“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.
I do love you, I know I’m not that great at showing it sometimes.
—–> If you love me, why did you run over my lilies with the tractor? Why did you make a giant pile of leaves in the middle of the back yard? I told you not to.
I’m sorry. I have apologized ten times. Those were awful mistakes I made. One bad turn with the tractor and two lilies got smashed in an instant. There was no place else to put the leaves. Two dreadful mistakes which happened two months ago. You need to forgive and forget. I am not perfect. You are very important to me. Please don’t leave. I need you.
Our annual Fourth of July football game was under way. Little kids, senior citizens, even girls were allowed to play. I was going only half-speed as I had already eaten two hotdogs and two hamburgers. Even with this massive load in my stomach I caught a touchdown thrown by my uncle Frank. He could play with a cigarette in his mouth–that takes talent. When he gave the football to his son, little Frankie ran the wrong way and kept going until he was tackled in my neighbor’s yard. The turnout was big this year–nearly a hundred cousins and friends. All together in our front yard. I was proud. We were drinking, sweating and swatting away gnats. At dark the fireflies came out, then fireworks and sparklers.
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…
My mother grew up in New York City never learning how to drive a car before she left. When she moved to Frederick, MD for college, she fell in love with the country life. She loved gardening and flowers. Her gardens were quite unorganized and messy compared with my father’s orderly rows of onions and cantaloupe.
When the daffodils came in, she would send my niece off with scissors and a grocery bag to gather them from the neighbor’s lane. I remember walking in the kitchen and the table covered with mounds of daffodils. My mother would put vases of these flowers all over the house. She was as reliable as crocuses in the spring.