May. 23rd, 2006

jameydee: (Default)
Had a phone call today out of the blue, my old high school bud, Paulus.

We're in the same town and we really never fell out of touch. Long periods of time may fall between the times we talk, but we're the kind of friends where the conversation simply continues where it left off. There are whole areas of his life I know nothing about--I've met his wife maybe once or twice, glimpsed the kids here and there. Truthfully, I know we now work for the same BRAC'ed DoD division, but not what he does. With each other, we're kinda frozen in time, the same two kids who sat near each other alphabetically in homeroom, a continuing dialogue, commenting from different points in time. Parallel tracks, you might say.

So he calls and we talk and catch up on mutual acquaintances and at one point, he has to ring off for a few minutes to take another call. He calls back to continue the conversation, "It was the doctor, I had to take that call -- important." So I ask the one question I always put off, "So how is all that going these days?" "All that" is understood: Back in our college days, he had a kidney transplant.

He said in a low voice, "Not well."

I can't help but remember those days. It started with his eyes. He was going through a series of laser surgeries to save his vision. Then the kidneys started to go. It was nothing less than miraculous how transformative the surgery was...as he waited for a kidney, he was bloated and yellow and moved slowly and painfully. He was on dialysis for a long time. Afterwards, within weeks, he was rosy-checked and active as he had been pre-diabetic complications.

The same diabetic complications that cost him his kidneys is now attacking his bladder. I asked the obvious question, "Can they do a transplant?" He had asked the same question himself. No.

So he's heard about some new procedures they are trying in other parts of the country and hoping to get in on one of the programs.

I'm kinda stunned and saddened. But I know this, Paulus is not a quitter. Not after all this time, after all he's been through. And I'm hoping if good thoughts count for something, that mine find their way to him.

---

This is unrelated, but fits my melancholy mood.

I used to love watching horse races. One of my earliest sports memories, aside from the perfect 1972 Miami Dolphins' season, is watching Secretariet win the Triple Crown and later Seattle Slew and Affirmed. But I had to stop watching the ponies after a point. They had a series of match races that were suppose to showcase thoroughbred horse racing. I saw three horses break their legs in that event; at least two had to be euthanized. It was horrible, these beautiful, sleek horses with their long delicate legs... Then the finisher for me was the match-up of Ruffian, heralded as the greatest female racehorse of all time, versus Foolish Pleasure, that year's Kentucky Derby winner. Ruffian was winning when both bones in one of her front legs snapped. They tried to save her, but when she woke up from the anesthetic, she thrashed about, further damaging her leg. Turns out her sire had also suffered broken bones; the frailty was in the family.

I felt sick when I read about Barbaro breaking his leg during the Preakness. I feel the same queasiness when I read about the genetic problems that purebred dogs have. We, humans, have done this to them, bred them for characteristics we like, to the detriment of the breed.

"Hildalgo" was a silly, silly movie, but one of the things I brought away from it was a wistfulness that most of us will never know what a herd of wild horses sounds like, the thunderous beat of their passing. Cement and asphalt is all we seem to have room for. And we're poorer for it.

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