Four years and still not dead

“A transplant patient with an autoimmune disease? That’s impossible!”

–from an episode of House

I just passed the fourth anniversary of my transplant, or as I prefer to spin it, my fourth new birthday. When the count of years starts getting out of hand, it’s nice to have an alternative, even if it costs an organ.

A scan of my not-so-new liver was tumor-free and the annual draining of the blood showed my various counts lingering near acceptable ranges – acceptable for me if for nobody else. It seems I’m good to go for a while longer.

My hepatologist is brilliant: I could not be in better hands. But even she’s a bit mystified at my continued presence. Oh, she’d probably deny it, but I’ve seen her expression during the bad times, I’ve parsed her careful choice of words. My continued presence is a continuing wonder.

I’ve got more “issues” than any sane person would ever put up with. The two autoimmune diseases House declared impossible are far and away my biggest problem, even more than the leaky stomach that cost me a few pints of blood and wrecked my plans of staying hospital-free for 2010.

Yet somehow I’m managing. Several times a week I go for an hour of yoga these days and it has done wonders. I feel stronger than I have in years. I’m writing a little and reading and photographing and even banging my head against the brick wall called “community volunteering”. When I think about the how and why of this… this… “journey” my head hurts. Some things in life stubbornly refuse to be explained.

When I saw my hepatologist, she cheerfully informed me I had only one more year to go and I’d be eligible for another transplant. I must have given her a hell of a look because she immediately tried to make light of it. “Don’t worry about it!” she said. “Don’t even think about it!” Oh, yeah, that worked. Just like telling someone that whatever they do, they must not think about about elephants.

Somebody did a survey on TV medical shows. House polled as a) everybody’s favorite and b) the least believable. That sounds about right. But what patient with a hideous complex of diseases doesn’t hope that somewhere in the bowels of their hospital there’s a Hugh Laurie abusing his colleagues while thinking hard on how to keep us out of the morgue?

Thank you, Dr Hepatologist. Thank you, all the dozens of other doctors. And special thanks to you, Nurse You Know Who. Thank you all for keeping me alive.

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