signed are from the northwest.  If I were to visit Australia, I wouldn’t know about anything there.  My only accumulated knowledge is from Men at Work and Midnight Oil lyrics in the 80s and some of those local flavor pieces on the NBC Sydney Olympics coverage in 2000.  The ones I would generally avoid by flipping to other channels.  Oh and how could I forget those Australian Toaster Biscuit ads?  I grab the carved wooden pencil that is attached to the clipboard with a white string.  I scratch out: “OZZY” and “HELL” on the lines next to “NAME” and “FROM.”  This is what I have always done when visiting this place, ever since my 5th grade class wandered through here with my hippie teacher in search of deer scat.  The humor long ago wore off, but I remain intent on keeping up traditions.

I kiss the wind and make the rain
Jealous enough to fall for days
I fall on you when I hear thunder
I kiss the ground you lie under

Moving on ahead, I notice that the firs are starting to become taller again, and the shadows grow into a severe darkness. The horizon in front of me disappears as the trail begins another upward trajectory. I am completely exhausted. It’s difficult to believe that this trail used to be so easy to traverse. Only one more steep stretch and then the ocean will become audible, the towering trees will end abruptly, and daylight will be regained.

To my left I see the small river widen far below as it merges with the oncoming ocean. Just past it is the inviting beach. That beach will always signify the last time I truly understood the innocence of childhood play. It was there where a few of my friends and I were on the precipice of adulthood and the push to do adult things and become responsible, but shrugged off the pressure and played like 8 year old boys. That beach is perfectly framed between two trees poking up from below me. This is the place. I carefully step off the narrow pathway created by countless footfalls smashing down the long grasses that would otherwise be blowing in synchronized dances with the wind. I continue off the trail and slightly downhill until I feel like it’s no longer safe. I sit down on a piece of what looks like driftwood, but cannot imagine that it drifted all the way up here. Sitting below the level of the grasses and small shrubs mutes the roaring of the violence of the sea crashes into the rocks several hundred feet straight down. From here, I know only the most keenly aware passersby will be able to detect my presence. I am, after all, not supposed to stray from the trail.

Now I only sleep when spoken to
So I'll lay here still in morning dew
Drink up with the flowers and trees
Above you all is lush and green

I contemplate what this place means to me. It does not evoke memories of my mom. It is supposed to. This is where she wanted her remains to be placed. I never realized how much this place meant to her. To me, it will always evoke thoughts of running around at dusk with 25 grade school classmates playing what seemed like the most majestic and grand game of Capture the Flag in history. It reminds me of eating beef jerky for the first time. It reminds me of my experiences with my childhood friends. I don’t associate this place with her at all. Guilt wells up inside me. This has always been the problem. When she got sick, I was away at college. When I returned home, I was never fully there. I had spent most of my teenage years dreaming of escaping and finding my feet in a new life – a life built around my passions somewhere else. My small taste of freedom was still fresh and I wanted to go back. I had started to build a new group of friends. I thought that I had finally found love. I thought that I was finally building a foundation for my future. Then I found myself back at home, stuck there recovering from surgery, while trying to handle watching my mom wither away. I was selfishly strongly aware that what she was going through was likely what I would have to deal with sooner or later. It felt sooner as I struggled to recover from a disastrous month long hospital stay. The biggest difference is that despite my battle, I did eventually start to feel my strength return, while she continued to decline. As I felt better, I began to pull away again toward the pull of life. I will never forgive myself for this. I was at home to help, but I wasn’t there at all.

My thoughts are interrupted from the sound of muffled voices coming from the trail above. I stay completely still, as if they might’ve heard the thoughts swirling around in my giant head. I think that I hear Australian accents. I smile to myself, because I’ve always enjoyed many of the Australian accents I’ve heard over the years. Australians always sound enthusiastic. They get me fired up. This may have everything to do with most of those voices coming from television, where people are trained to sound excited about everything they do. I wonder what my life would be like if I never went back to my home, but instead headed to some warm white beaches along a coast of Australia somewhere.

The voices fall out of earshot. I return my gaze towards the wildflowers and the waterway they look down upon. I don’t know when I’ll be back here. At the rate I’m going I may not be able to make this trek without aid. Why is it that I only decided to return here when the sickness returned?


Now I kissed the wind and made the rain
Jealous and it'll fall for days
And I drink up with these flowers and trees
And I still love you
All is lush and green
Above you all is lush and green

*Lyrics and Title provided by Grandpaboy, or Winthrope Marion Purcival V, or Paul Westerberg, 1997

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Close to Me

This is the last of the entries I made during the period of time from when I first learned that I had become eligible to be placed onto the kidney transplant list to receiving the actual transplant on October 18, 2004.  I do not know why I stopped adding to the journal what turned out to be well over a year before the waiting ended.  It could've been that nothing was progressing and the waiting continued unabated.  It could be because I worked with my transplant doctor to aggressively pursue any effort to change my body in order to be a better fit for a donor kidney match.  This means that I was placed on immune suppressants and given bi-weekly treatments of IVIG to cleanse my blood of antibodies that could prevent matches.  The net result was that my health deteriorated quickly as did my level of hope.  In the end, I will never know if this attempt to push the matching process along was a factor for the kidney I did finally receive, but I wouldn't change a thing.

Monday, August 25, 2003.

Over the last weekend, I had a dream. I was in Forest Grove (or the Frosty Grave) with my friends Jeff and Steph. Jeff and I went to college at Pacific University (or P-U) in the Grave years and years ago. We were roommates at one time. Now, somehow we are still friends and he has since married Stephanie and the three of us found ourselves in a bar that in the dream was apparently located in FG. My beeper started to go off. I began to hyperventilate. It was finally my chance! The beeper meant that a kidney was waiting for me and all I had to do was go claim it. I ran out of the dark bar into the daylight on the sidewalk. There was a phone booth handy, but it was missing the phone. I looked at the number to call on the beeper’s tiny display. I kept looking at it. The people at the transplant clinic have told me that I would have about an hour to respond to the page, or else lose the kidney to the next person on the list. Steph ran after me outside. She was nearly as excited and bewildered as I was. I began to sweat bullets trying to figure out what to do next. My mind was a complete scramble. Steph was trying to help me calm down. She explained to me that she had a cell phone I could use. I looked into the open front door of the bar, where Jeff was standing. He was at the bar trying to pay our tab. He kept pulling losing lottery scratch-its out of his needlessly overstuffed wallet instead of money and the bartender was looking perturbed. I glanced back to the cell phone that Steph had handed me. I attempted to dial the number, but couldn’t punch it in properly. If the number was 2-9-3, I would tap in 2-4-3, and have to begin again. Serious panic set in and I began screaming my frustration as I fucked up the numbers again and again. I could hear Jeff getting lectured about ordering food and beer knowing full well that scratch-its aren’t currency. Jeff’s voice sounded confused and despondent as he tried to explain that his wallet did have money before, but is now filled with used losing tickets. Steph snatched the phone from my hand and punched in the correct number. The beeper began to beep anew. This was it!

I awoke to my alarm. That beeper in the dream was my alarm, and presumably my alarm again, after hitting the snooze bar in my sleep.

Today I purchased a cell phone. I hate cell phones. I have never wanted a cell phone – until now. My paranoia led me to it. The beeper is not enough. I need to be able to be able to speak directly with whoever may wind up calling for me, when (or if) a matching kidney becomes available. The notion of calling a number that appears on my pager, never knowing who they will be, bothers me, especially since my experience has always traced its way to a wrong number. At least wrong numbers or prank calls can be dealt with immediately. I will still have dreams of missing this most important call. I was even startled during dialysis today with a startling ring shortly after giving the transplant coordinator my new cell number. As I should’ve expected it was some chick looking for a Ted, or some such dude that I am not. I wonder how many wrong number calls people normally receive on their phones, because this feels ridiculous.

I wonder how I will actually feel if I actually do receive a call for a kidney. It will mean that someone has just died. The reality of this strikes me often and it fills me with guilt and sadness. Somehow I have placed myself in a position to hope for some stranger’s death. It makes me feel sick to my stomach, or maybe that’s the stomach ache I’ve had for the last two years. Either way, I don’t like what I’m facing.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sinking or 'Grease' is the Word

This is the second to last 'kidney journal' entry, before I gave it up for good.  What amazes me most about reading through these again after so many years, is how far technolgy has come in 9 short years.  So many things I reference in here were outdated long ago.  Forgotten relics.  Some things never change though, and that is my dislike of that guy in "Grease."

Friday, August 15, 2003.

Ever since beginning dialysis, I started watching a lot more television. Not that I already wasn’t glued to the set for more hours a day than I would ever want to admit throughout my life, but now, it’s not comparable. It started with the addition of two new Law and Order spinoffs. Throughout the 90s, I only had one show that I felt compelled to tune into each week and that was the original Law and Order. I got hooked on it when my Mom and I watched a few episodes of the first season together before she passed away. Now there are three of them to keep tabs on! Since I am now tired, weak, and sedentary from being sick, and slowly working my way to stuffed animal status, I see lots of TV at home every evening in addition to the four or so hours of barely interrupted time during dialysis. Currently, at dialysis I have figured out how to watch four straight episodes of Perry Mason on three different channels during my stint. If I tire of the courtroom drama, I can always watch the eight episodes of M.A.S.H. that are spanned across two different channels. During the evenings, I have started watching the two CSI: shows and I love the new show Boomtown and especially the new version of Dragnet with the Married with Children guy. I actually get frustrated when they schedule “my” shows against each other. It really is disgusting. But now that it’s been summer re-runs for some time, I have been left with nothing, because I have seen all of the episodes already. Life becomes empty when it’s based on a TV schedule. That’s how I wind up watching Debbie Travis’ home improvement show Facelift late at night, when I could care less about that shit.

The other evening, I was tuning in to watch TNT’s nightly run of old Law and Order episodes hoping to see one where I don’t remember the outcome. This night, however, TNT decided to show the old musical Grease. I have seen Grease many times, but found myself excited to see it again anyway. The thing that I noticed about the movie that I had never noticed before, and I’m sure that it had everything to do with these new (to me) surround sound TVs and the weird sound separation that they seem to create - every time a song scene came on during the storyline of the movie, the vocals sounded as though they were being piped in from a giant hangar or spacious old train station. The vocals echoed at me as if Olivia was singing into a toilet paper tube from behind me. The reverb was downright silly. Unfortunately, every time I’ve watched Grease, I am reminded of my dislike for one of the extras. It’s a guy that’s in most of the song and dance sequences and he bugs the living shit out of me. He’s the one near the end of the movie, during that closing song (wompa lamma lamma ding dong?), who is wearing a light green short sleeve shirt and tan pants. He does a Groucho Marx inspired dance for a moment. Next time you run across it, and that’s really the only way anyone watches this movie, you’ll see who I’m talking about. At first, you’ll say to yourself, “that’s funny that Chris doesn’t like this guy.” Then, the next time you run across the movie, and you will, you will begin to see this guy running about throughout the entire movie, like during the “Grease Lightning” scene, and during the entire dance contest stretch, and even during the “Summer Lovin’” extravaganza near the beginning. I do not know why his presence irritates me so much, but even as an eight or nine year old watching that film for the first time, he made me angry. Every time I see him, I want to turn away. I threaten to hunt him down and torture him the way he has tortured me for years. Yes, I talk to the TV. And, no, I wouldn’t want to hunt him down.

After watching Grease, and running the gamut of practicing my “hickey from Kenickie” impersonation, my terrible Travolta singing, and trying to avert my eyes from the evil extra, later that night I came across the pilot movie for Hawaii Five-O. This is the first episode of one of the best shows ever and I had never seen it before! The pilot has a different Danno. This Danno chain smokes and doesn’t have that weird hair or the childlike run, and the dialog is more free and intriguing. Plus the pilot introduces us to the dreaded Red China agent Wo Fat, and of course, Steve McGarrett – the Lord, Jack Lord. We get to see the blue suit, his freakish skeletal face, and that hair. We get to hear him tell Danno to “BOOK ‘EM” for the first time as he arrests CIA agents just for being a nuisance to him. McGarrett commands and coerces people who are supposed to hold more power than him, though we all know better. There is nothing else quite like this show. There is nothing quite like wasting one’s life away by watching television all hours of the day and night. It’s no wonder I can’t sleep anymore.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Baby Screams

This is an odd post.  The next entry in the 'waiting for the tranplant' journal of 2003 found me delving into more details of the reality that is being a dialysis patient.  One might think it would be a great time to reflect.  And for someone who finds writing therapeutic and conscious clearing, it would be a great time to write.  How many people get 4-5 hours of blank time 3 days a week?  Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to do anything.  In reality, it is a time to tune out.  For the most part, I kept this world to myself.  I rarely shared stories and discouraged visitors after the first few months as a patient.  However, I did write a few bits and pieces about dialysis and I have already swiped this particular entry for this very blog a few years ago. 

This actually works out well considering that this is the eve of a National holiday.  It's a re-run!

The Tuesday, August 12, 2003 journal entry can be found here.

Monday, July 2, 2012

In Between Days

Here's another entry in the 'waiting for the transplant' journal.  What strikes me most about this one, is that this entry arrives nearly a full eight months after the first.  My guess for the gap is that I am really bad at keeping journals consistently, and because that year was my best as a dialysis patient.  Much of 2003 was the one year where I was fairly stable and managed to start to live a little again.  I find that I'm more likely to write, if I'm not feeling well and am less active. 

Some other things that stand out is what seems like the prehistoric use of the beeper.  This is only nine years ago!  I cannot imagine that they still use those things.  Also, the flat, nearly fond way I remember coming to in the ICU after having my kidneys removed is striking to me.  I certainly did not enjoy that experience, as evidenced by the blog I posted another time describing more bluntly and dramatically how that experience went down (this can be found here).  And finally, I cannot believe that people have started using the nasal tube (as feeding tube) as a method to lose weight quickly.  What a horrible idea!

Thursday, August 7, 2003.

I have a beeper now. Things are really moving along. Seven people have tested their blood to donate for me. Unbelievable! The generosity of my friends continuously amazes me. Why do they even care? I am so grateful that I cannot put it into words, but I also wonder if I deserve such kindness. I am such an asshole most of the time and have become even more tedious to be around since losing my kids. Maybe they offer in order to shut up my stupid mouth. Somehow, however, no one has been a match. Same blood type, but the old “positive cross-match” rears its ugly head every time. I’m not sure what this means. The “positive” must mean that my blood reacts negatively to the potential donor’s blood. The consensus seems to be that this is happening because I’ve had too many blood transfusions in the past (eight units in one sitting one time after bleeding internally for a few days post surgery). Yet, the lab cross-matched my blood to their 20 test samples on hand and they were all “negative cross-matches,” which apparently is a good thing. And there it is again. A sentence I have continually heard since this disorder (VHL) was discovered in my body: “I have never seen anything like this.” This is not something one wants to hear from a doctor. I hear it at appointments all the time. Every time I try and believe that I am somehow normal, I get reminded that I am a freak mutant without the fun super-powers that all good mutants are supposed to have.

Carrying this beeper is really crazy. It could go off at any second. In fact, it has gone off. It seems to “beep” on occasion for no apparent reason. One time I called the number on the display and it was a guy looking to get his car detailed. I don’t really know what that means, but it felt like a cruel joke. Other times, the number has led me to a non-stop ringing when I phone in. No one home. Wouldn’t that be a kind prank over at the transplant office? Or maybe unused or dead phone numbers come alive and contact other phone numbers. Maybe there’s an entire culture of zombie phone numbers out there hunting down other numbers to feed off of. Or maybe this is part of the Matrix that everyone is so afraid of nowadays.

The beeper is attached to me at all times. I play with it and check it and supply it with fresh batteries every few weeks to make sure that it’s fully empowered when it comes time to alert me when a kidney becomes available. It’s all the hope I have in the world jammed into that little plastic box.

I had a dream the other night that I had lost the beeper. Everyone around me had their cell phones and pagers ringing and beeping, while I was without. I was frantically trying to remember where I’d left it. Was it stolen? Did I drop it into a storm drain? Those storm drains have been daring me to accidentally drop my keys into them for years, so it wouldn’t surprise me. Was it going to alert me, when I couldn’t hear it? Was I going to miss my chance for a transplant, because I was without? Would I be dropped back to the bottom of the list? To search for it, I decided to climb into my Dad’s van. His cat Demando was driving. We were off to find the beeper. It began raining and the cat was struggling to keep the speeding van on the wet road. I was in the back seat, but leaning forward watching this cat work hard to turn the wheel around sharp corners, while wondering how its tiny legs could reach the pedals. We suddenly turned 90 degrees onto a side street that rose steeply uphill and then drove inside a Taco Bell. The cat ordered some food at the counter from the driver’s side with several “meows” and I paid for the food, when Demando and the kid working both glared at me. My friend Wil was already in the Taco Bell and climbed into the van with us. I woke up to my alarm at that point. Not to the beeper.

I have somehow convinced myself that I will miss catching the beeper if it does actually go off with the big news. Logically, I know the transplant people will try and contact me via phone at home or at work or at dialysis, before resorting to the beeper, yet I continue to believe that if I set it down or fall asleep or listen to music too loud, I will miss my chance to receive a new kid.


I’ll never forget coming to in recovery after the surgeon took my kidneys. There’s that first question they always ask after shouting your name repeatedly to get you conscious: “How do you feel?” and/or “Rate your pain.” In this case, my pain rating on a scale of one to ten was something around “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!”

The second memory I have is waking up in the ICU. I had missed my chance at being in the ICU the year prior when I had that giant cyst removed from my brain stem. The ICU was too full, so I spent the entire night in recovery with an ICU nurse nearby. ICU is the coolest place. You can receive complete nurse attention at all times along with a very private room and you’ll be surrounded by all kinds of high-tech equipment that beeps and squawks and hums all the reading things that your body is doing. It is difficult to move around in ICU, not because of the pain from surgery, but also because they have so many tubes stuck in all kinds of places. One wrong move and something serious could go haywire. My personal favorite tube was the one they stuffed into my right nostril. I didn’t know what it was or could be for. It made my nose itch, so I found myself scratching around that tube frequently very carefully. As my consciousness grew, my aggressiveness with the scratching the itch did too. It didn’t take long before I realized a correlation between my movements of the nose tube and the soreness of my throat. When the nurse caught me fiddling with the tube she strongly advised against doing that. I asked her what it was for and she explained that the tube is placed through the nostril and down through the throat and into the stomach. The idea is to suck out any bile that one could otherwise throw up, in order to avoid any disastrous events from the trauma that a violent vomit would cause to my freshly wounded abdomen. Well, that made sense, but her warning did not stop me from scratching carefully at that itch. The irritation was too much for me to avoid constantly thinking about it. I had nothing else to do in that dark room. Every time a caretaker of some sort entered the room, I would beg for it to be removed. Unfortunately, the act of removing such a device is exactly how one might think it would come out. Someone comes in and yanks it out through your nose. And, yes, it burns, the entire way and for a long time after. It was a relief to have it gone, but it didn’t seem worth it for a long time after it was gone.

Once some of the tubes and wires and machines were dumped and dragged from my room in the Hotel Intensive Care, I tried my best to enjoy the peace and quiet of the quiet room in the secured wing. They had all of this advanced technological equipment in there, but somehow the TV was awful. Every channel was fuzzy and shaky on the screen and the volume was set so low all I could ever hear was a low buzz or mumble. Maybe it was time to move to a regular room. I don’t know if I would be ready to face the world again. I knew I’d never be the same again.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Here is a second entry from the randomly kept journal I began once I found out the news that I had finally been given the chance to be placed on the transplant list back in 2003.  Looking back, it's odd for me to try and figure out what moments were worth chronicling, and what weren't.  I was pretty single minded at that point, so that may explain why the entries are so few and far between. 

Thursday, January 16, 2003.

Sitting at my desk at work, shuffling papers around, in an attempt to organize into piles what stuff I want to work on and in what order I want to do it. Some of the stuff is constantly being rearranged to the bottom of the pile. If it’s eternally in my to-do stack, then maybe it will solve itself and never have to be addressed.

It’s early. I am having troubles staying focused. I found out the other night that there might actually be a chance of one day finally receiving a kidney transplant.

I pull out a blank sheet of paper, once my desk has been straightened to my liking. I grab a KING SIZE marker pen and take a sniff from the tip. Whatever happened to those fruit smelling marker pens from childhood? Those were cool. I especially liked grape, or the purple one, which gets me to thinking about our societal approximation of grape. Though I enjoy grape gum and candy, it never tastes anything like any grapes I’ve ever had. They should give up the rouse and rename it “purple.” It’s not fooling anyone. I wonder if Grimace tastes like “Purple?” I shake my head to erase this thought, since Grimace would most likely not be an acceptable food for my dialysis diet.

On the blank paper I scrawl out a “Wanted” sign, which reads:

O+ Kidney
Right or Left
Take 6 weeks off!
Call: 503-413-XXXX

I stare at the paper for some time, as the glare of the bright white sheet reflecting the fluorescent beams above begins to burn my eyes. I see the rectangle now with every blink. The words blend together. Maybe I sniffed the toxic pen too much. I wonder what these things are made out of.

They’re only a couple of people in the office this early in the morning. One of the benefits of coming in so early is the gradual nature of beginning the day. The energy of the business picks up about an hour in, so by then I have a chance to try and wake my sorry ass up.

I wander downstairs to the bulletin board near the front desk. I look for a place to tack my sign. This seems like a bad idea. The sign will only confuse anyone that looks at it. I kept it vague, because I don’t want to be involved with picking my hopeful donor – but this is really more of a joke - a joke that no one will understand, because it's not funny.

Instead of tacking it up onto the fabric covered cubicle partition wall, I toss the paper into the recycling bin underneath the receptionist’s desk. A few actual work tasks get accomplished, and then another blank sheet of paper comes out. I scratch out another message:
O+ Kidney
Male or Female
Right or Left
Willing to take 6 weeks off?

Maybe I should mail this off to Willamette Week’s personals department. I’d rather have a date with a new kidney at this point than one with a hot blonde. Let me rethink that. I wonder what kind of responses such an ad would draw. Probably none, but if it did, they would undoubtedly be weird and scary. But, would it actually work?

I keep thinking to myself, how in the hell do other people find living donors? After dating a transplant patient last year, I learned that she received her kidney from her Mom. My Dad offered to donate, but the doctor’s almost laughed him out of the room, which only filled him with rage – like most things do. Apparently, he’s too old for his health to have a kidney removed without a lot of extra risk for both of us. So, that leaves out anyone in my immediate family. I’ve seen those feel good news stories about some random stranger donating a body part to someone simply because they are that damn generous and have been touched by the needing person’s story. How do I get my tragic story onto the local news? How do I get one of those sweet talking beautiful reporters outfitted in a bright turquoise pantsuit to tell my story so that some saint can give a chunk of their flesh to save my pathetic life? Is there a network out there somewhere that I am unaware? Is there a special store where news people buy their clothes? Maybe it’s because my story isn’t particularly tragic and it’s definitely not interesting. Still, for someone who has been strapped to a dialysis machine for over a year now, constantly inundated with kidney news and trivia and networks, I seem to be in the dark about how things work.

I toss the second sheet away and head back to my office upstairs. I really need to give my wonderful spacious private office up and move downstairs. It is becoming a struggle to climb these stairs several times a day. Somehow I always knew that cracking the age of 30 meant that I was officially old, but this is ridiculous.

Back at my desk, I bring up the Willamette Week personals page online. I do not see any ads for body parts. This is discouraging.

Typing “Kidney Transplant” into my search engine, I discover a website named Transweb. “Take the transplant journey,” it says. I couldn’t look any further.

Maybe a cadaver kidney is the way to go. I can handle another year or two or three of dialysis. Plus it would so exciting to be on call for a kidney. Maybe they’d give me a beeper, so they can reach me at any moment. Would the beeper call come while I’m sitting on the toilet, like all of my phone calls do?