Clinic Visit Today

The month of December is shaping up to be a crazy one. This is a month full of doctor's visits trying to get as much in as I can before the first of the year and a new deductible.

I had a procedure on Monday to see how the Remicade is working and to check for dreaded cancer cells. That is such a scary word, even when you know that everything is okay. The doctor took a whole bunch of biopsies (another scary word, because it leads back to the C word) and I should know by Friday the results of those. According to the doctor, everything looked much better on Monday than it did a couple of months ago. That is always good news, even when you are high on Demerol and Versed!

I am going back today for a checkup at the transplant clinic. I am feeling good and don't expect there to be any real problems, but it is always scary cause you never know. I absolutely loathe hospitals and will do what I can to stay out. Once I am in I am doing everything I can to get out as quickly as possible.

Anyways, I am looking forward to Christmas and being with family and friends. Most of my shopping is finished (not that I have a lot) and now I just get to watch others stress over it. It's nice to be able to sit back and enjoy the holidays. Oh, I still have Mom's gift which is always the hardest. That will probably be another Christmas Eve rush, but I like to keep it a little exciting!


Amazing Transplant Story

Mom brought home an article last night from a local paper that told of a rare liver transplant. This form of liver transplantation attaches a part of a healthy liver to a diseased liver. The healthy cells take over the diseased cells and eventually makes the entire liver healthy. As far as I could tell this procedure has only been attempted on children up to this point in only one hospital. The amazing thing about this transplant is that there is eventually no need for these recipients to be on lifelong immunosuppressant drugs. As we in the transplant community know, the longterm effects of the immunosuppressant drugs can be as scary as the disease we suffered from before transplant. Lowered immune system, high risk of cancer, rejection, and a possibility of kidney disease, among other things are some of the things that we face. I have heard it said that transplantation is like trading a terminal disease for a manageable one. There are days that it feels just like that too. I am forever grateful for my transplant and the chance that I have been given to live a full life, but to imagine a life without the immunosuppressants is awesome! I hope that this procedure ends up working for these few people to push research. Sounds promising!

In the meantime, don't forget to become an organ donor. There are a lot of people out there who are needing an organ transplant to live just a little while longer. Share your wish to become an organ donor with your family. If you want more information, go to the Donate Life website!

Link to article on Yahoo! ---> Rare liver transplant offers hope



I know this is late and probably should have come before Thanksgiving but I just wanted to say thanks to some people and let people know how I have been blessed in my life.

I haven't always looked on the hand that I was dealt with a smile. To be completely honest, for most of my sickness I held an anger inside as to why this had to happen to me. I rarely let that anger show on the outside, and would respond to questions and live life as "PC" as possible. I was angry with God for a period of time (short-lived though) because "this life" was not in my life plan! Things like this happened to other people, not to me!

Today, I look at my life, past, present, and future with a smile. I can see God's hand through everything that I went through. I didn't give Him enough credit in the middle of the battle. At the time I was diagnosed, I was not doing the things that were pleasing to Christ, to my family, to my body, or to my testimony. I do not believe that God gave me PSC because of the way that I was living, but I do know now that it was my ticket out of that life. I only see that in retrospect and there are moments ( I may sound crazy for saying this) where I am thankful for going through the hardships of a terminal liver disease and transplantation.

(I just realized I don't know where I am going with this post, but bear with me.)

I can see where going through the things that I did have brought me closer to God, to my family, to my real self. I don't know what might have happened with my life had things not gone the way that they have, and I really don't care to know. I feel like it may have led to more heartache and more destruction.

Through PSC and my transplant I have met many wonderful and loving people (some only over the web) and those people have brought some great advice, compassion, and encouragement. I have been able to make some old relationships stronger and some new relationships unforgettable. Without the transplant, I would have never met some of these wonderful people and never had the opportunity to make some old relationships worth holding on to.

I am not saying that my life is easy. There are still days that I get down and whine about my situation, but I thank God everyday for the people I have talked to who have helped me. Some things people have done, some things people have said have touched me and helped me more than they will ever know. I hope that in some way that I have made a fraction of the impact that you have made on my life.

I have a wonderful family who have been beside me through this entire chapter of my life. I have great parents and an awesome brother who I know would be beside me no matter what happened. I have friends who have always been there for me to call when I am down with a ready hand to pick me up.

What I am trying to say is that I am blessed beyond words. I thank God everyday for the people who have been a part of my life, allowed me to be a part of their life, had a kind word or deed, and given me a shoulder to cry on. If you are reading this blog and wondering if I am talking about you, I AM!!

Please become an organ donor! A special and direct thank you goes out to my donor family! Without their compassion, I would not be here today able to thank everyone else for this amazing life Jesus has blessed me with. There is not a day that goes by that this family does not cross my mind! I hope one day to meet you and thank you personally for the gift that I was given.

I love all of you!


National Donor Sabbath Month

I haven't been able to be on here too much lately. I have been busy as well as trying to spend less time online. Hopefully soon I will have more to blog about. For now, dont forget that......

National Donor Sabbath Month is in November. This is the month that is set aside with in the organ donation community to encourage people of faith to become organ donors. It is also a time of prayer for those who have donated, will donate, organ recipients, and those that are waiting for a life saving organ transplant.

Don't forget to sign a organ donor card and share your wishes with your family!


October is Liver Awareness Month

I am a little bit late in getting this posted, but along with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is also Liver Awareness Month. Your liver is one of the most important organs in your body and it is important that you take care of it for as long as you use it. For all of my organ donor friends out there, try to think ahead and about the person who might be using it when you are finished with it.

This is also a great month (not that there is a bad one) to think about and discuss organ donation with your family. It is important that you not only sign an organ donation card but you share your thoughts and wishes with your family so they can donate your organs if something (God forbid) happen to you. It is the greatest gift that you can give, other than loving everyone you meet while YOU are here!

Back to Liver Awareness Month, the article below was pulled from CNN.com, and tells some of the wonderful things that your liver does for your body!

Your liver: An owner's guide
From MayoClinic.com Special to CNN.com

The liver is one of your body's largest and most important organs. Located just under your rib cage on the right side of your abdomen, it's about the size of a football, weighs 3 to 4 pounds and performs more than 500 vital functions. Without it, you couldn't absorb food, remove toxic substances from your body or stay alive.

Your liver is incredibly resilient. It can remain functional after losing 80 percent to 90 percent of its cells to disease. It can completely regenerate itself in a few weeks even if much of it has been removed during surgery.

But it's not indestructible. Toxins such as alcohol and drugs, and viruses such as hepatitis B and C can cause permanent liver damage. With advanced liver disease (cirrhosis), healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue and your liver is no longer able to repair itself, gradually losing function and eventually failing. Although early-stage liver disease is more treatable now than in the past, cirrhosis is usually only curable with a liver transplant.

Your liver: A brief anatomy lesson

A healthy liver is cone-shaped, with a smooth, rubbery texture. Its color is dark reddish-brown because at any given moment it holds a pint of blood. It's divided into lobes: a large right lobe and smaller left lobe that tapers toward a tip. Unlike most other organs in your body, your liver has a dual blood supply. Most of its blood comes from the portal vein, which carries nutrients and toxins from your digestive system. The rest comes from the hepatic artery, which supplies oxygen-rich blood from your heart.

Everything you eat, drink, breathe and absorb through your skin eventually reaches your liver. Its 300 billion cells control a process called metabolism, in which your liver breaks down nutrients into usable byproducts. These byproducts are delivered to the rest of your body by your bloodstream. Your liver also metabolizes toxins into byproducts that can be safely eliminated. Some of these byproducts are routed into your bloodstream and carried to your kidneys, which filter them so that they can be excreted in urine. Others are carried away by bile, a yellow or greenish fluid produced by your liver. These byproducts flow through bile ducts to your gallbladder and intestines so that they can be excreted in feces.

What your liver does

Although separating nutrients from waste is one of your liver's most important functions, it's not the only one. Your liver is also a storage depot for sugar (glucose), which is released when you need energy. And it's a chemical factory, producing many substances that perform vital tasks in your body. Some substances produced by the liver include:

  • Albumin, a protein that regulates the exchange of water between blood and tissues
  • Bile, a fluid that carries away waste and digests fat in the small intestine
  • Cholesterol, a substance needed by every cell in the body
  • Clotting factors, which help stop bleeding
  • Globin, part of the oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in blood
  • Immune factors, which protect against infection
How to protect your liver

Excessive alcohol consumption over many years is the leading cause of liver disease. Too much alcohol can make a normal liver swell with fat, causing a condition called fatty liver. If the fat becomes inflamed, it can lead to either alcoholic hepatitis, which causes serious but often reversible liver damage, or cirrhosis, which causes irreversible liver damage. Because of extensive scarring, a cirrhotic liver shrinks to a fraction of its former size.

Here are the most important things you can do to protect your liver:

  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. Over many years, more than one drink a day for women and more than two drinks a day for men may be enough to lead to cirrhosis. Illegal drugs, especially cocaine, also can cause liver disease.
  • Don't mix other drugs with alcohol. Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) can be toxic to the liver even if you drink in moderation.
  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis B. If you're at increased risk of contracting hepatitis or if you've already been infected with any form of the hepatitis virus, talk to your doctor about getting the hepatitis B vaccine.
  • Use medications wisely. Only use prescription and nonprescription drugs when you need them and take only the recommended doses. Talk to your doctor before mixing herbs or prescription or nonprescription drugs.
  • Beware of certain supplements. Herbal supplements that can be toxic to the liver include kava, comfrey, chaparral, jin bu huan, kombucha tea, pennyroyal and skullcap. Also avoid high doses of vitamins A, D, E and K.
  • Avoid contact with other people's blood and body fluids. Hepatitis viruses can be spread by accidental needle sticks, improper cleanup of blood or body fluids and sharing intravenous needles. It's also possible to become infected by sharing razor blades or toothbrushes or by having unsafe sex.
  • Be careful with aerosol sprays. When you use an aerosol cleaner, make sure the room is ventilated, or wear a mask. Take similar protective measures when spraying insecticides, fungicides, paint and other toxic chemicals.
  • Watch what gets on your skin. When using insecticides and other toxic chemicals, cover your skin with gloves, long sleeves, a hat and a mask.
  • Don't eat too many fatty foods. Your liver makes all the cholesterol your body needs. Eating a well-balanced, nourishing diet will help your liver do its job properly. A regular exercise program will help keep your liver healthy, too.
  • Watch your weight. Even if you don't drink alcohol, obesity can cause a condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which may include fatty liver, hepatitis and cirrhosis.
  • See your doctor if you develop any signs or symptoms of liver disease. These include yellow discoloration of the skin or eyes, abdominal swelling or severe abdominal pain, prolonged itching of the skin, very dark urine or pale stools, the passage of bloody or tar-like stools, chronic fatigue, nausea and loss of appetite.
Looking ahead

In the future, liver disease treatments may include genetic therapy, as well as new vaccines and antiviral drugs to prevent and treat hepatitis C and other hepatitis viruses that cause permanent liver damage. Researchers are also working to develop an artificial liver that performs the liver's filtering functions, just as dialysis filters blood in people with kidney failure.

For now, though, the best way to control liver disease is to keep it from starting. By being careful with alcohol, drugs and chemicals, you can ensure that your liver lasts a lifetime.

February 25, 2005

© 1998-2007 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "Mayo Clinic Health Information," "Reliable information for a healthier life" and the triple-shield Mayo logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Terms of Use.

Thanks for reading and thinking about your liver during Liver Awareness Month. I don't mean to take anything away from Breast Cancer Awareness because they are important as well! Just all this breast talk makes your liver a little lonely and just a smidgen jealous. So think about the little guy tucked just under your ribcage, he works day in and day out to keep you feeling GOOD!!


Long Day

The Remicade infusion went well yesterday. It sure did take a long time though. I left work about 11 AM and got back home about 8PM. It shouldn't have taken that long but people decided to take their time checking me in which left me in the waiting room for over an hour. Then when I finally did leave the hospital, it was Rush Hour! That left me sitting in traffic for a long time, which was no fun.

On the positive side though, I feel better today than I did yesterday. Hopefully I will continue to get better, even if it does cost me most of a day!


Second Treatment

I go back to Emory today for my second Remicade treatment. The first one went off without a hitch and I have heard that after the second treatment you really start to notice a difference in how you feel. I really hope this is true. I feel like a million bucks after the first treatment, so I am excited about the second treatment.

Wish me luck and say a prayer that things will continue on this current path. It is exciting to continue to improve and feel more and more healthy!


I have learned....

I got this in an email the other day and didn't want to lose it so I figured I would post it here. I figured it was a good read as well for those of us who have been given a second chance at life and for those who have been given a second chance with a loved one. These little quips are from Andy Rooney.

I've learned....
That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

I've learned....
That when you're in love, it shows.

I've learned....
That just one person saying to me, "You've made my day!" makes my day.

I've learned....
That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.

I've learned....
That being kind is more important than being right.

I've learned....
That you should never say no to a gift from a child.

I've learned....
That I can always pray for someone when I don't have the strength to help him in some other way.

I've learned....
That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.

I've learned....
That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

I've learned....
That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.

I've learned....
That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

I've learned....
That we should be glad God doesn't give us everything we ask for.

I've learned....
That money doesn't buy class.

I've learned....
That it's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

I've learned...
That under everyone's hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

I've learned....
That the Lord didn't do it all in one day. What makes me think I can?

I've learned....
That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.

I've learned....
That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.

I've learned....
That love, not time, heals all wounds.

I've learned....
That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

I've learned....
That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

I've learned....
That there's nothing sweeter than sleeping with your babies and feeling their breath on your cheeks.

I've learned....
That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

I've learned....
That life is tough, but I'm tougher.

I've learned....
That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.

I've learned....
That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

I've learned....
That I wish I could have told my Dad that I love him one more time before he passed away.

I've learned....
That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.

I've learned....
That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

I've learned....
That I can't choose how I feel, but I can choose what I do about it.

I've learned....
That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, that you're hooked for life.

I've learned....
That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.

I've learned ...
That it is best to give advice in only two circumstances; when it is requested and when it is a life threatening situation.

I've learned....
That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.


Brad Paisley, SC, and Stomp

I have had one busy weekend! I had a lot of fun in the process but now I am pooped! On Thursday, I was given the opportunity to go see Brad Paisley, Rodney Atkins, and Taylor Swift in concert. We all had so much fun at the concert acting like fools and enjoying life.

On Saturday, I went with my church to visit a children's home in South Carolina that we help support. My brother and I drove to Greenville that morning, helped unload supplies, played with the kids for a bit, then drove back. Saturday was then capped off with a win by my Georgia Bulldogs over Alabama.

Today, I was given the opportunity to go see Stomp Out Loud! in Atlanta! The performance was awesome! It was more than I expected. There was a comedy piece to the production which kept me entertained. I think that today was the last day that the performance was in Atlanta, but if you get a chance to go see it in your town I highly recommend it! It was only my second trip to the Fox Theater in Atlanta so the venue was as nice as the production.

As scattered as this post was, so was my weekend! I had so much fun though and I wouldn't trade the experiences for anything!


Weighing the Risk-Living Donation

I found an article on Yahoo! about living donors and the risk they assume when they decide to donate to either a stranger or a loved one. We had discussed this as a family and my family was prepared to give up their health to keep me alive if needed. We talked about it with our transplant team when I was being evaluated for placement on the transplant list. The doctors told us that living donation was an option, but with my situation I was an almost perfect candidate for a cadaveric transplant. Luckily, no one in my family even had to undergo the testing process, let alone, making the final decision about whether the risk should be taken. Not every family is as blessed as we were and many have to make that decision. For the medical community, it is a catch-22 in that they are breaking the Hippocratic Oath by making a healthy person sick to save the life of a terminal patient. Many of these patients never return to their former health. There is even a moderate risk of death in being a living donor. I encourage you to read the article. I am not sure about copyright laws so I have placed some links to the story.



I have to go to Emory today for my first Remicade treatment. This isn't a bad thing because I have faith it is going to help me get better faster. My stomach has been going nuts for the past couple of months. I have just began to sleep through the night about a week and a half ago after another medicine change. These infusions will help me get better faster though it does come with a few risks. Remicade is an immunosuppressant that will be placed on top of my other immunosuppressive drugs. The doctors will be keeping a close eye on me to make sure that my liver numbers stay stable during the treatment.

I honestly believe that my doctors have my best interest at heart with this treatment and it is for the best. The risks are pretty great, but once I get through the first couple I will be in much better shape and be able to live a much more normal and confident life. I am excited!



I am getting around to this late but I wanted to put up a short blog remembering 9/11. Like most Americans, I remember exactly where I was on that morning and stayed glued to my TV for the next few weeks. I remember the many prayers that were prayed over those weeks right after the tragedy by what seemed like the whole nation. The sincere sorrow that was felt for the victims and the men and women who rushed into those buildings trying to save those people who were trapped. The support that was given by seemingly everyone to those left behind.

We were a unified nation in those days right after the tragedy, but politics and agendas have pulled us apart again. Despite the tragedy, there was so much kindness and love shown to everyone we passed. I miss those days where it seemed the nation was "under God" again. We still have troops overseas fighting a war that stems from this tragedy. I don't know the answer, and am not going to pretend I do. I do know that I want the troops home as soon as possible and as safe as we can get them here.

To the honorable men and women of the fire departments, police departments, and the many other branches of public service who get little recognition for their bravery, I want to say THANK YOU! You, along with our military, make us feel safe walking around the streets of this country today.

This post reminds me of my letter to my organ donor's family. There are never the right words to say, but I will do the best I can to show my gratitude!


Excitement and Nervousness!

In about 8 hours I will be leaving Dahlonega to go to Emory for a routine checkup. It is a long, lonely drive to Atlanta at 5:30 in the morning.

There is some excitement surrounding tomorrows visit. Tomorrow is another day that I get to speak to people about what it is like to be a transplant patient and how it has affected my life. I get to do another Parent Talk at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta with Jenn. These talks are a blessing for me and end up being a lot of fun and I think that everyone involved has a good time.

There is also some nervousness about tomorrow considering it has been two LONG months since my last checkup. There is always a little apprehension when going because you never know when things may be going wrong. I feel fine so I hope that everything is okay and I will be home tomorrow evening. If you get a moment, send up a little prayer for me.

There is also something that is long overdue happening that is met with both excitement, accomplishment, and it's own share of nervousness. I have written my letter to my donor family and I am going to give it to the transplant coordinator tomorrow. She will then send it to Lifelink, who will then send it to the family. I am nervous about how it will be received and I am praying that I get a response from them. I would love to meet them to thank them in person for the gift of life they have given me. I have this amazing fairy tale moment dreamed up in my ever-active imagination of meeting them and getting to hug their neck. I guess I have to leave that up to God though. It may be a few weeks before they get the letter and it may be even longer for me to hear back from them.

That is what is going on with me right now. Pray that my doctor's appointment will go well, and pray for the positive receiving of my letter. I intend to eventually post the letter sent here, but I want the family to have plenty of time to receive and read the letter before I post it here. Pray for the talk that I will be a part of tomorrow, and pray for me that I will carry out God's will in all that I do.



I just checked the UNOS website and noticed that the number of people waiting for a transplant has topped 97,000. The current number on the site is 97,081. This is a number that I and many other transplant recipients hate to see going up. Those who are still waiting hate to see that number go up as well because it means their chances of being a "lucky one" goes down.

Become an organ donor, encourage others to become an organ donor, and get involved in organ donation awareness. It is hard to understand the importance until someone you love or yourself becomes one of those 97,000 people. Be an organ donor, save lives!! Sign your organ donor card and tell your family of your wishes to become an organ donor.

I am living proof that organ donation works. There are blogs in my links who are living proof as well. Save lives and become an organ donor!


Another Update

It has been a few weeks since I have been able to update my blog here. As far as my condition goes, I am doing great! It seems things are pretty stable and being about 17 months out of surgery things seem boring. I am keeping my fingers crossed that things only get more boring about me on this blog.

On another note, I stumbled across a link to another PSC patient who was transplanted recently. Carl's Liver Transplant blog brings back some memories of the initial setbacks and victories that seemed to happen almost daily. He is doing well though and continues to recover. If you read this and are saying a prayer for me, try to include Carl in your prayers as well. From Sunday's update, it seems they are waiting for his liver enzymes to drop and level out a bit. Go on over and check his blog out and leave a comment. It is always fun getting comments! At least I think so!

On the organ donation front, I have another parent talk scheduled on Wednesday, September 5 at Children's Healthcare again. The last talk was so much fun and I expect this one to be no different. Jenn and I are getting to do the Q&A again so I guess the people at Lifelink liked us. We had a good time and everyone seemed to enjoy laughing at some of the things we have done and also get some information on getting a job post-transplant and keeping your spirits up in hard times. I enjoy the time I get to donate to the organ donation cause. I am wanting to get more involved. I have been entertaining the idea of putting my name out to churches to give my testimony and talk about the importance of organ donation. I am not really sure how to do this, so if you have any suggestions let me know!

Blessings seem to be coming into my life daily. Small blessings that, if I am not careful and watchful, I will overlook. Some big blessings where I have definitely seen God's hand at work. I am living with the strongest desire I have ever had to draw closer to God. Though things have not gone as I have planned lately, I know that they are right in accord with where God wants me in my life. I am learning to get my wants out of the way and look to God to show me where He wants me. He always seems to put me right in the exact spot at the exact time. I serve a good God! Without Him, I am nothing; with Him, I am everything.

When you pray, mention me!


It's A Good Life With Which My God Has Blessed Me!

I went to Emory this weekend to visit a man who had received a liver transplant just over a week ago. He was doing great and it was fun to get to talk to him and answer some questions that he had about his future. Things have turned out great for me and I gave him some encouraging feedback. As a transplant recipient, you never want to give people a false hope though. I know that there will more than likely be a few bumps in the road during his recovery. I let him know that, just as they told me, "everyone is different." What happened to me might not happen with him. I told him about my bouts with CMV and diabetes last year which is far from the fun part to tell. It was good to see him smile though when I told him that once I made it through that low point, it seems the mountain I am on just keeps rising. It is not always an easy climb but when you get to a vista point it only gets more and more beautiful.

I feel great as I stand on the edge of my second year of teaching since my transplant. I have never made it through a first day of school so naturally I am nervous about it coming. I am excited though because I know this year I should make it through it.

God has brought me so far in the past 16+ months. I am excited about where I am going and I am excited about where life is taking me. There have been some heartaches over that time but when I stand back and look at where I am, I have to thank God for the blessings. There have been many more blessings than I can begin to count. Many more good times than bad. I know that God knows what is best for my life; much more so than me. I am trusting Him that he will continue to bless me, but if he takes it all away tomorrow, I still have to thank Him for all He has done. I never thought I would feel as good as I do today, I have met some of the most wonderful people over the past few years, made relationships that will last forever, and have begun to see God work in my life with reckless abandon. I can't wait to see what the future holds for me.


Back to the Grind

Well, my summer is almost over. In about 9 hours I have to be back at work to start a new school year. I don't suppose I can argue too much considering that most people have to work year round. I am excited about going back being that this summer has been so crazy. The new school year will put me back on a much needed routine and hopefully I can start getting my life back under control.

This has been a good summer for me healthwise. It is still hard for me to believe that I have come so far from this time last year. I was still having trouble walking any distance this time last year. I had trouble walking from my truck to my classroom. On a better note, I have walked a few miles in the past couple of days and I still have energy! It is exciting when I look back on where I was and exciting to see where I will be this time next year.

There have been some people in my life this past year who have helped me more than they will ever know. I can only hope that those people will continue to stay in my life and be there for me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. To those few, thank you!


Good News

Things finally seem to be settling down in my life. The drama seems to be fading and normality taking over. I still don't know where the chips will fall in my life but I am confident that they will fall in line with God's plan for my life. Only one thing is certain in my life right now, I need God and He doesn't need me. I am created for His glory not the other way around. I seem to forget this way to often!

I know the blog has taken a turn lately, but as the title suggests, I am constantly adjusting not only to my new liver but to life itself. I am 26 and trying to get things figured out in my life and am realizing that is a much tougher job than I set out to handle. I am learning to trust God more and more each day. I know things will always be a series of highs and lows in life but I am now realizing that with God.....I can make it through them all.

Thanks for everyones prayers and I love each and everyone of you.


Messy Life

Isn't it funny how just when you think you have everything figured out, everything seems to go nuts! I mean anything. There have been times that I thought my liver numbers were good and everything was going to be settling down......then BOOM, they are out the roof and I am in the hospital even though I feel great. There have been times that I thought that I had teaching figured out......everything is going great, then BOOM everything turns on its head. Lately, I thought that I had some personal issues worked out.....issues about life.....then BOOM, everything blows up in my face. Now I stand at a crossroad and don't know where to turn. I have decided to sit. I think I will just try to hitchhike and get on with the next person that comes by! I am so tired of things going wrong, so tired of things blowing up in my face, so tired of being tired. I have reached a plopping point and here is where I plop. Things aren't awful, things aren't good, but I'm just gonna sit right here and nap until things get figured out. I know this is a crazy post and makes no sense....but it is my blog and I will type what I want! :-)

To all of my friends, know that I love you.
To all of my family, know that I love you.
To everyone who has been there for me in any form or fashion, thank you so much!

To those who know where I am at in my life right now and even those who don't, I need your prayers. I am trying to be a better man, both for myself and for the people who are around me. Pray for me as much as you can.

Thanks for listening, I feel a little better already!


My King

I put this video up on my myspace page but I figured I would post it over here as well. This is the "Man" who saved my life. This "Man" has done more for me than I could ever have asked for and without a doubt more than I could ever repay. This is the one who told me that I would be okay through my sickness and my transplant. I seem to have forgotten about this "Man" for a while, but I am trying to reconcile with him. The funny thing is he has already forgiven me for leaving him, I just need to forgive myself first. Hope you enjoy!


Hiking and God

I went hiking again on Tuesday up Blood Mountain. It was an overcast day which kept the temperature down as well as the visibility. The overcast skies made for some pretty decent landscape photos. The trail was pretty tough being that I have been lazy lately and the trail is steep for a couple of miles. I was struggling to make it a few hundred feet without resting. I would like to still blame this on the transplant recovery but I think that now this is pretty much due to my own laziness.

I kept on thinking about how peaceful it was up there. We only saw one man on the way up and a family coming in just as we were leaving. It seemed that we were the only two people in the world. It was a very relaxing hike and very fulfilling. I wonder why I am so hesitant to go when every time it is more than worth it. It is amazing to stand on top of a mountain and look over God's creation and see it as His canvas. We were in a wildlife management area so it had mostly been untouched by civilization.

God's creativity is awe-inspiring. If this is what he gave us to enjoy here, I can't even imagine what things will be like in that new Heaven and Earth. It is times like this hike that make you long for a closer relationship with God. I get so far away from Him that I forget how he has touched my life. He is responsible for my saving me spiritually and physically. I want to do the work that he has left me here to do. Some of that work involves raising awareness for organ donation, but within that I am raising awareness about a Savior who loves me and was willing to die for me when I don't deserve it. I feel that this blog should become a mouthpiece for both causes. This may cause a hit in the amount of readers that I have but I am making a shift to focusing my life less on Josh and more on my Savior and my King.

I am back

Sorry for the hiatus. There were some personal issues I was going through. I am currently still dealing with some of those issues though they have only become more personal and involving less people. I have realized some things lately that I have been ignoring or hiding about myself for a long time. I am in the process of looking into finding ways to help myself process and deal with some of these issues.

Update on me.....I went to the doctor yesterday for the first time in 5 weeks and my bloodwork was better than it has been in a while. The doctors were excited and I was ecstatic! In just the past few months I have gone from going to the clinic one time a week to once every 2 weeks to once a month.......and now I do not have to go back for two months!! Whoooo!! I know most people are probably thinking that that still sounds excessive but not having to return to the doctor for a full 8 weeks is awesome! I have to go see another doctor next Monday but after that no more appointments until September 5!



Sorry I haven't posted in a bit, I just do not a lot to say right now. Hopefully soon.


Ethical/Moral Question

When I was learning about organ donation and being placed on the list there were many questions that I dealt with that were hard to answer. One of my readers posed a question about people receiving an organ transplant who seem to have done the damage to themselves. Some examples may be long time smokers or alcoholics who are on the list to receive an organ transplant. Should these people receive a new organ? Below I have posted the question and my response. I would love to hear your thoughts on the issue. I am not expecting everyone to agree with me, but I would like to know the views AND REASONS FOR THEM that are out there.

Czenfan wrote:

It kinda screws my head up about this guys [The crash recipient] lung transplant .. . because he did it to himself... he is taking someone elses lungs because he didnt care enough about his own life of health to just quit smoking.
To me that undermines the reason transplants exist - I feel they should give a renewed quality of life to someone, and not be a license for someone a renewed chance to abuse their new Lungs, or whatever...

Thoughts !?

My response:

This is a sticky situation as I deal with some of these thoughts about alcoholics receiving new livers. I will try to put my same insight on a lung transplant

My thoughts on this situation depend on whether he quit smoking when he found out he had the disease. If not, I really don't see it fair to give it to him when someone else who has tried to take care of themselves has to wait. In this case, him receiving a second chance just doesn't seem fair.

On the other hand, at 50 years old, he was born in ~1957. At that time, smoking was much more common than today without the known and documented risks. I have a hard time faulting him for something that was accepted socially. I would definitely feel different if he was my age and had been told his entire life that smoking will kill you.

Either way, I am happy that he received the transplant! Now it is up to him to show his donor family as well as his would be donor family (due to the crash) that he was worthy of his lungs. He must do this by taking care of himself and his lungs. He will be in the public eye for a while, so time will tell. This is a touchy situation and exactly why I am glad I am not in the position to make the choice about who gets what available organ.

Let me know what you think! I wouldn't mind getting a little discussion started here, just be tactful!

New Medical Drama

TNT has a new medical drama starting June 18 at 10 PM. The show is set inside a transplant center with an organ transplant surgeon as the star. Hopefully the show will dispel some myths about organ transplantion and promote organ donation. I will be sure to watch the show! Check out the trailer at



Another Miracle Happened

Found a news story today saying the man who was being prepped last Monday for a double lung transplant when the plane crashed received a lung transplant on Thursday. This is exciting news that one tragedy did not have to turn into two. The story is posted below.

Patient gets second set of lungs

By COREY WILLIAMS, Associated Press Writer Fri Jun 8, 8:38 PM ET

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - A patient whose double lung transplant operation was stopped after a plane carrying donor organs crashed into Lake Michigan has received a second set of lungs, doctors announced Friday. The 50-year-old Michigan man, whose name wasn't released at his family's request, was in critical condition at a University of Michigan Health System hospital after the more than seven-hour surgery ended early Thursday, the health system said.

"We are relieved that we were able to do this transplant and give this man another chance for life," Dr. Jeffrey Punch, director of the Division of Transplantation at University of Michigan, said in a statement. "Our friends that died in the crash would have wanted us to go on with our work."

The cause of the crash was still unknown, but divers searching the lake off Milwaukee identified a debris field Friday on the lake bottom containing much of the wreckage, said Keith Holloway, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board

Heavy equipment will be needed to raise it, Holloway said. Recovery won't take place until next week, he told the Detroit Free Press.

Police said the Cessna's flight voice recorder had also been recovered, but Holloway could not confirm that.

The patient already was prepped for surgery, with his chest cut open and his lungs exposed to the air in the operating room, when the plane crashed, killing six members of a Survival Flight team.

Officials learned late Tuesday that another set of donor organs was available.

"If he had not received a transplant in a timely fashion he would have died," said Dr. Andrew C. Chang, one of two doctors who led the surgical team.

The patient has not been told of the crash. "I'll tell him more when he can handle it," Chang said.

Chang said the man's condition is "significantly improved."

The patient, a longtime smoker, needed the transplant because of a condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, the health system said. He had been on the waiting list for a double lung transplant since November.

The patient's family, in a statement released by the health system, said it was devastated and heartbroken for the families of the six team members who died in the crash.

A chartered plane transported the new organs from an undisclosed donor hospital to Willow Run Airport near Ypsilanti, where a transplant donation specialist met the plane and carried the organs to the hospital on a Survival Flight helicopter.

"It is magnificent that this team has continued the work of our team that we lost," Dr. Robert Kelch, the health system's chief executive, said in an e-mail Friday to the health system's employees.

He noted that members of the transplant team continued to work as they dealt with the loss of their colleagues.

"This wonderful news doesn't in any way relieve the acute pain we are feeling at the loss of our dedicated Survival Flight crew," he said.

Killed in Monday's crash were cardiac surgeon Dr. Martinus Spoor, transplant donation specialist Richard Chenault II, Dr. David Ashburn, a physician-in-training in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, transplant donation specialist Richard LaPensee and pilots Dennis Hoyes and Bill Serra.


Associated Press writer Todd Richmond in Madison, Wis., contributed to this report.


We need this in Georgia

I was reading yesterday on Got Liver? that South Carolina has a Donate Life tag available for vehicles. It will cost each person $30 for the tag with a portion of that money going to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation in South Carolina and providing assistance to transplant patients. This is awesome! We need this in Georgia!


I went back to the transplant clinic today. I was nervous going back with this being the first time I have gone over a month with NO bloodwork. The longest amount of time I had gone so far without giving them a few vials of blood was two weeks. I was happy to be moved out to a month because I knew that I was using the bloodwork as a crutch to keep a check on my health. As annoying as it was to be going back every week or two, as long as I was getting my bloodwork back I knew I was doing okay. My bloodwork today was almost as perfect as it was five weeks ago when I was in the clinic. My bilirubin was up just a tad but not enough to concern the doctors. It is a relief to know that everything is working and I am slowly throwing that crutch away. One day soon, I will only be getting a checkup every 3 months and then 6 months. That will be a good day.

On another note, there seems to be some turnover in the transplant clinic and my post-transplant coordinator will be changing. It always sucks getting to know someone new and letting them get to know my situation. Oh well, I am sure it will all work out. I am just happy that everything was good today!


Update on Crash

An update from CNN revealed that two surgeons and two organ donation specialists were killed in the crash.

From CNN:

The university identified those aboard the plane as: Dr. Martinus "Martin" Spoor, a cardiac surgeon who had been on the faculty since 2003; Dr. David Ashburn, a physician-in-training in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery; Richard Chenault II, a transplant donation specialist with the university transplant program; Richard Lapensee, a transplant donation specialist with the university transplant program; and pilots Dennis Hoyes and Bill Serra.

Sad News

This is a story that I found on CNN.com today. Sad that there may be one person die from not getting a transplant, but there were many transplant-important people on board as well. Say a prayer for those today.

Jet crashes en route to organ transplant

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (AP) -- A medical transport plane carrying an organ transplant team crashed Monday afternoon in Lake Michigan shortly after the pilot signaled an emergency, authorities said. Rescue teams were searching for any survivors.

The plane was leased by the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, according to a university statement. The team was returning from Milwaukee with unspecified organs for transplant to a patient in Michigan.

When health system officials learned of the crash, they notified the transplant team in Michigan to stop preparing the transplant candidate. The patient was in critical condition, the university said.

The university wouldn't release any information on the patient, citing confidentiality.

The university identified those on the plane: Dr. David Ashburn, a physician-in-training in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery; transplant donation specialists Richard Chenault II and Richard Lapensee; pilots Dennis Hoyes and Bill Serra; and cardiac surgeon Dr. Martinus "Martin" Spoor.

The pilot of the Cessna Citation jet issued a distress signal within five minutes of taking off at 4 p.m. from General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro said. The plane was headed for Willow Run Airport near Detroit, a 42-minute flight, Molinaro said.

The plane dropped off radar screens just after the pilot requested to return to the airport, and authorities notified the Coast Guard, Molinaro said.

Nearly three dozen divers were looking near debris and an oil slick in about 20 feet of water, Milwaukee Fire Chief Doug Holton said.

Coast Guard searchers found what they believe was the plane around 4:20 p.m., about 20 minutes after being notified, Petty Officer David Warfel said. The debris was found about six miles northeast of Milwaukee, Molinaro said.

There has been no sign of the four passengers or two crew members, Molinaro said.

Around 4 p.m. light rain was falling at the Milwaukee airport with winds at 12 mph, gusting to 22 mph, according to J.J. Wood, meteorologist the National Weather Service.

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Bruce Jones said the water temperature was 57 degrees and survivors could live for 16 hours. He said they have not found any bodies.

"Our primary focus is on finding any survivors there may be from this incident," he said.

"The thoughts of the entire university community are with the families of those involved this evening, and we take consolation in the fact that the team was on a mission to help another," said Dr. Darrell A. Campbell, chief of staff of the University of Michigan Hospitals & Health Centers.

The plane is owned by Toy Air and based at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


A Little Nervous...about the Beach!

I am leaving early in the morning for a trip to Florida. I am excited and nervous all rolled into one. On the positive, giddy side, I am ready for a break. Today is the last day of work for us teachers and we are all ready to get away for a little while. This year has been a huge roller coaster of emotion and recovery and I am looking forward to the relaxation that awaits. (That is assuming I will be able to relax when I get there) As I have said before, my only goal when I get there is to go surfing. Maybe, I should say try to go surfing.

On a more negative note, I am nervous as a cat on a hot, tin roof (as Daddy would always say) about going to Florida. Last time I spent an extended amount of time in Florida, I came back with second degree burns on my feet and knees. It was UGLY!! Feet swollen like a balloon and so hot, they melted ice as fast as you put it on! It was awful and all my fault. That was the first time (not the last mind you) that I ignored the advice of the doctors and did my own thing to find out they were right all along. Darn doctors....why do they always have to prove me wrong! They said not to get out in the sun because my immune system was too low and I would get burned. Yep, within 48 hours I had cut both my friends and my vacation short to make a trip back up to the emergency room at Emory.

So that is the reason that I am both excited and nervous. Maybe this time will be better. I can guarantee one thing......there will be a TON of sunscreen used this time. Say a prayer for me that I do not get eaten by a shark while surfing and more importantly that I don't get a second degree sunburn!


Conversations with Dad

The other day Mom and Dad came over to look at what I have done in my attempt to landscape my yard. After we discussed what the future plans for the yard were we began to just talk randomly about life. With my 1st transplantiversary not long ago, my birthday not long after that, and the organ donation awareness work I have been doing, there have been some fairly serious conversations between Mom, Dad, and me.

That day we were discussing how far that I have come in only a year. We were mainly discussing how I still become frustrated with where I am and where I think that I should be in my recovery. I was telling them that I was a little frustrated on my birthday because my strength in the gym wasn't coming back as quick as I wanted. (Trivial I know!) I told them that I got a smack from God in front of the church while teaching Sunday School. Out of nowhere I realized that my hamstrings were SORE!!! It automatically made me think about my groaning and whining about my progress over the year. I was standing in front of the church sore from a soccer game I played on Saturday, while only a year ago I was in my cousin's wedding scared I was going to pass out in front of all the guests. I couldn't even stand up straight because of the 56 staples holding me together. God told me then and there that I should not be complaining. I now agree....I am blessed beyond measure but sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees!

After my story, Dad started talking about "The Night." Yes, the night of the phone call, that phone call from Emory saying they had a liver for me. I have told the story of the mixed emotions that I had involving that phone call, but ultimately I was happy. I was looking forward to a better, healthier, more fulfilling life. I assumed it was the same for my family. They had seen me sick for so long, I figured they would be excited for a better life for me. I was wrong to a degree. Dad said that when the phone call came, he was initially excited, but within a few seconds that excitement turned to fear. A fear he never had before. I fear I do not understand and will not understand until I have a child of my own, I suppose. The fear was that he may be spending his last few moments with me. What should be said? What should be done? It was 2 A.M. and we were in a rush as I got to their house to leave. There was nothing to be done at that time. If my time was up, we had made all of the memories to be made. That is a hard pill to swallow. That is hard to imagine from his point of view. It is hard to think about from my point of view, because I remember having the same thoughts.

Craig has told me he had the same fears but he just wanted to keep me calm on the drive down. I remember Craig and me laughing about whatever we laugh about (which can be anything) on the way down. I remember getting upset at Dad because we were annoying him with our laughing. I remember seeing the terrified look on each of their faces. It was hard for me to see their fear in the car, as they were running the tests on me, and especially in the room before they rolled me into the OR. I can't really remember if we said goodbye. I like to think we didn't...I do remember telling them I will see them in a few hours. I do remember Craig turning his head so I didn't see him cry. That, I do believe, was harder for me than seeing Mom and Dad cry. I was glad that as I said those words the doctor was putting me to sleep.

This whole conversation made me think about how much time we wasted. We were blessed 4 or 5 good years after my diagnosis where I was fairly healthy. I could do anything or go anywhere. We didn't live, we survived. We played it safe. I regret playing it safe. I wish we had taken some trips, stepped out of our comfort zone and had some fun. We just kept on with our lives like nothing was wrong and the end was never coming. In a way we have gotten back to that same spirit of complacency.

Many families whose loved ones are victims of a tragic death do not have that time. Their loved one is lost in an instant....my donor's family is probably in that boat. A car wreck, a tragic sports accident, who knows? If they had things to do over again I assume they would make the most of the time they had with their loved ones.

We have had time added to the clock....time to make memories. I don't want to waste that time again. I want to live, not survive. I am tired of playing it safe. I want to do things that are meaningful, a benefit to others, and have a good time doing it. I want to live for God because he is the one I have to thank for resetting the timer on my life. I want to love people unselfishly. I don't want to waste any more time.

We never know when our time is up, so take the time that is left and make it worthwhile. Don't get the call and wish that more had been done, that more memories were made, that things had been said. Do something, make memories, and say what is important to say to those you love! Live! Don't survive. There is a difference.


A Blurb

Tonight on House, one of the possible diagnoses was PSC. They actually said the entire name, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis! It was not the final diagnosis of the patient but Cameron thought it might be for a hot minute. Then House was rude and shot her idea down of course. Maybe one day!

No one else probably cares, but hey, that is why I have my own blog!! I can write what I want!


Me a Mentor?

It almost makes me laugh to hear that because I am not sure that I will be able to help people when they need help. I have always been awful at knowing what to say in bad situations and my confidence is low in thinking that I will be efficient in that area. I am hoping that after the Georgia Transplant Foundation's training on May 19 I will be a little better. I think that it will be easier once I get into it. I have been through what my mentees(sounds funny!) are going through so I should be able to help, right? Anyways, I have not been able to attend the past couple of trainings due to prior engagements and had a concert planned for the same date as this one. I finally broke down and decided that it is more important for me to do this than to go to a concert. Luckily, it is an all-day concert so I don't have to worry about missing the headliner because I will head over there after the training. (Come to think of it, I don't even know who the headliner is!)

Things are have been and will continue to be nuts until the end of school which is 2 weeks away. Then I get my long break from teaching. I need it!! I have been down lately, but after praying and trying to figure out what is going on with me, I think I am just mentally overloaded. There has been a ton happen to me in the past year and I have not really allowed myself to just relax. I also tend to assume other people's problems that keeps me stressed out when there is no real need for it. I always want to do more and more and forget that it will all come with time and patience.

I have started attending a Bible study group on Sunday evenings at a church in Gainesville. I am really enjoying it and the people who are part of the group are terrific. It was a married group until a few weeks ago and they opened it up to people who were in their mid 20's to 30's. It is still made up of mostly married people so I am in the minority. They are a very close knit group and hopefully they will assimilate us into the group soon. They are all friendly and have been more than welcoming up to this point. I am not sure if any of them read this, but if they do, I would like to say, "Thank you." I look forward to my Sunday nights now....even though I still have to go to work on Monday. Something needs to be done about that!

I am looking forward to school ending and a trip to Florida that I have planned. The only thing I want to do when I get down there is to try surfing. I don't know why I have always wanted to try it. It looks cool and all but me being a good ol' boy it should be on the bottom of my stereotypical list. I guess I am not very stereotypical though when I'm compared to people from around here. I do not hunt, because I like to be warm. I like to fish, but I rarely do it. Surfing appeals to me for some reason. I think it just looks peaceful, with little spurts of intense activity. We will soon find out if I am cut out for it!

I guess that is enough rambling for now. I have gotten serious about writing my letter too. I have written a few drafts but not totally comfortable with what I want to say yet. I will be putting more up about that soon hopefully.


National Day of Prayer

After reading Jill's blog, a friend and fellow transplant recipient, from yesterday, I figured I would write a short post about today being the National Day of Prayer.

Over the past few years and especially over the past year, I have a ton to be thankful for. I have gone from being sick and given a timeline to live to being healthy thanks to the process of transplantation. It has given me a new life and I have my donor family and God for making it all possible. Before my surgery and even to this day I have numerous people praying for me. I have gotten letters, cards, emails, and phone calls from people I have never met saying I am on their prayer list. Some of those people are from states I have never visited. It is amazing to know how prayer can spread through just a few people in a small town in Georgia to places all over the country. God is amazing! I just want to be sure to give Him a little praise for the mountains he has helped me climb. I kind of like keeping Him around!

I have some prayer requests for those of you who are praying people.

Remember those 96,000+ people whose lives are on hold while they wait on their gift. Most are not as lucky or blessed as I was and are required to wait much, much longer than my 12 days. Some have been on the list for over a year. Remember them as they fight each day with whatever ailment they are fighting that has caused their situation.

Remember the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings. As a country, we tend to be fired up and there for the victims for a while and soon they fade from our thoughts. This is when it gets hard for those involved. Let's keep them in our prayers because even when we can't seem to comfort, we can pray to one who can.

On a more personal note, pray for a friend who was told that they had a tumor on their brain stem recently.

And as always, if you get a little time....send one up to the Big Man for me. I can always use them!

Donate life!! Be an organ donor!


One more year....

Yesterday was a somber day for it to be the day on which I was born. Maybe my transplantiversary held so much fanfare that my real birthday paled in comparison. I don't know what it was that made the day different, but it was.

It was my first birthday since I have been back on my feet and the first birthday that I was told I might not get to celebrate. I was not upset, sad, or anything of the like just reflective. Maybe some of the emotion of the transplant is just now starting to hit me.

I don't want to come off as not enjoying yesterday because it was a great day. Heck, it was a great weekend and I did absolutely nothing! Mowing the grass, sitting on the couch, a soccer game, church, eating, and a new bible study made for one of the best weekends I have had in a long time.

I was thinking yesterday about how far I have come in a year. Many times I lose sight of that when I have a goal and I want to meet it now. On my birthday last year, I was in my cousin's wedding with 56 staples in my stomach unable to stand up straight. I was tired walking from the back of the church to the front and thought I was going to pass out more than one time during the ceremony. I was yelled at for picking up my little cousin when she came running to me and constantly asked if I was okay. In contrast to last year, I spent yesterday sore from a heavy leg workout on Friday and from playing in an alumni soccer game on Saturday.

It is still hard to believe how far God has brought me in a year. I try not to get too religious on this blog, but as a Christian I feel that I need to thank God publicly for the gift that he blessed me with and for the health that he restored. I feel a bit like Job after everything had been taken from him and restored to him double what he had. I have been given a new life and I intend to live it double what I did the first one for Christ. There have been a lot of people pray for me and help out along the way in various ways. To those people, I want to say thank you for everything, the money, the phone calls, the prayers, the support, the questions, the smiles, and so many other things.

To the family who was able to show the greatest compassion to me that anyone ever has in their greatest time of need, I say thank you. I have no doubt that, short a miracle from God, I wouldn't be here if it weren't for their unselfish decision. I hope that one day I will get to meet them and thank them for donating their loved ones organs to me and possibly others.

As Donate Life month draws to a close, I urge everyone who reads this blog to donate your organs upon your death. Sign a card, tell your family you want to be a donor, and be a hero to a few of the 95,000+ people on the transplant waiting lists. Transplantation works!


Update on Me- Good News

Not a lot going on currently in the organ donation world concerning me. There is a ton going on with me right now being the final 20 days of the school year. I feel that I am running crazy doing absolutely nothing and getting absolutely nowhere.

Anyways, good news on the transplant front. I went to the clinic on Wednesday and my liver numbers were the best they have been since the transplant. This was good news since they lowered my prednisone. The last three times they tried to lower me from 15mg to 10mg a day my numbers went NUTS!!! This time they held steady and actually dropped even more. The doctors seemed happy with this because they are thinking that the CMV kept returning because they had my immune system too low. Lowering my prednisone should boost my immune system hopefully keeping that monster away. They also mentioned that my prograf (the most important immunosuppressant, or so they act like it is) levels were getting on the upper end of the scale so they may be able to lower it in the near future as well. I am scared to brag too much on how I am doing because it always seems that shortly after I end up staying a night or three at the Emory Express.

I am starting to gain weight and my lifts in the gym are starting to go up. It is pretty exciting starting to feel healthy again and having energy to go along with that feeling. Anyways, that is all the news that is fit to report about me and my new liver.

It is still organ donation month, don't forget to sign up to be an organ donor and let your family know that upon your death you want your organs donated. Transplantation works!! I am living proof!


Virginia Tech Donor

First off, my prayers and thought are with all of the families and students affected by the senseless massacre that took place on the Virginia Tech campus. I have NEVER, and hope that I never will have to, experience death at the hands of something so tragic and unexpected. I can't imagine what the families and friends of those victims must be going through. I do not want this post to sound like I am insensitive to what happened, that is not the case at all.

With that said, I heard somewhere that one of the victims was an organ donor and they performed a transplant with their organs on April 16. (I wish I could remember where, and if I do I will link to the story) Congratulations to the person or persons who received the organs and were given a second chance at life! I wonder if they will feel more guilt than most of us because of the high profile case surrounding their transplant. I wonder if they even know if their organs came from the victim mentioned. Every time they turn on the TV they are seeing the story of how they got their second chance. Just something I have been thinking about since I heard the story. Most of us recipients are oblivious (at least for a time) to the heartache that the families went through so we could have our second chance. These recipients may or may not be oblivious to that heartache. I am sure they are grateful for their gift, but the reason for that gift is in their face with each click of the remote.


Donate Life Walk

On Saturday, I made my way to Jasper to take part in walk to support organ donation. I was able to meet a few new people who have had a transplant (victim's...as some people call us). I always enjoy meeting new people who have been affected by organ donation and transplantation. There were a couple of recipients there with their donor families. This was a neat experience to see them together. It made me start thinking that I really need to begin writing my letter. (more on that later)

The turnout for the walk was not what was expected because of the warning for rain. The rain held off and we had a great time walking through town letting people know about organ donation. I want to thank everyone who donated some money to me. I ended up raising $500 that I turned over to the people in charge of the walk to give to the Georgia Transplant Foundation. I received an email late yesterday saying that they had raised about $2000 total.

After taking part in the walk, I am considering trying to get something going to support organ donation. I am not sure what that will be and I do not know what it entails to get something like that up. I know that it would be a HUGE undertaking, but I can always use one more thing to keep me busy! Maybe I will post more on this in a future blog. If any of you have any ideas, email me or leave them as a comment on this post.


Organ Donation Month


I meant to post this yesterday but life got in the way. I had plenty of time yesterday to sit down and write a little bit, I guess I was just lazy and let it slip by me. So on the 2nd day of April I will let everyone know that this is an important month for me and all the other transplant recipients of the world. April is National Donate Life Month!! So with that I want everyone to be aware of the fact that there is an extreme shortage of organs in the world. At the bottom of this post I will post the current numbers on how many people are currently waiting for an organ transplant.

If you want to be an organ donor, (hopefully, if you are reading my story, you do) be sure to sign a donor card and LET YOUR FAMILY KNOW OF YOUR WISH TO BE AN ORGAN DONOR!! Upon your death, no matter if you signed a card or not, the choice of organ donation goes to your family. Even if it is in your will to donate, the procurement agency (Lifelink of Georgia, Florida, and Puerto Rico, anyways) will not take your organs. They do this out of respect for your family who are grieving at the moment. They do not want to cause your family any more heartache than they are already experiencing. So let your family know that you want to be an organ donor today!! Remind them often too! Transplantation works! I am living proof as well as some others who have links on the left side of my page.

Last year, I got out of Emory Express on April 5 (my dad's birthday) after 10 days in the hospital. I had not been outside since the surgery and was happy to be out. The first thing I noticed was a banner with a green ribbon declaring April Organ Donation Month on the bridge that joins the hospital and clinic. I remember thinking that I never knew about Organ Donation month before, and never really cared, but that banner meant the world to me at the time. For the next month, I passed that banner going to the clinic for bloodwork every morning. I never got tired of seeing the banner on the bridge knowing that thousands of people saw it everyday as they drove back and forth to work, school, or wherever else they may go. I think now, how my family, and even me, bought into the myths that surround organ donation and was not sold on the idea that it worked. Then it all hit home, I was affected with a condition that would require my family to count on someone who did not know me to save my life. I thank God everyday for that person and the family who made the decision. I will never be able to put into words how much they mean to me. If I ever do get to meet them, that will be one of the greatest days of my life. I do not know if they had been personally affected by organ donation and transplatation, but their decision saved my life. Become an organ donor and save someone else's life if something happens to yours. Organ donation is supported by every religion as it is the greatest gift, unselfish love to another!

"Don't take your organs to heaven, cause the Lord knows we need them here!!"

I drive with one of those same green ribbons on the back of my truck today and I love when people ask me what it stands for (I chuckle inside every time they ask because it says "Support Organ Donation" on it), and why I have it. It gives me the opportunity to talk to them about organ donation and get a feel for what they think about the process. I enjoy talking to people about organ donation and telling my story. I am not one to talk openly about myself, though most people who don't know me and read this probably don't believe. I tend to shy away from all conversation with people I don't know unless the topic of organ donation comes up, then I am an open book. So ask me about my transplant and about organ donation. I will not try to change your mind about organ donation. I will give you the facts and let you be a big boy or girl, and make the decision for yourself!!

Here are the current numbers from OPTN:

Waiting list candidates as of today 4/2/07 at 6:37pm
All 95,791
Kidney 70,866
Pancreas 1,730
Kidney/Pancreas 2,363
Liver 16,913
Intestine 230
Heart 2,830
Lung 2,810
Heart/Lung 121
All candidates will be less than the sum due to candidates waiting for multiple organs


Find a different way to stand

That Oprah lady has some good things to say every now and then.

This quote by her sums up what I want to tell people when they ask me how I have made it through these trials at such a young age.

"Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don't fight them. Just find a different way to stand."
--Oprah Winfrey

Find a different way to stand! That's deep enough..nothing else to add.


One Year - So Much To Be Thankful For

Today marks one year since this journey with my new liver began. I have been thinking a lot about how things were before. I do this to keep perspective on how far I have come in the past year. There are mixed feelings about almost everything as I look back. There are things that I have done since surgery that I wish I hadn't. There are many more things that I wish I would have had the courage to do.

The past year has both flown and creeped by all at once. Looking back, I can't believe that a year has past, but as I was going through some of the trials it seemed so slow. I have had relatively few setbacks, the main one being the sinister CMV.

Today was a great day, though I was tired. Craig and I spent the weekend in Bristol at the race and got home around 3:30 AM. Three hours later, I was out of bed and getting ready for work. The day was non-stop with surprise after surprise. The people that I work with went completely out of their way to make today all about me and the transplant. Through some sneaky planning, my class made pancakes for me(blueberry with peanut butter, my favorite), my co-workers made a huge spread for lunch, and the faculty showed up for a party at the end of the day. They also had a lady from Lifelink (the organ procurement agency for Georgia, Florida, and Puerto Rico) come discuss organ donation with the faculty and give out some Donate Life goodies. The school wore green today for organ donation awareness and I knew nothing of the entire thing. I, of course, was wearing my green "Recycle" t-shirt (photo to come). There were some sneaking suspicions, but I never imagined the extent they would go to make me feel special. I am not the type who enjoys being the center of attention. I actually tend to shy away from the spotlight, but today was nice. It is a great feeling to know that you have people who are there for you. That people are willing to take time out of their busy schedules as moms and teachers to plan something that is special to me. Organ donation has become one of my passions and I am trying my hardest to get more and more into furthering the cause in any way that I can. The people that I work with realize this and are helping me to meet this goal. These types of things do not go unnoticed. I will honestly remember this day for the rest of my life. I cannot remember a day where so many people came together to show me that they love me. It still amazes me and more than once today it choked me up, and is again as I type this.

It is so easy to lose sight of all that you have to be thankful for. There is the obvious, the transplant, that is the reason that I am here and able to type this today. But there are many other things that I have to be thankful for. I am thankful for the donor family, who in extremely hard times, were unselfish enough to donate their loved ones organs to me and possibly others. I intend on writing a letter to them when I find words that can BEGIN to wrap around the love that I have for those people. There are my friends and coworkers who show their love everyday, in ways they do not even know. They show their love even in times where I am extremely close to unlovable. My family, who has stood beside me through this entire process. There have been many ups and downs that they only know about, and even more that Craig only knows about. He has been the one that I lean on, he has been the one that I can tell when I hit rock bottom. He is the one who constantly pulls me back up when I am ready to give up. That has been more than once. Sarah, though she came after the surgery, has been another person that I can tell anything to in confidence and know that I will not be judged. She has been my motivator and does not let me use the transplant as an excuse to give up on anything. For that I am thankful because there are times that I get lazy and would use it as a crutch. She pushes me to better myself constantly. There are so many people that I could name that have been an inspiration to me. There are the doctors and the nurses on 9E and in the transplant clinic who never told me that my goals were unreachable. They told me they were lofty, but that I should shoot for them. If any of them happen to read this, I want them to know that each one was met. I returned to work in August, I went hiking, I am back on my mountain bike, I am working out, and I am enjoying life like I never thought that I would again.

There are many things that I haven't done and at times I feel like I am still not living. I want to step out of my comfort zone and make a difference in the world. I don't need to make a big difference, just a little ripple will be fine with me. I want to make my donor and their family proud. I want them to know that their decision was not made in vain. Their loved one is living on inside me and I tell our story everywhere I go. I am thankful for so much and this post barely scrapes the surface of all that I am feeling at the moment. I thank God for giving me the faith to trust in him, the strength to carry on through hard times, and the time to make a difference in the world for him. I want Him to be proud of me when it is my time to go more than anything else. Happy 1st transplantiversary to me! Happy 1st transplantiversary to my donor! Happy 1st transplantiversary to all those who have stood by me and loved me through it all.


2 for 1 deal

As I was checking my email this morning, I noticed the top story on Yahoo! was about liver transplantation. It was an awesome story which will no doubt raise ethical concerns in the near future. As a transplant recipient and knowing about the organ shortage it was nice to see that organ donation and transplantation had front row seats on one of the most popular websites on the internet!

The story told of a 21 year old college student who got the call that she was to receive a new liver. When she got to the hospital, she learned there was a baby girl who was in serious need of a liver as well. She asked the doctor if he could split the liver and give part to the baby. The liver is able to regenerate itself in about a month with enough blood flow. Most pediatric livers use only one lobe of the liver and often times the other is given to someone else or thrown away. The doctor agreed to split the liver and now two lives were saved with one organ.

This is a fascinating story about a brave girl who was willing to risk her chances to save someone else. She is my newest hero! That is one heck of an example of unselfish love for your fellow man. I applaud the doctor for taking the chance as well as the young lady who was able to be so unselfish at a time when she had every right to be selfish!


Q&A update

Yesterday was the Q&A at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. It went surprisingly well even though I could barely talk! It never fails that I lose my voice on the days that I am required to talk in front of people. Oh well, it was a very informal support group type meeting so no big deal. I think that Jenn and I did a pretty good job and hopefully calmed some of the parent's fears. I feel for the parents of these children who are never going to know a life without medication and doctor's appointments. I hope that seeing Jenn and me as productive citizens post-transplant will give them hope for their children to live fulfilling lives.

We got some good feedback from some of the people running the show and have invited us back for something similar in the future. I can't wait to go again. I honestly think I could do that everyday. It has been exciting meeting so many people here lately who are passionate about organ donation and transplantation. I admire each one of them, but some have never even been directly affected, those I really admire. They have a love and a passion for others that hopefully one day I will realize. They amaze me.

18 days until my 1st transplantiversary!!


Walking and Riding for Organ Donation

Next Wednesday is the big day! I am going to talk to the group of parents at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and I am getting excited about going. I am going into this blind, not knowing what to expect but I am looking forward to talking to people about my experience with transplantation. I have no idea what I am going to say. I hope that I will be able to say something worthwhile to the parents. Brent left a comment on my earlier post telling me to be honest about my feelings. He said that the parents are wanting to know what is going on inside of their children emotionally so they can help. I think that was great advice and I will be taking that with me to the session.

I have also been in contact with others who are active in the organ donation world. It seems I have been meeting lots of wonderful people lately. First there was Kim, from Pensacola, which I mentioned in an earlier post.

In the past week, I have been fortunate enough to speak with two other people through email. The first was a lady named Amanda Prather from Jasper, Ga. Her father received a kidney from her sister through the living donor process two years ago. She is organizing a walk for organ donation in Jasper on April 14, 2007. The name of the walk is Donate Life Walk: Raising Awareness One Friend At A Time. Here are pictures from last years 1st annual walk. If any of you are willing to walk, I am going to try and get a group from Dahlonega to head over to Jasper that morning to show our support for organ donation as well. If you are interested let me know and I will get you a registration form. There is a registration fee that includes a T-shirt. All of the proceeds will go to support the Georgia Transplant Foundation.

The other person that I have been talking to is from California. (This is where technology amazes me. I never would have known about Team Donate Life, let alone talk to someone involved if it weren't for the internet.) Kent Mulkey and I have been exchanging emails lately about biking and organ donation. Mr. Mulkey is riding in the Race Across America (RAAM) for Team Donate Life. He will be riding over 1500 miles in 8 days on a bicycle. He became involved in organ donation after his best friend and best friend's dad went through the living donor process. He is now the main man in charge of Team Donate Life as well as his own life. Check out Kent's blog, An Unfinished Life. It is an inspiring one!

I think that it is cool how many doors have been opening up lately for me to get to know so many people in the organ donation community. I enjoy meeting everyone and hope to meet many more in the future!