It is ironically that I use “Dr. Linscott” in the title of this post. I do it because at this point I find it humorous trying to explain to people what I’m actually doing with my life at the moment. So let me try and explain. If things are still unclear, please don’t ask my family, it will only confuse you infinitely more. Yes, my program is in pharmacology, but I will never be a pharmacist (that’s pharmacy). Yes, the program is part of a medical college, but I will never have an M.D. Yes, it is a doctoral program, but that’s different from a PharmD and I will never work in a hospital. Well, at least not on the patient side of things. Sometime in the distant future I will receive a Ph.D. in Pharmacology. Then what? I don’t really know at this point, which is probably what further confounds things. My hope is to be involved in the discovery and development of new drugs to treat disease that are currently poorly managed, or even untreated. However, I will never allow anyone to call me Dr. Linscott. I don’t know if this is because I’m not a fan of titles and accolades make me queasy, or just that all my favorite professors have done the same? That being said, prepare for my best doctor impression.
Today we confirmed a date for surgery, May 7th. For many of you this is old news. Dad had already leaked date rumors over the weekend, but I didn’t want to say anything until it was official. The call came while I was in the lab. I missed it actually and instead received a voicemail. “Hi Josh, its Denise. Just calling to confirm May 7th for the transplant. Call me back.” The smile that covered my face was involuntary, but entirely welcome. Afterall, this is what I’ve wanted to hear since we started the donor matching process in January. I called back and we confirmed the date then quickly went over some small details. The end of the phone call was accompanied by a head rush. A switch somewhere in me finally flipped. “Its real” I thought. This is really going to happen.
The emotions I felt were overwhelming and I don’t think I can find a way to properly explain them. Predominantly there was joy and excitement, that finally I’d have the opportunity to help dad. There was a hint of shock and surprise that we have an official date now and its soon! Lastly, there was an undertone of relief. Relief because the waiting was over (I’ll pick up where I left off my previous blog next time). This isn’t the first time I’ve felt too many emotions to be able to describe accurately. The last time was after I was finally convinced to watch this horror movie called “The Notebook”. Girls would excitedly ask what I thought of the movie. After a slight pause I’d say “It made me angry”. First I was happy, then I was sad, then I was angry, then I was kinda happy, but a little sad, then I was happy I was sad and nervous that I was happy… then I was just angry that someone would play with my emotions like that. Seriously though, it is the scariest movie I’ve ever seen. I know what you’re thinking, “What about the texas chainsaw massacre, the ring, or silence of the lambs?”. Well I don’t live in texas, the ring is fake, and Zorro would never eat someone in real life. However, falling in love with someone, building a life together and then having them forget that life together happens every day. This is my worst nightmare now! Thanks girls.
Anyways, I’ve gotten distracted. No more 2:00 AM blogs. I intended to write about the surgery (hence the Dr. joke), because it amazes me and additionally I’m sure many of you are curious what is about to happen. On Monday dad and I will go to the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, MA for a live liver donation. We each have our own surgical team, our own operating rooms, our own nurses, but soon just one liver. My dad’s liver, which has been destroyed by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), will be entirely removed. They will then separate the right lobe of my liver through an incision in the middle of my stomach and place it in him. The right lobe makes up about 60% of the liver, but soon it will regenerate in him to a fully grown functioning organ! That sixty percent is the inspiration for the name of this blog. It also represents the only time in my life that my parents have been OK with me not giving 100%.
My remaining 40% will also regenerate to full size and in 3-4 weeks nonetheless. It almost sounds like magic. To me this has been the biggest blessing in our entire situation. Other organs don’t do this. The liver is “privileged”. A blessing for us, but the number of people who die every year waiting on a list to receive an organ from someone who can no longer use theirs is unacceptable. On my last visit home we were watching the red sox (lose. If the recovery goes well dad and I will probably both be in the bullpen by July. Couldn’t make them any worse.) when suddenly I looked over to see dad crying. One of his friends from a support group had passed away waiting on one of these lists. A mother of two young children. Its selfish, but my first response wasn’t sadness. It was determination. This will NOT be his fate I thought. Still, it was an amazingly sobering moment and it has stayed with me since. This family often finds their way into my prayers, even though I don’t know their names. Its alright, God does. If reading this irks you like it does me, click this link http://donatelife.net/register-now/ . Think about registering to give life to someone else after you’ve lived yours. For the people who share in the support group with my dad, thank you for being there for him. There is no way I can understand what he is going through like you can. There is no way I can encourage him like you can. Continue to support one another and continue to push on for life.
After the surgery they say I’ll be really tired. I guess regrowing an organ does that to you. They told me during recovery I’ll likely feel good when I wake up in the morning, maybe try and do something, but then be tired and need to nap for awhile before trying to continue the day… I said “So it’ll be like a normal day for me?”. Being a graduate student isn’t so bad sometimes. One thing I found amusing during the initial consult was that since they knew I had a background in science, when they’d explain things they would often tack on phrases like “as you know”. It made me think of the penguins of Madagascar. “Just smile and wave boys. Smile and wave.” I didn’t actually have any idea what they were saying, but still I’d smile and nod. As long as the surgeon knows what is going on I’m set.
Life can be like that. Sometimes I look around and I have absolutely no idea what is happening around me. Things that seemed 100% certain are now my biggest source of doubts. I finally feel like I know what direction my life is headed and it gets completely turned around. This has happened constantly over the last year as we’ve gone through the different phases of this disease. Its during these time that I turn to God. I wait for the skipper to tell me what to do. He looks at me and says “Just smile and wave boys. Smile and wave.” As long as he knows what is going on, I’ll let that be enough. If life has been confusing for you lately, like it has been for me. I’d encourage you to stop trying to sort it out on your own, there’s an easier way. Look to the skipper and smile and wave.