Monday, January 10, 2005

Pass The Staple Remover...And The Tape...

Folks - A long, but productive day at NYU Transplant Center on Monday. After weekly bloodwork at 7:30 AM, Nancy and I ran into Dr. Lewis Teperman, head of the transplant center, who declared: "The Birds Are Flying High."

We saw him hours later for an official visit in the office, where I'm glad to say, all 75 of my metal staples in the "Mercedes Benz" logo abdominal incision and the others in my left groin and under my left arm, were removed - 22 days after the liver transplant.

Dr. Ahmed Fahmy, with just a simple clip with scissors made quick work of the handiwork which was part of the 8-hour transplant surgery on Dec. 19. The metal staples were replaced by thin strips of white tape which will temporarily hold things together before they slip away without consequence in coming days.

The good news is Heide Alexander, our dear friend, talented photographer and Web mistress supreme, took plenty of post-op, post-beard, pre-stitch removal pictures that will soon be posted on a separate page listed in the savedavid.org homepage.

Doctors also adjusted down the meds again, attempting further relief from nagging diarrhea, and reflecting my constantly improving health.

I've been eating like a horse - scrumptious meals of turkey chili and corn bread, roast chicken, soup, and homemade pizza dropped off by our wonderful, caring neighbors - who never forget to include fresh-baked cookies, too. Glad to say I've gained five pounds in recent days to 166 pounds - still 50 pounds under the level of just a few months ago - but moving in the right direction.

A very pleasant surprise was running into Michael, a fellow liver transplant recipient, who is, in fact, the man who received the 80-year-old liver which I decided to turn down on Dec. 17.

He's doing great, exercising his TV remote control at home, and using high-quality ice cream to gain back 10 pounds that he's down since his operation. Michael's is a remarkable story. He suffered from Hepatitis C for many years and later was stricken with liver cancer, for which he received treatment. A cancerous tumor returned around Thanksgiving and was detected just in time - if it had grown fractionally larger, he would have been unable to qualify for a liver transplant.

I feel blessed that God directed me in my decision to turn down what I believed to be not the appropriate liver for me - and that it went to this man and saved his life. The looks he shares with his wife, Nan, and his vitality put me at a loss or words.

Keeping within New York Organ Donor Network guidelines, I wrote a letter of thanks and sympathy to the family of the 53-year-old woman from the Bronx whose liver I received upon her death on Dec. 19.

Under the organization's protocol, my letter was turned in at NYU Transplant Center, which will forward it to the Donor Network. The Donor Network will check with the donor's family to find out if they are ready to receive such a letter. If the family takes the letter, I may eventually get a response, at the family's choice. Otherwise, the family may choose not to respond and the issue is closed.

I included in my letter the words to a moving song brought to my attention in the transplant center when my sister-in-law Chris Fleming came in with a CD of one of her daughters, Alison Wiggins, angelically singing the tune ''For Good,'' from the Broadway hit ''Wicked.''
Alison, a singer and actress in her school, is including the CD in her college applications.

Here are the inspiring words, which Nancy and I hope Alison will sign for us at a ceremony to renew our wedding vows this spring...

"For Good"
by Stephen Schwartz (copyrighted)

You're the only friend I've ever had.
And I've had so many friends. But only one-- that mattered.

I'VE HEARD IT SAID
THAT PEOPLE COME INTO OUR LIVES FOR A REASON BRINGING SOMETHING WE MUST LEARN AND WE ARE LED TO THOSE WHO HELP US MOST TO GROW IF WE LET THEM AND WE HELP THEM IN RETURN WELL, I DON'T KNOW IF I BELIEVE THAT'S TRUE BUT I KNOW I'M WHO I AM TODAY BECAUSE I KNEW YOU...

LIKE A COMET PULLED FROM ORBIT
AS IT PASSES A SUN

LIKE A STREAM THAT MEETS A BOULDER
HALFWAY THROUGH THE WOOD
WHO CAN SAY IF I'VE BEEN CHANGED FOR THE BETTER?
BUT BECAUSE I KNEW YOU
I HAVE BEEN CHANGED FOR GOOD-

IT WELL MAY BE
THAT WE WILL NEVER MEET AGAIN
IN THIS LIFETIME
SO LET ME SAY BEFORE WE PART
SO MUCH OF ME
IS MADE OF WHAT I LEARNED FROM YOU
YOU'LL BE WITH ME
LIKE A HANDPRINT ON MY HEART
AND NOW WHATEVER WAY OUR STORIES END
I KNOW YOU HAVE RE-WRITTEN MINE
BY BEING MY FRIEND...

LIKE A SHIP BLOWN FROM ITS MOORING
BY A WIND OFF THE SEA
LIKE A SEED DROPPED BY A SKYBIRD
IN A DISTANT WOOD
WHO CAN SAY IF I'VE BEEN CHANGED FOR THE BETTER?
BUT BECAUSE I KNEW YOU...

BECAUSE I KNEW YOU...

BECAUSE I KNEW YOU
I HAVE BEEN CHANGED FOR GOOD...

AND JUST TO CLEAR THE AIR
I ASK FORGIVENESS
FOR THE THINGS I'VE DONE YOU BLAME ME FOR

BUT THEN, I GUESS WE KNOW
THERE'S BLAME TO SHARE

AND NONE OF IT SEEMS TO MATTER ANYMORE

LIKE A COMET PULLED FROM
ORBIT/AS IT PASSES A SUN/
LIKE A STREAM THAT MEETS A
BOULDER/ HALF-WAY
THROUGH THE WOOD

LIKE A SHIP BLOWN OFF ITS
MOORING/BY A WIND OFF THE
SEA/ LIKE A SEED DROPPED BY A
BIRD IN
THE WOOD

WHO CAN SAY IF I'VE BEEN CHANGED FOR THE BETTER?
I DO BELIEVE I HAVE BEEN CHANGED FOR THE BETTER

AND BECAUSE I KNEW YOU...

BECAUSE I KNEW YOU...

BECAUSE I KNEW YOU...
I HAVE BEEN CHANGED FOR GOOD.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The Echoes-Sentinel local weekly newspaper returned for a follow-up story on my Christmas time liver miracle, taking plenty of photos. Story expected in the Thursday Jan. 13 issue.

Long Hill Township administrator called today for information on the transplant and the Save David Foundation we've established to help cover our additional costs. The mayor has agreed to allow Save David magnetic "ribbons", designed and created by our neighbors, to be sold at Town Hall and a formal ordinance was being prepared Monday for approval by the full Town Council.

All in all, time well spent in New York City today, before leaving without a stitch.

(Apologies to Dr. Thomas Diflo, my transplant surgeon and apparent close reader of this Blog, for incorrectly capitalizing the ''f'' in his name in two references on Jan. 4).



Cheers,
David

1 Comments:

At 4:39 PM, Blogger Barbara and Grace said...

Dear David,
It is truly inspiring to know you are up and writing, if not your usual bit on gas and oil, at least this new stuff on gases and bile....:) What a heartwarming song! It reminds me to savor my own loved ones and makes me want to run out and get the soundtrack to "Wicked". I can't know if it was easy or difficult to write the letter to the donor family, but your warmth and gratitude comes through with each word of this blog. I'm sure the family of your donor, as well as other donor families who read your comments online will be bouyed by your bright and indefatigable spirit.

Warmest wishes and continued prayers,

 

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