Stayin’ alive

A kidney dialysis/transplant diary

The cold subsides

I’m feeling quite a bit better and not sleeping quite so much. I don’t know if the ESRD has compromised my immune system further – I suspect it has – but this is the second cold of the winter for me and that’s unusual. I’m pretty religious about getting my flu shots and they usually help fend off colds, too, for the better part of the winter.

I’ve been taking zinc and extra vitamin C (fresh from the lemons and limes), and I think that helped keep the congestion from getting intolerable.  But the sleep thing, that’s a different story. I slept and slept and slept the past week. I took a day and a half sick time from work – and slept. And had already set my New Year’s holiday for Thursday – and slept.

I was up early on Friday, though, to attend a cousin’s funeral in Muscatine. Larry wasn’t the first of the cousins to go and since he had cancer three times over (pancreas, esophogus and lymph) and had been battling it for 8 years,  it’s difficult to mourn his physical death.

It was good to see so many of his brothers and sisters. Larry came from a big family. His dad, Irvin, was my mother’s brother. By the end of the day, after hours of catching up and remembering, my cheeks hurt from smiling and I had been well-hugged over and over again.

Why we wait so long to gather as families is another mystery of modern life. I took my digital camera so I could get photos of all the cousins and spouses there and took a pic of Mom before I left on Friday so I could share it with them.  If it sounds as if it’s been many years since I’ve seen these cousins, it’s totally correct.

Irvin’s family was always fun to visit or have visit because there were so many lively kids – 9 living – and they lived in the country, a rather exotic place to a city kid. The 7 boys were all handsome, the 2 girls breathtaking, all with these remarkably beautiful sparkling eyes.

I had a cousinly crush on all the boys and a big-time one on Larry, a confession I admitted to at the funeral as well as telling his wife, Nancy, who fit into the family like a hand in a well-loved glove, for the first time how my heart fluttered on their wedding day when Larry kissed my hand.

Irvin’s family was poor, no getting around it and no euphemisms. There’s a line from Stephen Vincent Benet’s poem Mountain Whippoorwill that always kind of reminded me of the kids: “raised running ragged through the cockleburs and corn.”

But there always seemed to be love among the brothers and sisters and lots of pride for them from Uncle Irv. I learned alot of things from the times I visited from how to pick cherries to how cold it can be to head to the outhouse in the middle of the night when there’s frost in the air. And I can’t forget my first try at plucking a chicken or seeing a baby goat born or smelling a hayloft.

All those childhood memories bubbling up felt good and behind all those grown-up faces were still the eyes and smiles of those kids I remember.  It’s hard to imagine that Rick and Rhonda, the youngest of the brothers and sisters, are grandparents several times over.

Uncle Irvin would be so proud of his kids.


January 14, 2008 - Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, fistula, health, kidney, renal diet, renal recipes, transplant, weight loss

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