Monthly Archives: February 2018

Important Personal Health Update

I need to trade some teeth for a kidney

As some of you know, I’ve been living on borrowed time for a number of years. In 1994, I received a then-experimental double organ transplant – kidney and pancreas – that, if everything went right, was supposed to extend my life for a few years.

That was 24 years ago. Despite some serious complications along the way, my non-native organs have lasted far longer than me, my doctors, or anyone else expected. It’s been miraculous.

But the clock has always been ticking. The underlying disease, the various illnesses that come with immunosuppression (which prevents organ rejection), and the toxic drugs I need that create immunosuppression all take their toll over time. This week I’ve been dealing with two major personal health developments.

The first is that my non-native kidney has finally deteriorated to the point where I am now eligible to be listed for another kidney transplant.

This has been coming for a while, but it’s still something of a shock to have that eventuality become real and present. Transplants carry a lot of risks, and recovering from my first one was a long, arduous process. And I was a lot younger and stronger then. Going through another transplant now is a prospect that’s … daunting. But we do what we need to in order to survive.

I’ve already taken and cleared most of the tests and procedures needed to actually get on the wait list for a kidney. The one major one remaining is that I need a fair amount of dental work done. Transplantees need a pristine mouth because of the high risk of infection.

The second bit of news this week has been that after a number of delays, I finally got a detailed treatment plan and cost estimate for the dental work needed to clear the wait list requirements. It comes to $2,951.00.

This is actually an improvement from the first estimate I got, which was over $7,000. And it’s probably the best I can do. I need some specialized work due to the immunosuppression. Even without that, the only major remaining charity dental care program in our area for low-income patients has a wait list, too, of over 3,500 people. (Surely many more local people than that actually need such care.) And now time is a factor – the sooner I get on the list, the likelier I am to get a transplant before my kidney fails completely. Dialysis can be a stopgap, but for various reasons I don’t do well on dialysis; I likely wouldn’t survive more than a few months on it.

Ironically, Medicare and insurance will cover most of the costs of the transplant itself. (At least for now – by the time of my surgery, who knows what Trump and his minions will have done? But first things first.) However, to become eligible for that care I need to come up with thousands of dollars out of pocket, because for some insane reason – and yet another feature of the American health care system found nowhere else in the world – we don’t treat dental or vision care as health care.

At this point, my non-native kidney could last several more years, or give out next month – it’s notoriously hard to predict in situations like mine. But the sooner I get on the transplant list, the better my chances of survival are.

Every few months for the last couple of years I’ve needed to appeal to friends and readers for financial help to meet basic expenses (and bless all of you who’ve helped over that time). This is not that. My personal cash flow for living expenses is actually fine this month. But like most people, I don’t have an extra few thousand lying around. No money, no dental care … no waiting list … no new kidney … and, sooner than later, no Geov.

It’s ridiculous, but people die in this country due to fiscal absurdities like this all the time. I don’t want to be one of them.

I’ve set my first dental appointment – the extractions – for Thursday, March 4, because time matters and in the faith that, somehow, I’ll be able to have the necessary funds in hand by then. (Payment is due up front, of course.) I have a few prospects for friends and family that can help, but almost nobody I know has that kind of money lying around; mostly, I’ll need to crowdsource raising the necessary money.

I’m happy to share the treatment plan or other details anyone would like offline, but the bottom line is, if you can help me raise a nearly $3,000 bill in the next two weeks, it literally would mean the world to me. There’s a PayPal button at the bottom right of my home page that I’m using for this fund; PM me if you want to make other arrangements for a donation.

Whatever you can do, either yourself or by sharing this with others, I’m profoundly grateful for.

As I’ve written before: In the end, in Trump’s America, all we have is each other. And caring about and for each other is the best rebuke we have to the New Cruelty his regime champions. Thanks for reading!

P.S. Feel free to share widely!