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Kingston, Massachusetts, United States

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 13, 2011 - Six Months And A Promise To Mom

Six months ago, I was looking out at the world sort of through a prism.  A prism, as you know, takes what we see and distorts the original image many images…many different images.  And depending on your view, you may not like what you see, but then again, what you are looking at could be a beautiful kaleidoscope.
Six months ago, I was awaiting a life changing kidney transplant.  My Diabetes had ravaged my body into near submission.  But as I had been taught by my sister, Linda, before me, Diabetes may be able to take a few good swings at me, but I was damned if I was going to let it kick the shit out of me.  My fight with Diabetes has been similar to that of the fictional heavy-weight prize fighter, Rocky Balboa, and his epic fights with Apollo Creed and others.

For those unfamiliar with Rocky (from the original Academy Award Best Picture winner in 1976),  he was a down on his luck fighter who got a shot at the big time in a fight with Apollo Creed.  The fight went the distance.  But we learned a lot from Rocky as a person, not just as a fighter.  However, his life outside the ring and his life inside the ring, in many ways, paralleled each other.  Rocky had heart and desire, and a will to win no matter how many times he was knocked down.

Later this month, I will mark my 28th year with Diabetes.  I have taken some pretty severe punches from it, the need for bypass heart surgery, eye surgery and neuropathy to name a few.  But this latest punch, kidney disease and the need for a kidney transplant, I took was probably the most emotional for me.

I knew if I did not get the transplant I was headed for dialysis…and I mean no disrespect to those that have been through dialysis, or are currently on it, but I was scared of it from what I had heard from other patients, and I knew, at least in what the statistics show, that getting a transplant before the need for dialysis tends to have a longer success rate for a transplanted kidney.

But it was emotional for me because Tommy was donating one of his kidneys to me.  I think I was more scared for him getting the surgery than I was for me.  Then there was Christine, who had supported me helped me get ready for the surgery.  But the most emotional part of it all for me was seeing what mom was going through as a mother seeing her two sons in surgery at the same time, one helping the other to live.

Six months ago, I remember seeing mom being wheeled into my room in her wheelchair (paralyzed on her right side from a stroke several years ago) by Jodi, Linda’s best friend and someone who has been like another sister to Tommy and I.

Fighting back tears, I said. “Hi Mom.”  And she simply said, “Hi Michael…you did it!  You both did it!  I am so proud of both of you!”

Fast forward to today…today I had my six month check-up with Dr. P.  We talked a lot about how I was feeling and how my labs have been over the course of the last six months.  But there was nothing clinical about our discussion.  Throughout the whole appointment, Dr. P. wore a smile from ear to ear because she was genuinely happy as to how I was doing.

Over the last six months, I have experienced many of the ups and downs of post transplant life…thankfully, mostly ups.  I had an appreciation for life before, but I have an even greater appreciation now.

Aside from the quality of life that I now have, one of the more positive things that has come from this whole experience, is the friendships that I have formed, particularly through this blog.  Your experiences, your words of encouragement have meant a lot to me.  I hold a very special place in my heart for all, but especially for one, who I now consider part of my family.  She has not had the experience of a transplant, and I hope to God that she never has to, but she has helped me with my Diabetes as I have with hers.

Just as I have had many great experiences over the last six months, like the prism I mentioned, there are many positive images, but there are some images that are not as positive.

Six months ago, I was ecstatic to see mom when she came into my room.  Today, I am ecstatic to see mom every day because I know there may not be many of these days left for her as she has been fighting off cancer.  Mom taught me how to have a fighting spirit.  She has accepted that she is in a fight that she cannot win, but she will not let the cancer know that.

Mom…it is my promise to you…that I will continue to fight.  I will take every punch thrown at me and if I am knocked down, I will get back up and continue to fight.  You fought for Linda and I with our Diabetes, and I will not let your fight be in vein.  I promise, I will fight as you taught me, whatever form that may take – be it with my own Diabetes, protecting my new kidney, my heart, my eyes, my nerves; be it through supporting others and educating others in Diabetes and kidney disease; be it through whatever means possible.

Mom, six months from now at my one year anniversary of my new lease on life, I know you may not be with us physically, but your spirit will be in our hearts.  Thank you for everything you have ever done for me.  Thank you for walking with me this far into my life.  Please know that you have been an indomitable inspiration.  You have given me the tools to continue, and I hope I make you proud the rest of the way.  Mom, I promise to continue fighting for me, as well as others.

Mom……Thank You and I Love You !!!

If you, or someone you know is interested in learning more about Diabetes or organ donation, please contact: www.diabetes.org, www.joslin.org,  www.neod.org; www.donatelifenewengland.org, www.organdonor.gov; www.unos.org; www.donatelife.net; www.organtransplants.org; or  www.thewaitinglist.org, or, by all means, speak to your own physician, or feel free to send me an email.

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