Transplant Athlete
Monday, January 31, 2005
  The Transplant Athlete Takes On Team RAAM 2005

While recovering from my transplant surgery in 2001, I caught RAAM on OLN TV and I made a promise to myself that someday I would do it. Someday has arrived; I just committed to the toughest race in the world - 3000 miles of non-stop, no-sleep racing action. The race starts in just under 138 days.
Think you can handle it? Check out this description of the 2005 course.
Think I'm crazy?
View a 7 minute promo of RAAM before you make up your mind

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+ for low resolution click here 2mb (right click to download)

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Thursday, January 27, 2005
  "ER" on NBC

Powerful "ER" tonight. Every patient's worst fear. You've just broken in the new kidney, its barely out of the warranty and BAM! Acute Renal Failure. Did you see the pain in the parent's eyes. WOW. Then the father goes all "John Q" in an effort to keep his daughter off of dialysis. The episode was pretty powerful and I don't want to detract from that, but here's my two thoughts on the situation:
1) At the Transplant Games, I've met people who've spent time on dialysis and artificial hearts (Zonie Bill most notably); although I don't have personal experience with dialysis, I can safely recommend that people shouldn't kill themselves to provide a kidney for a daughter, dialysis is just not that bad.
2) The family's pain was due to just one factor: The wait time for a new organ. I think at one point they threw out a "20 year wait for a new kidney".

Imagine if there was a culture shift and people donated kidneys as easily as they donated blood.

There would be no pain. Acute Renal Failure? Fine, is surgery on Friday good for you? I just wish NBC had put a PSA at the end for organ donation.


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  Alopecia Areata

A couple of weeks ago, I got a small circular rash on my cheek. The funny thing was, all the facial hair inside the circle disappeared. Over the last two or three weeks, My wife has noticed small bald spots developing all over the back of my head. I scheduled a doctor's appointment to figure out what was going on, but by the time I got to the Doctor, I was in a full blown case of shingles and I forgot to ask him about my disappearing hair. Now, the shingles have been surpressed but the bald patchy areas remain; so, I made another trip to the doctor today and was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata.
    In alopecia areata, the affected hair follicles are mistakenly attacked by a person's own immune system (white blood cells), resulting in the arrest of the hair growth stage. Alopecia areata usually starts with one or more small, round, smooth bald patches on the scalp and can progress to total scalp hair loss (alopecia totalis) or complete body hair loss (alopecia universalis).

As if Male Pattern Baldness wasn't enough, now I have small leopard like spots over the hair I do have left. So I'm back on Prednisone for two weeks until this clears up.
Prednisone = weight gain + acne + mood swings.

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Friday, January 21, 2005

For the past couple of months, I've had a strange fascination with Biodiesel. I've been reading everything I can find on it. In case you don't know, biodiesel is probably the only thing that can save us from ourselves. The short version is this.
We want to drive huge trucks(Expeditions, Suburbans, HUMVEES), but we don't want to pay high prices for gasoline. We are sending brave men and women overseas to fight and die for the last half of the petroleum on the planet.

Some people (idiots) point to Hydrogen as the solution. Its clean, its plentiful, its also completely impractical. My guess is that it will take 30 years for the major car companies to make hydrogen commercially viable.

Gas/Electric Hybrids are a good start, but they don't go far enough at solving our problem. Take a look at the Volkswagen Jetta - Gas vs. Diesel

2.0L Gas Version115 hp122 lb*ft Torque24 City31 HWY
1.9L Diesel100 hp177 lb*ft Torque38 City46 HWY

Now, look at the Honda Civic Sedan vs. Civic Hybrid:

Regular115 hp110 lb*ft Torque29 City38 Hwy
Hybrid85 hp87 lb*ft Torque47 City48 Hwy

Without any changes to technology(off the shelf diesel technology) and using our current infrastructure(diesel pumps everywhere), the diesel has mileage comparable to the hybrid. Stick with me folks, I'm going to do a little extrapolation here. The hybrid gets 1.6 times better gas mileage than the regular in city driving and 1.26 times better mileage in a highway than the regular. If VW made a Diesel electric hybrid Jetta, it could conceivably get 61 mpg in the city and 58 mpg in highway driving. For those keeping score at home, that's twice the mileage of a gas Jetta.
Now, diesel is a bit dirtier than gas, which is where BioDiesel comes in. Check this study from Harvard and draw your own conclusions.Also, look at this report by the Union of Concerned Scientists which completely neglects biodiesel in their analysis, claims that a diesel vehicle is more expensive than a gas-hybrid vehicle, and that the fuel savings of a diesel is insignificant when looking at the emissions of gas vs. diesel.
The main benefit of biodiesel is its production puts money in the pockets of American farmers. Our needs could eventually be met entirely by domestic farming. GO USA.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2005
  Annual Ultrasound

Hey All, its been 4+ years since the TX. I went in for my annual ultrasound today. I was supposed to get it done last September. I'm seeing the Nephrologist in about a week, so he can tell me if there are any leaks in the plumbing.

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Monday, January 10, 2005
  Raising Awareness For Organ Donation

I found this great site that details the process for becoming a live organ donor: livingdonorsonline.org.

Here are the current stats:

People Waiting For A Life Saving Organ Transplant87,170
Of those waiting
60,394Need A Kidney
17,330Need A Liver
3,300Need A Heart
3,900Need A Lung

You can make a difference. You can donate a kidney right now, you can donate a piece of your liver right now, you can donate bone marrow right now. With all of the other diseases that are out there right like Cancer, AIDS, And Alzheimer's - that don't have cures, we need to lick this problem, so we can move on.

I'm still researching the best way for someone to become a living donor, but in the meantime, you can visit Matchingdonors.com. This site which may seem a bit shady on first glance allows donors to match up to patients in need of a transplant. The one thing I don't like about this site is it turns the process into a beauty contest(yes, they do post pictures), who can write the best essay, who can put up the saddest story, who can pay a monthly $295 fee to be listed(Ouch, that's steep and they are charging the most desperate group of people on the planet.)
Organ allocation should go to those with the highest need. Of course, this Blog is being written by a guy who didn't have to wait 5 years on painful dialysis. A guy whose Mom gave him a kidney when he was put on the waiting list.

They have some interesting things to say about UNOS, the "non-profit" organization which is supposed to allocate organs by need. go here for more info.


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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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Warning Signs for Kidney Disease:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Burning or Difficulty when Urinating
  • Frequent Urination at Night
  • Blood in your urine
  • Cola or tea colored urine
  • Swellig of the eyes, ankles, or feet
  • Lower back pain unrelated to physical activity

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