A First Second Chance

My first cousin Terry Saunders died a week ago.  I remember his Corvette when I was quite little. Two weeks before he died I had a stark reminder of my own mortality as well. In a routine blood test there were nearly 30 times the normal number of liver enzymes.  I read up on it, and I should have been horribly sick with numbers that high.

I had no symptoms, so I thought is was all a mistake, had a re-test and the numbers were down, but still about 6 times higher than normal.  Had my vital organs ultrasounded and my blood tested for hepatitis and everything my doctor and I could think of.  Nothing so badly out of the ordinary except those darn liver enzymes.  Did I say no symptoms?  No symptoms.  Maybe, just maybe a shadow on the liver, but so slight it would not explain those numbers.  Maybe a cancer in some other organ is making my liver work hard to make those enzymes.

My doctor wanted a liver biopsy and a CAT scan but I said hold off.  My numbers were normal in September, so if there is anything it is brand new, not a month old, let me hold off a month.  I had plans.  I was going to stand tall and do things in my life that I had always intended but never did.  I wanted to run every day, eat right, begin this web site, publish, write those two new books and finish the one I started years ago.  No one in the world thinks like I think and I think what I think is valuable.  More people should think like me.

But I did hardly any of what I planned during the month.  And my cousin died. But here is something interesting.  Terry had hemochromatosis  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_overload  a hereditary disorder that is very treatable if caught BEFORE symptoms appear.  And today I got the tests back.  My hospital doesn’t normally test for hemochromatosis but they were able to test for iron in my blood and I had about twice the normal iron.  My liver enzymes were normal again.  And my blood has been sent to another hospital for more testing so I should know more tomorrow.

So now I need to step up and do the things I have told myself to do all my life.  I have not listened to myself until now.  There is no one in my life to encourage me, so I need to encourage me and others.  I have often thought religion has had a negative effect on me, but there is good in religion as well.  I need to explain all this in a clear voice.  Who cares if no one is listening.  I am doing it for others, and in so doing I am doing it for myself.

Thanks to Terry I may have dodged a bullet.  I would never have been tested for hemachromatosis.  Not even Dr. House would have found it.  I am not sure I have the disorder, but I am certainly glad I was tested for it.  The things that went through my head, the songs asking people to live like they are dying, the things I have said about lives having value if and only if they are valuable to others.  What we do for humanity is our worth, I have said, and now I am looking at me, and how my life has helped others, and what more I can or should do.  And I come up wanting.

Here is the beginning of the rest of my life.  My first second chance.  I hope I get many more second chances.

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