Sunday, December 2, 2018

Transplant Tales - Getting Ready

One day they announce that you eligible for the transplant list. For me, that meant I had lost 50 pounds.  There is much celebrating until you realize some people have been on the transplant list for years.

Getting on the list first involves giving blood to determine if you have a match with a donor. When I say you give blood, I mean you give lots of blood. If I remember correctly, I gave 17 vials of blood. And then a series of tests begins. It’s a great way to meet lots of new doctors. When I began the process, I had two doctors; a primary care physician and a nephrologist. In addition to those two, I now I have: a transplant team of four doctors, two cardiologists, an endocrinologist, gastrologist, gynecologist (just checking to see if you are paying attention), a podiatrist, and several others I can’t remember.

Then the testing begins. They tested my heart twice (The couldn’t believe I was old and fat and had a healthy heart, my lungs, my bowels, my esophagus and stomach ( think they found some old White Castles). When I woke from my endoscopy the doctor handed me a prescription for acid reflux. I explained to her that I didn’t have acid reflux. She dutifully and a bit exasperated went through the list of symptoms. I had none of them, which did little to improve her mood. I just took the prescription and went home, and everyone was happy. By the way, I now have acid reflux.  Go figure. I started thinking that the tests were not to measure my health but to see if I could survive them.

After (surprisingly) I passed all the tests, we met with the surgeon, Madison C. Cuffy, M.D. The surgeon has a lot to say if the surgery will or won’t happen. He was very encouraging. (He said sarcastically.) If he mentioned that I was 71 once, he mentioned it a dozen times. I finally asked him if this was test. Yes, I know my age. Obviously, he thought I was too old for a transplant. Things were looking bleak. My wife and I didn’t talk about my chances for a positive report, but we both doubted it would happen.

Then the call came. I had been approved. We were ecstatic and knew we had witnessed a miracle. All I needed was a donor.

Copyright © 2018, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved

Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.
He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Transplant Tales: An Organ Recital

Years ago, when our youngest was in grade school, we were invited to the spring concert. I wrote about that awful experience in a newspaper article later posted as a blog titled, The Banned Concert.

Much like an elderly man, when asked, “How are you doing,” responded with an organ recital about his heart and his lungs and his bowels, and most of his other organs; I am about to give you an organ recital about my kidneys. I am reminded of that concert when I think of my health. Just as all those instruments at my daughter’s band concert went so wrong, the same is true of my aging body.

About 20 years ago I was diagnosed with both kidney disease and diabetes. Some doctors believe both were caused by a bout with lead poisoning I was exposed to a decade and a half before. At the time of kidney testing, I was diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, better known as FSGS. Not that you care, here is the description. FSGS is a rare disease that attacks the kidney’s filtering units (glomeruli) causing serious scarring which leads to permanent kidney damage and even failure. FSGS is one of the causes of a serious condition known as Nephrotic Syndrome. Focal = some, Segmental = sections, Glomerulo = of kidney filters, Sclerosis = are scarred. That was easy, wasn’t it?

Surprisingly, my kidneys lasted about 15 years after diagnoses. My nephrologist (kidney doctor) was surprised they lasted more than a year and believed their longevity could be attributed to prayer. For years and years my kidneys got less and less productive. Finally, on April 1, 2014, (Happy April Fool’s Day), while living in Memphis, I went on dialysis. Most commonly dialysis is a procedure that involves having two large (When I say large, I mean LARGE.) needles inserted in your arm and then you are hooked to the dialyzer and one’s blood is circulated through the machine that filters the blood for around four hours. The entire procedure lasts around five hours. Many have compared it to having an uncomfortable part-time job.
The average patient leaves dialysis feeling like 15 pounds of homemade sin on a popsicle stick. Usually a nap is in order and little else than couch time happens for the rest of the day.

When I first started dialysis, I would go in around 5:30 am and then go straight to the office and worked the rest of the day. I could pull that off for the first couple of years and then it became more and more challenging. As I approached my fourth year on dialysis I was drained. Every day. I stumbled around, couldn’t concentrate and fell asleep at every opportunity. Having seen this progression in many of my dialysis friends as they deteriorated toward death, I realized my time on this earth was short.

So, I finally began to consider a kidney transplant. Most people thought it would not happen. I was 71 years old (They probably wouldn’t waste a kidney on an old man.) and I was 50 pounds over their limit. I figured I couldn’t get any younger but I could lose 50 pounds, so I did. And thus, began the transplant journey.

Copyright © 2018, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved

Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.
He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon



Saturday, June 9, 2018

Radioactive


Last night, after we had gone to bed, I asked my wife to turn off the light. She told me that light wasn’t on, but that I was glowing. Let me explain.

Before qualifying for a kidney transplant, one must undergo a series of medical tests to make sure one is healthy enough for a transplant. As I have mentioned before, they want to sure you are not going to die of something else – especially under their care. They don’t want your death to be a black mark on their record. Heaven forbid. My donor has also undergone extensive testing to see if he is healthy enough for surgery and stands little chance of contracting kidney disease later in life.

The bottom line is, we are both extremely healthy. That was pretty much a surprise to both of us. He is, of course, in much better shape than I, and we are both pretty good looking (I must say.) but neither of us has been asked to pose for any beefcake picture calendars. I have had my GI track (Top and bottom.) tested, my teeth checked, my blood tested a couple of dozen times, my lungs X-rayed twice, several EKGs, an echo cardiogram and two heart stress tests. Oh yes, they checked my feet, too. It seems that everything except my kidneys is working fine.

And then, this week, just days before my scheduled transplant surgery, the “transplant team” decided it would be good for me to visit my Cardiac Electro Physiologist. Dr. Pelchovitz was concerned with some a fib I had suffered a few months ago and was pleased to hear that I had not had a re-occurrence of the problem. Just for kicks, they took ANOTHER EKG and sent me home. A few hours later my cardiologist, Dr. Murtaugh’s office, called and made an appointment for me. The EKG didn’t look right. They then scheduled me for another echo-cardiogram and another stress test. If either showed any problems, surgery would be canceled. With that stress I figured I would fail the test.

My wife and I went to the hospital the next day at 0’ dark thirty for the echo. Then we hopped over to the medical office building to meet with the urologist who would be caring for me after my surgery. And then back to the hospital for the stress test. By then I was thoroughly stressed. I didn’t need a test to know that. The best part was after the test was completed the technician said, “Here’s your card.” “What card”, I asked. “You’ll need this card if you have to go through a metal detector, like at the airport. It explains why you set it off.” “And why,” I asked, “would I set it off?” His answer was not comforting. “You will radioactive for a few days.”

Radioactive!! Are you kidding me? I thought that perhaps I would be like the teddy bear in the song, “Radioactive”. (Click to listen) I’m certainly happy I am not planning on having any more children. So here I am, in great health and glowing. Bring on that kidney.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

An Organ Recital

Years ago, when our youngest was in grade school, we were invited to the spring concert. I wrote about that awful experience in a newspaper article later posted as a blog titled, The Banned Concert. (Click on Banned Concert)

Much like an elderly woman, when asked, “How are you doing,” responded with an organ recital about her heart and her lungs and her bowels, and most of her other organs; I am about to give you an organ recital about my kidneys.

About 20 years ago I was diagnosed with both kidney disease and diabetes. Some doctors believe both were caused by a bout with lead poisoning I was exposed to a decade and a half before. At the time I was diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, better known as FSGS. Not that you care, here is the description. FSGS is a rare disease that attacks the kidney’s filtering units (glomeruli) causing serious scarring which leads to permanent kidney damage and even failure. FSGS is one of the causes of a serious condition known as Nephrotic Syndrome. Focal = some, Segmental = sections, Glomerulo = of kidney filters, Sclerosis = are scarred. That was easy, wasn’t it?

My kidneys lasted about 15 years after diagnoses. My nephrologist (kidney doctor) was surprised they lasted more than a year and believed their longevity could be attributed to prayer. For years and years, my kidneys got less and less productive. Finally, on April 1, 2014, (Happy April Fool’s Day) I went on dialysis. Most commonly dialysis is a procedure that involves having large needles inserted in your arm and then you are hooked to the dialyzer and one’s blood is circulated through the machine for around four hours. The entire procedure lasts around five hours.

The average patient leaves dialysis feeling like 15 pounds of homemade sin on a popsicle stick. Usually, a nap is in order and little else than couch time happens for the rest of the day. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I have been working full time even after I started dialysis. It has been an interesting challenge. As time and treatments have worn on, on dialysis days I have become more and more “zombified”. I am up and walking but not much is happening. As a detective on the police department I serve said not long ago, “You’re weird when you have dialysis.” That pretty much sums it up.

At 71, I just barely ducked under the upper age requirement to qualify for a kidney transplant. It gets better. I have a matching donor. He is my nephew Tim and we are such a great match that the surgeon told me that I have a greatly reduced risk of rejection. It goes without saying that Tim has moved to the top of my list of favorite nephews. He is an amazing man with as kind of a heart as his father, my big brother, had.

The surgery date has been set. People ask me if I am frightened or anxious. I am not… not for me. I am concerned for Tim. Above all, my prayers are for Tim to come out of this procedure healthy as a horse and experience a rapid recovery.

Keep us in your prayers and I will bore you with the details of my recovery.

Copyright © 2018, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved
Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.

He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

Thursday, May 17, 2018

What's Your Story?

The past few days, our congregation has been involved in the spiritual discipline of writing our individual faith stories – our faith journeys. It has been an interesting and challenging work. Most interesting is that many of us don’t have a story… or at least a story that involves Jesus. Many of us have stories that tell of a relationship with a church, but not a relationship with Jesus.

Perhaps, as I suspected for many years, those of us who have been a part of the church for most of our lives know something about Jesus, but we don’t seem to know Him. Instead of having a relationship with the living God, we have a theology about the living God. Like the flu shot, we have been inoculated with just enough Christianity we may never catch the real thing. Instead of being Christians, we end up just being religious.

Our lack of a story may speak to the heart of our demise as a church. If we do evangelism at all, we don’t seem to do it well. And we don’t do evangelism because being a part of a church is nice but usually not life-changing. We like Christianity, but we are not excited about a faith that has transformed our lives. Let’s be honest, why would we talk about something that is just nice but is not life enriching and life-changing.

To fit our religious experience, we redefine “Christian”. Instead of a Christian being someone who has given Jesus lordship of their lives, who are wholeheartedly doing all Christ has asked us to do, we pick and choose our way through the Bible accepting and doing what we have decided we should do. Instead of being a no holds barred Christ follower, we see being Christian as being synonymous with “nice” … and that is often to only carefully chosen groups. One can be a “Christian” and still believe almost anything. The Bible is not terribly authoritative.

What’s your story? What were you like before you gave your life to Jesus; how did you come to know Jesus and how has He changed your life? A simple story but not easy to write. I have thought about mine for years, thus it has become easy to share.

BEFORE. I went to church every Sunday and attended every church function. The church doors were open, we were there. Church was not a bad experience, but it didn’t mean any more to me than being a member of a club. When I left for college at the ripe old age of 17, since He meant nothing to me, I left God behind. On the outside I looked fine: A better than average athlete, a better than average student, able to get a date with just about any girl I wanted, came from a well to do family, had nice cars to drive, many good friends, and headed to college where I would rush the only fraternity on campus and be elected President of the Student Body. I had the world by the tail. On the inside it was a different story. I was frightened, insecure, drank too much, couldn’t maintain a relationship, was angry at everyone about virtually everything. My life was in chaos and I was miserable… and nobody knew it.

HOW. The summer of 1965 my brother and I spent the break from college driving and camping across America, visiting every state and national park we could find. We ate one meal a day, slept on the ground and had a blast. During our travels, Bob initiated several conversations of a spiritual nature. Something profound had happened in his life and he wanted to share it. I made it plain that I wasn’t interested. In those conversations, he told me that Christianity was not a religion but a relationship with God made available to us through Jesus. He said religions were man’s attempts to reach God and Christianity is God’s attempt to reach humankind. In a very emotional conversation, Bob challenged me by saying, “Jesus wants to be the Lord of your life.” I said, “Really.” (Read that sarcastically.) “I don’t need any help from Jesus. I can run my own life.” Bob looked at me with his clear, light blue eyes and crushed my God barrier by saying, “Oh, really. How are you doing so far?” I was pissed because I knew he was right. After I had cooled down that night, comfortably tucked away in my sleeping bag, I prayed a sad little prayer. “God, if you think you can do something with my life, give it a try.” And God answered that prayer.

AFTER. From then on, I would like to say we were off and running. It is more like we were off and crawling.  I could say that in the beginning, we had a rocky start, but the entire journey has been a bit rocky. I have fallen on my face time after time, screwed up relationships, hurt people, disappointed people and disappointed myself. But in some dramatic ways, God has changed me. I am no longer angry and hate filled. I like or love almost everyone I meet. My priorities have changed from things to people, from success to significance, from drinking to dry, from fearful about everything to excited about what life with God has to offer. Where there was once chaos and fear there is a peace that supersedes everything else. Is life perfect? No. Am I perfect? Far from it. But, thank God, I am certainly not who I used to be. For this, I, and the people around me are profoundly thankful.

So, what’s your story?

Copyright © 2018, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved
Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.

He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Less Who and More Why

One of the statistics provided to me by my blog site host is where my page views originate. It is interesting information.

My top three countries are the United States (No surprise), Russia (Big surprise), and the United Arab Emirates (Huge surprise). I am assuming, since Russia came in second, I will be receiving a subpoena from Robert Mueller to testify against President Trump since everyone else in America who have had any interaction with the former Soviet Union in the past decade is being called.

Since you (I) brought it up, it may surprise you to know that our government is completely fouled up. If there are two ways to do something, the government will diligently search until they find the wrong way to do it. I’m not being negative… I’m being observant. Their incompetence is nothing new. It has been like that ever since I can remember, and I can remember way back. It is remembering yesterday I struggle with.

It seems that every special prosecutor we have had appointed has spent millions of dollars, wandered around in circles looking for someone to charge with a crime, made up crimes to charge them with, not stopping until they find someone to take to court and look like complete idiots except to the political hacks who sent them on the mission in the first place. Mueller has succeeded in upholding that great tradition. Quite honestly, if Robert Mueller summoned me to court to join his ridiculous waste of taxpayer money, I believe I would be forced to tell him to kiss my behind.

Having the information about where the people are who read my blog are, the question comes to mind; “Why do they read my blog”? I love writing it, but I am not sure I would enjoy reading it. Here is my list of reasons for reading my blog. Feel free to add to the list.
  • I want to know more about growing a church.
  • How is “Healthy Church” done.
  • I knew the author back before he could read or write.
  • It is fun to watch both political parties made fun of.
  • It is interesting to watch someone be rude and have them write it off as being honest.
  • I don’t have anything to do at work but want to appear busy.
  • I am studying certain individuals so I can grow up to be a curmudgeon, ala Andy Rooney.
  •  I am a sadist and enjoy being abused.
  • I’m teaching my six-year-old to read and I use reading material with simple words.

Take a shot at sharing your reason. And thanks for dropping by and reading my thoughts, no matter where you are from.

Copyright © 2018, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved
Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press.

He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Isn't She Beautiful

I have begun wondering if I am like an old man I met over 50 years ago.

I have no idea why he did it. Perhaps because I had voiced a desire to become an attorney. For whatever reason my father often took me on house calls he made as an attorney. I loved when he was doing legal work for his brothers and sisters.

They were just plain country folk and my dad was to only “educated” one in the family. And he was smart as a whip. And he was raised in a family of quick-witted smart alecks. They weren’t well educated, but they were smart. So, these visits were always entertaining. On one visit, his sister, who was married to Tom, was complaining about his drinking. “Tom comes in most every evening drunk.” Dad’s scholarly reply was, “Divorce the SOB.” Mable just ignored him and continued complaining. “With all his drinking he can hardly keep a job.” To which my father replied, “Divorce the SOB.” Then Aunt Mable said, “He’s an embarrassment to the family.” Dad’s now expected reply was, “Divorce the SOB.” He was smirking and thoroughly enjoying pulling her chain and punching her buttons. His smile broke out into laughter when Gladys, completely frustrated, yelled, “Divorce the SOB, divorce the SOB. Is that all you can say?”

Some of our visits to other clients weren’t quite so funny. Occasionally, the visits were touching. I remember one in particular. It was a beautiful, sunny, summer Sunday afternoon and my father decided nothing would do but that I accompany him on a business visit. At nine years old, I was not a happy camper. There were dozens of other things I would rather be doing on such a day. After a rather short drive, we pulled up in front of one of the smallest white frame houses I had ever seen. It looked like something out of a fairy tale. Inside I was not too surprised to find two very old Munchkins. A miniature couple that looked to be about a zillion years old.

They were sitting next to each other in rocking chairs holding hands and smiling. They warmly greeted my father whom they obviously loved and respected. It was if royalty had arrived. Dad introduced me to the man. As has been a life-long habit, I failed to remember his name. His face lit up as he turned to his wife and introduced her to me. Then, with an almost mystical look on his face, he turned to me and said, “Isn’t she beautiful.” I said, “Yes”, and thought, “Of course she’s not beautiful, she is an old woman.” And then, even at the tender age of nine, I realized I was observing two people in love. It was something beautiful to behold. It is amazing that that image and conversation have stuck in my mind all these years.

This past Saturday my wife and I had dressed for an afternoon wedding and a birthday party for my oldest sister. We had gotten ready early (Something older people do. That why restaurants have “Early Bird Specials.) and were sitting on the couch together. As is my habit I was just staring at her and thinking, “Isn’t she beautiful.” Suddenly I thought, “Have I become that old man of years ago?” I soon discovered that I hadn’t.

After the wedding, we went to the party. As always, we were warmly welcomed with hugs and kisses. My younger sister gave my wife, Nancy, a big hug and smile and said, “Kae and I were just talking about how much we hate you. (We only tease you if we love you. 😊) You’re still just as beautiful as you were the day we met you thirty years ago.”

It gave me hope. Maybe I'm not that old man (Yet). But I am still thunder-struck in love with my beautiful wife.

Copyright © 2018, William T. McConnell, All Rights Reserved


Bill McConnell is the Interim Minister at Norwood Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is a Church Transformation consultant and a Christian Leadership Coach. He is a frequent speaker at Church Transformation events. His latest book on church transformation is DEVELOPING A SIGNIFICANT CHURCH and is available at Westbow Press. He can be contacted @ bill45053@gmail.com. Connect with him on Facebook @ William T. McConnell or on Twitter @billmc45053 or visit his Amazon Author Page @ Amazon