Day 6: Already? Already!

I can’t believe it’s been 6 days already. It seems like 2 or 3.

Dinner at Neville HouseI just visited Al. I went straight to his room on arrival at the hospital today, about 9:00am-ish. He was trying to sleep, but talked to me for a bit. He would have been wakened soon anyway, because someone from the transplant department came in to review the medications he will be taking.

She separated each drug into two pill cups. One for those he will probably be taking the rest of his life and the other for those he will eventually stop taking. They were an impressive pile of pills, but Al has been taking so many pills all his life, he wasn’t flustered a bit. He knew what almost all of them were.

He didn’t know one of them. Protonix. But I knew that one. It’s a proton pump inhibitor and I took it for some time for GERD. It’s hard to stump Al, so I enjoyed that little victory.

He complained about a sore back and said he had been kept awake all night because of muscle spasms. They told him that was pretty normal at this point, but he wanted to sleep some more, so I left him to sleep as long as he could.

Last night, at the Family House, they had a big dinner for everyone. No occasion, but I’m told they do it about once a month. We had baked ham, sweet potatoes with brown sugar and pecans, homemade applesauce, and too many other good things to list. The best part, though, was getting to visit with more people at the house. Many of them, I hadn’t met before.

Heidi SchusterI was walking down the hall just outside Al’s room and noticed they had some photos of people who had been in a “Transplant Olympics.” I did a double-take, because I recognized one of them. She was from Buffalo, and I had met her at a music concert a while ago. Her name is Heidi Schuster and I hope she’s still doing well. It was so cool to see Al following in the same path as someone else I had met.

Katie OzogOut of curiosity, I looked at some more photos further down the hall and saw another familiar face, but not one I had met. It was a photo of more Olympians and one of them was Katie Ozog. Al and I had gone to a benefit concert in her memory. She passed away in 2003 and a close friend put together the concert in her honor. It was the same photo they had on the poster for the benefit.

It was a sobering reminder that there is nothing for sure about this. It can still go either way.

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2 comments on “Day 6: Already? Already!
  1. Frank says:

    Albert actually knows Heidi, I’ve met her before but not long enough to consider her a friend. Unfortunately Katie Ozog and I were god friends. We were in the hospital numerous times together before she got her transplant. I was so glad when I heard she got it. But after I learned she had passed I felt very saddened because she was a friend of mine.

    From then on I had a very negative view of transplants because it was supposed to be such a great thing and so wonderful, yet it failed Katie. So, when talks first sprouted about Albert getting one, my feelings were actually negative. I immediately thought of Katie and wished Albert wouldn’t follow the same path.

    Since then though, I did research and found Katie’s situation is a minority among cases and that the success rates and survival rates after recovery is actually quite high. This has raised my spirits a lot about it. And I know Albert and if there’s anything I can say about him, he triumphs over adversity. Numerous times in his life he’s stared mortality in the face and won, so I’m pretty confident he’s gonna be just fine.

    The nurses at CHOB also did a great job at comforting me the night Al got the call. I was a nervous wreck. I have to say thanks to Lisa B for sharing her stories with me, as it really calmed me down that night.

    I’m still nervous about the whole thing, but if Al gets through this, I think it will boost my confidence so that maybe one day I’ll get my own transplant. But I sincerely hope that’s a while away.

    I’m looking forward to visiting Al on Friday. He’s been a constant in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. Al Gritzmacher says:

    I can’t get over how different events in life intertwine sometimes. What were the odds that I’d have not just taken photos at that benefit show years ago, but had put it into a web page about the music. Now, today, I’m staring at that photo again in the hall at Presby.

    Frank, thanks so much for the comment. It added so much to the page. I know how you felt. When Al and I went through the first evaluation in 2000 here, it was a scary picture they painted. Basically, it was a crapshoot whether a transplant took at all or lasted 1, 5, 10 or more years. I think that’s why Al put it off so long.

    Thankfully, things have improved drastically in the anti-rejection area and it’s not quite so chancy now. I think Al struck a good balance between waiting for technology to improve and acting before he was too sick or weak to have an optimum chance.

    I didn’t know you and Katie were good friends. Maybe you told me, but since I never met her, it faded. I’m sorry it didn’t work for her and that I never met her.

    I hope you never need a transplant, but I wouldn’t put money on it. If you ever do need one, I hope you can get one. Please take care of yourself until then, it would break my heart if you didn’t get the chance.

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