A valentine….

What is better than wisdom? Woman. And what is better than a good woman? Nothing.” – author unknown

I’m very lucky.

Six years ago, I made a major life decision that was needed, but wound up causing immense pain to the woman I was married to for 21 years. Our relationship had been deteriorating for some time, and we both knew it. One of us had to do something, as we were both suffering. That task fell to me, and I made the decision to leave the marriage, initially separating, but later on she initiated the divorce. I guess it was her way of maintaining some control over things.

Shortly before the divorce went through, I became reconnected with a college friend that I had not seen in a few years. Patti and I met my first night in the dorms at the University at Buffalo back in 1981. We became friends quickly, hanging around with the same crew of people on the floor. Now, when I say friends, I mean just that. Friends. Not “friends with benefits,” just friends.

After my graduation in 1985 (Patti graduated the year beforehand), we stayed in touch, and she even attended my wedding in 1989. We lost touch for a long period of time, and as I found out many years later, was living in NYC for three years, working as a speech language pathologist in a school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. We would reconnect after my move to Rochester in 1999, but again, lost touch.

Flash forward to 2010: A mutual friend gets in touch with me, and I asked her if Patti was still living in Syracuse. She was, and said friend gave me her contact information. I gave her a call, and we began talking. That’s how it began, small talk that grew into my bouncing opinions off of her. It turns out she had been through something similar with her ex-partner some years prior. Patti can be brutally honest, which is what I needed at the time. I was wracked with guilt over the separation, Having a woman’s point of view helped to clarify ertain feelings I was having, in addition to the help from an excellent therapist.

I drove out to Syracuse from Rochester to have lunch with her one day, and discovered that our lives had taken somewhat parallel courses. She taught in one of the toughest areas of NYC, and now was teaching in the toughest area of the Syracuse school district. She dealt with some of the same things that I dealt with while working as a paramedic in Brooklyn. We reminisced, and something just clicked.

I found myself running out to Syracuse more often for lunch with her. Then just before my divorce was finalized, our friendship took a turn to something more. We’ve been together ever since, something I hardly expected. The last thing I was looking for was another relationship so soon. It found me instead, and throughout all the turmoil of my illness, I could not have wished for a better person to go through my life with.

She has endured my illness, which was a hellish time as she never had to deal with something like this before. Now, she helps me through my post transplant rehabilitation, and we look forward to the day when I’m completely independent again. I could not have made it through the recurrence of my illness and transplant without her. Yes, she is a caregiver, in the traditional sense of the word, but she’s more than that.

I love her with all my heart.


One of the things that a transplant patient needs to get used to are the bumps in the road on the way to recovery after surgery. Sometimes they’re speed bumps, sometimes potholes. The body has undergone a tremendous shock, adjusting to life with a foreign organ, massive amounts of medication initially, and a host of other things that need getting used  to. Such was the case with me last week.

I go every Thursday (for now) to the transplant clinic at Strong Hospital in Rochester, where I had my surgery. So while there last week, the unexpected happened. Apparently I was a bit dehydrated, and combined with the large amount of immunosuppression I’m on caused a strain on my kidneys. My main anti-rejection medication, Tacrolimus (Prograf), is known to have an effect on the kidneys. Combine that with the two other anti-rejection meds, and things need to be monitored closely, and adjusted down when needed. It was enough however to put me in the hospital for two days to “tweak,” – as my surgeon says – my kidney function.

The last thing that I wanted was to be back in the hospital after making progress at home. I was pretty upset, but I really didn’t have a choice. They didn’t want things to progress to the point where I would have been even worse. the problem was there were no beds on the transplant floor, so I had to spend the night in the ED until one opened up at about 3am. Oh joy. So multiple liters of IV fluid over two days, and a medication change later, I was sent home with orders to drink as much water as I could stand to avoid dehydration.

On the good news front, my appetite, which had been stalled for some time, has come roaring back. I seem to be hungry all the time, which is a good thing since I’m still almost 50 lbs underwweight. It does feel good to have my appetite back to where I was used to it.

So, life goes on, and hopefully, no more bumps.