Thank you for visiting this site. This is my brother's story. I am honored to help. Hopefully the updates provided on this site will keep you informed and take that pressure off the family members nursing us back to full recovery.
Doctor said I had kidney failure.
I asked "How can that be? I am an adult, I have adult knees."
I am scheduled for a kidney transplant on April 21 at Vanderbilt Hospital.
It all started back in 1998 when, surprisingly, I didn’t possess the weaponry to pass the largest kidney stone in the history of Centennial Hospital in Nashville. Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (nef-roe-lih-THOT-uh-me) is a procedure used to remove kidney stones from the body when they can't pass on their own. A scope is inserted through an incision in your back to remove the kidney stones by pulverizing them and sucking them out through a tube. The stone was so large that I had to do this twice in one month… it was horrible. You’re asleep for the surgeries, but there’s no sedation when they insert and remove the scope and tube. It was mid-December, so I made the doctors and nurses sing Christmas songs while torturing me.
Six years ago, my left kidney produced another record setting stone for St. Thomas Hospital, causing kidney failure. Imaging revealed the right kidney was atrophic and had not functioned for some time due to the wear and tear caused by the 1998 events. So now I was down to one kidney.
I managed with just over 20% kidney function for another five years. Then, early last year I started passing out due to Syncopal episodes triggered by a sudden, temporary drop in blood flow to the brain which led to loss of consciousness and muscle control. Think a metallic noise, followed by absolute nothingness, then sheer terror when all your body systems try to recover while blood flow returns to the brain allowing you to regain consciousness. Last November I had several of these Syncopal episodes in a row, but I wasn’t regaining consciousness due to heart block (Google it). Thanks to the quick response from my kind employees and the Berry Hill police, I got to ride in a loud, speeding ambulance, which had NO SUSPENSION, to the Vanderbilt Hospital ER. I was hooked up to an emergency pacemaker that shocked the crap out of me every second, non-stop, for about four hours.
Vanderbilt is a miracle of God and saved my life. When it was all over, there was a room full of doctors, nurses and medical students; one doctor said they had lost me a couple of times. I told them I hadn’t been floating around the room looking down on them - they all died laughing like it was the funniest thing they’d ever heard. (I learned a long time ago to never sit on a laugh, so I ‘acted’ like it was meant as a joke.) Anyway, I now have a permanent micro pacemaker inserted in my heart chamber (through the groin) with no slice or dice scars or a little square thing sticking out of my chest. My heart is in terrific shape, so the scary stuff is out of the way.
I am scheduled for a kidney transplant on April 21 at Vanderbilt and am extremely fortunate to be getting the transplant only eight months after it was ordered. This was made possible due to the selfless love of my youngest sister, Denise, who is donating one of her kidneys. She’s named it ‘Steve’. I still can’t wrap my heart and mind around this generosity… to be honest, it’s been the most emotional and difficult part of the journey. I do not know how to thank her adequately, but she did insist that I make her executor of my estate, so there’s that. We are a perfect match so there will be an easier recovery and less chance of rejection. It also means we have the same parents. (My brother and other sister are gonna have to figure out on their own if that’s the same for them.)
Another miracle is I never got so sick that I had to go on dialysis. All tests showed that I should have been in big trouble, but I haven’t had as tough a go as most people with kidney disease. I’ve been told I will be surprised how much better I will feel just days after the surgery.
I’m so grateful for and humbled by the care I have received from the Vanderbilt team. The atmosphere is so positive and professional, and I’ve made dear friends there. There will come a day when I’m not going to a different Vanderbilt campus three times a week…what will I do for a social life when this is all over?