When I got out of the military I spent three months on a beach in Costa Rica. This was my way of reintegrating into society, even though I spent the majority of that time drinking rum by myself waist deep in the water. My initial thought was to stay there forever, but eventually calmer (more sober) heads prevailed and I realized I needed to do something with my life, I needed a next objective to work toward.
After thinking about it for awhile, I decided to apply to a few colleges and see where I got in. So, a couple of days per week, I’d stay sober (ish) and drive into town to use the internet. I chose the University of Memphis. I decided to move there sight unseen. I found a small studio apartment in Midtown that I could afford, not knowing where my next paycheck would come from. I packed up my Hacienda, my belongings that fit into one backpack, strapped my surfboards to the top of my Land Rover, threw my golf clubs in the trunk, and drove North toward San Jose and the airport.
A few days later, I was in a place that felt more foreign to me than the countries I’d been visiting for the last six and a half years. I got my Blazer out of storage and drove toward Memphis. Along the way, I bought a futon, a computer, the basic kitchen essentials (one pot, one skillet, one plate, and some utensils), eight hundred dollars worth of books for the semester, and finally got settled into my four hundred and fifty square foot home. Class started the next day at eight in the morning.
A year later I was surviving, but just barely. I spent a lot of my free time playing golf by myself. It was one of the few things keeping my sanity intact. The golf course across the street from my apartment was named The Links at Overton Park, and it was a tiny nine-holer in the middle of the city. Along the side of hole number eight, there was about a hundred and seventy yards of practice area (lining Poplar Avenue). I used to go out there almost every morning, rain or shine. After a couple days of particularly brutal weather (for Memphis), I noticed the same guy, also out in the morning during the cold and the rain, so I went over and said hello. That was the day I met Scott.
We became instant friends and planned to play golf together later that week. The weather was still cold and rainy, but by the turn, neither of us wanted to be the one to call it since it was our first time, so we kept going.
A few days later, Scott was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia. I should mention here that he makes his living as the Principal Trumpet in the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.
That didn’t deter our friendship, however, and we continued to hang out. He took me around to all of the golf courses in the area. We played all of the golf. We’d sit out on his porch and drink mojitos, or change the grips on our golf clubs, or just sit and talk. We became each other’s best friend, and his fiance even used to joke that he and I were soulmates. Thanks again, Susan, for sharing him.
Scott has the type of personality that sucks you in immediately. He’s jovial, sarcastic, hilarious, and a genuinely good human. If he likes you, you’ll know it immediately, and I assume if he doesn’t, you’ll know that too. He’ll tell you the truth, even when you don’t want to hear it, because he is that good of a friend.
However, change happens in our lives. I moved away from Memphis in the summer of 2013 in order to go to law school. I remember standing out in front of my apartment with Scott after he helped me load the U-haul. We hugged, and we cried.
When I left Memphis, something amazing happened: Scott, Brandon, and I created a Facebook Messenger thread that eventually became named Philosophical Life S**t. This thread has been active every single day (minus when we meet up for buddy trips, or travel to each other’s cities), for almost five years. We talk about everything from politics, our personal lives, hopes, dreams, golf thoughts, aspirations, how to add downward pressure to my Burr hand grinder to minimize grinding time, everything. We discuss everything. Through this thread, not only has Scott and I’s friendship deepened, but Brandon and I have also become best friends.
In December of 2015, I traveled with the woman who would become my wife and some of her family to Memphis for the St. Jude Marathon. While visiting Scott gave us tickets to see him perform at the Nutcracker. After the show, we were standing outside and Scott told me he’d been diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy, an autoimmune disease that hinders the ability of kidneys to filter waste from the blood. Scott is one of the unlucky ones whom the disease resulted in end-stage kidney failure.
On May 16th, Scott had his first dialysis treatment while inpatient, and on May 18th, he had his second as an outpatient. Scott now gets dialysis three times every week. He hasn’t lost his sense of humor, though.
Scott has been told he needs a kidney transplant. Dialysis is a temporary fix. The process of getting on the donor list can be long and tedious, but in true Scott fashion, he found himself on the list, just a week and a half after the first meeting with the transplant team. Once you find yourself on the organ donor list, the process doesn’t get any easier. According to kidney.org, it can take three to five years to receive a donor kidney, and in Scott’s case dialysis is only a viable option for the next three years. Luckily there are other options.
June 6th is a hard day for me. Eleven years ago, I couldn’t save one of my brothers in Afghanistan. It is also the day of the D-Day invasion during WWII. It is the single day in my life that haunts me more than any other. This year, however something else happened on that day. This year I received the Living Donor Kit from Methodist Hospital Transplant in Memphis. Of the people who volunteered to be a living donor to Scott, the transplant team selected me to be the first tested, so I went to LabCorp and had the vials of blood drawn. Now, we’re waiting anxiously to get the results to see if I’m a match.
Due to insurance and cost-effectiveness, transplant only tests one potential living donor at a time. Luckily, however, even if I am not a direct match for Scott, there are still ways to help. There’s a Paired Exchange Donation program. To sum it up, they’ll trade my kidney that isn’t viable for Scott with another living donor kidney that isn’t viable for their recipient. Both patients will get a matched kidney from a living donor. If it turns out, I don’t qualify as either candidate, the transplant team will move on to testing the next willing living donor that seems like the best potential match. So I ask of everyone reading this, please, even if it isn’t for Scott (though I hope it will be) go out and donate. Take the time to find out if you can save a life.
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