Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Meeting the man

When I was twenty, I worked as a checkout girl at the Zayre's store in Addison, Illinois.  There was a guy named Herb who used to come in and flirt with me frequently, but I wasn't really interested in him.  Then one day Herb had another guy with him when he came in . . . a guy with dark, curly hair who was dressed in army fatigue pants and a sleeveless t-shirt.  He had very muscular shoulders and a deep tan with a funny little white stripe across his forehead from wearing a headband to keep his hair and the sweat out of his eyes when he was roofing.  They came through my checkout lane and Herb introduced me to Jimmy, who was buying a new pair of work boots.  As they were walking away, I couldn't help but think about how cute those fatigues made Jimmy's butt look.

The following week, I went to a party at Herb's house.  I saw that Jimmy was there and immediately worked my way nearer to him and started a conversation with him.  The first thing he said to me was, "I'm sorry, but I'm really bad with names.  What was your name again?"  I told him and we talked for a while.  He left the party early and I didn't see him go, but I thought that it was obvious that my attraction to him was kind of one-sided.  I stayed and had a pretty good time at the party.

On the next Friday, Herb came into the store and said that he was having a party at his apartment again.  He hoped I could make it.  I had only been in Addison for about a month, so I didn't have any other friends.  I told him I'd be there.  When I walked in, I could hear Jimmy laughing - he had a great laugh.  I got a drink and started working my way around the room to get closer to him.  I said hello and he said, "oh, hi.  I'm sorry, but I'm not good with names.  What was your name again?"  I told him and we had a conversation with a couple of other guys that he had been sitting with when I arrived. 

There were a lot of drugs floating around Herb and Barb's place always, but it was 1971, and there were a lot of drugs floating around everywhere it seemed.  After a while, I noticed that Jimmy wasn't where I'd left him, and although I looked for him, he had gone home.  I left soon after I realized he was gone, with Herb and Barb saying "Come on over anytime.  There's always a party going on here."

The next weekend, I talked myself into stopping over at their place to see if there was a party going on and there was. Herb and Barb were busy doing stuff in the kitchen, so when I saw Jimmy,  I walked over to talk to him. He looked up and said,  "Oh hi.  What was your name again?"  I started to laugh and said, "What difference does it make, man?  You're not going to remember it."  He laughed and apologized saying that if I told him one more time, he'd remember.  He said that he usually left Herb's parties earlier than most people because he worked on Saturdays and started as early as possible so that he could get off the roof before the afternoon.  He asked where I was from and what had brought me to Illinois.  We talked for about an hour before he said that he had to leave so he could get some sleep.

The next time I went to Herb and Barb's, Jimmy wasn't there.  One of his friend, Mike was there and he was playing a guitar when I saw him.  I went to listen to him for a while and ended up singing while he played some songs that I knew and loved.  He said, "You have a pretty good voice.  We've been thinking about starting a band.  Would you be interested in singing with us?"  He went on to say that Jimmy was his roommate and the two of them lived in the apartment right above Herb and Barb's.  He said, "Let's go talk to Jim about this," and we left the party and went up to their apartment.

When we went upstairs that night, Jimmy said hello to me and called me by my name.  We started doing music together that night.  We met another guy who could play keyboards and as soon as we had enough material together, we started gigging in local bars.  I was friends with all of the guys at first, but by the end of the summer, Jimmy and I were more than friends.  I moved in with him after about three months and we were married a year later.

We have been married almost thirty-nine years now and whenever people have asked me how we met, I've always told them how we kept seeing each other at parties and Jim could never remember my name.  But a couple of years ago, we were out at dinner with two other couples and someone started talking about how they had met one another.  They turned to us and said, "So how did the two of you meet?"  I looked at Jim and he said, "The first time I saw Charline, she was working at a Zayre's store and she was wearing a little orange dress, and her legs went on and on and on."   

Monday, August 15, 2011

post transplant realities

I had a liver transplant 20 years ago because my liver was destroyed by Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis.  At the time I had the transplant, I had young children who needed their mother, so I had a very strong incentive to survive.  In the hospital, post-transplant, I can vividly remember thinking, "I can't die . . . I have prom dresses to buy."

I also remember the medical personel telling me that my life was going to change drastically.  It would be more like "managed care" than living.  That has not been my experience.  The only constraints I have as a result of the transplant experience are that I have to remember to take my medications twice a day, and I have to go in to see the transplant docs once a year.  A pretty small price to pay for having extended my life for the past twenty years, I'd say.

Recently I went in for my annual checkin with the transplant docs and I was asked to fill out a survey before I went in.  When I looked at the survey, I was surprised to see that it was geared toward finding out how I felt about my life in general and how I felt about having had the surgery that saved my life.  The questions were all multiple choice.  An example might be "over the past 4 weeks I have felt I had no-one to turn to" with the answers ranging from "frequently" to "not at all."  I filled out the questionaire and then went in to see the doctor. 

He had good news to report - my bloodwork all looked good and the ultrasound they had done a month prior to this appointment showed that all the flows were good through my liver.  We talked briefly, and he checked the incision scar to look for any signs of hernia.  All was fine.  So afterward, I said, "I kind of gathered from the survey you had me fill out that not everyone does as well as I have emotionally or psychologically after transplant."  He sat back and seemed to choose his words carefully.  He said, "A lot of people have a tranplant because they don't want to die.  Than after the transplant, they find that the whole world is open to them . . . and they don't know what to do with themselves.  It's hard for some people to find that they have a lot of time ahead of themselves and no idea what they want to do with it."  I said, "My daughters were only 5 and 9 when I had this done."  He smiled at me and said, "You had a lot to do.  Was there ever a question in your mind about whether you wanted to go through with this?"

And there never was.  When they told me I needed a transplant, I immediately asked to be put on the list.  I never considered not doing this.  I had too much left to do, and I wanted the time it would require.

I've been "out" (that's what they call it after transplant) for 20 years now.  They don't have statistics to tell me what to expect anymore.  They could tell me that my heaviest chance of rejection was during the first year.  They could tell me that skin cancer is about a 50/50 propostion after 10-15 years.  But they can't tell me what to expect anymore.  I guess I'll help them tell the next person what to expect.