My Kidney Update for June 2021

Everyone knows I have kidney disease but there’s been a lot of changes since that post that I haven’t written about so I thought I’d summarize.

Early in 2019 during some testing to get me re-listed for transplant in Rochester, instead of Pittsburgh, a mass was found on my right kidney. This placed me on hold status, unable to receive a transplant until it had been properly identified or removed.

In August of 2019 my right kidney was removed (known as a nephrectomy) as no testing would reveal what the mass was with confidence and removal was the only way forward to transplant (the ultimate goal). This was incredibly concerning beforehand for me as my function had already dropped to around 10%. Unfortunately there’s no way of knowing which kidney was doing the bulk of the filtering so we could be removing the one that’s doing all the work. If the removed kidney was doing a large amount of work the remaining kidney might not be able to keep up which could immediately put me into needing dialysis. The good news was this immediately reactivated me on the transplant list as there was no longer a concern.

In September of 2019 we were planning a house warming/birthday party in our new backyard, but the week before I became suddenly ill and had to be put on emergency hemodialysis. This was never the plan. The plan was that as soon as things started to become noticeable or I felt like it was getting to be time I would get a PD catheter placed so that I could begin peritoneal dialysis when necessary. I had attempted to make this happen during or before the nephrectomy but the surgeon was resistant as it complicates the surgery and adds additional risk of infection during that surgery.

Upon starting hemodialysis I initiated the planning for the PD treatment and by the middle of November I had transitioned to at home overnight peritoneal dialysis. We even traveled to Disney World with it in November/December of 2019.

Prior to our Disney trip my mother had heard a story of someone finding a donor with some shirts while on vacation at Disney World, so she had shirts made up for all 8 of us that were going: Me, Rachel, Delilah, Reece, Averie, George, Karen, Barb.

On March 13th 2020 I hung my “I need a kidney” shirt on the outside my cube wall as the last thing I did before leaving the office for the weekend. It turns out this was more of a permanent decision than i thought since due to the COVID-19 pandemic I didn’t see my cube again until January 13th 2021 and that was just to pick up my things.

On March 17th 2020 (unbeknownst to me) my would-be donor spent their last day in the office, saw my shirt and at some point decided to get tested.

After a long period of testing and evaluations eventually it was determined they were a match. Sometime around November is when this news came to me and it hit like a mac truck (in a good way). After that phone call I sat in stunned silence for at least an hour.

Surgery was scheduled for February 16th and now here we are, 4 months post transplant feeling better than I have felt in years.

The gratitude I feel for my donor is so hard to put into words, and COVID has made it challenging to express many of the feelings our whole family has had but I literally owe him my life.

Averie 6-12 months

She’s a lot older now, but we’re just catching up.

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London was the bestest boy and every time I watch this it reminds me of how much of our life London really shared.

He was our first baby and the bestest boy. He outlasted 3 other family dogs, sired 1 litter of his own, including his best friend of 5 years, lived with us at 4 different places, spent time at 2 different camps, helped raise 2 husky puppies, and all 3 of our children. You can watch him grow old but still loving all his people all the while. Rest easy my bestest boy, you raised your pups and people right, we made it another year.

Squeakers (Denver)

Denver was our purebred Siberian Husky sired by our other purebred Siberian Husky London and Born February 14th 2007.

Although it happened more than 2 years ago and I started writing this post almost right away, it’s taken me this long to decide to finish it and make it public. Even now finishing the last little bits it’s difficult for me to get through. He would have turned 9 today.

On January 3rd 2014 Denver was hit by a car traveling on Route 56 in the Adirondacks. I have no way of knowing for sure but from the injuries my assumption is that he died instantly. It’s an incredibly sad and unfortunate turn of events but I am thankful we have some closure. It didn’t start out that way, after realizing he was missing we searched for hours. Eventually the person from the DOT that found him, got in touch with someone who knew we had huskies, and they got in touch with us. Telling the kids was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Delilah grasped what was happening right away but Reece just hugged us and couldn’t understand why we were so sad.

When I think back to the last few days and weeks Denver enjoyed though, it makes me smile.

We hadn’t bought the dogs toys in a while, but for christmas we got Denver a fox with a christmas hat on it and a squeaker in each end and he was beside himself. We got London an identical raccoon and he couldn’t care less. Denver destroyed all 4 squeakers and couldn’t have been more excited while doing it. He always did. A squeaking toy never lasted more than 24hrs in our house once he joined the family.

On top of that in the few weeks before he was hit we had him groomed, got him a new nametag and let him sleep on the bed at camp. We had been grooming him (and London) ourselves for years but we had a coupon for 50% off a grooming appointment and we had both of them done. they looked better than they had in years and Denver in particular almost seemed proud of his new look. Seriously, he was literally strutting.

Denver was a funny dog. He would try to bury bones in the winter time but because the ground was frozen he would scratch it and just kind of push little bits of dirt (and sometimes snow) on top of the bone. In the morning time if he had to go outside he would jump on top of the bed, stand over us and just stare down at us until we woke up.

Like most huskies he liked to howl and talk. You could ask him “where’s London?” and he would go nuts howling.

When we got married we were gone for 2 weeks on our honeymoon and Denver missed us so much that when we got home he tackled Rachel and knocked her over, whining and crying the whole time.

Denver had a wild side too, he seemed closer to the wild than any other dog I’ve had. I got to see a whole different side of him when he investigated a porcupine in the woods at camp and ended up with 57 quills in his mouth. I Rode in the back of our truck trying to keep him calm while a friend of ours drove us hurriedly to the closest open vet (about 25 miles away). Eventually it seemed like he thought I was hurting him and so he tried lashing out at me but I was able to keep him calm long enough for us to arrive and get him a tranquilizer. When we brought him back he was the happiest dog alive.

I’m gonna miss that crazy lanky husky.

We love you buddy.

Big Little Kids

This year we went on adventure! I’m not entirely sure what sparked it but we decided to be big kids spend the day at the races. Yep that’s right, the finger lakes gaming and race track. The only money we spent in the slot machines is the $20 they give you for signing up for their membership club, we only came out on top there because we spent $0. The races were another story. We went in with ~$100 just something to play with, came out with $87 after being there all day and betting on every race. We went in knowing practically nothing and although the most we were ever at was about $112 by the end of the day we had a lot better understanding of how things worked.

After the racetrack we headed off to a little kid race track (go karts) at the Pole Position raceway. It was a lot of fun! the cars go way faster than we realized. It actually made Rachel feel a bit wishy washy but Randy liked it so much he bought a membership (contributed to partially by the race we paid for already) so future races would be cheaper.

Grandma Kerber

I wasn’t born into a huge family but I was drafted into one. As my mother put it I am “one of three only children.” We were separated by so many years that my first memory of my sister is playing at her apartment and my first memory of my brother he was (as a senior) helping me get on the bus (as a kindergartner or 1st grade I can’t remember). Both sets of my grandparents passed when I was very young & I have only a few memories, none of which are very vivid.

My first memory of Grandma Kerber is crystal clear & all about family. It was twelve years ago or so when I stepped my first foot into that soda filled hallway, turned the corner and met Grandma Kerber sitting in that brown chair (the same one that now sits in my living room along with all the memories that come with it). She wasn’t by herself by any means, Aunt Marty was there by her side, along with her whole clan. In fact in the twelve years I knew her I can only remember two instances where she wasn’t absolutely surrounded with family. Once when my wife and I took her to lunch, and another time when she couldn’t wait to meet our new puppy London (curled up at my feet at the moment). Even though her family was large she welcomed me and any of her relatives significant others in as if they were her own.

So far her descendants include: 9 Children,17 Grand Children, and 19 Great Grand Children. With the exception of a few of the newest members of the family, this entire clan (and their spouses) were crammed into Grandma’s house every Christmas Eve for the traditional family Christmas party. Although I wasn’t around to see it, I’ve been told that the same was true for Halloween trick-or-treat parties & Memorial day picnics when the grand-kids were younger. So many memories all shared by everyone, some of them even carved or written on the walls in the basement.

Rest easy Grandma. Your dynasty lives on along with your memories and traditions. obituary