Contemplating my navel here at lunchtime is probably not a great idea. But try to stop me.
I'm so old most of my friends have been around for forty years or more.
We're all circling the drain in various stages of decay on either side
of sixty. What I find most interesting is that the quality of our
individual lifestyles doesn't seem to have as much effect on our health
as you might hope.
For example, one of my good friends
has been athletic all his life. He was elected MVP of his high school
football team, the year they won the state championship. He continued
to play sports, work out, stay in shape and take care of himself. Deep
into his forties, he was the perennial 75-yard dash champion at his
town's Fourth of July Races. Every year he beat dozens of hot dog, mustard, and beer bellied celebrants
eighteen and over.
Several years ago, because he was so athletic, his enlarged heart muscle was misdiagnosed as an athlete's heart.
Some athletes have a heart that's larger and more powerful. It helps
explain why they can run farther, faster, and longer. But he was
getting slower and short of breath. Finally someone realized his heart
wasn't bigger and stronger -- it was enlarged because it was sick and
getting sicker. Ironically he had a hereditary disease which should
have been discovered at least two years before it had progressed so far.
Now DNA testing can prevent what he has had to go through.
After a year's wait, he got a new heart over Thanksgiving a few
years ago. If you ever have a friend on a transplant list, you may hear
the term DONOR WEEKENDS. That charming phrase refers to the long
holidays when highway deaths are more plentiful than usual, and more
organs become available. During the year we were waiting, our barbecues
togethers began to take on the feel of a death watch, checking the news
as often as we checked the sports scores for people who died from head
He doesn't know whose heart he got -- just that it was the heart of a
28-year-old man, but I remember reading about a young couple from
Illinois who had been killed on their way home from a vacation trip.
I have heard anecdotes about people with donor organs assuming some of
the characteristics of the persons whose organs they have received. Just
recently some Scandanvaian guy got a woman's kidney and started doing
housework and knitting.
asked my friend a few months later if he had noticed any new cravings or
strange desires to do anything. At that point there was nothing.
It's been awhile since we talked about it. Last Saturday, we got
together for a hamburger at a favorite old hangout with a trip to Dairy
Queen afterward and I asked him again. He laughed and said
he's really started to like gospel music these days.
Over the weekend there was a serial killer here that committed suicide
in his cell. His family wanted to salvage something from his
terrible life by donating his organs, but no one wanted them.
I honestly wondered if the rejection was because somehow his evil
spirit might be infused in the cell structure of his body parts and
affect the recipient. I also have enough ESP to scare myself -- really
-- so cut me some slack for that idea.
But it turns out that a prison lifestyle is so risky, he could have HIV
that just hadn't manifested itself yet -- that whole six month
incubation thing. So whoever got his organs would be at risk.
Meanwhile, I have a robust friend whose last exercise was opening the
mail, alcohol is one of his major food groups, and he never met a cigar
he didn't light.