“Hello Mr. Lebherz, follow me. I am Dr. Ping Pyong.” I shook his hand, entered his office. My girlfriend came behind me which made me worry that I might have to take my clothes off with the lights on.
“I am chief of Kidney Transplant surgery. Could you loosen your pants and lie back on the examining table? Do you have diabetes?” he asked. Yes, for 25 years, for many years, my blood sugar was out of control. I still eat cookies.
He said he needed to check the pulse in my pelvis. He stuck his hand in my pants and lay it flat right next to my special parts. I told my girlfriend to close her eyes, which the doctor found amusing. I made another astute comment that I thought my pulse was in my wrist. I looked at my girlfriend and rolled my eyes as if I was enjoying this. Unfortunately my body is big, my special part is not. If he moved his hand just slightly to the right he would feel this. I broke out into a sweat. He removed his hand and with a frown said your pulse is weak. Strangely, my girlfriend said she already knew this. She was frowning too. I just can’t win these days.
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I go into a room with 32 recliners. The people in these chairs are missing feet and legs, and some are missing their minds. Some are old and near death. You sit, a technician sticks inch long needles in a surgery enhanced vein in your arm. A machine runs all the blood in your body seven times through a man-made kidney. After four hours you can go home, dizzy, drained, and thinking fuzzy until the next morning. You have to accept this. Some people give up and stop treatments. They will die within weeks. I thought life would be unbearable. I am actually happier now than before dialysis. I enjoy the small things in life more. Sunshine, my dogs’ wagging tails, my girlfriend’s laughter, a couple strong drinks, good music…the list goes on. Life goes on, thank God.
Eman is black, sixteen-years-old with Downs Syndrome. When they stick the dialysis needles in his arm he yells out, “God damn that hurts!”
We would all yell that if it weren’t for our pride. He yells this out once for each needle, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I know because I sit across the room from him. The nurses tease him. He yells back, “Shut up, Grandma!”
He wants to marry Beyoncé. He likes the Cowboys. He once groped the red headed nurse’s rear end and she had to pry herself loose. He does things I would like to do. God damn that hurts.
People on dialysis can have what experts call “fuzzy thinking.” I had this before dialysis so it doesn’t bother me.
I’ve learned to enjoy the small things in life. Small bites of pizza, small shots of booze, and small breasts. You never know what life is going to throw at you. I think my girlfriend would like to throw bricks. Fortunately my head can break brick and there would only be a small wound. My aches and pains are rapidly trying to turn me into a old man. Thank goodness I retain the mind of a sixteen-year-old. That I hope never changes.
Life can be challenging. My doctor told me I have something called GERD. I must stop drinking alcohol. Fried foods and chocolate are a no-no. These were my favorite things in the world next to marijuana. I told this to my girlfriend. I think she blocks out most of what I say–she suggested we go get a drink. I tell myself one bourbon won’t hurt. The fried cheese balls she orders are only inches from my reach. I eat a few. On the way home she breaks off a corner of a Hershey bar and says, “go ahead it’s only a little piece.” Later the burping brings acid from my stomach into my esophagus. The heartburn pain is unbearable. Tums don’t work at all. I have learned my lesson. No more alcohol, chocolate or Fried foods. Most important avoid my girlfriend whenever possible or suffer in pain and agony…
Exercise saved my life. I do a dead lift out of bed every morning. Then I do deep bend overs in the shower to let the water shoot everywhere. Then I do a couple pull ups: I pull up my underwear, then pull up my pants. A really extended bend over when I tie my shoes. I have to remember to breath during this stretch or when I stand up I see stars–I have ended up on the floor several times.
Sometimes from this workout I am exhausted and lay back down to recover.
Since I am always in the doghouse with my girlfriend, I would like to find a plastic surgeon to marry. A nip here, a tuck there, I could look twenty years younger. Then a kidney transplant, and replace other organs that have taken a beating. I’ll be good as new and ready for sex, drugs, and rock and roll.