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Kingston, Massachusetts, United States

Monday, January 31, 2011

January 31, 2011

After hearing Dr. Pavlakis tell me that she would be putting me on “the list”, it was as if time stood still for what seemed like an eternity.  For the next several seconds, I heard nothing, it was as if all sound was sucked out of a vacuum.  The only remote piece of reality that I felt was Christine’s hand holding on to my hand tighter and tighter with each passing second.
For some reason, this instance is what it all seem real, terror just ran rampant through my head.  I remember saying to myself, “Its gonna be ok.”  I took a huge, deep breath, and looked at Dr. Pavlakis and said something to the effect that Dr. Hoenig has been preparing me for this for some time.

Having been around doctors for the better part of my life, like it or not, you tend to know when a doctor has your best interests in mind or do they want to get you out of the office so that they can see the next patient so they can bill the insurance companies more if they see more patients.  Dr. Hoenig is not like that…I have a lot of trust in her.  She has been known to call me to check up on me if my blood tests were a little of balance.  In fact, there was one instance in particular that I will never, ever forget.

I was sitting watching Game 6 of the 2004 American League Championship Series – a classic by any stretch – Red Sox and Yankees, ‘nuf said.  It was the middle part of the game, the Red Sox were at bat, and in particular, David Ortiz was standing in the batter’s box – at most points during this particular season, all of New England would stop what they were doing anytime this man grabbed a bat and headed out to home plate.  Why?  Because something spectacular was about to happen, at least that is what we all believed.  This man was the shear definition of clutch performer and now he was center stage in middle of a classic Red Sox-Yankees series – some may argue one of the biggest rivalries in all of sport.

At that same instant, the phone rings.  It was Dr. Hoenig checking on me and telling me about my blood values.  Honestly, I could not tell you what she said to me because at that moment I was only half listening as most of my attention was focused on the TV.  But that is what I love about Dr. Hoenig, she cares – plain and simple, she cares!

After Christine and I left the appointment, I called Tommy and let him know what was going on.  We decided we would not tell Mom just yet, as she, herself, was waiting for results from a follow-up scan that was taken after another bout with cancer.

I was sitting with Mom on the following Saturday morning when she told me her scan results came back clean.  I was so happy for her.  But she knew there was something on my mind, as most mothers have that innate sense.  I began to tell her that the road was about to get a little more difficult for me.  She took a deep breath and said, “we will find you a kidney.”

Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 30, 2011


My name is Michael Burke, and this is all new to me (blogging that is).  I have some family and friends who believe that I have something important to say, and it is my hope that in the coming days and months that I do not disappoint them.  You see, I am a Diabetic, and have been for 27 years - my anniversary (if you want to call it that) was December 28th.  As some of you may know, Diabetes can ravage your body, litterally tear you down until you have to be built back up piece by piece.

What does this mean...it means, among other things, despite taking as good of care of myself as I possibly could over the years (something that I learned very well from my sister, Linda), Diabetes can take your eye sight (mine has been damaged to the point that I have needed laser surgery of my retinas several times); it can mess with your cardiovascular system (I have had 5 stents placed in my heart, as well as double by-pass surgery); and not to be out done, Diabetes can seriously damage your kidneys, and this is where my story will begin (although there will be times I will talk about my past heart and eye surgeries).

But it is my kidneys that I have the most dire need at the momment.  Last year, March 29th, to be exact, I met with a transplant Nephrologist (kidney doctor) for the first time.  I knew this day was coming eventually because I saw my regular Nephrologist on a consistent basis and she (Dr. Melanie Hoenig at Joslin Diabetes Center) had been preparing me for this eventuality for some time...the time had come and Dr. Hoenig referred me to the Transplant Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and Dr. Martha Pavlakis.

It was at this appointment on March 29, 2010 that Dr. Pavlakis began to explain the who transplant process to me and my wife, Christine.  Even though Dr. Hoenig had been preparing me for this, I was still overwhelmed...man was I overwhelmed...and scared like you wouldn't beleive, because now my life on the "T" (ransplant) list was about to begin. 

At this point, my brother Tom (I still call him Tommy) and I had spoken about the possibility of him getting tested if I ever needed it.  I explained to Dr. Pavlakis that Tommy was willing to be tested to see if he was a match, which she thought was great and explained that the success rates among live donors, especially siblings, was very high.  In the next breath, Dr. Pavlakis explained that she would list me on the national transplant list for a perfect match kidney in the event that Tommy was not a perfect match to me or could not donate for any other reason.

In the coming days and weeks leading up to my transplant I will tell you my story...parts of it will be raw, some will be funny, some will be terrifiying (at least to me), but most of all it will be real.  I would appreciate any feedback that you have - constructive or otherwise, or if you have questions, don't hesitate to ask.  I don't have all of the answers about kidney transplant, but I hope to shed some light on it to those who wish to read it...please feel free to, and I encourage you to, share this blog...pass it along to as many people who care to read it.  Hopefully I will be able to help other transplant patients as I go down this road.

Thank you for reading and thank you for following...