Thursday, January 13, 2005

Slipping Into Shoes Again - Pleasure In Simple Things

It's always the simple things that provide the most pleasure. On Thurday morning, I slipped into a pair of honest-to-goodness shoes - instead of the bedroom slippers I've been wearing since the summer. The swelling in my feet and ankles, caused by fluid buildup related to the liver disease, has eased considerably due to exercising in the last few days.

I beat my goal by a week of wearing shoes - not slippers - to next Wednesday's doctor appointment.

On Wednesday, a woman from Gillette, a neighboring Long Hill Township town, called to say she had read about me in the latest issue of the Echoes-Sentinel newspaper and that she was a liver transplant recipient 18 years ago and "it gets better each day." Indeed it does!

Here is the latest story from the Echoes-Sentinel, with some important corrections to note.

There is no website. All information about the Save David Foundation can be found on the website under the "How You Can Help" headline.

I received the good news that a liver was available for me at 3:40 AM on Dec. 19 - the day of the transplant - not two days before the transplant, as the story states.

In February, when I am placed on long-term disability at work, my salary will drop to 60% of normal. It won't be cut in half next week as reported.

Millington resident home after liver transplant MINHAJ HASSAN

LONG HILL TWP - A celebratory mood was apparent inside and outside David Bird's Long Hill Road, Millington, home. Bird was nothing short of appreciative and thankful.

Having suffered excessive fatigue since last June from a rare form of acute hepatitis, a disease that causes inflammation of the liver, the 46 year-old resident said he got his Christmas present about a week early on Dec. 19, in the form of a new liver.

Bird underwent an eight-hour liver transplant at New York University Hospital on that day. The liver donation was made possible by a deceased 53-year-old female from Bronx, N.Y., with Type O blood, which matches Birds.

I felt like my prayers were answered, Bird said, recalling the time his nurse told him the good news at 3:40 a.m., Friday, Dec. 17. I called my wife and told her that this was the call she was waiting for.

Nancy Bird said she's still speechless on describing her emotions regarding her husband's improved prognosis. However, she knows she feels sheer excitement.

David Bird also told his wife to be cautiously optimistic, adding that the first three months of recovery will determine how his long-term health will be.

For now, though, he's glad he no longer has acute hepatitis.

It's an instant change, he said.

David Bird said as soon as he heard the good news, he got out of his hospital bed and watched the sun rise over the East River. Spending several days at the hospital, he did various strength-training exercises, one of which was walking up and down stairs.

It's been a tough journey to convalescence. When the Echoes-Sentinel spoke to David Mr. Bird on Dec. 4, he said he was right on the threshold when describing how quickly he needed a liver transplant. Doctors thought he could survive on half a liver.

However, Mr. Bird's condition worsened considerably on Dec. 7, when he was transported to Overlook Hospital in Summit during the middle of the night. At that point, physicians told him he needed a full liver transplant to make a recovery. The next day, he was transported to New York University Hospital, where he remained for about three weeks.

He got it just in time, Mrs. Bird said, about her husband's transplant.

Side Effects

Besides the fatigue, Bird's weight has dropped from 214 pounds to 160 pounds. A business reporter for Dow Jones, he has been out of work since last summer.

To remain healthy, or at least, disease-free, Bird must take several prescription drugs.

"They say once a liver transplant recipient, always a liver transplant recipient," he said.

Bird is on 14 medications, taking as many as 40 pills a day.

Bird is grateful that he's gotten past the life-and-death stage. The focus now is to make a good, if not full, recovery.

He was glad to spend New Year's Eve with his family, eating pizza and sipping sparkling cider. He shaved his beard off at 11:50 p.m., that evening, adding that it made him look scruffy.

"I looked like Saddam (Hussein) in a spider hole," he said.

Nancy Bird wanted to make sure her husband was close to their kids and made a video library of their daily lives.

David Bird said he was especially touched when his 6-year-old son, Alexander, told him that he got his late Christmas present "You."

As a daily exercise, he has been walking on the Stirling bike trails and around the Tower of Remembrance at the Shrine of St. Joseph, on Long Hill Road, Stirling. If the recovery goes well, Mr. Bird said he could return to work in six months.

His Web site,, will remain on the Internet to provide information on the disease. A sister Web site,, is intended to raise funds for the Bird family, while Mr. Bird is out of work. Once he goes on long-term disability in a week, his salary will be cut in half.

They are optimistic they will overcome their financial hurdles. The community is also chipping in. One of the Birdses' friends, Wendy Sequeira, of Sunny Slope, Millington, has set up a drive to collect funds.

Several local businesses are carrying ribbon magnets that read, "Love David, Liver Disease Awareness."

"We hope to raise enough to offset some of the doctor and hospital fees," she said.

Sequeira said 1,000 ribbons were ordered. Residents can purchase each ribbon for $5, at such locations as the Millington Savings Bank, the Pizza Mill, both on Long Hill Road, Millington, Country Farms, on Division Avenue, Millington, Dorsi's Deli on Main Avenue, Stirling, Jaegar Lumber, and Calabria, both on Valley Road, Stirling.

As of Friday, Jan. 7, some $440 was raised between the Millington businesses, according to Sequeira.

Those who would like to make a donation could save it to Save David Foundation, P.O. Box 206, Millington, N.J. 07946.



At 7:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey there, so good to read your latest entries into the BLOG. I had been addicted to looking at it every day and now that you have been doing so well, I had not checked in awhile......I loved the entry about "Wicked" song .... very touching, it gave me goosebumps.


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