Monday, June 3, 2013

My vacation last week was in San Antonio and San Marcos . . .

. . . but not for what you think!

I have written a blog or two about needing a vacation, so most everyone knows that I was gone last Wednesday through Friday to San Antonio.  During the "busy" season -- and it truly is right now -- it is very hard for me to take time off as I always put the needs of others ahead of my own.  Isn't that what a good Realtor does?  Hmmmm . . .

Nonetheless, it's no secret that I need a kidney transplant, as I've been "on the list" for a year-and-a-half at St. Luke's in Houston.  (See my "old" kidney blog, for the past details.) But the old blog needs an update.  I've been dealing with some recent developments that have made me question what to do.

First of all, I've had over 25 live donors apply to donate a kidney at St. Luke's -- all of whom have been turned down, one-by-one, for various reasons.  My dear friend Sandy Eckels has been trying to convince me to leave St. Luke's and go to the Texas Transplant Institute in San Antonio.  Here is her story on YouTube:

But I'm a Houstonian and thought I would "stick it out," despite sensing that "something was wrong" at St. Luke's.

To complicate matters, my nephrologist -- the only person I trust in this difficult period -- is a dear friend and has kept my old kidneys running without a machine far longer than expected (now over 25 years).  Her name is Sarah Shearer, and she is a wonderful person.  (She is also Sandy's nephrologist and continues to be to this day, even after Sandy's transplant in San Antonio.)

It has always seemed to me that St. Luke's really does not want to do "live donor" transplants.  And, the average wait time for a deceased donor in Houston is 2-3 years; in San Antonio, it's 4-6 years.  So, it makes sense to be in the Medical Center of the world, right?

Here's the rub:  about a month ago, while at lunch in midtown and a wonderful Asian restaurant with Rachel, Arthur and Jose, some "random" girl called my office for me 3 times and spoke with my buyer agent, Kassandra.  She told her that since she was my friend, to please get a message to me (paraphrased as this is from Kassandra, not directly to me):  "get away from St. Luke's -- change hospitals -- people are dying on the operating table -- the head surgeon has 70% complications including one patient who required over 70 units of blood -- don't speak to Dr. Shearer about this because she'll only back up the other doctor as they all back each other up."  So to quote a line from the movie "Speed," "whaddya do, Jack, whaddya do?"

Really?  Are you kidding me?  It just so happened that I was going to see Dr. Shearer the next day, so of course I spoke to her about this disturbing call.  We both realized it was crazy, but had some fact in it, as there indeed was a patient at St. Luke's who'd been on too many blood thinners, and had to have 70 units of blood.  And, this woman had access to my medical records and telephone numbers (though not my cell number).  Disgruntled employee?  I learned that St. Luke's had run off a doctor, and that there'd been ugly drama associated with it.  But to accuse the head surgeon (who is also head of surgery at Baylor College of Medicine) of "killing people" is, quite frankly, absurd.  Kidney transplant units are so regulated by government/Medicare that it would have been shut down if this were all true.

Nonetheless, it prompted me to seek another hospital -- #1 in live donor transplants in the country -- in San Antonio.  They are now beginning the process of re-evaluating my live donors.  Sheesh!  Here we go again.

But I did get to visit the Ripley's "Believe it or Not" attractions across from the Alamo.  And I ate dinner at a wonderful Honduran restaurant in San Antonio.  And I got to visit with my dear friends Steve and Gloria Goodson (and their daughter Alaine who is now a RE/MAX agent) in San Marcos.  We've been friends since we were in our early 20's, though I met Gloria when she was 17 in Las Vegas!  We had a marvelous visit.

So . . . there was some vacationing . . . and some medical torture.  But ok, now I've got my wait time at St. Luke's AND the live donor possibility.  To get information about becoming a live donor, call the Live Donor Hotline at 210-575-4483 Monday-Friday, 8-4:30 central time.  It does not matter where you live, as they'll send you for evaluation in your town . . . just be sure to mention my name as the recipient!!!

I'll also mention that aside from some late renal failure symptoms and 2,034,734 pills per day, I live a fairly normal live and am not yet on dialysis -- my worst fear.  I have no interest in living on a machine; however, I have built out a room in my house -- my study -- for home dialysis, just in case.  But I'm sure within a few years, I'll have a new kidney and be like Sandy -- hard-to-keep-up-with!

Maybe that weird phone call is what I needed to motivate me to push this along a little more.  I really don't know.  Everyone at Dr. Shearer's office and in San Antonio who've heard that story has dropped their jaw.  "Whaddya do, Jack, whaddya do?"