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Transplant Athlete
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
  Dialysis Access

I saw a surgeon today to talk about him adding a fistula to provide access for dialysis. Basically, they will be rewiring my plumbing by making a connection between my artery and my vein. It's done up near the wrist, and the vein will then enlarge from the wrist to the elbow, providing a large easy vein for the dialysis tech to stick. I don't know how I'll feel after I start dialysis, but for right now, I'm hunkering down for the long haul on dialysis. I just don't want another transplant right now. I need a break from the meds.

The fistula can be damaged by trauma, which he described as grocery bags strapped over the vein, or volleyball impacts to that area. He felt that swinging a baseball bat might cause some damage to the fistula (So, I can forget that career in the bigs), but as long as the activity doesn't squeeze the vein it's ok.

I left his office really depressed. This past week has been really rough mentally, I can function, but I run out of steam real fast. So, I've had to rely on others to do the work I've done in the past. It's hard to step aside and let my wife lift a cooler, or watch my mother-in-law move a table, or ask my dad to go get the car because I'm too tired to walk the rest of the way. It's just wrong, like I'm not useful anymore. Then to find out today that there will be things I can't do, just added to that feeling of shame.

I watched my gramps go through this transformation. He went from a strong man with terrific endurance to a wheezing emphysemic (long time smoker). There's a slice of time burned into my memory. My grandfather was struggling with a large object. My mother or grandmother told me to help him, so I grabbed it and hauled it into his house. He yelled angrily at me "I can do it," as he stood there wheezing. He protested for many years afterwards, but never with that kind of anger, like I ripped something from him. He doesn't protest anymore, he can't walk across a room without wheezing now.

I think that's why I really want to help out with this RAAM. Yes, it could be the last chance I get to crew RAAM, but I want to feel useful. I hope my body doesn't let me down.

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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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