I have to admit I have had a bit of a blog writer’s block for the last few weeks as I have wrestled with some bad news. Right at Thanksgiving, during the overnight event where we deep fry 200 turkeys for our Union Rescue Mission Thanksgiving Feast, my kidneys failed, and within 12 hours I gained 20 lbs of fluid, mostly in my feet, and as I later learned, in my lungs. I made it through that big 24 hour event and helped serve 4500 precious people Thanksgiving Dinner. I struggled through the holidays, kept going, but sensed that I was losing my 40 year battle with Type 1 diabetes and the 12 year miraculous effort to keep my kidneys functioning adequately enough to get by. I feared the worst, contemplating what life would be like on a disability income and even more scary, apart from URM.
I went through some tests, and prayed a lot, quietly. My fantastic Dr. Kumar tripled my meds and helped me shed 25 lbs. of fluid quickly. After some struggles adjusting to the medications, the quick drops in my blood pressure that had me wondering whether I could even get up and speak at public events or have the strength to walk two blocks to the drug store and back, the news from the tests was a bit encouraging as learned I still have 16% kidney function. 15% and below is considered kidney failure.
The most encouraging words to me came from Dr. Kumar, in front of my wife Bonnie. He not only told me that I can keep working at URM for now, but told me that even when I go on dialysis, probably by July or August of this year, I can keep working! I can do dialysis at home 10 hours each night during my sleep. In fact, he said, “You need to keep working until you drop! Going on disability will not keep you alive! It will kill you.”
I am working with the Union Rescue Mission Board of Directors and leadership team to select a right hand person to carry on just in case things go awry, but God is giving me the strength and the help to carry on in this wonderful job He has placed me in, serving my good friends who are experiencing homelessness on the streets of Los Angeles. When I shared my tough news in Chapel at URM, I was touched by the number of guys who sincerely came up to me offering to donate a kidney to save my life. The guys here check on me every day.
I have signed up to receive not only a new kidney but also a new pancreas! I am officially on a waiting list. Doctors prefer to do both a kidney and pancreas as getting only a kidney will not be as life lengthening as receiving both. I am a bit apprehensive, fearful, and have had to work up the nerve to move ahead, but since the alternative is not so good, I am moving ahead. Thanks for keeping me, my family, URM, and our precious guests in your prayers.