Hard Work

This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!
-Fort Minor "Remember the Name"

Was listening to this song the other day and got to thinking about life. More specifically, having things in life that we take pride in. I'm not talking material possessions or trivial things, but relationships that we have had to work at, careers that we had to work to achieve, and other things that we can honestly look back and say, "I did that!" To get there is rarely an easy road and we have all put in our "fifty percent pain" while only getting the "five percent pleasure." Looking back though, we have pleasure in knowing that we did all we could to make things work and we can be proud and have 100% pleasure in knowing that we have worked hard for what we have and that no one can take that from us.

With that, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me get the things that I am proud to look back at with a feeling of accomplishment. Some of you probably don't know the part you played. One day I hope to be able to tell everyone that part and thank them personally!


Happy Thanksgiving

Hope everyone has had a great Thanksgiving. I know this is getting out late on Thanksgiving night, but I have been busy all day doing family "stuff." It has been a really good day. Had some time to reflect today on things to be thankful for and, of course, I have many! It didn't hit me until later tonight that just being around family for me this year is a blessing. Just to not be in the hospital or sick is a blessing. To have a family to spend time with is a blessing. I could go on and on. I know, lately, I have been scarce with my friends but I have been spending more time with my family. I want to thank everyone who reads this and who has helped me through hard times with the transplant. I know that the prayers that were prayed and the kind words that were said to me will not go unpaid. I just want everyone to know that, on Earth, right now, they haven't gone unnoticed! Happy Thanksgiving!


Wellness Conference

Sorry for the long delay in updating. I have been incredibly busy with teaching and trying to stay caught up. It is easy to get behind when you miss at least one day a week, not to mention the hospital stays that have set me back 3 or 4 days at a time. I am getting caught up and actually feel like I can breathe now. Hopefully I will be updating more regularly now. Now for the update....

First off, I am whole again! I had a biliary drain in my side until last Wednesday and it was removed. This means that there are no more tubes or medical appendages coming out of my body. It feels good to not have to worry about pulling it out before it needs to come out. I was happy to discover that the removal of the biliary drain did not hurt. I was worried going in because the removal of my JP drain was nothing short of excruciating. The doctor just told me to take a deep breath and before I could finish inhaling, he was finished. Otherwise, I am doing well.

Second, I spent all day Saturday at a Wellness Conference put on by the Georgia Transplant Foundation. It was awesome to meet other people who have had a transplant and see other people who I haven't seen since we left Emory. I also met my inspiration and benchmark for getting better, Chris Klug. He is an Olympic bronze medalist snowboarder who won that medal just a year and a half after transplant. He is a superstar in the transplant community and an inspiration to others. You never know how it is going to be when you meet people with "status." I went to a seminar that was a Q&A with Klug. In the seminar there was also a transplant pharmacist from Tampa General Hospital who was a recipient of 2 kidneys. Klug later came up and we had a short conversation over lunch. It is always nice when you meet people you look up to and they live up to those expectations.

Well that is the update for now, hope you enjoyed!


PICC Line is gone!

Just returned from one more long trip to Emory University's Transplant Clinic. Good checkup. Been a while since I had one go that well. Lately going to the clinic has been a nervous experience because I never know if they are going to admit me or not. My bloodwork has been a little off the past month or so but today everything was completely back to normal. That is great news! CMV (cytomegalovirus) is gone finally....hopefully never to return. I had my PICC line removed which is a huge relief. The PICC line itself isn't annoying but just knowing it is there is a constant reminder of wasting 2 hours of my day every day hooked up to an IV bag. Oh well, it is now gone. Also found out one day next week I will be having another tube study completed on my T-tube (biliary drain) and hopefully getting it removed. That will mean that I am tube free and will have no legitimate restrictions on my activities. Not that I have any now, but at least then I will be cleared by the docs to do whatever I want without having to sneak around them. There is the update for this week! Hope you enjoy!



Not a ton to write about lately. Been a rough past six weeks with 3 separate visits to the hospital. No major bumps in the road, just trying to "iron out some wrinkles" I suppose. I am currently still trying to get over my second bout with CMV (got my first negative today and hopefully will be off the IV meds next Tuesday). Seems that everything has hit at one time and that jinx i mentioned before bit me in the tail. Hopefully though, things are looking up and the hospital visits are coming to an end. Keep your fingers crossed and hopefully I'll be able to update a little more soon and with some more upbeat stories. Hope all is well with everyone.




I knew it writing the last post that feeling that good wasn't going to last. That is why I threw out the "jinxing myself" disclaimer, hoping I was wrong. I wasn't by any means. Not only did I jinx myself but I managed to do it within 24 hours. That has to be some great accomplishment....Chris Angel couldn't even do that!

I spent last Wednesday night, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning at the good ol' Emory express once again. Felt great on Tuesday and all morning on Wednesday. Then like a ton of bricks about 2pm I became exhausted. When I say exhausted I mean couldn't hold my head up. I drove home already chilling from a fever to take some Tylenol praying that what I thought was happening was not. I woke up from about a 2 hour nap to find that my fever had gone down to 100.7 from a 102 at it's peak. I thought that I might be okay until 30 minutes later the fever was back up to 101.7 so I made the fun and exciting call to my surgeon who said for me to come on down and visit the ER. After packing 4 days worth of clothes and supplies, we walked into the ER looking like we were going on vacation. (I'm sure the people in the ER think we are crazy when we walk in with luggage. We know that when we visit, it's going to be an extended one.)

Long story short, missed 2 days of work with good ol CMV rearing it's ugly head again. Got a brand new picc line in my right arm (figured I would switch it up) for some home IV treatments. Read some magazines and books, watched some TV, got stuck with a few million needles, and got lots of sleep. Came home on Saturday morning and feeling fine.......at the moment anyways!

Still feeling good overall...just scared to say too much. You see what it got me last time. I still love my new liver though! (just in case it's listening)


6 Months

Today marked 6 months since I began a new relationship. Like all new relationships, it has been rocky at times and I still have moments when I wonder what I have gotten myself into. In these six months not once have I wished things to be any different. This new relationship has changed my life. We are both in this relationship until "death do us part" unless I have to find a new "friend", we both hope that doesn't have to happen though. Needless to say I am happy with where I stand and look forward to many more years together. I love my new liver!!

I am sure that it isn't a very important day to many and after this September 26th it probably will not be an important date to me. This particular 9/26 is important to me though. I have waited for this day because it marks a milestone for me. I had some goals set before and right after surgery for this day and I am happy to say that I have been able to meet all of those goals. Some met more than others but all were met. I did get to go on a small vacation (not the best), I am working out again, and I am back to work full time. It feels good to know that those goals were met at some time or another within six months of my transplant. I am still not working out at full tilt but I am on my way. I can honestly say, smiling as I type, that I feel better than anytime I can remember in my life. (I know I probably just jinxed myself and will be at Emory now.) I have so much more energy and a much more positive attitude. I attribute most of this of course to my new "friend" but also to cleaning up my diet and working out. For the first time in my life, I understand how people can love working out. I now have the energy to finish a workout and not be ready to crash. I also am a much happier person both inside and out! I can wake up with a smile in the morning and it be genuine because I feel good. I no longer have to paint on my smile in the morning while I brush my teeth and get ready for work. It just shows up every morning (well....most mornings). Six months and counting! My next milestone will be March 26, 2007 (one year). I will be setting some more goals over the next couple of days. Might just be a good topic for a future post. I am going to shoot high with these goals and do my best to attain them. May need some help from the cheering section for the goals to be met! Hope all is well with everyone who reads this and God bless you all! Happy 6 month anniversary to me!


Need some inspiration?

I stole this video off of a friend's page. It is the video of a father and sons journey through the CAN-triathalon. Thanks Julie.



Made it through the weekend without another hospital stay which is saying a lot lately. I'm feeling really good today. I'm sore from starting a new workout on Saturday but I like the feeling. Well that's my update for today! Now on to more important things.

I read a motivational article that I read on Monday mornings that was about storms in life. In this article a man was sitting on his porch when an unexpected storm came up on a beautiful day. The storm wasn't forecast and when he checked the Doppler radar he saw that the storm was no where else in the tri-state area except over where he was. The storm hovered there for just a little while before it dissipated. Once it stopped, the air was clearer and the sun seemed to shine even brighter.

This made me think this morning of the things we all go through from time to time. Sometimes it seems that we are in a cartoon or like the guy in this article where that cloud seems to hang around and just follow us wherever we go. I believe that "tribulation worketh patience" and sometimes God puts us through trials in life so that we can draw closer to him. I believe there are times that through trials we are forced to get ourselves out of the way and lean on Him because we CAN'T do anything alone. I have been through my share of storms over the past years and I am sure that there are many storms ahead in my life.

With that said, I also believe we are directly responsible often times for that cloud lingering above our head. We have all heard that when we wake up in the morning we decide whether we are going to have a good day or a bad day. Lately, I have been more and more in agreement with that statement. Many times things happen in the morning or first thing in the day that put a sour note on that moment. At that moment we have the opportunity to let that negative thing go or hold on to it. I have been trying lately to let the negative things go and focus on the positive things that happen from day to day. There is always a reason to smile though sometimes it may be hard to find. When that cloud catches up with you, just let it go on by and don't make it hang around because of poor attitude or choices.

Storms come in life and sometimes they are hard to weather. We have all had times where we just wanted to give up. I have been there, not just once or twice, thinking why am I even fighting. There have been many times that there seemed to be no light at the end of my tunnel or no sunshine on my horizon. Eventually though all things passed and on the other side was a clearer perspective, a breath of fresh air, a reason to smile, and most importantly a victory. After going through a storm, I can often look back and draw strength from that experience and know that it helped better me a person and make me who I am today.

Before my surgery, I was worried about a lot of things: How was life going to be post-surgery? How would people look at me differently? Was my scar going to be large? Would I ever be able to do the things I love? I was scared to death. I wasn't scared of the surgery but was it worth going through if I had to change my life and not be able to do the things that I love doing. Looking back, all of that was foolish thinking. My life has definitely changed since the surgery but, honestly, I think it has made me a better person. I now wear my scar proudly! I am self-conscious about it but not because of what people will think of me, but because I do not like the attention that it garners. Life is much the same now, I get to hang out with my friends when I get the chance, the people who care about me treat me just the same, and I am slowly getting back to doing the things I enjoy.

All of this comes along with a new perspective on life, enjoying every day that I get, and enjoying the smell of life after a good storm. Everything is fresh and clean. I know there is another storm ahead and many more after that one but I look forward to the sunshine and clean feeling that comes from getting out of each one.

"Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day." - Author Unknown



An update.....I just got home from another extended stay at the Emory Express. Woke up Sunday morning not feeling well but figured it was a bug I had contracted from my students at school. (Still not convinced that it wasn't!) Went to Kevin's house for a cookout and was feeling pretty good, but on the way home I started feeling tired and sluggish. This is a common occurrence now since the surgery. My stamina still isn't back to where it was. When I got home I laid down for a bit then started to feel like I had a fever so I checked it and it was 101.4 which means it is time to head to Emory. I checked it again about 30 minutes later and it was 101.7. A rising temp above 101 means I need to get to Emory in a hurry. On the ride down my fever broke and was going down, so when I got to Emory I only had a temp of 100.2. Long story short.....transplant patient....low immune system......fever=infection.....3 day stay. I'm starting to get used to the routine of going to the ER, getting admitted, pumped full of antibiotics, and being sent on my way. Only a minor interruption in my life...in a few months ill forget it ever happened!


Craig and Overhaulin' Update

Tenative date for the bro to be a movie star is September 19. Watch and see if he makes the cut and shows up on screen. I think he is debating about going back in the spring for another build. We will see and I will keep you updated.

Being happy, positive, and some thoughts on blogging

I guess my life has been boring the past couple of weeks because I can think of nothing worth blogging about. Well there are a few things but I'll save those for later. I have had a major attitude change in the past few days which has put me in a positive state of mind. It feels good to have positive thoughts again because I could feel myself becoming more and more negative every day. That is a bad feeling! It is amazing how at times God sends a person or even just a comment your way at just the right time. It's amazing how he knows what you need, even when you don't.

This blog helps me stay positive about things, especially when I get a comment from someone who says they are thinking about me, praying for me, or that I may have helped them in some way. There are more people than I realize who read this blog and many of you are friends from either high school or college. Some of you I haven't seen since graduation from one school or another, but have been able to reconnect through this blog. Some of the people who read this blog know more about the early times of my illness than others and know that I am only scratching the surface of the things I went through. To those people who were there for me I want to say, "Thank You!"

This blog is hard to write at times because I want to make it semi-enjoyable to read and for that to occur I have to include some emotion. That emotion may be sadness, happiness, worry, etc. By including that emotion, it forces me to open up and tell the world what I am feeling. I don't spill my guts on here but I do have to open up sometimes to the point of being uncomfortable. No one has ever judged me in a negative way publicly because of what I have written, but just putting myself out there for judgment is hard.

And with that said...I'm done for tonight!



I feel like I have so much to say and somewhere down deep I do. I just feel like I need something to happen to give me a start. I feel stuck in so many ways right now. I feel like I have a new lease on life and im not living it! Hopefully in the next day or so I can better explain. Pointless blog but I felt the need to put my fingers on the keyboard and type random words formed into a pattern we call sentences! Sorry for those of you who wasted your time reading this blog!


Free at last, free at last

For the past five weeks, I have been a prisoner. A prisoner to an IV known as a PICC line and a bag of medicine known as ganciclovir. I have had to take this IV medication at home two times a day, every day. Each time I sat down for the infusion it was a two hour ordeal. My life has revolved around medicine since the transplant but with the addition of the IV my life has been planned around those two hour blocks, one in the morning and one at night. I was up each morning for work at 4:30 to start boiling the water for my oatmeal, hook up to the IV, take my 8,000 pills, check my blood sugar, give myself my insulin shots, eat, wait for the meds to finish, then begin getting ready for a shower. Yes, I had to get ready for a shower...quite an ordeal at 6:30 AM! My mornings were crazy! AHHHH!! This morning, it was so peaceful because I got my PICC line removed when I went to the doctor yesterday. Don't get me wrong, if anyone saw my "normal" morning you would probably still think it was nuts. I am honestly on cloud nine right now because I am able to go where i want without having to drag an IV pole around the house or plan my life around the gancyclovir. Instead of the IV, they gave me two more pills to take which do the same job just not quite as effectively. They said that it was okay though now that the virus is almost gone. Now that I am out of the prison I was in, I'm looking forward to getting back out on the weekends and waking up a little later for work. It's funny the things that excite you!


Diabetes Sucks! but I'm here to say it so its okay...

It has been a few days since I have updated my blog. With school starting back I have been crazy! It seems I have very little time to think about what I should blog about let alone sit down and write something. Well an update on me follows!

I found out a little over a week ago that I am diabetic and have been trying to manage that through my diet and through insulin. I am hoping that that goes away once they taper my steroids. I have what is known as steroid-induced diabetes which means it is caused by medicine. It is kind of like gestational diabetes and should go away once I get off steroids, much like a woman may have diabetes during pregnancy. My sugar goes way up then an hour later it has dropped to the floor. I get nervous because I dont understand why it does that. Last Saturday, my sugar was low all day then after dinner I checked it before going to a friends house and it was close to 400, which is way high. I ended up staying at home and checking it every hour to make sure it came down. I am still taking my IV medication which pretty much rules my day. It is an hour and a half a session two times a day. Hopefully tomorrow I will get to stop the IV treatments. That will allow me another hour of sleep each morning and save my weekend nights from being destroyed by an 8:00 date with a bag of meds and an IV pole. Well, that is pretty much my life right now.....meds and school.

I am happy to be back to work though. I was so bored just sitting at home. I get tired really quick, but everyone says that is normal after a major surgery. I tend to forget that it was only 5 months ago that I was cut in half to have an organ removed from my body and replaced with another. I guess that can be considered a major surgery!



Being diabetic sucks! I know it will get better but i feel like I am constantly playing a game trying to keep the ball balanced in the middle. My sugar will drop and I will get shaky so i have to eat some sugar to bring it up. I always eat too much and then my sugar is way high! This is nuts. Hopefully it will get better soon. Just needed to vent. I plan on having a better blog soon....my life is so revolved around medication right now I dont have much time to reflect on any thing that has happened during the day. I feel like I am constantly running around trying to get everything finished.



Hospitals suck! I was back in the hospital from Wednesday until Saturday about 3. Got home late last night and went to bed. My blood glucose (sugar) was way high on Wednesday. It was recorded one time above 600. That is all they could tell me because the hospital machine didn't record any higher so they admitted me on the spot. I missed the first two days of school and will miss at least one this week.

Well, thats my story. Just an update. I'm out now and hopefully will be out for a while. Life's not very exciting in the hospital so nothing really to blog about.



School started today for teachers in Dawson County and I started back today. It has been just over four months since the surgery and I was a little nervous about how I was going to handle it. I handled returning fine, but at the end of the day I am absolutely worn out. Got home and crashed hard! Now I am up for a few minutes and I can feel myself crashing again. Gonna take some time to build up my stamina I know. Im way more tired than I expected though. The kids don't return until Thursday and I can only imagine how tired I'm gonna be this weekend.

It is hard to believe the surgery has taken this much out of me. I honestly thought that at this time i would have most of my energy back. Guess I was wrong!! Hopefully once I get to moving again some of my stamina will return!

Overhaulin' Recap

Craig got back from filming an episode of Overhaulin' in Cali on Saturday. He had an awesome time and was able to make some friends and contacts out there that hopefully he can use later on to further his career.

He came back excited from the trip and said he loved flying. He was excited about the return flight. He flew in the new 777 (I think). He said there was a tv in every headrest with about 10 movies to choose from and XM radio to listen to if you wanted. He had an awesome time and was offered the opportunity to go back for pay if he wanted. He is thinking about going back in spring and helping on another build. He got to meet Lanzini from Lanzini Motorsports (they build celebrity cars and crazy customs). Lanzini and Chip Foose both offered him a chance to return. An awesome opportunity that was given to him. I'm glad he took it and hope that he is able to return.

This is the Corvette they built!


Flying and Overhaulin'

I took my brother to the airport yesterday so he could fly out to LA to be on the TV show, Overhaulin'. He was so nervous on the ride to the airport. I was reminded of my first time flying. I couldn't help but laugh at him as he turned more and more pale the closer we came to the security checkpoint. For those of you who know Craig, you know that he is extremely shy. He makes me look like im a politician. He was flying out with a group of people he had never met which only made him more nervous.

I was excited for him though a little bit jealous. Flying is something that we never really had the opportunity to do growing up. I love flying and would do it whenever I am given the chance.

He called this morning and said that flying was awesome. He has always been the type to say "If God intended me to fly, he would have given me wings." I knew that if he ever got up there he would love it too. It was fun to hear him talk about the clouds, and the little squares that make up the country, and all the water that you can see when you are that high up. Makes me want to hop a flight for a day just to see it again. I haven't flown in over a year and after going to the airport yesterday, I have gotten the itch!



Went by my work today to get my classroom gift card and try to decorate a little. Not much of a decorator as you probably suspected so I more or less just straitened up the mess that was left since I had to move classrooms.

I am not sure that I am ready to go back to work. I have had a long time off (since April) and you would think I would be itching to go back......but I'm not!! Part of me is ready to get off the couch but I am definitely not ready to have to get up early again every morning to get ready for a long day. I know most of you are telling me to shut up right now and that is okay. I chose my profession!


Warning: Too much fun can be hazardous to your health

Sorry for the delay in blogging! Tuesday was an awesome day and has taken me until now to blog it for a number of reasons.

Tuesday morning, I had a great time eating breakfast with some friends who I rarely get to see. We had a great time laughing about old times, catching up, and talking about what we plan on doing in the future. At one time, I felt like we were kids again talking about what we were going to be when we grow up. Its funny how even when you grasp one dream it seems there is another waiting. In high school, we wanted to graduate college, now we all want the job that will make us happy, and different things in life that we are all hoping to have one day. I hope that we never stop dreaming because as long as we are dreaming we are living.

After breakfast, I left to go to El Maguey to eat lunch with another couple of friends I rarely get to talk to. We had a great time as well catching up and joking around though lunch was cut short because as I forget not everyone is a teacher and have to get back to work. I hope that we get to have lunch again soon so we can catch up more.

Now the story begins....(I'll make this short).......I left lunch after a great morning and came home to sit down for a bit and relax. As I sat down, I started to feel nauseous and I just figured it was something I ate and brushed it off. As the day, wore on I realized that I was getting a fever and went to take my temp and it was 101.5.(not good 4 months out of transplant) I hoped it would pass but I only got sicker and sicker. I became dizzy and even more nauseous and the fever wasn't going away so I called Mom and off we went to Emory University. When I got there and went through the whole ER deal, they decided to keep me for a couple of days to make sure that everything was okay. Needless to say, after a ton of bloodwork, I have a virus that I am currently trying to shake. I'm okay and I should be back to regular blogging now! I know you are excited.

To my friends that I had breakfast and lunch with......had more fun than you will ever realize and so glad that we got to spend some time catching up and talking about everything under the sun!


Dedicated People

People are dedicated to their workouts.....yesterday was definitely proof of that.

96 degrees....hot, humid Georgia day in July....where do I want to be? A pool, the lake, anywhere with AC or some cool water I can jump in! Anywhere, except a gym with no AC making myself even more miserable than i already am.

There are a lot of people out there who aren't like ol' Josh! These folks came in like soldiers and did their workout, even though the temperature inside was slightly cooler than outside but with very little air moving so the temperature difference was nullified. Crazy people!

Im proud of those people but don't really care to be one of them! It doesn't hurt my feelings to have to miss a workout on occasion! Glad to know there are some troopers out there though!


Guilt (deep blog)

I have talked to a few people who have had a liver transplant and most have felt guilt about the other person who has died so that I could live. I honestly haven't really felt that guilt. Now im feeling guilty because I don't feel guilty! What the crap is going on? Should I feel guilty?

First the definition of guilt:

guilt (gĭlt):

1. The fact of being responsible for the commission of an offense.
2. Law. Culpability for a crime or lesser breach of regulations that carries a legal penalty.
1. Remorseful awareness of having done something wrong.
2. Self-reproach for supposed inadequacy or wrongdoing.
4. Guilty conduct; sin.

I do not feel that I have committed an offense, nor feel like I should have to be penalized, nor do I feel that I have done anything wrong, or am inadequate, and I definitely do not feel that i have sinned by taking the liver from the person and family who donated it at a time of heartache. (If that is a run-on sentence, someone correct it and I will edit!) So with that said I do not feel guilt about the situation. I am only feeling guilt because it seems everyone else has felt guilt. I feel sort of alone and like there is a big spotlight on me when I am asked the guilt question and I say I dont feel guilty. People seem to look at me as hard hearted and cold. That is definitely not the case! Those who know me, know that I am probably soft-hearted to a fault and have let people run over me in the past when I should have stood up for myself. Now for my peace of mind and for everyone else...here is my explanation (which I DO NOT feel is needed) of why I do not feel guilty about getting my liver.

I do not feel that God made a choice between me and the other person. I know nothing about that person, but I hope that the time they had here on Earth was well spent. I plan on living my life with a purpose of making them and thier family proud. I hope to make a difference in some person's life and to let that family know that they made the right choice by donating thier loved one's organs. I feel that I have an alloted amount of time on Earth with which God has blessed me. I do not know when that time will end, but I think that God has left me here because he has a purpose for my life. I do not think God takes a life in a choice between two people but because all things happen for His purpose. If God can no longer use me to be a light to someone or help further the cause of Christ then he can take me. I'll leave my organs here and let them use what they can.

Well, that was a definite ramble and writing what is in my head at the moment. Feel free to comment and correct any grammatical errors....I would love to hear what people are thinking. Sorry for the glum tone....just needed to get that out. I feel much better now! Thank you.....hope you have a wonderful day!


Update on me

I love talking about myself....whoooooo!!! Precisely the reason why I haven't blogged in forever. Oh well....lets get this one out of the way and then i can continue with my blog about things in my head and I can sneak in a blog where i talk about me....haha! Put me under some camouflage so you all have to actually read this thing since im putting sooooo much time into it. Janine stop laughing because im gonna keep this going this time! I have survived through PSC.....whats ADD got on me? Ill beat it too!

Ok.....me....hmmmm....doing awesome after the surgery! According to my bloodwork, I am normal as can be. My liver numbers are within normal range and mostly on the low side which is a good thing. My color is still normal, my eyes are white, and my scar is small compared to the monstrous one I had pictured in my mind. So according to my bloodwork, I am "healthy as a horse."

Physically, I honestly feel so much better than I did before the surgery and I guess I should be happy because I expected recovery to be a lot harder than it has been. I have had no serious bouts of rejection or even had to be hospitalized again, so I am thankful to God for all of that. I honestly believe that my faith, and the faith and prayers of others, have been what have allowed me to recover so well so fast. With that said, things are still going slow! I fatigue very quickly and have lost a ton of strength. I have been trying to work my way back into some cardio workouts and lifting light weights on occasion. It is hard and embarrassing when you know what you have done in the past and can barely do 1/10th of that now. I know it will come back but I have never been the model of patience. I am trying to learn some patience now and take things easier even though I want to push myself harder than I am able to.

I am tired of taking medicine and will be glad when September gets here and I can come off some of the medication I am on. I passed 100 days since the transplant on July 4th so that was a huge milestone for me. Didn't mean much to others but to me...it was a big deal. I have set goals for myself which i plan on defining in a checklist in a later post so I can add to and check off as we go along. The next big milestone for me is September 26, which will be 6 months! By then I will have gone back to teaching and hopefully be in a regular workout routine. Hopefully I can find a partner to work out with that won't be held back by my lightweight. I may need to find a girl to be my partner....seems my workout is more cardio with very light weight for now. I feel like a pansy now! Oh well....ill shut up for this post!

Long Time, No blog

I honestly doubt anyone is still checking my blog since it has been over three months since I have updated this thing.

If anyone is reading this you probably noticed a change in the address, title, and description......the shout out to j9 is strictly because she is the one who keeps hounding me to update people on how I am doing. Love you Janine!

Okay this may be a long one....I'm going to try and keep this up and give people an idea of what is going on in my head concerning the transplant, as well as everyday life. I was talking to my transplant mentor the other day and she said it would be good for me to journal my thoughts. I thought, "Hey, thats a good idea!" After I got off the phone with her I was thinking about how I wanted to do my journaling.

Most of you know I am a very shy person and probably have a moderate to severe case of social anxiety disorder. With that said, why not let the world know whats going on in my head by putting it on the internet, right!? Yeah I'm probably crazy but we will see how this goes.

Okay...forget that about this being a long one...ill just make a few short ones tonight! I'm hungry so im getting something to eat!


The surgery

For those of you who may be reading this waiting on an update here it is. I have made it through the transplant with flying colors. A list of the miracles (that are not obvious):
1) I was on the transplant list for 12 days. Average time is 3 months, some people are on it for years.
2) Most patients usually spend 3 days in ICU and I was out in less than 24 hours.
3) No setbacks as of yet although there has been a fair amount of pain, nothing that some morphine can't handle.
4) I am out of the hospital in 10 days which is an average time, but could have gone in 5.

So there are some of the things that I have been flying high on for the past week and a half. I also have the greatest friends in the world. You guys have no idea how much the phone calls and emails mean. Thanks for all the prayers and thoughts that have been sent the way of the Carpenter's lately and even before that. We continue to need those prayers and thoughts. I am not really sure what to say right now but plan to post more in the coming days. I might even post a picture of the dreaded scar at some point. Again, I am still kicking and counting on all of your thoughts and prayers.


Things have been crazy lately!!

It has been a while since I have posted anything. Things have been crazy at school. The end of the quarter is wild. Grades have to be in, things have to be checked off, and all of this is added on top of the normal paperwork I deal with. With that said, I haven't posted in a while due to that and sheer laziness. I have been feeling pretty good lately though fatigue is always a problem that I deal with. We just keep trudging along though putting one foot in front of the other and painting a smile on so the world thinks we are well. In the famous (or infamous) words of Joe Dirt, "Life's a garden, dig it!" and that is what I do everyday. Well enough rambling, Ill get to the meat of this post.

Went to a support group meeting last week and things there were pretty depressing! I had blood work the other day and my meld score came back as a 24, which is fairly high and places me nearer to the top of the list than the 20 i was a few weeks ago. I have to get blood work again in a few weeks and we will see what the new score is! Well that is all the news I have for now! If the beeper goes off, I'll be running! Until next time!


The List and a Beeper....

Since my last post I have had a couple of tests ran and they all came back with no problems to report. I am thankful for that because this entire transplant process seems to be so finicky about what you can and cannot do. I am trying my best to stay within my bounds and do the things I am supposed to do.

Anyways, I got the letter last Tuesday that said I am now on the liver transplant list. I read this letter out loud in front of the family the other night not really knowing what it was and almost threw up when I read the words, "You have been activated on the UNOS liver transplant list." I knew it was coming as everyone did, but every time I get a little farther into the process there is a sickening feeling that comes over me. Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for being on the list and the opportunity to be put on the list, but that doesn't take away from the fact that this surgery is HUGE. I get nervous from time to time, not about the surgery itself but about the recovery and knowing it is going to be a long, hard road back. I can't help but think of my grandpa and his lung surgeries and the two hard trips he has been through. It was a long and painful road, physically for him and emotionally for the entire family. I just hate the fact that because of me the family will be going through the same thing again.

I also got my beeper yesterday, which was just another step in the process. When Mom showed it to me I almost got sick again. The beeper is my constant reminder of what is going to happen in the very near future. I have been told that the average wait time in my area for a liver is 3 months. I am trying to prepare myself for getting my new liver sometime between 2 to 4 months from now. I wonder if I will be ready when the beeper goes off.

I have to go next week to a support group meeting and some sort of orientation class. Those meetings usually calm me down for a few days because I can pretend that I have a better grasp of what is going on and what is going to happen.

Well, I have rambled enough and now im just typing random thoughts. I'll have more to say later I am sure.


Been A While....

It has been over a week since I posted anything.....i suppose both out of sheer lazyness and exhaustion. I have been going out a lot more here recently. I have decided that since I am going to be laid up for a few months at least, I better get my fill of going out before I go under the knife. I have been having tons of fun though hanging out with friends, making new friends, just doing things that I always told myself I was too tired to do. I am still way too tired to do these things, but i am making it.

Anyways, what this blog is about is the progression of my journey through the long process of liver transplantation. Anyways the past couple of weeks I have had more tests ran on me. This has been the case for the past four years so I am okay with them. I did find out last week that I have been approved by the transplant team to go on the transplant list . I am not currently on the list but once all of the tests are cleared and paperwork is finished i will be placed on the UNOS transplant list. Once I am on the list, things become a waiting game for real. At any moment, I could have to go to Emory and be prepped for surgery which may or may not happen. I have been warned that this game can be cruel. I could get the call for surgery, be prepped, and then the doctors turn down the liver, and there will be no surgery. I could also get down there and someone else receive the liver. Crazy situations that I hope I don't have to go through.

I have not been nervous about any of this lately. I think going out has allowed me to keep my mind off everything that is going on. It is funny how just being around friends can change your outlook on hard times. For the first time in a long time, I feel that I have people around me who actually care about me for me, even people I haven't met. For a long time, I have kept people at a distance because I was afraid of how they might take me and my condition. I have found lately that if I open up to people they will accept me as I am. I have ran from friendships in the past because of being afraid of how people look at me and my condition. I have come to terms with my condition and the fact that it is a part of me, but my condition does not define me. If people really want to get to know me, and what I have to offer, they will look past the doctor's visits and the numerous IV marks on my arm. If they don't want to get to know me that is fine as well, I do not have to be liked by everyone. I am me, take me as I am, or leave me alone. Okay, I am through ranting. I am thankful for my friends, both new and old, those close and far away. Thanks for the random phone calls, the night's out on the town, the nights sitting at the house, even the nights on AIM, and the numerous other things you do that prove your friendship.


IV Stress Test....

Friday, at Emory, I completed the strangest test I have ever been through. I knew Friday morning I was going in for a stress test. You know, run on a treadmill, get your heartrate up, EKG, blah, blah, blah.......or so I thought. I walk into the room where the test was going to be conducted and I find out they are going to give me some medication through an IV that will speed my heart up. I also find out that because I am so young they are going to have to speed my heart up....way up. My resting heart rate was about 52 beats per minute in the room and they had to get it up to 166 beats per minute. That is more than tripled! I thought, "Okay, I am an athlete. I can handle this." They gave me the medication in two minute intervals which slowly made my heart rate climb. For about 10 minutes I was fine, my heart rate was about 110 and I was thinking it wasn't so bad. At this time, I felt that i should be breathing harder because my heart was beating so fast. Another 10 minutes later, I was getting light headed and having to force myself to stay calm as my heart was literally beating out of my chest. I could feel my heartbeat in my arms, my legs, my feet, pretty much everywhere. I still wasn't breathing hard and my body was not getting the oxygen from my lungs that it was requesting, which i suppose explains some of the lightheadedness. I guess the nurses could see the concern on my face because they kept telling me it was almost over. They said that at least 25 times as they pushed more medication in me that continued to speed my heart up. After the test was over, it took about 30-45 minutes for my heart to really calm back down to normal. After about 10 minutes, my heartrate was hovering around 100 beats per minute and they let me go. I felt like I had just run a marathon and did not move an inch. My mouth was dry, I was lightheaded, and my heart was still pounding. The effects lasted for about another 30 minutes. At least that was as long as I made it before I fell asleep in the car. I was looking forward to the good jog on the treadmill but instead got speed in a syringe.

Throughout this process I am beginning to expect less and less normality. I was ready for some exercise but was in no way prepared for the workout I received.


Tests and more tests....

Been a few days since I have posted. I haven't had much to say and I am not sure that I have a ton to say tonight. I spent Thursday and Friday being worked up and over for my liver transplant evaluation. I feel like a pincushion. Blood test after blood test, stress test, pulmonary test, pee in a cup, pee in a jug, needles, needles, and more needles. That is all i remember from the last part of this week. Some good news came out of it though. I was told that I am a perfect candidate for a liver transplant. Once the paperwork is completed by my nurse coordinator, they will bring me up in some sort of meeting that will officially put me on the transplant list. Should take 3 weeks to 2 months, depending on "whatever they deem necessary." The average wait time for a liver in my region is about 3 months(so I was told) and it could go quicker than that. At the same time, it could take longer than that. I am roughly estimating transplant day at about the middle of July, give or take a month or so. Honestly, I feel calmer knowing that it is going to happen than I did when it may still be a possiblity. I found out that unless things change drastically I will not be going through the live donor process. I will be waiting on a cadaver, unless something changes drastically. This makes me more comfortable in that I dont have to ask my family to risk their life for me, although I know they would all do it in an instant. I have the utmost respect for anyone who would even consider risking their life for someone else. (Becky, that was for you.) This has been my past few days in a nutshell. I'll probably write more later when I am not so tired. Just don't feel like writing much tonight.


It's moving......

I got the call from Emory I have been waiting on today. Again, mixed feelings came with the phone call. As excited as I am about getting better, I can't help but feel my heart drop everytime I get news about its approach. I will be meeting with the transplant team for my evaluation and testing on February 9 and 10. I am not sure what is going to happen on that date, but I know the date. The lady that I talked to said that she was sending me a package via FedEx detailing what will happen and some of my meeting dates. It should get here tomorrow, until then we just wait some more.

I think I have come to the conclusion that I am excited about getting the transplant and feeling better, but I am nervous about what the recovery is going to be like. I have found another blog on Blogger that is the story of a lady who just finished being a living donor to her brother. It has been a big help in knowing what to expect. The site has helped assure me that some of my thoughts and worries are not crazy, but a little bit normal, at least.

My nerves about the process and recovery trump my excitement at certain moments, this being one of them. I am currently trying to clear the fog that is in my head about what is going on. Once that clears, I may be able to type more. Until then.........


Got a call today....

I got a call today from my insurance company saying that I have been approved for an evaluation and transplant procedure. As I was talking to the insurance lady today, it sort of hit me that the ball is starting to roll. For a few minutes, I got nervous. Up until today, it has seemed like something that is way off. I guess it is beginning to hit me that this is actually going to take place. There is a lot of stuff on my mind tonight....the transplant, school, my scar, relationships, my life, friends, people who care, how much is my life going to change, really too much to begin talking about......it is all jammed up there. Maybe some of it will begin to dislodge soon. Anyway, back to the call and what is next! I am now waiting on Emory to call me to set up my initial evaluation. After that, the process should take off according to the lady I talked to today. Ummm, for once, I am short of what to say so I guess this is a good time to stop for this post. Until next time!



Waiting, waiting, waiting. That is all i feel that we are doing. Last time we went to the doctor they said that we were going to attempt to have the transplant at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. My insurance doesn't cover that hospital, so we are off to Emory. Now we are just in the waiting game over there. We are currently waiting on my insurance company and Emory to get everything worked out financially, because everyone knows that is the important part. I am expecting a phone call by the end of the week from Emory, but I also assumed that last week.....and was wrong. We are just sitting on go.................. waiting, waiting, waiting.


Thoughts on the transplant....(VENT)

This is a venting of my thoughts....so if you want only updates....don't read this.

The news of a transplant is bittersweet. I am excited about it on one hand, and terrified of it on the other. There are so many postive things that I can see coming out of it and very few negative things. The problem lies that they negative things are huge in my opinion.

In the excited hand, I am ready to get better. I am ready to have energy again. I am ready to wake up everyday and not wonder if people are going to notice my jaundice. I am ready to wake up and not wonder if I am going to get sick, or be in some pain today. I am ready to be able to walk with my head high with the level of confidence that I held before I was diagnosed. I am ready to be told that I look good and people mean something other than I look better than I did last time they saw me. These are a few of the things that I am excited about when I think of getting my transplant. This will be a world of change for me and I can't wait until these things are a reality.

In the terrified hand, as vain or fickle as it may seem, I am most scared of the scar. I have always taken pride in the way I looked and am self-conscious enough about the four small scars on my stomach from the gallbladder surgery. I know that it is pride and just as people have told me, I know that I should not be so prideful about a scar. I think that to be successful you have to take pride in certian things, and the way that I have taken care of my body and myself is one of those things.

Dont get me wrong, there are other things in which i take pride. Most of my pride lies in my faith, my family, my life, my friends, and my career, among other things. Don't get me wrong, having a scar will not put me in a straight jacket or on suicide watch. I do worry about my reaction to a scar that runs the length of my ribs.

Being the self-conscious person that I am, I know that I will be worried about what people are thinking if I take my shirt off at the pool or the beach. I am certain that with my new found energy I will take even better care of my body. I just wonder if I will be able to take the same amount of pride in it as I do now.

The postive outcomes far outweigh the negative when it comes to me getting the transplant, so of course I am going to go through with it. I just wonder how I will handle the scar after I am healed. I guess these are things that time will tell, and I can only rely on God to come through and give me the peace he has always given me since I began my fight against PSC. He has been the very present help that he promised he would be, so I'm just going to keep trusting him knowing that no matter what He will not give me more than I can handle alone.

These are thoughts that are hard to talk about so I write them. Makes this whole process a little easier to stomach.


Almost there ........

Since the diagnosis, there has been little excitement. I have been through a barrage of tubes ran down my throat, MRIs, CAT scans, and any other tests you can imagine.

I have since been turned over to a hepatologist, or liver specialist, who takes care of me and the PSC. I have changed hepatologists a couple of times for reasons that I cannot remember. I am currently with the original hepatologist to which I was referred after my hepatologist at Emory University left for Miami.

For the past three and a half years, I have been taken care of through a medley of medicines and ERCPs. My last appointment with my hepatologist was on December 27, 2005. I learned in that meeting that they have done all that they can do and I am to the point to where my hope lies with a liver transplant. This is where we are at this moment. Working through paperwork and insurance trying to get me on the liver transplant list.

Now that you are up to date, the posts will probably be of an update on where I stand in the transplant process. There will probably be some posts also about feelings and thoughts going through my head about my life as well as the transplant process.


A little pain brings a world of relief....

Once I was referred to the gastroenterologist, things began to move in a more positive direction. The doctor listened to my symptoms, took a gallon or six of blood, more CAT scans, ultrasounds, and MRI's, and finally the one test that sealed the deal, a liver biopsy. If you have never had a liver biopsy count yourself lucky. I'll let you in on my fun! After a MRI, a couple of dots from a Sharpie, and a novacaine shot to my ribs, I was ready. The equipment I was stabbed with was scary. It was a foot long needle with a crank at the top. It looked like something that would have been used in the movie, Hostel, to torture an unsuspecting visitor. Though they gave me a local anesthetic for the procedure, there is something about watching a foot long needle go into your ribs that is painful. The pain wasn't sharp, more of a dull pain, that I suspect was more psychological than actual. I knew that somewhere under the anesthetic, this was hurting....a lot! When that was over I laid in the recovery room for an hour or two making sure that there was no internal bleeding or other complications. Now we began another fun game of "Waiting." Within a couple of days, the doctor called and said that the diagnosis was Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, or PSC for short. This was December after my gallbladder was removed and it was great to finally have a name. You would never believe the relief that it brings to finally have a name for something. The symptoms didn't go away, I didn't get better for the time being, but at least I could go home and Google the blasted thing! With the name of the culprit being known, I could begin my own investigation and that felt like a car had been lifted off my chest and mind. Until next time.....


The story continues....

Whew!! I woke up from the first surgery of my life, thank God! Everything from that morning was a blur and I only remember bits and pieces of people being there and things that were said. After the surgery, I had to stay in the hospital for three days. When they removed my gallbladder, they found some of my lymph nodes had marbleized and hardened around my gallbladder. They took all of those lymph nodes and a couple from under my arms. After the surgery, the surgeon came in my room with some bad news. She told us that she was 90 to 95 percent sure that I had either leukemia or lymphoma based on what she had seen before and the appearance of my lymph nodes. We spent two days praying and worrying that I had leukemia or lymphoma. Those were possibly the scariest two days of my life sitting, waiting for some news to confirm the fact that I had leukemia or lymphoma. The greatest news that I have received during the ordeal so far is that I, in fact, did not have leukemia or lymphoma. They ran numerous tests to try and determine what caused my gallbladder to shut down and my lymph nodes to marbleize. After numerous tests and lots and lots of head scratching by the doctors, I was sent home without a diagnosis. I was referred to a gastroenterologist to try to determine what was wrong with me. Here is where my story begins to settle down so I'll stop for now. Check in later!

Four short years ago....

This is my post to update you on how I got to where I am. Most of you know my story, but I am going to tell this for my new found friends or for the unexpected visitor who may have stumbled upon this blog. The saga started a short four years ago.......It was the end of August, 2001 and I had been having some severe stomach pain for about three days, but being the epitome of stubbornness, I never told my parents or anyone about it. Surprising, I know!! Every time I would eat, I would get sick and the pain only continued to get worse with every meal. Finally, my mom saw me crouched in pain on my bedroom floor and she proceeded to question the life out of me about what was wrong. (She is a good mom, that is what they are supposed to do, right?) Continuing to be stubborn, I told her that nothing was wrong and I would be fine. About three hours later, in the most intense pain I had ever experienced, I was being taken to the hospital by my mom and dad. After too long in the emergency room, I finally saw the emergency room doctor, had some x-rays, a CAT scan, an ultrasound, some painkillers and sent on my way. Within the next few days, I was back in the hospital having my gallbladder removed in an emergency surgery........no bueno.....no fun.....really scary!!! I'll continue later....stay tuned!

Welcome to My Hepatic Times

Welcome, y'all, to my blog about my life with a liver disease known as Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, or more easily known as PSC. This is my first experience with blogging but I figure that it is an easy way to keep people informed without me having to repeat myself a few hundred times. I plan on posting on here some background information to get people caught up with me since I was diagnosed with the disease about four years ago. The posts will probably get shorter as I finish the background info and people are up to date with my situation. Hope you enjoy!