Thursday, February 17, 2011

April 1, 2011: Scheduled Kidney Transplant Day / Poem: My Third Kidney

Hello young kidneys wherever you are. There are songs about the heart and about the mind. "She's got legs" is a great line from ZZ Top but where is a song about the kidneys?

Daughter and mother

My diminishing kidney function is the result of taking lithium carbonate for 16.5 years for manic-depression, which I no longer have.
Mine were plump pink pills, generic.

They warn you this can happen but you never think it will. Lab results must be checked every 6 months. I went off in 2001. At that time I had 38 percent function but two years ago my kidney function worsened.

One reason may have been I took forbidden over-the-counter pain medication for sciatica for months at a time, kidneys be damned. The pain was excrucating.

My unsullied belly. They'll make a small incision in my abdomen, keep in my two diminishing kidneys which work at 16 percent efficiency, and will add my daughter Sarah's left kidney, aptly named Odysseus, after his long journey home.

Read about Sarah's adventures on her blog.

There's always something to worry about, right? I have utmost faith in my transplant surgeons, Radi Zaki, Stalin Campos, and one other dude.

It's the immunosuppressive drugs I worry about. They suppress your immune system. Ah-choo! However, my friend Freda has been on these drugs for years, and assures me she doesn't get sick. As I've mentioned my friend Denis Hazam who runs a similar support group to mine had a transplant five years ago and his immune system was never compromised.

What me worry? Who said that? Why Alfred E Neuman.

Didn't you just love Alfred of Mad Magazine when you were 12 years old?

Radi Zaki, MD, transplant surgeon, graduate of Cairo University, go freedom go!

He is ably assisted by this American-born talented young lady, flawed only by her coffee addiction

Completing the triumvirate is none other than Stalin Campos from El Salvador.

Now you see why I have nothing to worry about.

PS - In November of 2008 when unbeknownst to me my kidneys were getting worse, I had a TIA, very similar to this news announcer's which is captured live here.

Unlike her, however, I surmised exactly what was happening. I was at the Sunoco station in Hatboro w/Scott and when I went inside to pay, I began speaking gibberish. I went back in my car and began to drive home in order to take an aspirin and then drive directly to Abington Hospital.

I did not say a word.

Anything wrong? Scott asked.

I shook my head but said nothing.

I ran into the house and took two aspirins, then went back in the car, and drove straight to the hospital.

By the time we got there, I could talk again.

They kept me overnite and put me on blood pressure meds and aspirin.

My pressure is very good. I'm on three meds for it.

I should add that, at the time of my TIA, I was under the care of a free clinic at Abington Hospital, having foolishly given up my private health insurance. The care I got was actually quite good until my doctor Jennifer Shih, a resident whose work is followed by 'real doctors,' failed to follow-up about my high blood pressure. In fact, she had me on Lisinopril, which my nephroloogist said was bad for my kidneys.

The moral is easy. See a good knowledgeable doctor.


the furious torrent
like summer rains
a drought in the
sunny sahara
reflect the sky
but i
shall be saved
and pat my belly
where my rusty pair of
still squeeze drops
from stone
still pump the soundless
rivers of blood
round and round
this old mother
like the grand mississippi
if it weren’t for voodoo potions
called pills
my inner channels
would laden be
with silt and rocks
too heavy to carry
and i quicker still
would rush headlong into
eternity’s sacred path
but for my daughter
my saviour
who once i carried on my hip
and watched her blue eyes turn
to brown and huge
will pass unto me
one of her sacred twins
thirty-seven years of
vibrant pissing
will now come back home
brave ulysses bound for his own penelope
restless, he will grow to like
his strange new home
i will pour libations
through his tender
every morsel i eat
dedicated to his glory
together we shall marvel at
the first daffodil poking her
head in the garden
just the three of us
strolling in my garden in
my white bridal gown.


  1. Once again, I am overwhelmed by your daughter's courage and love.

    And A-choo, btw the way, mean's "I don't know" in Iñupiaq, even if spelled slightly different.

    Astounding post!

  2. Didn't know about all that is contained within this post. I have put the date on my calendar so I can know exactly when to summon up all of my positive energy to send as much of it as possible in your direction--and prayers too, which I think you don't believe in they add to the good energy. Don't forget to ask Dan or whomever you designate to keep those of us who care (many people) filled in on how you and Sarah are doing, please.

    And I am dying to know the back story of Dr. Stalin Campos' name. What was in his parents' minds?

  3. his parents did indeed name him after the communist leader. campos would be in his 40s so i don't know if the world knew the extent of stalin's reign of terror back then. i'll ask scott later.

  4. Oh they definitely knew by the time your doctor was born. My grandfather was a Stalinist but when his atrocities became known, he switched his allegiance and was a Wobbly (IWW) I was told he was on the welcoming committee when Eugene Debs was released from prison but nobody is left to verify the story. I would say by late 30's and 40's they knew what Joe Stalin was.

    That is miserable that they did not follow up on the high BP or find the right med. Of course I have a family member who has high blood pressure and refuses to take her medication. This has gone on for maybe 8-10 yrs and we suggest damage to her internal organs. She never goes to the doctor either.

  5. interesting about your grandfather, harry's dad, i presume, i know your uncle sam was a real radical. he spit on someone's car who he considered a fascist. eugene debbs, wow. havent heard that name since history class in 1963. our great socialist past. that of course we're recreating today, with my blessing. i love my new medicare card and you will too!

  6. Hi, Ruth. Sorry to hear that you need a transplant, but happy to see from this web site that you are in such good humor about it. It is wonderful that your daughter is able to be a donor. Hope everything goes really smoothly for both of you. Best regards, Bob Benjamin

  7. how kind of you to write, bob! always good to hear from you. you remain on our top doc list. warm regards to you and your family.

  8. Oh Ruth, I am so sorry, had NO idea you were going through all this, and how wonderful of Sarah. You are both brave and inspiring. Like mother, like daughter!

    I had to displace myself from the Abington area to near Harrisburg and two days after I moved in December, I broke my ankles on a disrepaired sidewalk. So, I have been in casts December 9 to March 6. I am sorry I am so far and unable to come see you when you have your transplant, but I will definitely be in touch and am sending you my love and health.
    Best wishes,