(The following happened at a different transplant center. I have since moved my care to another facility. There were a number of reasons why I moved from the other facility. This was not one of them.)
On April 30, 2008 I had my first liver consultation. I met with the transplant coordinator and she started out my day by taking me to meet various people who would be involved in my treatment. I had a weigh in and a nurse took my blood pressure and pulse. Then we talked with the Transplant Coordinator and she walked us through the pre-liver transplant guide. Then I had a consultation with a dietitian and met with one of the surgeons that was on the transplant team.
The first thing I noticed about him was that he seemed very cold and removed. He had a manner that said I don't want to be here but this is my job. He came in the room and looked at me and my wife and introduced himself. And then he went back to his clipboard like that was somehow more important to him than actually looking us in the eye and talking. My first impression was shattered. I guess I was hoping for a little sensitivity and compassion from him like we had gotten from the first doctor we had met a month ago. Instead he finished reviewing my chart and looked at me without really looking at me. He said, "Well you're dying and you need a new liver. That's why you are here. So here's what we need to do..."
I felt the sting first. And then the watery eyes. But I did my best to hold them back until he left the room. I was not going to cry in front of this SOB.
I did not hear anything else that he had to say. All I heard was his voice echoing in my head, "You're dying."
I was spellbound. I already knew that I needed a liver transplant. But I had not yet heard the words death or dying. And if I had, they had not been presented to me like this before. Certainly not in a manner that seemed so cold and unsympathetic. I was devastated.
Everything I had ever known or believed had changed. Nothing in my life would ever be the same. I cannot explain that feeling to you. There is no way for me to describe it.
Unless perhaps you can imagine.
Imagine that you are standing on a long hallway carpet and at the very end stands another. The Other reaches down and jerks the carpet out from under you and you go sailing. Turning. Flipping. Stumbling. End over end you go. Flailing. Clawing. Crashing. Months go by and you are still out there spinning. The fall is almost over. Still...everything you knew has changed. You've redefined life and death. You've measured and weighed things. Your perspectives have changed. This is wasted. This is precious. Slowly you gather yourself up and move on. Somehow you are still in one piece. This was how I felt.
Tomorrow I am meeting with new doctors. A new team. This will be my third round of doctors since last March. I think of that one visit from time to time and I get a little mad. I get angry that this man seemed so insensitive. And maybe he wasn't trying to be at all. But I am looking forward to meeting these new doctors now that all the cards are out on the table.