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My L.A. Odyssey Part 7: Diagnosis and Time Warp

Friday, my parents and I get up before dawn and drive to Oklahoma City.  For the first time ever, I hope I’m having a rejection episode.  If that’s the case, I’ll be put in the hospital and given strong anti-rejection drugs that virtually take my immunity to zero.  But, my pancreas may start working again.  If it’s not rejection, it means the pancreas is just worn out.

We’re at OU Med Center, where it all began in 1998 with a new kidney and pancreas.  I want to go back in time to when I was full of optimism, full of excitement and wonder about what my body was about to experience.

My battered veins don’t want to cooperate and it takes several tries before they can draw blood.  The result: it’s not rejection.  Aside from high blood sugar, all the other numbers are normal.  I’m diabetic again.

Then I get more bad news.  I have to be cancer-free 2-5 years before I can list for another one.  That means I’m looking at another year or more before I can be put on the waiting list.  I will have to wait before I can wait.

Now I have my answer.  It’s a long, quiet drive back to my parents’ house.  Everyone is very tired.
That evening I was feeling restless and sat on the covered patio behind my parents’ house.  In the distance I heard cheering every few seconds and remembered Greenwood High School was holding graduation at the football field not far away.  I walked to the front and stood on the driveway, caught up in the swirling memories of the past couple of weeks and a graduation ceremony on that same football gield thirty years ago.  How can it be thirty years already?  But the past week made me feel every minute my age and then some.  The images of my high school graduation flicker by me, but none take form.

I’m a middle-aged man standing on a driveway listening to a man’s voice on a loudspeaker.  I can’t make out what he says but I can tell he’s reading names.  Applause and cheers follow each one.  A few lots behind me, little kids play in a yard.  They’re really little—much too young to imagine high school, much less have trouble remembering it.

The hot breeze whips around my face and I am in a time warp.  In only a few days I’ve been drawn backwards from racing toward my future at an amazing conference in fast-paced L.A. to high school graduation in 1982.  I’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes again, like when I was twelve.  Except I’m not back there.  These are just pale watercolor shades of the past being brushed onto the modern version of me.

The task ahead of me is to blend the new ambitions, plans for the future, and a newfound self-confidence and identity with a disease I had through my teens, twenties, and early thirties—a disease that damaged me, a disease that I hated and felt I had conquered 14 years ago when I got the new pancreas.  It will be a struggle to keep from being sucked into the diabetc time machine pulling me back there.