On Being Lucky: The Second Anniversary of My Heart Transplant
I was born in 1943, right in the middle of World War II. It was a bad time for the planet, but it occurred to me about six months ago that children born in the United States during the war were demographically lucky. The famous "baby boomers" were born after the war when the soldiers and sailors came home, and they created this gigantic population bubble that was right behind me, but I didn't have to compete with them. When I was ready for my education, the schools were not crowded. When I wanted a job, they were readily available. When I decided to go to law school, there weren't hoards of other applicants, so I was accepted by every school I applied to, mediocre academic record notwithstanding.
In 1971, I married Charleyne Adolay, an incredible woman, and we have an incredible son named Clayton. Both of them will be coming to Columbus to spend Thanksgiving with me and my local, much loved, chosen family—Clayton and his wife Maria are flying in from Seattle, and Charleyne is driving over from Indianapolis. I've had two male partners, David and Jerry, and we're all still good friends. David and I had lunch this summer when I badgered him to start selling things on eBay, and Jerry (who now lives in Las Vegas) sent me an email two days ago stating that my story about "Wake Up, Mr. Tree" (part of the recent "Potpourri #1" blog post) has mysteriously changed through repeated tellings (which, incidentally, I dispute). So I've known both love and my own happy families. Jerry and I once threw a party at which I suddenly noticed him in the kitchen talking to both David and Charleyne, all of them laughing at something. I broke that up damn fast before they could get to comparing notes.
This past summer I was in the hospital making a quick recovery from the "Mama" incident, and one of the heart transplant nurses asked me if I would talk to another patient, named Jim, who was in a room right down the hall from me, waiting for his own transplant. She said he was so ill that he was currently at the top of the waiting list for a new heart. I was pleased to go talk with him, and Jim (plus his wife, who was in the room when I arrived) proved to be interesting, informative, and, given that he was clearly on the verge of death, surprisingly upbeat. The Ohio State Ross Heart Hospital transplant doctors had recently rejected two proffered hearts because they didn't seem healthy enough. Jim told me that in the past year Ross had lost two transplant patients on the operating table when the proffered hearts had failed to start. This statistic amazed me. Ross had only lost one patient to a bad heart in the five years before I received mine (I'd checked). Jim said he thought the doctors were determined not to have that awful event reoccur, but he was hopeful a good heart would be found for him soon. I wished him luck. When I asked the same nurse recently if Jim had gotten his new heart, she said no, but that he'd been given a temporary mechanical heart regulator for the interim.
"My Heart Belonged to Andrew," February 17, 2010
"Another Letter to Andrew's Parents," March 10, 2010
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013