Chopped Liver - A Community for Live Organ Donors and Recipients

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Meet my feline alter ego

Another sign of Joe's continued recovery: He welcomed home two lovely, long-haired black cats today, three-year-old brothers he just adopted from a shelter. You may have already picked up about Joe that he is 1) funny; 2) a rabid, purist Seinfeld fan; and 3) eager to pay tribute to me, his trusty liver donor, in as many intensely personal, meaningful ways possible. Combinining all these characteristics, he named the cats accordingly.

Little Becky Waller
Pictured here is Little Becky. He's the shyer of the two. At first glance the sweet, perfect name is an obvious homage to me, but Joe's fellow rabid, purist Seinfeld fans will immediately recognize the nod to Kramer, too, from the episode "The Little Jerry," original air date 12/19/96:

JERRY: Is that your "chicken" making all that noise?

KRAMER: Oh, Jerry loves the morning.


KRAMER: Little Jerry Seinfeld. I named my chicken after you.

JERRY: Thanks, that's very sweet, but that is not a chicken.

KRAMER: Of course it is. I picked it out myself.

JERRY: Well, you picked out a rooster.

KRAMER: Well, that would explain Little Jerry's poor egg production.

The other cat has been named Soda Costanza. "Seven" was already taken, I guess.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Kofi Annan can't have mine

"Apart from a good mind, the two most important assets for a United Nations diplomat are a good tailor and a strong liver."
- Richard Woolcott, former Australian ambassador to the U.N.

It's been a while since I've written anything of substance here, mostly because there's nothing major to tell about my journey. I have arrived in the Twin Cities for a brief stay before I continue my recovery in Washington state with my older brother and his family. Today I tried to do too much -- unpacking my car, two loads of laundry, a trip to Bed Bath & Beyond to pick up some assorted needed things, a pass of the vaccuum over all the carpet -- and now I am paying the price. I'm exhausted. So it's back to the couch tomorrow.

But I do have great news to tell you about Joe: He is doing very well, back to living on his own in Chicago, back to his signature knock-you-on-your-ass humor, back to smiling regularly. Of course, he's not back to work yet (heaven forbid he beat me to it), but that will come in time, a few more months yet.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Jam tan.

Happy 33rd birthday, Helen. We miss you.

We're all brothers, humanity-wise

And you all thought I was generous: A Big Lake, MN, man donated his kidney to a complete stranger, after reading an article about the need for organs. Read the story here.

Monday, February 13, 2006

More than I knew before

Searching Wikipedia for relevant entries on adult living-donor liver transplantation, I came across this page from Mount Sinai School of Medicine. I wish I had found it before the surgery, and recommend it for anyone considering transplantation as donor or recipient. (Terry, check it out!) I've added it to my links list in the right column below.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A brother's true love and gratitude

Joe submitted a comment to the previous entry worth bringing to the light of the front page:

Today I honor my sister the best way I know how. Please welcome Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball's newest team: the RJW Hepatocytes! The name is the most important thing about a fantasy team so this team is guaranteed to win. - Joe

For those of you who don't know, RJW are my initials, given Rebecca for Becky. And hepatocytes? See Wiki. I will keep the world posted on my team's status. Wow, I feel like Peter Hill-Wood. Rock on!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

This is the power

Today I have taken the first step in the evolution of Chopped Liver as an ongoing site to promote the greater good. At right, I have posted a small icon that links to Strengthen the Good, the inspiring creation of Alan Nelson, a frequent commentor on this site and one of my personal heroes. Alan, the genius behind Seat 1A (not to mention scores of corporate communication strategy success stories), created Strengthen the Good to unleash the power of bloggers to make measurable, meaningful impact on community-based social causes. In his words:

STG is the nexus of a network of bloggers committed to raising awareness for small charities around the world. Every so often this space highlights a new “micro-charity”—a small, inspiring charity, one with a real face and where $1 makes a difference—and the bloggers in the network link to that post, sending traffic, and awareness, the charity’s way.

You can read what the New York Times had to say about Strenghten the Good here, but you'll need a user ID and password.

I am joining the network, gladly. I hope you'll take a look.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Chicago - Minneapolis - Vancouver - Minneapolis

It's day 22 of my stint as a post-op invalid, and for the most part all is right with the world. My good friend Katie and generous, kind-hearted Clay are coming to DM for a visit tonight, and I've made reservations for Centro, the city's newest downtown hot spot (think Zelo, only lonely). They have a strong wine list that includes the very same lovely Prosecco that Amanda and I enjoyed in the company of the owners of Casa Tua in Aruba just a few weeks ago. I may force my company to try it so I can savor it again, albeit vicariously this time around.

Some news on my comings and goings: We're heading to Chicago next Tuesday to visit a much-improved Joe for a week of un-overdone fun. On Saturday, February 25, I'll make a brief return to the Twin Cities, for just two nights before hopping a 2/27 flight to Vancouver, Washington, to visit my older brother and his family. On March 9, I fly home, where I'll stay for good! The following Monday, March 13, I'm back at the office full-time, and the week after that I return to CSOM for two B-term strategy courses. It'll be like I never left. Except I have a blog now.

I miss everyone back home terribly. Throw a snowball for me.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Scar and the Wool: A Photo Essay

By popular demand:

Three panels of the blanket, not yet sewn together

A close-up of my knitting handiwork

The surgeon's handiwork: My 4.5" badge of honor
(The mark to the right of my belly button will also scar, probably -- that's where the drainage tube was.)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Unenticing options for the future of Chopped Liver

So, I'm struggling to determine how I can keep Chopped Liver compelling and relevant, now that the high drama of my family's ordeal has subsided. Not much to say anymore: Joe and I are both healing, slowly, daily, just trudging through the boring course of predictable recovery. Do my readers really care if today I knit 12 inches and read two chapters of Saving Fish From Drowning? Is it newsworthy that the final hold-out bandage fell off to reveal my scar at last in full? Could you care that my abs hurt a little bit more today than yesterday, following an aggressive two-hour outing with my Mom to the mall? There is no story here, really.

So what do I do with this blog from here? I posed this question to Philadelphia-based friend and philosopher John M., who said matter of factly, "Well, you'll need to decide whether your next post is going to be about the latest episode of The Bachelor or about the State of the Union address."

Eeesh. I think I'll try to stretch the liver-related stuff out for a while.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Did you know?

By some estimates, my liver could be fully regenerated by now. More likely, it's still growing its way toward original size, but scientists have determined that the average time of growth is between two and eight weeks.

Because adult liver donation is relatively new, and the only way to know how much has grown is to take expensive pictures via MRIs or CAT scans, transplant specialists don't have a lot of data to go on. To rectify that, nine leading transplant centers across the country, including NMH, are conducting a study of live liver donors. Over ten years, 1,700 adult liver donors from those centers will have an MRI scan three months after surgery, and volumes and sizes will be recorded. I have volunteered to participate, and I'll have my scan in mid April. Based on results so far (four years into the study), the NMH transplant team said about 98% of all participants had fully regrown livers at the three-month mark.

Not coincidentally, the three-month anniversary of T-day also serves as the first day I can enjoy a beer or glass of wine again. Revel in the miracle of life!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The other side of the story

I'm pleased to introduce you to Josh from Georgia, a stranger to me who wrote to say he's been enjoying Chopped Liver as he embarks on his own search for the organ that will save his life -- like my brother, he suffers from PSC and may need to rely on a live donor for the transplant he needs. Josh's blog, My Hepatic Times, is his outlet for sharing his emotions, positive and negative, as he goes through this process. I encourage you to check it out if you're interested in reading what it's like to be on the other side of a story such as mine.

Although my brother and I are close, Joe is a relatively private guy. (Note, no blog!) So Josh's articulate posts have given me a valuable window to the range of emotions that people in his and Joe's positions go through. God bless the Internet. And more important, Josh and all his family.

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