Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2012: End of Days... I Don't Write

I've been thinking for a week or so about what I'd like to write in this space about Christmas. I never did  come up with a golden idea, because Christmas means so many things to different people, and even though this is my blog, I didn't know what I wanted to say. I will say this about Christmas though- whatever you believe, however you celebrate, whether you did or didn't get what you hoped for, the Christmas season- those 5 weeks between the fourth Thursday in November and the first day of January- is a time of love, and though it may not feel like it in these modern times of political correctness and war, a time of peace. I hope the spirit of love and peace blessed and touched everyone this season, and I hope you got what you wanted for Christmas.

Now, tis the season to make resolutions. I very often don't actually end up making resolutions, and as often as I do make them, I don't end up keeping any of them. I got to thinking about my resolutions for 2011, and when I realized I hadn't accomplished any of them I also realized I didn't make any last year. I was decidedly too busy being in Newport Beach "living the life", sharing a condo with my niece and nephews and going to the Rose Bowl to be bothered with resolutions. Apparently. At least I have somewhat of an excuse for not growing or progressing as a person. Right? Right?!?!

Anyway, this year I am actually going to make a resolution or two, and I'm writing them here so that I can actually A) remember what it is and B) have a constant reminder that I am either accomplishing it or am a complete slug for not doing anything.

Mu first resolution is to work on my book. That doesn't mean I need to work on it everyday. Baby steps, baby steps. It means that I need to do some serious work on it over the next year. Preferably to have it done by this time next year. That would be ideal. My last semester of college was an immense amount of writing and I was burned out, but I think that's wearing off and I might be ready to work on this project. I hope I am anyway, because I feel like a lazy, ungrateful teenage (2 of which I am NOT) for not working on it during all my loads of free time.

I've been thinking really hard about a second resolution and I can't really come up with one. I suppose I'd like to work on maybe not hating the general population so much, perhaps not letting people's idiocy irritate me so much, possiblly attempt to have a brighter outlook on life. I'm not sure these are things I can change though. I do wish that I liked people, that I could be a little more like my brother-in-law Andrew and get along with everyone, whether I like them or not. But I'm not going to be that way and I know it. I think that's why I want to be a writer, so I can sit in my house and be a recluse because that's what writers do. 

I always admire the people who have overcome adversity and have had generally really hard lives and still believe the best about people and the world. I do wish I could be like that, but I've become jaded, for no particular reason other than it's the easier thing to do, and believing the best in people seems cliched to me now. Perhaps if I can change my way of thinking, I can start believing the best in people. Rather than being a judgey-pants, I should make up stories about people in my head, decide that maybe the creeper on the bus isn't just a gangly oaf who stares at me, but a guy who trains seeing eye dogs on the weekends, and during the week, on the bus, pretends to be blind so he can understand the impact his work with seeing eye dogs has on people. Right? Right??!?!

So I guess that means my second resolution is to change my way of thinking. Easier said than done, but a resolution isn't a resolution unless it's challenging. If I actually do get my book written and am successful in starting to believe that people are inherently good and not irritating, 2012 might actually be the end of days. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Somewhere, Beyond the Sea

This is for Nikki.

Somewhere high above the city, through the cumulonimbus and the thinning atmosphere, past the spot where stars twinkle and the moon smiles, beyond earth and beyond space, is a world without doors, sadness, or heartbreak. It's a place of light and love, where love really never dies and white is always in season. The gloriousness of this place can hardly be conveyed by a mere mortal. Having never been there, only symbolically I suppose, I can only imagine what it's truly like. But I do know that there is no disease, pain, or sorrow. Suffering is left behind and joy fills every crevice because the journey is over, and all were triumphant.

The worst part of this world is the ones left behind, the ones still suffering through grief and sorrow here on earth. It's hard to see sometimes that the ones you've lost are better because you feel so much worse. Slowly specs of time start to fill the emptiness inside, and confirmation will come through in the tiniest of ways to let you know everything will indeed be alright. An Everclear song on the radio, a sunflower on the side of the highway, two peas in a pod from the garden... It's the evolution of the soul in so many different contexts, all meaningful and all pertinent to the progression of the human spirit.

Loss is never easy. If it were, it wouldn't be called "loss", or the word wouldn't have such a negative connotation. The most sacred part of loss is knowing that eternity exists, the afterlife is there, and for the rest of your journey in this life can be propelled by knowing the ones you loved and lost will be there waiting for you when your sojourn is through. And that living without them, though never easy, does get more bearable, and even a little less lonely, even if it's the most minuscule amount humanly possible.

Somewhere, through the gray of the clouds and the inversion over this valley, past the light pollution from the skyscrapers downtown, above the space station and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn's rings, waits paradise for all of us.

Monday, December 5, 2011

All I Want for Christmas is...

World peace. No, I'm not a beauty pageant contestant, but world peace would make things a lot easier, and a lot less interesting. I know world peace is an impossible dream, and honestly I'm not one who dreams it very often. If there was world peace, and everyone got along, there was no more fighting or disease, what would Jon Stewart have to talk about? So for the sake of "The Daily Show", world peace isn't what I want for Christmas. What I really did ask for is as follows: The Biography of Steve Jobs, Cool, Calm, and  Contentious by Merrill Markoe, and a fluffy kitten. Other than that, I don't really need or want anything. Well, there are things that I need/want, but they are a little out of reach of the normal person.

In no particular order...
  • Enough money to pay off student loans
  • The heartbreak of missing my brothers at the holidays would disappear
  • A kidney (naturally)
  • No more Medicare premiums (especially the one due on Christmas Day)
  • For my young friend Nikki and her husband Spencer to have strength, peace, and comfort during this difficult time in their lives.
  • No more hungry people
  • No more Rachel Ray or Twilight
  • Peace for the brokenhearted
  • Love for the lonely
  • Robert  Downey Jr. 
  • "Community" to be back on NBC this January
I feel like some of those things have a distinctive "Grown Up Christmas List" feel which was not my aim at all. But I really do want for there to be no more hungry people, especially kids, in the world. And if Robert Downey Jr. showed up at my house, I would not turn him away. Anyway, the point of this really, is that... oh I don't know. I guess I just hope that everyone will remember that love is the most important part of this season, even though it's fun to go to Christmas parties, find that perfect gift, convince your nephews you're getting them coal from the new "coal store" at the mall... I think John Lennon had it right. "All we need is love" this Christmas season, and all the year round. All we need is love, love, love, love, love.

I think that really is all I want for Christmas.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Response to the Ultimatum Letter from My Transplant Coordinator

** Mere seconds after I published this I realized that to you, the reader, this might seem a little unfair toward the University of Utah Transplant Program. It might seem that way, but it is not. If you knew all the ghosts on the inside of the situation, you would realize that I may be more than generous here.

Dear Heidi,

Thank you for your recent letter, which I received in the mail today (17/11/11). I did not appreciate your tone, nor did I appreciate your ultimatum. While it is true that I have not returned the 3 phone calls you've placed to me "in the last 2 months" as your letter states, did you or did you not speak with my mother on the phone just last week? The messages you left me did not appear to be urgent, as you said each time you were calling to "check in". I did not feel it necessary to call you back.  Here is why:

  • I was in your program for one full year and received approximately 2 phone calls from the other coordinator. If I called, I was treated abhorrently; like a small, idiot child who failed to understand the intricacies of organ transplantation and the required waiting time when one is on the wait list. Well, I do understand and I've done this before. I just found it odd that a terminally ill patient (granted ALL transplant patients are terminal) was contacted only TWICE in one year, once to say there was an available kidney and NOPE, clerical error!, and second to say I needed to come to transplant clinic if I wanted to say on the list. That does not set a great precedence.
  • Because of the seeming incompetence of your program, I've been in the process of switching to the transplant program at IMC, where they are shocked that I've been on the wait list at your program for a year and a half and STILL do not have a kidney. Yes, I'm switching from your program, not being double listed, leaving, abandoning ship, saying sionara. For the last 18 months, I've been on the UNOS list, which I know you don't control, but my sister and I have also been in 2 paired donor programs which have yielded no results, and most likely, no trying for results. As it turns out, your program has never done a paired exchange, while the IMC program does them frequently, with people who have higher PRAs than I do. A paired exchange is my best bet, therefore your program is not my best bet. 
  • Your letter stated that you need to be able to get hold of people on the wait list within 1 hour of when a kidney becomes available. I believe you currently have my cell, home, work, mother's, and sister's numbers, all of which would be adequate to reach me on if a kidney was indeed available. It's probably wrong to assume, but I figured that you would go ahead and try me on one of the other 4 numbers you have listed for me if, in fact, a kidney was available and you could not reach me on my cell, which for the record is the only number you've called other than my mother's last week. Also, I'd like to think that if you did have a kidney available for me that you'd tell me on the message instead of saying you were "checking in" each and every time you called.
I recognize that the gross negligence on your program's part in the first 18 or so months that I've been with it does not mean that I should now turn the tables. I did actually think that my transfer to IMC was complete and that any day I should be taken off your list and out of your system as an active patient. It is my own fault for not recognizing that. But the threat in your letter? That you're going to place me as inactive if you don't hear from me by December 1st? The University Health Care Transplant Program has been contented to ignore and belittle me for a year and a half. Now you are taking my life, which no one has ever shown regard for, and threatening to put it on hold, once again and even more than it already is, because of an unreturned phone call? It seems a little petty and a lot ridiculous. 

So look forward to me calling you tomorrow. And I'm not going to hold back. I'm going to tell you exactly what I think of your program and exactly what I think of the letter you sent. Then I'm going to tell you all the reasons why I'm transferring to another program. Lastly i'm going to tell you good riddance and that my experience with the University Transplant Program has inspired me to make sure the next job I get has insurance that is accepted by IHC, or Select Health or whatever it's called  now, because I NEVER want to have to even consider being treated by anyone in your program again.

Until tomorrow,


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Life Makes Love Look Hard

 I've been pondering something lately that I never thought I'd do, or ponder: online dating. Stop laughing. All I've been doing is pondering it. I haven't signed up for match.com, or taken whatever compatibility test eHarmony advertises, or even gone to any of those sites to "check them out". I've just been thinking about it because I currently have no viable avenues for meeting men. Unless you count the bus, which I don't.

Since I moved back with my parents (for medical reasons, y'all) I'm not going to church with any single people. They're all married with children, or just married, or retired with glaucoma. I don't meet anyone at work, even though I work at the University and there are literally thousands of men there. I work a desk job, and my office has very little traffic. Occasionally people come in to use my stapler (no innuendo intended) but that's about it. All my good friends are married or dating-committed and I am apparently not the friend anyone sets up with people they know.

I know I have some issues. The whole no-kidney-terminal-illness thing is sort of a big deal, and I know from past experience that it's a big deal to other people too, and not "I'm kind of a big deal" in a good way. It's scary, not knowing whether you're going to live forever with dialysis or always be sick. It's scary to others who don't understand, or even worse, who do understand the gravity of the situation. Because of my medical issues I may not be able to have my own kids and in the LDS culture that can be a deal breaker for a lot of guys, which means I am sort of a deal breaker myself, not by any fault of my own, but just because it's become my lot in life. I think that's why Mormon boys don't like me. I don't fit into the mold of perfect wife, perfect life. With me nothing is really ever perfect, it's always a little messy and I don't think anyone thinks "I can't wait to get married and have a messy life".

So maybe it's not in the cards for me. Maybe the tables will turn one day and I'll be my parents' caretaker, rather than the other way around- which is what it is right now. I can always be cool Aunt Sarah and buy my nieces' and nephews' love with gifts, since I won't have any kids or a husband of my own to spend my book money on. I'll finally get my fluffy gray kitten, but I'll draw the line at one. I will not become the local cat lady. I'll travel the world... well maybe just Europe and the Caribbean and other places that I won't get diseases by drinking the water. I'll buy a house on the beach in Carlsbad and the ocean can be my companion. At least I'd be reassured that it will always be around.

And that's why I've started thinking about online dating. Because planning my life of solitude does not seem like the life I really want to have for myself. Lord knows I can't cook for just one and I hate leftovers, so I really need to have someone to cook for. And I really need to have someone to write to. and I really need someone to love with. Love rich and love deep and love far. Just love.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

For Every Season

I was thinking about Christmas today. I was looking at the "Catch of the Day" deals on Boden and started looking at girls' clothes for my nieces for Christmas and I realized, it's only mid-October, I don't need to be thinking about Christmas yet. But by that time it was too late and I was in the throes of twinkle lights and ringing bells and the smell of cinnamon almonds in malls. Ugly sweater parties and white elephant gifts and love and laughter and that little bit of heartbreak that comes with knowing someone is missing. And that feeling that takes over the earth, that one that can't really be described other than to say it feels like it's the holidays. I love that feeling, and even though it means another year has come and gone, and that I'm another year older with little to show for it, I'm actually excited for it to be the holiday season once again.

Now, as it is only mid-October, I'll enjoy the fall(ing) leaves and the weather that's finally making it feel like fall. Football and salted caramel hot chocolate from Starbucks and cranberries and pumpkin and that little holiday we call Thanksgiving. And I'll enjoy that since the surgery last week (and only now do I realize the most clever title for that blog post would have been "Surgery V: The Final CUT) and 6 days of recovery, things are looking up. My hand doesn't hurt all the time, in fact only some of my fingers are numb. I can get all the way through dialysis without need of pain killers or lessened time. I can type more than a sentence without needing to take a break because of forearm fatigue. Sure, I have a catheter in my leg but as it turns out, fem caths are a lot less bothersome to me than the ones they put in my chest.

I didn't really get to enjoy my summer, and I got a week of fall enjoyment in  Boston before the s*** hit the fan in September, now I can hopefully enjoy the rest of fall and the coming holiday season. It's weird to think it'll be here before we all know it. But days turn to weeks, and weeks turn to months, and seasons change and memories fade and suddenly you're 29, wondering where your youth has gone. (so dramatic, I know) You blink your eye and suddenly your little cousin is old enough to drink, your dad is getting ready to retire, your little brother is a father and you find yourself saying phrases like "When I was a teenager we didn't all have cell phones". And worst of all,  you find yourself writing dribble like this on your blog. It's kinda tough getting older, but it's tough when you're young too. ;) 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Surgery V: The Final Chapter (Hopefully)

It's my birthday week, and it's gearing up to be not-that-bad of a week. Maybe. As of 8 a.m. this morning it was going to be a normal, calm week. Then I went to have my stitches removed and now I'm having surgery #5 on my arm on Thursday. The blood flow to my right hand has been greatly diminished because the graft is "stealing" the blood from it, and it's getting worse every day so Dr. Sarfati is going to tie off and/or remove the graft so I can regain the full use of my right hand. Being right handed, this will be very beneficial to me. But it's also very bittersweet. It means that all these surgeries, all this pain and tribulation, all these scars were all for naught. Hopefully this will be the end of my vascular journey/nightmare and I can just get a kidney and get on with my life.

But this week is full of more than just surgery. Wednesday I finally meet with the transplant surgeon at IMC, an appointment that has been delayed twice because they've been doing transplants (a good sign!), AND it's the Season 6 premier of PSYCH, my favorite television show of all time. This is a big deal to me because I really do love "Psych" and it can get me laughing when nothing else can.
Shawn-"Gus, don't be both Ashlee Simpson albums."
Gus-"There were 3 Ashlee Simpson albums, Shawn."
S-"What? How is that possible?"
G-"There was 'Autobiography', 'I Am Me', and-"
S-"I can't do this with you right now."
hahaha oh Shawn and Gus, I wish  I lived in  your world. Friday I should be getting the new iPhone 4S for my birthday, assuming my dad can fight through the crowd and get to the AT&T store in the first 30 seconds they're open to get me one before they run out. It's my birthday present. I'm excited. Plus I already bought a kate spade iPhone 4 cover and I needs a phone to put it on. Saturday is my actual birthday and it will be filled with dialysis, Utah v. Pitt, napping, dinner, and probably more napping. Sunday is the family celebration for mine and Max's birthdays which will include two of my favorite things: Chocolate Rum Cake from Leslie's and cranberry salad.

Birthday weeks shouldn't include surgery, but what can you do? I'm looking forward to having a hand that doesn't feel like its wickedly asleep all the time. At least I'm praying that is the end result. Happy birthday to me.

Friday, September 30, 2011

You Are Punished

Read that title as if you're saying the word "punished" in the Shakespearean way. "Punish-ED" sounds so much more fierce and deplorable that just the American way. Let's think about that word for a second....

That's what I feel is happening to me. I feel like I'm being punished for some grievous offense but I don't know what I've done to warrant such a penalty. The last few weeks have been rough. It started with a clotted graft, then some surgery that turned into the worst possible worst case scenario, a couple of incisions and a whole bunch of stitches, almost critical blood loss, a fem cath in my right leg, and numbness in three of five fingers that becomes so unbearably painful during dialysis I wonder if cutting off my hand isn't a better option.

So I think to myself as I'm lying in bed, or massaging my fingers in hopes of the numbness dissipating, or when I get winded walking from my bedroom to the living room: What did I do? And this is, of course, the entirely wrong way of looking at it. I should be grateful that things aren't worse. I should be, but that's kind of hard to grasp because to me, things really can't get any worse. Now I should knock on wood before lightning strikes me.

But I'm out of options for vascular access now that we know I have a condition that causes my veins to occlude after they suffer any trauma. I have no more major veins to sustain a catheter, other than the one that is already housing one in my leg. If my graft fails, that permanent femoral catheter is my dialysis access. End of story. I need a kidney. That's the answer to all of this. I just need a kidney that works and that will stay.
The silence in my heart is killing me. I can't find it, no matter how hard I try. It slipped through my hands like glitter falling to the floor and the sparkle has faded away. What once could have been great is now all but a memory served in bittersweet palates. "Never mind I'll find someone like you. I wish nothing but the best for you. Don't forget me, I beg, I remember you said- sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead" (ADELE). Maybe I'm writing this off too quickly, but silence is golden and incriminating, and I don't wait forever.
The two things that have gone right in the last two weeks were at least pretty spectacular. The UTES beat BYU in royal fashion 54-10, in Provo. That made up for the clotted graft and the 13 hour dialysis day on 9/17. Though I had tickets to the game and couldn't go due to the aforementioned problems. It was a great game. And the best part was Utah's team coming together and playing as one entity, all connected, all in sync, all with perfect, timely execution and kept the cougars and Jake Heaps' ego in check. One of my favorite moments was in the 4th quarter when Heaps got benched in favor of 2nd string QB Riley Nelson. He looked as if he might cry. And yet, his post game comments failed to reflect the awfulness of his, or his team's performance. It's alright though. "Ute fans remain classy. Smug, but classy." (Ted Miller, ESPN)

On Wednesday I went to the Taylor Swift concert with my mom. She is just amazing. Her show was spectacular, to say the least. It was what I needed, even if I couldn't stand up. Say what you will about Taylor Swift and the strength of her voice, her lyrics make up for any range or belt-ability that she might lack. I was very pleased that she sang all my favorite songs from her "Speak Now" album. This is the third time I've seen her show, and it gets better and better every time. She seems to love performing in Salt Lake, probably because we have more little girls per capita that can produce a severe cheer in an arena, so I'm hoping the next time she comes here my nieces will be big enough to take. They would love it. That show solidified Taylor was one of my all time favorite artists. She writes songs from the heart, that transcend generations and ethnicities and differences. If I can someday write something half as beautiful as "Last Kiss", I will be successful as a writer.

For now, I'm alive. I guess I've got that going for me.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Can't Blame a Girl for Trying

Some things that I write in this public space are purposefully ambiguous. Sometimes I don't want readers to know exactly what I'm thinking so I use the power of words to get it across in a less-than-obvious way. This isn't one of those times, and if the person this concerns reads it, maybe it'll cause him to rethink his strategy.

There's a guy I've been friends with for a few years. He's one of the best people I've known in any capacity and I think the world of him. I've resisted any sort of romantic inclinations towards him for several reasons- mainly he lived out of town and I personally think it's rather impossible to start a relationship when you live in different states. For the past year our relationship has developed and I found myself suppressing feeling I wasn't sure he was reciprocating. He'd make a point of visiting me every time he came to town and we started having frequent lengthy phone conversations, longer phone conversations than I've ever had with any of my best friends. Things he said to me were starting to make me believe maybe he wasn't being completely honest about his feeling for me- and really, who ever is? Especially in a situation like this where the two of you have been friends for a long time and no one wants to ruin a great friendship lest the other person doesn't feel the same way- but I was still trying to remain uninterested in anything more than a friendship. Then June happened.

He was coming to town for a relative's wedding and invited me to go. So I did. He introduced me to his family, we danced, sampled brownies, generally had a good time. And as I left I knew I couldn't fight it anymore- I was legitimately interested in this man. So I froze, naturally, because I didn't know how to react to my own feelings or what to do next, especially considering he didn't live in close proximity to me. Then he decided to move back. So now I just had to bide my time for 2 months until he came back to Salt Lake. In the meantime we continued on our "best friends forever" path, I think we both were mostly covering up what we really wanted from each other, both just waiting until August and we could see each other face to face.

He moved back to Utah. I saw him the day after he got in town, and both nights the next weekend, and again before I left for Boston. But suddenly everything changed. Without warning or notice, he's unreachable, and it's been weeks since we've talked- and for our relationship that's a big deal- and despite my best efforts I can't get him to talk to me. And it's even more frustrating because I haven't the faintest idea why. The most perplexing part is that I thought we were better friends than this, it always seemed to me we were beyond being petty and repugnant. It seems I was wrong.

Now it's almost 5 a.m., I've been awake since 3, and anyone who knows me well knows it takes a lot for me to lose sleep over something. And I'm filled with regret. Regret that I haven't ever told him that I think he's wonderful and he makes me happy, and I'd be pretty lucky if he felt the same way. And that we've had a fantastic friendship but we could be so much better together. All I want is a chance to tell him, so he will know and I can feel like I've done everything I can do to make this into something more. And if he doesn't want it then I'll know, and I can move on. You can't blame a girl for trying.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Left My Heart in Boston

My blog has been a real downer the last little while, and for that I don't apologize. Life isn't always sunshine and optimism, and if you believe that you're kidding yourself. That also doesn't mean that negativity needs to rule your psyche, it just means that sometimes things are hard, and it's fine if you want to vent about it on your blog.

Despite all the dialysis drama that's been happening lately, I got myself out of town last week and went to Boston to visit my brother and sister-in-law and nephew, also known as Tim, Corinne, and Thomas. I was pretty psyched because I'd never been to Boston before and I love the East Coast (I believe I'm meant to live on a coast, either West or East, none of this enclosed mountain valley crap for me) plus I could use a break from everything that had been going on. My parents and I flew to Boston on the 2nd, and Tim met us at the airport. We immediately picked up our rental car and proceeded to Tim and Corinne's house in Waltham.

I find that I never miss the mountains when on vacation. As a general rule I try to vacation in places that don't have tall mountain peaks. Driving down the Mass Pike I discovered this was still true. I love a good skyline, and even though it may seem unnatural, I love a skyline that's all buildings way more than nature.

Whilst in Boston we did all the usual things: Freedom Trail (sort of. Naturally it was raining on the day we were going to walk it so we became pretty picky about our stops), Old North Church, Mike's Pastry in the North End for pretty amazing cannoli, Legal Sea Food's, Fenway for a Sox game (witnessed a grand slam, the one thing that can make baseball interesting for a minute or two), Harvard, Boston Common and the Public Gardens.

I love America. And I love history, so it was pretty neat (That is neat!) to see the Old State House where the Declaration of Independence was first read to the people of Boston, and sort of see where the Boston Massacre took place. It happened right outside the Old State House, and it turned out to be a giant misunderstanding over a wig bill. We couldn't really see the spot because it was under construction. I didn't think there would really be blood on the cobblestone anyway. We ate lunch at Quincy Market and gazed at Fanueil Hall, sat in the enclosed (and still used) pews of the Old North Church, went to Harvard Square where I saw with mine own eyes the ivy covered walls of excellence, pomp, and academia.

We had the best seafood. Really, I don't know if it can be beat. Fresh, huge lobster at Woodman's of Essex, and of course fried clams, since that is where fried clams came into being. The most amazing calamari you've ever had at Legal Sea Food's, as well as amazing everything else at Legal. English pub food at John Brewer's, and who knew that Boston was such a pizza city? There were a lot of options if you wanted pizza. I did not, however, have a Fenway Frank at Fenway Park. Instead Tim and I had Fenway Fried Dough and Cokes, just what one needs to make baseball great.

Went shopping on Newbury Street- where it cost more to park for 2 hours than I spent at H&M- and in the Prudential Center and Copley Place. Visited Gloucester and Salem and Cape Ann on Labor Day and bought a lobster sucker at the Woodman's gift shop, where one can purchase a "Woodman's of Essex" shirt for your dog.

I spent a lot of time hanging out with Tim, Corinne, and Thomas, staying up to watch TCU get beat by Baylor with Tim, talking sports and inadvertently showing Thomas his first football game, a right that was supposed to be reserved for a BYU game. The game I watched with him was not a BYU game. We celebrated Tim's birthday and the big news they shared with us. Took Thomas to the beach for the first time. He was not crazy about the temperature of the Atlantic. Also took Thomas for his first T-ride. He was less than thrilled.

When the week was over and it was time to go, I worked real hard to not cry, or let anyone see that I was ruining my makeup with tears. Saying "so long" to Tim on Newbury Street was sad. I'd forgotten how much fun we have together, and how well we get along and bond over sports. Biding farewell to Corinne and Thomas an hour later in Waltham was just as hard. It was nice to be able to connect with Corinne on a level we've previously failed to achieve, and Thomas- that darling, sweet boy was the light of my life for the week I spend in Boston and it broke my heart to have to say goodbye to him. Even now, writing about it, I'm blinking back tears.

When we boarded the plane and waited for takeoff, I put in my ears and listened to "Leaving on a Jet Plane". I texted Tim and quoted lyrics from the song: "I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again. Oh [guys] I hate to go." Those lyrics epitomized what I was feeling. I wasn't ready to come back to Salt Lake. I didn't want to. I wanted to go downtown and find a tiny apartment and fly by the seat of my pants in the city. I felt like I belonged in Boston, like it was where I was meant to be, and leaving it to go back to a place I seem to barely tolerate left me feeling empty and "so lonesome I could die". But I know I'm not meant to stay here, and I really think I'll make it to Boston when the time is right.

In sum, it was an amazing trip. Sincerest thanks to my parents for taking me and paying for pretty much everything and for buying me that Red Sox sweatshirt I really wanted. And to Tim and Corinne and Thomas for letting me stay with them and for showing me the glories of Massachusetts and pumpkin donuts at Dunkin'. It was a nice reprieve from my current state of being. Boston, I'll be back.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Trying to Keep Calm and Carry On

I have a lot of turmoil inside of me, a lot of things I want to write about but can't seem to find the words. It's been a pretty shitty couple of weeks (excuse my language but that is the only word that will suffice at present) and though great things are coming up, and some great things have happened recently, I feel in crisis. I am coming to the end of my rope with this kidney saga. Dialysis for 20 months is bleeding me dry- literally and figuratively- and the new graft in my arm is not helping me feel better about it. I do pretty well considering my situation, but I am struggling right now. I just need a kidney, that's what it boils down to, but I don't seem to have anyone on my side at transplant to fight for that to happen. I know a transplant isn't easy- I've been there before- but it was better than life on dialysis. And I know life isn't easy. It isn't supposed to be that way or it wouldn't be considered a test. I've had a pretty rough adult life, and I'm ready for a break. Please, can I have a break?

My saving grace at this point is the people I surround myself with. I have such a loving and caring family who would go to the ends of the earth and back for me if I needed it. I couldn't ask for a person in my life better than my sister Liz. I know she'd have given her kidney to me 19 months ago if she was still a match. I hold her in the highest esteem and am so proud to call her my sister. My very best friends Stephanie, Mehgan, Lacey, and Jamey never cease to amaze me with their support and love. Even though I don't see most of them as much as I'd like, they do wonders for me and I can't believe how lucky I am to have them in my life. There is another person, who has come into my life more recently. And though I'm not sure where our friendship will take us, when I close my eyes, all I see is infinite possibility through the sparks.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Saltwater Tears

Caution: This is a diatribe, a soapbox I'm standing on, a harangue, if you will.

Today I was "reactivated" on the kidney transplant waiting list. I should be ecstatic, right? Nope. I'm mad. I'm mad for several reasons. A) I shouldn't have been listed as "inactive" in the first place and B) it took 35 days for the University Transplant program to reactivate me after my nephrologist recommended I be reactivated. Why? That is an excellent question.

Mid-way through June I received a call from my dialysis NP saying I needed to go directly to the ER because my blood cultures showed I had an infection. I needed to have my dialysis catheter pulled and be started on antibiotics right away. It felt like one of those Monopoly situations- "PROCEED directly to JAIL. DO NOT pass GO. DO NOT collect $200".

I went to the hospital despite feeling fine, failing to present with any symptoms, and having just returned home from lunch with friends and a badger encounter in downtown Salt Lake City. At the hospital I sat around until the next day, when the doctors treating me finally put a plan into action. I had a TEE done (of which I was told everything looked just fine on my heart) then some dialysis and finally the feared catheter pulled. Some more blood cultures were drawn to determine my fate: if they came back positive I'd have a temp cath placed, negative I'd have a perm cath placed. I was to report back to out-patient surgery first thing Monday morning.

The cultures were negative. A new permanent catheter was placed, but, my Vascular Surgeon Dr. Sarfati said, it is not a viable long term option. A vascular mapping of my left arm was done to determine if I had any veins that would work for a fistula. There was one vein the doc thought would work. It would take 2 surgeries and 3-4 months for the fistula to be usable. I'd been resisting getting a fistula for 18 month, knowing the poor state of my veins would more than likely not allow for a successful fistula.

But I was running out of options, so I gave in.

Mid-way through July Dr. Sarfati performed the first fistula placement surgery. It did not go well. In fact, the whole thing turned into a debacle and the only thing I left with was a scar on my elbow and 2 kilos of fluid in my blood. Neither the vein or artery in my arm would sustain a fistula. Yep, I told ya so.

The day before this surgery my nephrologist determined I was done with my antibiotic treatments and could be reactivated on the transplant list. It had been a month since the "infection" had presented itself and Doug had so willingly placed me inactive on all the lists. The brass in the transplant program were not convinced (Heaven forbid I should actually get a kidney) and so as is their MO, placed several more hoops for me to jump through before they could feel okay about placing me back on the list. I needed to go see an infectious disease specialist who, without knowing me, my case, or my history, would have the final say in when I could be reactivated.

Naturally she only works Mondays, so it was several weeks before I could get in to see her. August 1st was the magical day I would see Sarfati to map my right arm for a possible fistula placement and see Dr. Hanson about my phony infection. Dr. Hanson spent 1/2 an hour with me and determined that protocol said 6 weeks, not 4, of antibiotics were needed so I needed 2 more weeks of treatment and more blood cultures before I could be considered cured.

This was bullshit. Nothing about me ever follows protocol and it certainly isn't going to start now. All the blood cultures I'd had drawn for the last 6 weeks came back negative. I'd had almost 7 straight weeks of the antibiotic already. Let's do another TEE and draw blood cultures today. I'll march right down to the lab. Nope. Sometimes "clumps of platelets can form on the valves of the heart and look like an infection". So wait a sec, this "infection" for which I've never had a symptom and has caused me months of pain and 2 surgeries could have been platelets??? REALLY? Fine, then let's do blood cultures today. Nope. Protocol says.... really. It didn't matter what I said to Dr. Hanson. Protocol was what mattered to her. Patient cases aren't individual in her office, someone once came up with a little something called "protocol" and hence it has become the law. I repeat, bullshit.

But that was the word and I had no choice but to do 2 more weeks of antibiotic and more blood cultures. If everything came back negative, I could be relisted. Well the cultures did come back negative, just like I said they would. And for reasons unknown to me, it takes 6 days for a blood culture to be determined truly negative, whereas only 2 for it to be positive. It only takes me about a second to turn negative. After missing 3 months of the paired donor exchange matching and 2 months of possible cadaver matches, I'm active on the list again. Yippee.

In the meantime, Sarfati mapped my right arm and decided to place a graft in my forearm. Of course this couldn't be done until I finished the loathsome antibiotics. So on Tuesday last I had my third surgery in 2 months for dialysis access. It was a success, so far, but my right arm is about the size and temperature of a turkey leg, with a purple-ish hue that runs from wrist to bicep and 2 incisions in between. I can feel. and see, the graft underneath my skin. I can only imagine what it will look like when the swelling goes away. It's a damn miracle that I can even type right now because the pain and swelling have been prohibiting me for a week. I am not left handed.

After I got off the phone with my transplant coordinator this afternoon I laid in my bed and cried. Not tears of joy, but big saltwater tears of frustration. I generally have a pretty good attitude about my life situation, but this has been a cruel, cruel summer and I felt sorry for myself. The pain in my arm, the missed opportunities, the scars on my chest, the frustration over the seeming incompetence of the entire University Transplant Program were overwhelming. I feel like I'm being punished for something. But I don't know what. And I don't know why. And I don't know how to rectify the situation.

And I think about people who have it a lot worse than I do... about my old boss whose husband was shot 4 times in a mall with a sawed off shot gun and now lives life in a wheelchair. Her entire life was shattered in a second, everything changed, everything became difficult. And about Bethany Hamilton who, at age 14, lost her left arm to a shark on the eve of her professional surfing career. She got back on the board.

I feel defeated right now, even though I'm back on the list and the swelling and pain in my arm are slowly subsiding. I feel beaten. I need to figure out how to get back on the board.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Term of Affection

Why did you call me chérie?

Was it because my situation became very real to you after that cold day in July, the one I knew was coming but nobody listened to me? No, what did I know, just a twit with an attitude who'd been to the rodeo once or twice before. Did it become hard to ignore after that day, so you used pronouns you probably shouldn't have, lumping you and me into a singular category where one of us really doesn't belong? Was it the realization that I am running out of time, and you are, therefore, running out of time to make any of this happen, make any of this work? Did you say it because you're lonely? Because I'm lonely? And if we let ourselves, we could help each other, but getting to that point is going to be tricky. It requires crossing a chasm we've never dared to face, one so deep that if we fall, we won't make it back out. One that could ruin all we've worked to establish. Loneliness is making my sorry heart bleed.

Why do you call me chérie?

Is it because your demeanor was different, non-challant, casual, cordial? Were you covering up for something you didn't say, or did actually speak out loud? Is it your way of letting me down gently so the mess can be avoided, heading me off at the pass before I plummet into dangerous tides? Are you worried about my eternity, because I seem so clean and free and void of sin, with the innocence of youth and the grandeur of an unknown future? Are you afraid you'll soil me, take away what you think I possess when you're not really sure if I do, or that you don't? Convictions do not run cold in me. I am stronger than I look, more brutal than one might think. I do not delight in folly, nor do I allow emotion to dictate my thought.

Did you use that word as a term of affection? Were you attempting to show what I cannot see? Was the repeat usage a reaffirmation or a redundancy, something you forgot had escaped your lips just days before? I fear the first time may have been a mistake, as your behavior afterword would suggest, but the second time has yet to tell, I don't know what to make of it. You seemed so natural, so at home in the word, in the loaded meaning that could continue from dusk till dawn, only in the dark of night, ribbons of idiosyncrasy, looking at the moon, gazing at the stars, with a memory foam arm and tired, tired eyes.

It was a term of affection, otherwise it wouldn't have been uttered twice. But the mystery lies in the context. Therein is the real question. If I could go back to when we were sixteen and make myself notice you, would things be different now?

Monday, July 18, 2011

About A Boy Who's a Friend

Something got me thinking about you tonight, so I looked up your blog. Not much was new, but what was new made me miss you. And my mind wandered and I realized: I miss talks in the car and walks up the street, dinner at Ruth's and nothing ever complete. Redbox movies, chocolate chip cookies, guitar solos, fairytale songs in hospital rooms, annoyed looks at paper basketball. Promises to finish it later, promises fulfilled, plays with British accents, English nerd geek-outs. Salads at Lambs Cafe, Unblock Me, freezing rain and charcoal skies behind your frame as you broke away to talk with me for only a second. Play reading and play writing and play watching. A Poem about Peter Pan, eggs benedict and homemade danish. Married student housing and lame songs about Provo love, then a real song and real great, real big voices singing about love in the real world. Spring rain on my shoulders walking to the car. That night at the old Children's hospital with Bob and those others and the movie we watched after. Writing papers for EarAmLit, Noodles after the final, explanations, insight, kindness, friendship, non-committal, benevolence, patience, expectations, revelations, hope. Barnes and Noble, and you laughing at my armful of books and indecision. Slurpees and hot chocolate and nonchalance. Spanish and French dueling it out. Brett Dennen's "Heaven" and "How to Train Your Dragon" on the day Zack was born. Your sister and banana nut muffins and all those nights and days I hoped you'd come around.

Three years worth of sporadic memories crammed into one long paragraph... your heartbreaking disappointment at the absence of mile-high biscuits, you walking me home when it was just down the block, calling me when I needed it the most though you couldn't have known... Thinking about you everytime I listen to Kate Voegele. I hope you come back from Provo soon.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Thunderstorms inside. Thunderstorms outside.

It's monsoon season in Utah. I didn't know we had one, but apparently we do because it's been monsooning everyday for like a week. That does not a monsoon season make, but usually it's hot and dry here in July. Personally I like it. It's a relief to not have the heat, or the sun. It's reflective and brings me to introspection.

I've been on a bit of a Jane Austen binge lately. Having only read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, not really the classic Austen, I never really understood her writing MO until I found myself watching the movies of all her books except for Northanger Abbey, as there isn't a movie of that book yet. I also watched Becoming Jane, which really started this whole Jane Austen journey. And I realized something that was very profound to me: Jane Austen had a sad life in love. She never married, had a proposal by an oaf that she declined, and died at age 42, alone. Yet all the characters in her novels find love and happiness with rich, handsome men who love them with every ounce of their souls. And hearts. And minds. And estates in the grand English countryside.

In Becoming Jane, a fictionalized "true story" if ever there was one, Jane tells her sister Cassandra that she is giving her characters- coincidentally she's writing Pride and Prejudice at the time- magnificent happiness, so grand it's practically unfathomable. This got me to thinking about myself and my life as a writer. I prefer non-fiction for the pure fact that I know it actually happened to someone. It was a real person's struggle, someone's pain and loss and heartache, it was true love and real feelings and overwhelming joy. It happened. It meant something to someone. It was genuine, not made up.

(DISCLAIMER: I have written fiction, have read loads of fiction, taken classes on fiction, and it takes immense talent, emotion, and genuine thought and feeling to write it. I also know from experience that fiction oft times comes from true life experiences. So I'm not trying to knock fiction. Hopefully you'll fully grasp my meanderings in a moment or two.)

I realized that I didn't want to write books about the life I wish I'd had, or the life I hope I'll have. Even though hope is a wonder asset, too much of it can lead to heartbreak, just like writing the life I want to happen for myself will. It's okay to hope, but I feel I have to draw the line at creating impossible fantasies for myself. In one of my all time favorite movies, You've Got Mail- and this is not the forum to discuss the grammatical errors in the title of said film- the heroine, one Kathleen Kelly says "So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book when, shouldn't it be the other way around?"

I want to be successful like Jane Austen. I want my books to become canonical. I want to write the book I have planned now, maybe something in epistolary format, publish my chapbook of poetry from that class I took, perhaps research and write a historical diddy about England during the second World War. But I don't want to write a life that isn't mine. I don't think my heart could handle it when it turned out to be false. I want a great love for myself, not for someone else, not for someone I'm writing, wishing it was me. I don't want my life to be something I read in a book once. It should be the other way around.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Sharp Knife of a Short Life

The post-graduation boredom has set in. At least the result is improving my vocabulary.

I've been reading "The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes", mostly at work because I finish what I need to do for the day each day by about 9 am. With 9 more hours to go, I get a lot of reading done. I've begun using words like "conundrum" and "spry" and "constitution" in regards to one's health and body, not the governing document of the United States. It makes me feel like I'm putting my English degree to good use, even though it's the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that is really causing this improvement.

Other things that are going on.... Not. Much.


All this free time has given me ample opportunity to reflect upon my life. This is not where I'm going to get philosophical, but just quote movies or songs that sum up what I'm thinking. The quote that surmises it the best is from "You've Got Mail"- the title of which should have really been "You Have Mail" but that's besides the point- when our heroin Kathleen Kelly says "I lead a small life. Good, but small." That's how I feel about my life lately. I've done a lot of things, been many places, tried many different varieties of bread pudding, but I lead a small life. Not that I want to lead a grand life, but I want more than a secretarial position and an Avenues apartment. I want to live in New York City, or on the California Coast, or, ideally, in a London flat that's a tube stop or two away from Kensington Park and the Westminster Bridge and Harrod's on Brompton Road. I want to work for Penguin and write a book and make a name and career for myself. Those are things I don't feel like I can do in the stifling valley in which I now live.

I recently had a long and revealing talk with my sister. In my own words, I had a conundrum I needed to speak with her about in private. I've been feeling rather inadequate lately in some regards that I won't discuss here, and my mind was a-wrestle with issues I couldn't quite solve. Liz, being the wise and brilliant and beautiful older sister she is, helped me realize that no, I'm not like most the girls that surround me here. I don't have aspirations of being a stay at home mom- not that there is anything wrong with that. Don't get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for stay at home moms because they raise the future leaders of the world and it is probably the hardest profession/job that a woman could ever come across. At this point in my life, I don't have that desire. I sort of felt by not wanting this I was somehow letting down my future, but she showed me that I'm not letting anyone or anything down; every path is different, and maybe that isn't in mine. There are a lot of ways to mother, and a lot of different people/things that need to be mothered. And I started to feel better, and less inadequate, and my mind started to settle.

There is a phone call I need to make that I'm afraid to make. And it might take some time to actually dial the number. But when I do, my life may get a little less small, and my future might open up a little more. The beginning might be something beautiful and worth waiting for, and even though some people won't understand, at least for a while, I'll be able to honestly say, it was the right thing for me and I know without a doubt I'll be happy. Then I'll go make some bread pudding, because mine cannot be beat.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Today my last grade was posted. I passed all my classes, even math (B-!) which means I have officially finished my undergraduate career and the University can now mail me my diploma. Boy that took a long time.

Graduation was fantastic. I walked in the College of Social Work convocation on the 5th because I work in the CSW and they all have a lot invested in me. My roommates and parents came to the convocation, and the Masters cohort I've been the assistant for for the last 3 years was graduating too. I walked across the stage of Kingsbury Hall as Ruth Geertisen-McKane read my name a degree and a loud cheer- louder than I was expecting- went through the Hall. Norma handed me my diploma holder and I posed for a picture with Dean Mather and Norma. Jennifer waited at the end of the stage and gave me hug.

As I sat in Kingsbury listening to the speakers talk about social work and the profession, all things not particularly relevant to me, I realized that I finally made it. I'm not an exceptionally emotional person, it takes a lot for me to cry, but there were more than a few times that I had to blink back tears during the convocation. I was finally graduating, 10 years after graduating from high school, a kidney transplant, broken back, failed pancreas transplant, rejected kidney, and nearly a year and a half of dialysis, I was graduating from college. All on my own.

After Dean Mather told us we were "now all social workers", the convocation ended. I managed to find Mehgan and Lacey, and eventually we found my parents and went to Little America for dessert. Commencement was the next day, as was my college's convocation which I elected not to walk in after all. But commencement, that was a different story.

Because of my family's affinity for being early to things, we arrived at the Jon M. Huntsman center about 7:15 a.m. Graduates didn't need to be there until, at earliest. 7:30. But we got a sweet, sweet partking spot right next to the arena, and had time to meander around the perimeter of the the JMHC and enjoy the warm May morning and the beautiful campus below us (corny, yes, but this place means a lot to me!). Because of our earliness I was in the front of one of the Bachelors degrees lines. Jenny and Katelyn found me in line so I had some friends to enjoy commencement with.

Finally 8:20 arrived and we began our procession into the arena, through the tunnel. One of the greatest moments of my life was the moment we walked onto the floor of the Huntsman Center, with the Wind Ensemble playing graduation music and people in the stands; the stage set up for graduation and seats on the floor for graduate level and distinction students. We marched across the floor in our caps and gowns and were seated in the stands, I was on the second row from the floor across from the stage. Then the faculty and University Trustees and distinguished guests marched in with Michael K. Young and commencement began.

Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five People You'll Meet in Heaven) was the commencement speaker and he was fabulous. I couldn't have wished for a better speaker than Mitch, and my mother, who attended Tim's commencement at BYU last year said in not so many words that this one was MUCH better. Then President Young, in his last Utah commencement, conferred upon the Masters and Ph.D candidates their degrees, then conferred upon the Bachelors candidates their degrees, and we were graduated. I turned my tassel (again) and was Sarah Rosalie Jackman, B.A.

Katelyn, Jenny, and I walked up the stairs to the concourse and as I walked through the doors out of the arena I threw up my hands and yelled "College graduates!! Yeeeaahh!!!) in a fashion more Hollywood-esque than I like to admit. But it felt good, and as I walked through the Huntsman Center concourse and ran in to fellow graduates whom I've known throughout my experience at Utah, I realized that it doesn't get any better than this for a college student. This day, the hour and a half of commencement, the hour of waiting for the processional to start, the five minutes of marching, and the "recessional" around the arena and out into the world, figuratively and literally, really doesn't get much better.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Finally Final Finals

It's been awhile since I've written anything here, obviously, and that is because my free time is slim these days, and has been for a long time. It's finally finals time of my final finals. I am overwhelmed and stressed and under immense pressure (from myself) and excited that May 6th rapidly approaches. I still can't believe I'm finally graduating. But graduation raises the eternal question: What is next? That is an excellent question. What IS next? The answer to said quesiton in "I have absolutely no idea". Ideally, I'd get a job with a publishing house in New York City (that's right! Putting the city girl back in the city!) as an assistant editor or editorial assistant (I believe the only difference in those is the name) and I'd move across the country, find myself a new dialysis center and a new transplant program and live the "Sex in the City" life, without all the gratuitous sex that is.

Ever since I decided NYC is where I want to be and editing is what I want to do, everything else seems to fall far short. The problem is, I haven't done an internship in my college career. It's kind of hard to take off for 3 months to do an intership when you must have a job with insurance. Even before my kidney rejected, it never seemed like a feasible option for me. I fear my lack of internship might just screw me over when trying to get a job. So if anyone out there knows of somewhere in New York that I can work, please let me know! :]

Now, some of you may be thinking the same exact thing my parents are thinking: Are you crazy?!?! You don't have any kidneys!! This is true, I do not have any kidneys, and maybe I am crazy, but the good news is I'm covered under Medicare and they do have dialysis in NYC (I assume anyway. There's no way a city of 8 million has 100% kidney function). Sometimes I think that I'll just cross that bridge when I come to it, there's no need to jump the gun and jinx myself, but the fact of the matter is, I've thought it through and I have a plan- a tentative plan- if I do gain employment there. And at the risk of the aforementioned jinxing, I'm not disclosing said plan as of yet.

For now I'm just studying for two tests, writing a take home final, editing and putting together a writing portfolio, and doing an as-yet-to-be-determined final project. Then I'm done with my college career and I can proudly wear my black cap and gown and red stole of gratitude on May 5th & 6th as I walk in not one, not two, but three graduation ceremonies. That's right, three.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Founder's Day

I've been feeling rather inadequate lately, for a lot of silly reasons. I've been trying to figure out how to overcome these feelings of inadequacy but alas, have yet to figure out a solution. Life is just frustrating sometimes and it takes a time or two before those frustrations dissipate. To worst part is, it's just the devil who is producing these feelings. I have no real legitimate reason to feel inadequate, everything I'm doing right now is up to par- even midterms!- so I'm just being ridiculous is what it boils down to. Maybe the solution is something that's right in front of my face, I just refuse to see it because that's what I've become. Perhaps the things I think will help me feel more adequate will really just make me feel worse and end up being a mistake in the long run. Maybe I need to stop over-analyizing and just get on with what I know deep down in my heart will make these feelings go away. In the words of P!nk, "Welcome to my silly life."

In other news, it was Founder's Day this last week. What is Founder's Day? you ask? It's the commemoration of the founding of the University of Utah, which was founded on February 28th, 1850. This year was the 161st anniversary of that founding. The Alumni Association holds a Founder's Day dinner every year in honor of this blessed event. This is the greatest night of the year. The dinner is usually at one of the Americas, either Little or Grand, they honor outstanding alumni and honorary distinguished alumni, cool and famous people that have graduated from the U. come to the dinner, they award the Founder's Day scholarship to a deserving student... it is all around a great night.

This year, one of the alumni being honored was Senator Bob Bennett. He is a "Distinguished Scholar" in the Hinckley Institute of Politics now that he's completed his tenure in the Senate, so she came and spoke to some of us students at a lunch on Wednesday. Instead of getting up and rambling on about his political beliefs, Senator Bennett opened the floor to questions from us. It was neat to hear this alumni talk about Utah 60 years ago, before the age of computers, when tenured professors were the only ones who taught classes. It was enlightening to hear him speak on politics, call Bill Clinton the best politician he's ever met. He is a great man and I truly believe that he's always tried to make the best decisions for Utah while in the Senate.

Thursday night was the actual Founder's Day celebration at Little America. Kasi and Becky came and picked me up and we went to the hotel. Waiting for the elevator in the parking garage, we realized President Thomas Monson was standing there with a small group of people. He was so nice, he let all of us get on the elevator first, and held the door so we could all get off. The funniest part is, I went to lunch with my parents a few weeks ago at Little America, and when we were leaving, we say President Monson waiting for the elevator in the parking garage when we left.

The dinner was fabulous- petite filet mingnon, salmon, fresh green beans and new potatoes- and the alumni honored were incredible. Besides Senator Bennett, Fred Lampropolous was honored, Robert Gay was honored ("I startted college at BYU and immediately transferred to Utah."), and Dr. Adams, who was a VP at Utah and really furthered the cause for black women to be able to get an education. The honorary alumni honored were Bill and Gene England, of England Trucking, which made one billion dollars last year. All the stories of the alumni were inspiring, and as I sat at that table, freezing because I wasn't wearing a sweater over my dress, I thought to myself, "I hope I do great things with my life so that one day, I can be the distinguished alumna being honored at Founder's Day." After the dinner, as SAB was handing out favors to the attendees, my friend Dan Brinton told me he thought the same thing. Perhaps one day, we'll be honored at Founder's Day together, Dan.

The worst part of the evening though was at the end, when the members of Student Alumni Board who had attended the dinner were standing around in the foyer of the Grand Ballroom, refusing to leave because many of us were graduating seniors, and this was our last Founder's Day as a student. It was sad, and for the very first time this school year, I was sad about graduating. The very best thing, though, was on Wednesday, when John Fackler, SAB Advisor, told me the letter of recommendation he wrote me for Beehive Honors Society was the easiest and saddest letter he'd ever had to write. When I asked him why, he told me "It was the easiest because I have so many great things to say about you. It was the saddest because I realized you're graduating." Thanks John!

For now, I just need to focus on graduating, getting a kidney, and writing my first best-selling book. Graduation is in less than 8 weeks. My announcements came in the mail already, I've finished up all my midterms, and there is only 7 more weeks of class. And then I can begin work on my life goal of becoming a Distinguished Alumna of the University of Utah.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Oh So Tired of Being Sick

Apparently, I have a Staph infection. I say "apparently" because this morning at diaylsis the nurse drew 4 blood cultures for the appropriate diagnostic tests. Then they gave me a cautionary dose of antibiotics just in case. And now I sit here in disbelief because, seriously???? I already don't have any hemoglobin, and now I have a Staph infection? I mean, is somebody kidding me?

I've got THE WORST case of senioritis EVER, it's hard enough to go to class as it is. Now, between the hemoglobin and Staph, it's going to take a miracle for me to make it to all 8 class times in a week. Luckily, I have amazing professors who know about my situation and are willing to work with me. But that doesn't change the fact that this is stupid and I'm tired of being sick, and sick of being tired.

But I will not give in. I will graduate in May (my parents already bought me a graduation present so....) and I will not get less than a B in any class, except maybe math. I can do this. I know I can. At least I think I can. I think I can. I think I can....

I should add that there was a bit o' good news out of dialysis this morning. My monthly lab values came back and my potassium is too low! That means I can have a banana or orange juice again! At least for a little while. And my ever elevated phosphorus is coming down too. This was all good news, and Janet was very proud of me. I guess it wasn't all bad.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Runnning Down Street, Knife in Hand

The title of this post equates to a metaphor. I am not literally running down the street with my Henckel-Santoku in hand. What I am doing is living dangerously, counting my chickens before they hatch, disregarding the present and thinking only of the future. I am, of course, talking about the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie. Gasp! Twist! I am also, of course, just kidding. I'm talking about GRADUATION. It is the only thing on my mind, all the time.If I could will May 6th to be here any faster, it would be here in an hour.

For a really long time, I dreaded graduation. So much so that I was going to apply to graduate school just so I could continue to be a student. I was even considering applying to three different program types. That's how freaked out I was about graduating from college. But can you blame me? I mean, I have been in college for nearly 10 years. Not 10 years straight, but on and off for a decade, it's been my scene. (no, I don't consider hospitals my scene) I was scared because I had no idea what to do once I wasn't a student anymore. I'd decided that being a student was what I was good at. The real world, well, it's not exactly what they make it out to be on MTV. It's harsh and real and it kind of sucks.

But then I started school again after I should have already graduated. (Thanks for that, kidney!) And all I wanted to do was be done already. I thought about all my friends at commencement last year, and how I almost have no friends graduating this year because they all did last year, and it was sad. And that's when I knew, I was done. I was over college. There has been very little that I haven't done in my college experience, so I can't even be sad about graduating without having done X, because X doesn't exist in my world. (take that math nerds! X does not exist!)

I was 4th in command of the student body at Utah, I lived on campus, I was front and center for the greatest college football season Utah has ever had, I've been to games in 4 away stadiums, I've been a student leader, a volunteer, sat on University committees, made friends, made enemies, worked on campus, failed math, passed math, had my paper given to a class of English majors so they'd know what to do if writing an autobiographical essay. I've been presented on the field at a football game, planned Homecoming, received scholarships, got freaked at Black Pumpkin Affair, planned University wide parties, sat in Coach Whittingham's office, had Boylen call me by name and exchange pleasantries in a crowded concourse at Rice-Eccles. I've had classes in at least 10 different buildings on campus, accidentally ridden the green shuttle, helped raise a record breaking amount of food and money for the Utah Food Bank, participated in Project Youth and Officer's Hollow, shook hands with Spence Eccles, Ron McBride, Frank Ladyen, and LaVell Edwards on the same night, and shook hands with President Michael Young on two separate occasions. I've been in ASUU, SAB, and LDSSA, a University Staffer and Student at the same time, driven to Vegas for the Mountain West Conference Tournament, gone to the Rose Bowl, rushed the field, joined a sorority for 5 whole minutes, and had my picture on si.com as a "College Football Super Fan".

I think I've had a pretty full college experience. All intermingled with real world life, because life as a transplant/dialysis patient never goes away. Now I'm ready to just be a person. Not a college student, not the future of tomorrow, just a person who graduated from college and is now working to make the world a better place. Okay, maybe I won't be working to make the world a better place, but I'll be working to make the books the world reads better edited, and I'll be writing so the world doesn't have to read rubbish like "Twilight".

May 6th is only 93 short, or long, days away. And Mitch Albom is speaking at commencement.

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Today, I went to the University Staff Council meeting to be "recognized" for being awarded the first ever Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield Staff Council Scholarship. They gave me a Publishers Clearing House style check and I had my picture taken with Jason from Regence. It was sort of embarrassing. but I got a big check out of it, and a scholarship which helped pay for my tuition/books. The big check is definitely going on the mantle piece when I get home.

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"February continues to make its case for "least useful month."- Damian Dayton. Thanks for that Damian, I completely and utterly agree. February is the worst. Happy pre-March everybody!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Reflections... Nope. That's a lame title.

In one of my favorite Puff Daddy songs, the last line of his rap states "It's got ta get better because it can't get no worse". That is exactly my sentiment about 2010. 2011 has to be better because it can't possibly be any worse than 2010 was. That' snot to say 2010 was horrible... nah I take that back, it was horrible. It was a terrible, excruciating, at times annoying 12 months that I do not wish to repeat. Here is the year in review so as not to repeat the same mistakes twice.

January: The first, and definitely worst, month of the year should've been a clue to me that things weren't going to to so well for 2010. I has such high hopes: finish out my senior class VP assignment in ASUU, Senior Class Gift, the perfect class schedule, graduation, London study abroad, then, who knows? The world was my figurative oyster. Instead, I went to 2 days of class and got so sick I ended up in the hospital and had to drop my classes. The 30th was my first day of dialysis.

February: I really don't remember much of Februrary because I think a lot of it was spent in the hospital. I remember waking up once in the hospital not knowing how I got thee. (Apparently I had a seizure at home) and then there was the other time my parents were gone and I was becoming ademic. Liz was going to take me to the ER, but it got too bad and we had to call for an ambulance. That was not good. And that's really all I remember about February.

March: Several irritating things happened in March. First, I started the transplant process. You might think this should have been joyful, but it wasn't. Mostly because the transplant process is a pain in the butt, especially when no one seems to know what's happening. Second, there was the blood issue. My hemoglobin kept dropping inexplicably and everyone was freaking out about it but me. After a short hospital stay for a "blood study"- during which some guy performed a bone marrow biopsy with out giving me any anesthesia, not my favorite thing ever- I got a panicked call from the hospital telling me I needed to come up immediately and be checked in, but they wouldn't tell me why. I felt fine, so I ate Sunday dinner with my family and then headed up there, only to wait for an hour and a half until they had a room for me. It turned out I had a mild staph infection (and yes, I understand the severity of staph infections) and needed to be treated for it with intravenous antibiotics.

April: I managed to stay out of the hospital in April. My hemoglobin was still low and no one still could figure out why. I met with Dr. Nelson, a transplant surgeon, because it was time to take out my rejected kidney. He was a great surgeon and I enjoyed working with him. The surgery was scheduled for May 7th. My favorite part of April was when I got called to the transplant office to meet with Dr. Rafael. He came into the patient room wearing jeans and a fitted zip up sweater/jacket. I enjoyed that. Then he proceeded to tell me and my mother that they were afraid I had PTLD, a form of post-transplant lymphatic cancer. I naturally started laughing because I knew I didn't have cancer. I'd been pretty sick, but not cancer sick. So until they ruled PTLD out, I couldn't be put on the transplant list. Dr. Nelson would take out a few lymph nodes when he performed the nephrectomy in May and they'd make sure I was cancer free. The best part of April, though, was the birth of my nephew Zachary Thomas. He's such a cute lil' buddy!

May: May is when things started to get better. After Dr. Nelson removed the rejected kidney, I was on the up and up. It only took me a week to recover from the surgery and I was going out with my friends and shopping with my sister and actually keeping down most of the food I consumed. The results of the lymph node biopsy came back "unremarkable" which means "You were right Sarah, you do not, in fact, have cancer."

June: The wedding month saw my life start on the up and up again. This was when things went from really horrible to not so bad. Mehgan returned from her mission, Jamey got married, I went on a little vacation to Park City- but is it really a vacation when you are going back and forth from Salt Lake to PC every day?- and I went back to work (see blog entry "Returning Home"). I can't remember anything bad about June, at least in my life. I was gaining weight because I was finally eating and not being malnourished. I suppose it was a 2 way street.

July: I finally got transplant listed in July. 4 months after the process started, I was finally on the list. With only 6-12 months as an average waiting time, I had so much to look forward to. I was back at work with 400+ hours of sick time, studying for the GRE, and registered for fall classes. July was not to shabby.

August: It started out great with a vacation with the Alva's in Southern California. A week of beach time and one singular night of pedicures and shopping was a nice relief from the rest of my miserable life. The day we got back I got sick. Really sick. I ended up in the hospital (of course my parents were across the country taking Tim and Corinne to grad school in Boston) and missing an entire week of work. I was having a diabetes related incident, and I'm fairly certain my insulin got too hot on the trip and was therefore bad when I put it in my insulin pump. The hospital stay resulted in me not being able to take the GRE, and not cancelling it 3 days in advance, thereby I have paid $240 for the GRE and not taken it once. I started school on the 23rd only to find I hated all my classes. But they were all necessary so I figured I'd make the best of it. Besides, it was almost my 2 favorite seasons: Football and Fall.

September: 9/2, 2004 Fiesta Bowl rematch. Utah v. Pitt. Utes prevailed once again in an overtime nailbitter. It was awesome and I rode the football revelry all the way until 6:15 the next morning when my mom told me my little brother had testicular cancer. Yep, things just got worse. Tim and his pregnant wife had been in Boston for a month for his combined Masters/Ph/D program. It was his first day of grad school and he was turning 25 in 3 days. I mean, really? Luckily, the cancer was isolated to one side, and he caught it extremely early, so he had surgery to have the infected testicle removed, and opted to have CT scans every three months. He'd moved on in about 3 weeks, so I figured I should too. The rest of September was a blur of classes, homework, and football.

October: This is definitely the best month of the year, no matter what happens. It was my birthday, I turned old, Fall Break, Steph's wedding, more football, and other things I can't really remember. School while on dialysis was harder than I thought it would be but I was surviving. Mallory and I went to the Utah/Air Force game in Colorado which was great fun. I was stuggling through life, and classes, but was making it.

November: Well let's see, there was the horror of the 6th when Utah got killed by TCU, and the repeat horror of the 13th when Utah got creamed by Notre Dame. Then it was the start of the Rivalry Week Food Drive and busy-ness ensued. There was the great "blizzard" of 2010 that closed schools the frenzied people and saw record sales of non-perishable foods and bottled water. The snowpacalypse dropped a total of 3 inches on the Salt Lake Valley. Everything returned to normal the next day. Then it was Thanksgiving and Utah beat BYU by one point. All's well that ends well.

December: I love Christmas time. It's unfortunate that it has to come during finals time so no college student can enjoy the beauty of the season. Finals really weren't that bad. I sold my math book back for less than 1/3 of what I paid for it, and the instant I walked out of my math final I said to myself "I shouldn't have sold my book back". I was right. I failed math. And seeing that E on my transcript really almost ruined Christmas for me. Especially because it came on the heels of Utah beating itself and thereby losing to the Boise State donkeys. But I got over my depression in time for Christmas. which was lovely, and after finals were over, I moved into a house in the Aves with my friends. Then I got a pedicure and flew to Newport Beach for New Years with my family. Like I said, all's well that ends well.

So let's not do that again. I'm happy to report that so far, 2011 is off to a banner start. I have a new nephew already this year, spent a week in California, and have had 3 days of class without getting sick. So far, 2011 is a success. May old acquaintance be forgot....