Monday, September 19, 2005

A Time For Happy Anniversaries...

Folks - It's been such a special time these past few days...
Today marks the start of my 10th month with ''Dora,'' my new liver - transplanted to me on Dec. 19. I feel great and am doing fine on my declining volume of meds...

Everyday, I thank my donor family with a special prayer when I talk my morning walk. This day was extra special beginning with my 3.5-mile walk at 6 AM under a glowing, full harvest moon.
I said my usual ''Thank you Lord, for most this amazing day...'' and was powered on my walk by my new Ipod, which I've finally got sorted and loaded with some favorite tunes. I plan to recreate the Soundtrack of My Life - the background music to my surgery, courtesy of Dr. Diflo.
But this morning, the pod, on shuffle, guided me with Elvis Costello's ''Days,'' from the ''Until the End of the World'' soundtrack; ''How Beautiful Could A Being Be,'' from Caetano Veloso's ''Livro,'' and ''There is a Mountain,'' by Donovan, all spectacular early morning songs.

The other big anniversary was Sept. 14. It was 14 years ago (!) that I told Nancy she was the only bee in my bonnet on that day. We've been too busy celebrating to blog.

The thought for that day, from someone named Malcolm Schloss, is wonderful and apt:
''Love without ceasing, Give without measure - Who can exhaust God's limitless treaure?''

One of the first tunes on my Ipod - Tippa Irie's ''Love You To Me Heart & Soul'' - the first one our wedding tape, found after much searching. I had heard Tippa in the early '80s when I lived in London. That was before the Internet (was there such a time?) and it was next to impossible to find realitively obscure imports here. As luck would have it, I got an address somewhere for Tippa and wrote him in England to ask where I could find the CD. He wrote back (''I hope you and your wife dance in good time to ''Love You To Me Heart & Soul'' at your wedding'') with a mail box address, but, serendipitously, we found an import CD at the Virgin Megastore on the Champs Elysees in Paris and later happened upon a poster announcing a Tippa concert at SOB's in Manhattan - a great show!

Music's been a big theme lately - we enjoyed a free concert locally on Saturday night - again by happenstance. In tiny Mountainside, NJ under a full moon and brief shower, on blankets 30 yards from the stage we heard the Smithereens, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (still rocking!) and, our favorite band, ''They Might Be Giants'' who gave out orange over-sized foam hands of the style that sport fans wave at games. We screamed ourselves hoarse for the ''Hippy Kitten'' song, to no avail, but the show was still great. The confetti cannon worked in the rain and Tasha and Alex (dressed in some of my several XL TMBG shirts acquired at a dozen or so concerts over the years) scooped up handfuls and had confetti battles with Cousin Brendan...

Thank you, Lord, for most these amazing days...

Today's thought...
''The butterfly counts not months, but moments, and yet has time enough...''

UNOS reminds us of the never-ending need for organ donors...
as of Aug 19, 88,745 people waiting for all transplants nationwide...17,453 awaiting liver transplants...every 14 minutes a new name is added to the waiting list...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

How Sweet It Is...

Folks - there's something indescribably sweet about celebrating a birthday that was in doubt. But I've got the greatest gift of all - a wonderful family and great friends. Dora, my new liver, is the gift that keeps on giving and I'll never lose sight of how blessed I am or stop thinking about and thanking my donor's family.

We've had some wonderful days of late - cook-out with friends on a glorious sunny day. And we headed up on a rainy day to Wildcat Ridge, north of here, to see migrating hawks. Tis the season, and some days there are meant to be thousands on display, if you're lucky. Turns out hawks don't like to fly in the rain. On the way to the hawks, Nancy, Alex and Tasha and I lost our way and found our way to a bat cave - complete with viewing perch. In the humid 80+ temperatures, frigid 40-degree air rolled out in a chilly mist from the gated cave - and eery but welcome find. Of course, the bats are active at dusk and dawn - not in the middle of the day. So, to recap - 1 hawk viewing area with no hawks, 1 bat viewing area with no bats.
We did find a flock of chickens chasing after a man who returned to his farm in his white pickup truck. They looked like kids following the ice cream man.
On the way to the hawk lookout we counted 26 frogs (or toads) in assorted sizes from the size of Tasha's thumb to the size of her hand. Alex was reluctant to pop one into his hat for a souvenir, but Tasha would have taken the whole hopping lot of them. It poured on us all on the way down the mountain (about a 1.5 mile dash) - but it was perfect way to spend a day - singing and laughing in the rain.
When your looking for hawks, or bats, and life gives you frogs - make frogade - or whatever.

On the good news front...
my birthday gift from Dr. Teperman kicks in at the end of the week - no more Valcyte after Friday. That means I'm on just on 6 meds/supplements vs 14 or so when I was sprung from the hospital.

Speaking of springing, Shari, who got her liver at NYU and made headlines with her friends' aggressive actions in promoting her cause, has been sprung from the hospital as of Aug. 25 and is recovering.

Oddly, after NYU and UNOS went through great pains to underscore that every is equal in the transplant world - the critical need for the organ being the criteria - NYU actually put out a press release announcing her release. Even more odd, they gave a nice plug to a foundation that she's starting.
Now, you know us - the more publicity for the cause, the better.
We just wish they would plug our similar foundation (INSERT PLUG HERE: The Save David Foundation, PO Box 206, Millington, NJ 07946). And a little NYU PR would have been nice on the fact that one of their transplant recipients - less than 7 months after getting a new liver - was the top fundraiser in all three of the tri-state 5K Liver Walks for the American Liver Foundation, raising a total of $5,120 from generous donors like you...It can only help the cause...

Further on the good news front, an amazing story - a 19-month-old Japanese boy who underwent a six-organ transplant in Miami - is heading home after his Christmas Eve 2004 surgery with: a new liver, pancreas, stomach, small and large intestines and spleen.


From today's thought-for-the-day calendar...
''The soul would have no rainbow if the eye had no tear.
Father, how often I rush to wipe away the tear without taking time to see the rainbow that You have provided. Please help me take time to see Your touch in my tears. Amen.''


Happy Birthday Sweetheart! Today is David's birthday
and I am crying tears of joy to celebrate with him
today. I love you so much. I know his re-birthday of
December 19 is very important but this one is extra
special too. Nancy

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Monday, September 05, 2005

Sometimes I Feel Like A Blue Dog...

Folks -

Back to the topic in days to come, but I'm sure you'll agree, it's hard to think of anything these days except the tragic situation in New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast. Work has been a treadmill of news about the state of oil and gas fields, refineries and pipelines and the growing, colossal human toll continuese to shock and disappoint. It surely could have and would have been different with proper planning and appropriate resources and responses. Don't get me started. Suffice to say that as disappointing as it is that we can't throw all the bums out immediately. We'll get them, sooner or later. Unfortunately, it's far too late for perhaps 10,000 people.
It's impossible to imagine what people are going through.

Everyone must help.
Anyone who can spell MISSISSIPPI or anyone who can't...anyone who has ever heard of Mississippi. Anyone who's ever been to New Orleans or knows someone who has been to New Orleans or who dreamed of going to New Orleans. Anyone who knows the taste of a beignet with Cafe du Monde's chickory coffee or anyone who has no idea what that is...anyone who's tried - and failed miserably - to duplicate them at home...Anyone who knows that real New Orleans isn't about Hurricanes at Pat O'Briens or anyone who hasn't learned that...Anyone who's learned not to dismiss the voodoo shops as tourist traps...anyone who's ever danced at Tippatina's or who just remembers it from movies...anyone who's ever smiled at the pride that New Orleans taxi drivers take in their cabs by writing their names above the driver's door (Where are you Lloyd G. Lane?)...anyone who's ever tried grits - whether you liked them or not...anyone who's never collected a single Mardi Gras bead or anyone who has bagged them by the hundreds (don't ask, don't tell)...anyone who's ever been arrested for climbing a light pole at Madri Gras by a cop named Brett Maverick...anyone who's ever teared up to Louis Armstrong singing ''Do you know what it's like to miss New Orleans? even before Katrina...anyone who's playing it now...anyone who's been to Algiers...anyone who's been through the poor sections of town and made a difference in somebody's life...or anyone who hasn't yet...anyone who's black...or white...or other...

In short, everyone has to help. Give what you can to hurricane relief efforts.
Our brothers and sisters need it.

Nancy and I have seen New Orleans from all sides. We stayed a friend's apartment off the French Quarter in our early days together and made our first joint purchase there. A $250 lithograph by the artist Rodrigue, who paints his dog, Tiffany, in many different settings. Ours has Tiffany - a royal blue terrier with yellow eyes saying ''Sometimes I Feel Like A Blue Dog...'' with the words surrounded by TV static. Tiffany, who has passed on, haunts the artist's dreams as a ghost (in blue) and appears in multiple settings - Mardi Gras masks, misty bayous and images that summon up the Cajun folk tale of the Loup Garou, or werewolf.

We swore off blue drinks after a night in the city's tremendous jazz and blues clubs, we sweated through a plantation wedding, complete with horsedrawn carriage and fireworks...

I had the ignominious honor of attending an Americas energy conference - in suit and tie - in the summertime several years back. Temperatures were near 100 degrees and 100% humidity at 6 AM - power cuts plagued the region - unfortunate punctuation to the theme of the conference.

I had the dubious honor of sitting next to the one and only Ken Lay - then the chairman of high-flying Enron, before it became a four-letter word. Kenny-Boy and I shared a seat on a deluxe air-conditioned coach taking us across town to a massive mansion where the evening's festivities were held. We chit-chatted...I said I heard his name was in the hopper as the next energy secretary if Bush was elected president - he demurred and came across as a soft-spoken, humble, clueless, country preacher. Can I size them up or what? We passed through a poor part of town and an incredibly large and ornate cemetery on the way to the mansion and we both paused at the powerful image. Crypts are commonly used - by those who can afford them - since the high water table can make deep digging for burials problematic. I didn't realize it then - but as clear as it is now - it was true then ... even in death - the divide between rich and poor is perhaps more striking than in any other U.S. city. And what a seat to see that from - in the company of the man who will go down as a dictionary definition of one of the biggest skunks ever in American business...

Kenny-Boy and I parted company at the mansion...Ex-Senator Bennett Johnson announced the guest of honor - Energy Secretary Bill Richardson descended the grand staircase like the belle of the ball as Johnson introduced ''the man who could be the next vice-president of the United States.'' We all know how that played out...

Later in that trip, our stories filed, my colleagues and I found a civilized place to have a drink and relax, chatting with some Venezuelan friends. We spotted the U.S. Energy Secretary in a crowd of revelers smoking what appeared to be a Cuban cigar (a habit I noted first hand from our many days together at the U.N.)

The mood was broken when kleig lights pierced the night. No one could be bothered to get up, but heads turned briefly. While the town sweltered at midnight, El Presidente Carlos Menem - impeccably coiffed and tailored in a dark blue suit, white shirt and red tie - an army of similarly uniformed clones in tow - strode pridefully down Bourbon Street as Argentine TV cameras jostled for the most flattering angles...
'Our top story tonight, the Menem visits Bourbon Street...' unlike my previous encounter with him - at the InterContinental Hotel in Geneva - there wasn't a background soundtrack of ''Don't Cry For Me Argentina...''

The trick to New Orleans is looking beyond the rats to see the many good people...
God bless them.