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.