As you’ll notice if you’re not reading a text-only version of You Ain’t No Picasso, things are a bit different around here. I whipped up this redesign to make things a bit easier to navigate and a lot more pleasing to the eye. Aside from stylistic changes, here are the big differences:
the Local section
I often want to write about young bands or small events going on in the Kentucky area, but know my national and international readers would have no interest in it. This section will be host to the concert calendar for the KY (and to a lesser extent TN/OH/IN) area as well as posts on anything else that fits. This is also a big change since I’ll occasionally be having guest writers contribute to this section. More on that in the next few days.
I know we all love ’em, so why not make them easier to find? There are two ways to do that now: the “MP3” link in the menu will take you to all posts tagged as having downloadable MP3s and the “SHUFFLE THIS BLOG” link in the sidebar will open up a Shuffler.fm playlist that will take you to the pages involved as you stream MP3s from YANP.
Aside from the four buttons in the sidebar (Twitter, Facebook, Email and RSS), I’ve also updated my contact information. Many of you are sending packages to the house I lived in four years ago. Many more could benefit from reading over some tips to get me to listen to/post on your band.
Now we get to the “and I” part of the changes. I wanted to write this up as soon as it happened, but I kept putting it off. Eventually I decided that I’d share this when I could redesign the site. That’s a good excuse, right?
As some of the more astute readers have figured out, I had some an unfun medical journey last year that will continue for the rest of my life. Before I get too deep into it, let me say that I’m completely fine and feel healthier than I have since my freshman year of college. But a lot of you have been so great about offering support for something you didn’t even know the details of, so I wanted to share at least a little bit with you.
In late 2009 I went to the doctor with migraines. A few specialists and a lot of tests later and they knew something was wrong with my kidneys, but not exactly what. I did chemotherapy once a month all through the spring of 2010 (didn’t miss SXSW, though!) until my nephrologists decided it was unlikely to fix my condition — which they finally felt confident in diagnosing as Lupus.
In late May I went into the hospital with possible pneumonia and plummeting kidney function. Two or three days into my hospital stay, the doctors told me that I would need a new kidney. Until we could find a good match, I would need to begin peritoneal dialysis. I missed Bonnaroo. I met with a lot of nurses and doctors. All the closets in my new apartment quickly filled with boxes of dialysis solution. Once my dialysis machine was delivered, things got a lot easier. It filtered the solution at night, freeing me up considerably. This allowed me to travel to Pitchfork, Lollapalooza and the Halifax Pop Explosion in NS, Canada all while on dialysis. All this was rather insane, considering that 60 years ago kidney failure was pretty much a death sentence.
During this time I developed a love/hate relationship with my dialysis machine. It’s unquestionably the worst thing I’ve been through, but it kept me alive and in relatively good health. It was a confusing thing to be so annoyed by something vital to your survival. I wasn’t alone in that feeling, though. I talked to one patient who had become so annoyed with his machine that he grabbed the tube coming out of his stomach and yanked the dialysis machine off its stand from across the room. Compared to that, I think I did alright.
Around this time I watched a lot of Seinfeld. Funny thing is, I forgot the occasionally repeated phrase from that series: “It’s not like I’m asking for a kidney!” And really, that’s no joke. Telling people that I need a kidney was one of the worst parts of the whole ordeal. No matter how close I was with the person I told, it was always this weird unspoken thing where I wasn’t directly asking them to get tested for a match, but was really hoping they’d offer. I owe a big thanks to my friend Brad who pointed out to a fair number of my friends that if they didn’t get tested, they couldn’t really expect a kidney to materialize from thin air.
A few months in, I got a call from the University of Cincinnati where I had signed up to have my transplant done. They picked a donor from the applicants but couldn’t tell me who it was. After a very exciting chat with them, I hung up and called my family. After I hung up with my dad, one of my best friends called me with some good news.
I’ve known Cory since we were both in Kindergarten together in Elizabethtown. He had told me he was getting tested, but hadn’t heard back about the process until he called me that day. As if I wasn’t already aware that Cory was one of the best people I knew, he solidified that by telling me he was donating one of his kidneys to me. By the end of the phone call I had said “thank you” so many times that I had to promise him I’d never thank him again. Not exactly easy, but I’ve managed to keep it to about once every three months. He told me he needed to work around his med school schedule (that’s right, the guy isn’t even a doctor yet and he’s already saved a life) but that we should be able to do the transplant in mid-December.
The surgery itself was as memorable for me as it would be as boring for you to hear about. Both our families went up to Cincinnati for the weekend. Both of them stressed out in the waiting room in their own unique ways. Cory and I were fine through the whole thing, though. The doctors enjoyed joking with Cory about med school and I kept myself entertained by trying to get three stars on all Angry Birds levels.
In the end, everything went perfectly. The doctors said that doing a transplant between two men in their mid-20s was a breeze compared to doing it between the recently deceased and an older person. We both woke up on some debilitating pain meds — the highlight of which, for me, was when I woke up from surgery and tried to ask if Cory was OK, but could only manage to say “Is that guy OK? … You know, THAT GUY…. THE DONOR GUY!” It was like David After Dentist, only if David was older and more afraid that one of his best friends might be dead.
So here I am. Cory’s doing fantastic. He’s back to his old vegetarian, athletic, med school self (he’s in such good health I told I’m I’d be happy to take any of his organs). I’m doing great too. Like I said, I feel better than I have in a long while. I’m eating better, I’m almost finished with the Couch to 5K program and I haven’t had a headache in a long time. The only lasting effects are that I have to take a decent amount of pills, I have a gnarly scar and — this is the worst — no grapefruits or grapefruit juice.
Not to jinx myself, but after the black hole of 2010, this year is looking fantastic. I had to skip SXSW because no matter how good I feel, I don’t need to spend $1000 to be drunk in the sun for a week a right after an organ transplant, but I’ll easily have rebounded in time for Bonnaroo and beyond. My friends, family and everyone have been great through all of this. My girlfriend was especially a saint. She did enough worrying and planning for both of us, allowing me to keep my anxieties to a minimum. And really I can’t speak highly enough of the University of Cincinnati transplant team. It was over an hour’s drive from my home (and the furthest of my three choices for the procedure), but it was completely worth it. I hope no one you know ever needs a transplant, but if UC is a choice, I’d recommend you take it.
I definitely owe you guys a huge thank you as well. Thanks for supporting me through this even though you didn’t know you were doing it. In a weird way, working on this blog through it all made it seem a lot more manageable. Hell, it’s probably the only job that you can do 30 minutes after your second biopsy in a month.