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Losing (and Winning)

August 12, 2014

I love Jason’s blog. He’s been writing about depression, which, as you know, I deal with.

This is from his “about me”.

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Wait. Before I begin, it is unfortunate that I have to say so, but … I do not want to purchase one of your kidneys. I can’t afford it. I’m not even sure I think that organ sales is cool. Or ethical. In any event, don’t ask me.

Just before April, in 1987, in the middle of my high school’s big Battle of the Classes, my girlfriend Erin broke up with me. I got really, really sick. My mother thought maybe my heart had broken. She was close.

Some 500 tests later (including being measured for an allergy to fava beans), I was still sick. I had experienced damaging, but acute, post streptococcal glomerulonephritis. Basically, I got strep throat, er, strep kidney. That was my junior year. In April of my Senior year, it happened again.

The diagnosis eventually became clear: my kidneys had been in a street fight with some punks, and lost. I was lucky enough to make it through five and a half years of college, and to be attending a school where a world-famous nephrologist (kidney doctor) worked. In a very Arlo Guthrie-esque way, the Doc told me, “Kid. You’re gonna need dialysis.”

And so in January of 1993 my medical team in Kansas City called me to the lobby of the University of Kansas Medical Center. “Kid,” they said, “you need to start dialysis.” And life as I knew it ended abruptly. There’s no mercy when body parts are dying.

Since 1993, I’ve spent two decades of my life running back and forth to thrice-weekly dialysis treatments, had two kidney transplants, two complete kidney transplant rejections and am currently on Peritoneal Dialysis. (I also did some other cool stuff like have part of my parathyroid cut out – stuff like that).

I wanted to write this blog to inform you about the daily perils of living without kidneys. I hope to inform you about the thousands of people who wait, and die waiting, for a kidney transplant. I also plan to explain, in some gory detail, what a horrible thing it is to go to dialysis.

I had lived in secrecy and fear most of my life because of my disease. I never wanted anybody to think less of me. But, at this point, I have four kidneys, so you can only think more of me. The average wait time on a transplant list in California is within the 10-year range (especially for us O blood types). I have a family: wife Rebecca, step-daughter Wallace, daughter Violet and two cats. I am disabled and work at home – taking care of myself. I have almost everything any guy could ask for.

I need a kidney.
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Anyway, I hope you follow his blog and connect. He is incredible.

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  • Reply barbarapotter August 12, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Another incredible one thanks Jason.

  • Reply jasonhamlin August 12, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    What can I say to you, Jen, that I have not said before? Thank you, thank you, thank you. Battling kidney disease and depression at the same time is no picnic, but I love my life in spite of adversity. In fact, it’s my life’s obstacles that made me the person I am today. I feel lucky everyday, happy to be breathing.
    Thank you for giving me a stronger voice, I am honored by your generosity. Your readers have been very kind to me in comments, you’ve got a great group of people here. Cheers, to you and to them!

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