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Kingston, Massachusetts, United States

Friday, April 8, 2011

April 7, 2011

Have you ever had one of “those” days?  You know the days I am talking about…the days that start off seemingly simple, but then end up being insane.  The kid of days you look back and ask yourself, “What the hell just happened?”
Here’s what happened earlier this week…Christine and I were visiting her parents in Charlottesville, VA, and as an early birthday present, Christine bought me a ride on a balloon, something that I have always wanted to do.  However, she said she would not go because she is terrified of heights – that being said, even if you are someone afraid of heights, I would still recommend taking a hot air balloon ride – it is an amazing experience. 
Christine had contacted the Blue Ridge Balloon Company and arranged for me to fly with them the next day…The next morning we arrived at the launch site, it was a little chilly, but otherwise a beautiful morning.
As we were floating through the Shenandoah Valley, all I could think about was how gorgeous the view was.  For once, at least for the first time in over a year, I wasn’t thinking of kidney disease or diabetes or the upcoming transplant…I was just in awe of the spectacular view.
Later that day, after Christine and I had stopped to get lunch, somewhere around 1:15 my cell phone rang and it was Dr. Evenson from the Transplant Center.  Up to this point in the transplant process, I had never spoken to Dr. Evenson, but I knew Tommy had during his workup, so my first thought was that something was wrong with Tommy and that he would not be able to donate a kidney to me as planned.  I could not have been any more wrong when she blew me away with what she began to tell me.  Our conversation went something like this:




“This is Dr. Evenson from the Transplant Center”

“Hi, how are you?”

“Good, thank you…I have some news for you…we have a kidney and pancreas available for you, but you must be in Boston and in the OR by 8 tonight.”

At that point, I asked Dr. Evenson if I could have a few minutes to speak with Christine – I also wanted to try to stop my world from spinning so I could figure out what just happened.

Christine and I were both in shock, but agreed to tell Dr. Evenson yes, IF and only if there was a possibility making back to Boston…my version of the Amazing Race was now on!!!

As luck would have it, when I got the call from Dr. Evenson, Christine and I were only about 10 – 15 minutes from the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Airport.  As we pulled up to the airport, I had no idea which airline I was going to go with – there was US Air, Delta and one other that I can’t remember…I went with the shortest line.

As I went up to the ticket agent and explained what was going on, this woman (the ticket agent) picked up the phone and in a soft voice that I could not hear said something to the other person on the other end of the line and then hung up…she then began frantically, yet calmly and professionally, getting me flight information and printed a ticket for me – there were no direct flights, I would have to fly through Philadelphia or Charlotte, NC…she got me on the flight to Philadelphia.

I got through security and then it was onto the boarding agent, where I was met by a nice woman who simply said, “you must be the gentleman we have been waiting for.”  She then led me outside onto the tarmac and to the plane and simply smiled and said, “Good Luck” as I boarded the plane.

I don’t know this to be true, but it appears that the phone call the ticket agent made (the one that I spoke with first) was to hold this plane for a few minutes until I could get on…I wish I knew her name because I would like to send her a big thank you.

As I boarded the plane, it seemed as if several of the passengers may have been annoyed by their delayed departure.  Honestly, I probably would have been too if I were them.  But one person that didn’t appear annoyed at all was a passenger that was very sweet and endearing and wanting to know all about what was going on – and that was Kayla.

To say the least, my anxiety was through the roof at this point.  From what I could tell, we made decent time getting into Philadelphia, enough time for me to make my connecting flight to Boston – or so I thought.

We were on the ground in Philadelphia, but we could not pull up to the gate.  The pilot got on the intercom and said that the delay was due to a security issue at the airport.  Come to find out, that the President was there at the same time…we sat for about a half hour before we could pull up to the gate…needless to say, I missed my connection.

Fortunately, there was one seat available on the next flight to Boston and I was able to get it.  But this meant that another hour would be wasted and now I was not due into Boston until 6:45 – even if we were on time, getting through Boston traffic would be a nightmare.

After what seemed like an eternity, I made it to the transplant floor of the hospital at 7:30.  I was informed by the nurse that surgery was delayed one hour and that there was a lot that she would have to do with me prior to the surgery.

I was fortunate that Tommy and Mom were with me at this point, but I was missing Christine.  I couldn’t imagine going into surgery without her there, but I knew she was on her way and she said that she would be there when I woke up.

As I was in the pre-op area waiting to go in, all I could think about was not being a Diabetic when I woke up, and that was blowing my mind.

Then Michelle, my nurse was called away.  When she came back she handed me the phone.  I thought it was going to be Christine wishing me well before going in, or perhaps the President calling to apologize for delaying my flight in Philadelphia…Nope, none of the above…it was Dr. Evenson. 

“Michael, I am sorry to have to tell you this, but the organs are not viable, there are anatomical abnormalities and we will not be able to do the surgery.”


  1. Michael, I'm so sorry too. I've been through the same thing and flew to Minneapolis only to find out that the pancreas was too fatty. It is such an emotional roller coaster when these aborted trips happen. I know things will work out for you sooner rather than later. Keep your head up and just keep remembering your balloon ride. Sounds awesome!


  2. Michael - I am so sorry also for what you have been through. I can't imagine the stress of such highs and lows in one day.
    I hope things are still on track for your brother to donate. Do you have a date?
    Cindy (from KidneySpace)

  3. WOW - I am so sorry it didn't work out after all that stress and emotion! I would have been missing my husband terribly without him being at the transplant with me! Blessings for your transplants, however they occur in the future. I have met people who are no longer diabetic and for them it felt like something was "missing" (all the testing and shots) and it took a while to get used to the reality they didn't have to do that anymore.
    BJ (from KidneySpace)