Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Loving Life

So here we are at the end of time.... again. I am writing this blog post in anticipation of the end of the world: December 21, 2012.

In my lifetime I have survived three official "End of Time" events and I am sure, many unofficial calls that I obviously didn't pay much attention to until last year when a man (Harold Camping?) predicted the end May 22, 2011, but the end failed to appear. This was his second such prediction. I feel sad that he isn't very good at predicting and hope he secures other work, and yet find myself quite happy he was wrong.

This predicting of the end of the world must be a lot like the housing market; just when you think it can't go any lower... boom, there it is. Another end of the world.

As I mentioned earlier, I have survived three doomsdays, hopefully four after the 21st, and feel the need to talk about these false starts or more accurately, false stops stopping.

March 10, 1982 - The Jupiter Effect

I must admit, at the time this prediction came to light, I was busy being a newlywed and a college student and I remember being horribly uninformed while I attended college. Once on a visit home, we heard Gerard's younger brother talking about a war going on and we both said "what war?" We had no idea Argentina and England were warring over the Falkland Islands for 74 days. After that embarrassing incident, I became addicted to CNN Headline News.

On March 10th, my husband and I celebrated our 5 month anniversary (we didn't really celebrate our monthly anniversaries because we were busy getting an education ;). Anyway... The Jupiter Effect is the rare instance when all the planets end up on the same side of the sun. This event would then cause catastrophic natural disasters which would put an end to all the goings on here on earth.

The Falklands Conflict began on Friday, April 2, 1982. I don't know for sure but maybe someone was feeling a little pissy about selling his Grateful Dead collectibles so he could go on a drinking binge to drown out the end and woke up April 1st feeling like a fool. This might get him to thinking, "I'm going to get the Falklands back!" Like the end of the world, wars don't always make sense.

January 1, 2000 - Y2k

Yes, I ask myself this question often. Why K2? And then I remember that was the name for the ski company on Vashon Island and I go to wondering how many people commute on the ferry from the Seattle area to Vashon...  and are they still in business... and are there skiing opportunities on K2... Hi. My name is Darcy Cline and I am a research addict. I LOVE RESEARCH!

Okay, settle, settle. Y2k was a dumb theory that when all the clocks turned over to 2000, it would all go wrong because the sad guy setting up computer time blah blah blah was working under a little black cloud and didn't see a future, so he set all the timers to end at 1999. (I didn't research this, but I think it went just like I said.)

So everyone, (scientists and everybody with math like calculus and triggermonetary believed this?) expected that stuff would blow up and the world would end like one giant New Years Eve celebration gone awry, where Dick Clark's famous ball falls off and rolls around Times Square killing all people everywhere. I should write horror.

Nothing happened. Moving on... (85% of the 200 employees commuted from Seattle area, K2 moved manufacturing from Vashon Island to China in 2001, closest ski resort is 175 miles away from K2)

June 6, 2006 - The Antichrist Returns

Now the return of the Antichrist is something to fear. I know this. Two months ago I renewed my AAA membership and the representative issued me a number that had 666 in the middle of it and I thought that was just asking for roadside disasters. I asked if we could renew with our old membership number and she assured me I had to make due with the new evil number. (AAA, 666 - this is just asking for bad juju.)

A week later the cards show up and I refused to hand them to my kids and say "happy driving... oh, and beware the Antichrist!" I put them all back in the envelope and let them sit on the counter while I stewed about the evil number. A day or so later, a representative from AAA called and asked how our service was upon renewal. She was an angel, I tell you.  I explained my misgivings over the stupid number on the card and she was the all-helpful, smile-voiced angel of mercy who eliminated the evil number and reinstated our old membership with a flap of her snowy white wings. Good wins out over evil.

Having just said that, I can't remember this date coming or going. That could be due to the fact that during that time I was anemic and can't remember many things because my blood wasn't strong enough to send oxygen to my brain. George W. Bush was president then... it's best we put this behind us.

Well, here I am at the almost end. We have one more end of time prediction to contemplate. (Yes, I couldn't resist publishing this on 12/12/12 at 12:12 am. I am still here for those who thought it would happen now.)

December 21, 2012 - End of the Mayan Calendar

A Beautiful Mayan Calendar - I might have ended time way
sooner than the Mayans if I had to draw up one of these.
I have less faith in this prediction simply because an ancient culture failed to buy a new calendar for the next 5000 years. Yes, I do believe it was lack of foresight on their part but we have to consider they might not have known what they were doing, hence their mysterious cultural and environmental collapse around AD 900-ish.

Granted, we haven't lived through this new and current end, but I have faith and hope that we will be running around from December 22nd to the 24th, cursing the doomsayers, buying all those gifts we didn't buy when Christmas was getting hijacked by the hourglass, and overjoyed at finally having a valid reason for postponing the shopping.

I am happy to report, we have all our Christmas shopping done for the first time in... probably ever and we paid cash for everything. GO US! I still have gifts to make and that cannot be postponed. The future is coming and I am looking forward to celebrating the holidays with my family as I wish hope and joy to  all of you to experience each day as the world continues to spin.


My Calendar Design for Winter Quarter - Simple
P.S. 3797 is suspected as being another end of time date and I really don't have much interest in this date since I plan on living less than 150 years... that gives me about 98 years which would put me in La La Land or 2110, which is probably a number freak's next special date.

Nostradamus has predicted many things and is known as a prophet and philosopher. His prophecies stop abruptly at 3797. Well now that could mean many things... (If I stop chewing gum... does that signify I stopped abruptly or with great meaning?) I suspect it was a bit like the Mayan calendar... maybe he retired to write romance novels and knit scarves... just saying.

If you are interested in more research, here is an interesting website that has listed the most number of End Predictions I have seen. Get past the bad graphics and see a load of information that is very interesting, indeed:

Please take a moment to read Joanne's story in my previous post, A Kinder Kidney.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Kinder Kidney

I wonder what it would be like to wait for someone to die, so I could live.  And to possess the knowledge that someone else waiting on the list, was also wishing, holding their breath... and in a better place in line. I could see this battle waging in my head in which I let slip a little thought or prayer to God or the Universe that the person ahead of me not make a good match. The idea that wishing for someone's misfortune, even for a split second, when I finally pay off a college loan, or after reaching a goal, or maybe while I am playing with a future grandchild and I send off a great need and yearning to be spared so I would have a chance to see this child grow, would cause a mountain of guilt in me.

My mom's best friend, Joanne, lives with this uncertainty every day. She has been on a kidney transplant waiting list for 3 years. She tells me "the wait can take up to six years... if you are lucky enough to survive until then."

Joanne's friends and family are working hard to bring awareness about becoming a live donor, because the transplant list is long and odds of surviving a transplant are higher with a live donor kidney, as opposed to waiting for a deceased donor organ.  I think most people might associate the phrase 'organ donation' with organs from someone who has just passed away. I know I did.

I have been an organ donor since I realized I could make that choice in the event of my untimely death. I have the little heart on my driver's license. I like having it there, but it wasn't the department of licensing that made me aware of that option. It was my friend and coworker.

Ruth was the first person I had ever met who was on the kidney donor registry, as a live donor. She had no family members that needed a kidney. A friend hadn't convinced her to do it. She just did it because she wanted to help someone live. I think this the best gift... the unconditional gift of life.

And because I love statistics and research, I did a little digging:

According to the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) 
as of August 31, 2012:

There are currently 115,193 people waiting for lifesaving organ transplants in the U.S.
Of these, 93,148 await kidney transplants.
Last year, 16,812 kidney transplants took place in the U.S. Of these, 11,043 kidney transplants came from deceased donors and 5,769 came from living donors.

Joanne Prokop 2010
        My mom's friend Joanne Prokop has Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). She was diagnosed with PKD at the age of 30, after the birth of her third child. She was having trouble controlling her blood pressure so her doctor ordered an ultrasound, which confirmed the diagnosis.

At that time, her doctor advised living a healthy life. Joanne complied, taking medication and following the doctor's advice, managing her illness, but she has been unable to stop the progression of the disease.

Despite her commitment to healthy living, Joanne has progressed into stage 4 kidney disease.  Her kidneys are no longer functioning properly and are estimated to weigh about 20 pounds each.

"A normal kidney is the size of a human fist and weighs about a third of a pound. However, with the presence of PKD, cysts develop in both kidneys. When many cysts develop, the kidneys can increase in both size and weight, sometimes weighing many pounds each.  There may be just a few cysts or many, and the cysts may range in size from a pinhead to the size of a grapefruit." - PKD Foundation.

At 54 years of age, her disease is catching up with her, which is why she is eager to get the information out to as many people as possible, because as more donors step forward, more lives will be saved.

I am sure there are hundreds of thousands of family and friends of the people on the transplant waiting list that feel the same way I do. They want their loved ones to live.

Joanne is a wonderful person and I know I don't want to think of what life would be like without her, but we can't help worry.

In writing this post, I don't expect everyone to jump up and come to the rescue... although that would be nice. I feel compelled to do something. I can't donate my kidney because of health issues, but I can write a blog and put a thought out there and bring more awareness to live organ donation.

While talking to my best friend about this, she informed me that she and her daughter were talking about my upcoming blog topic and now her daughter is very interested in the idea of being a kidney donor. I love it that she is thinking about it! My blog caused two people to talk about it and then maybe one of them talked to their husband and maybe he talked to someone else about what his wife was considering.

I believe it doesn't matter how we help, what matters is that we help... in any way that makes sense to each of us.

So if you are thinking about this and about people like Joanne, I am happy.

And because I love research, here are more statistics, as daunting as they are to read, I think it is important to be informed.

According to the NFK, on average:
Nearly 3,000 new patients are added to the kidney waiting list each month.
13 people die each day while waiting for a life-saving transplant
Every 10 minutes someone is added to the transplant list
Last year, 4,903 patients died while waiting for a kidney transplant.
Acceptable organ donors can range in age from newborn to 65 years or more.

I know this doesn't have a great deal to do with art, but it has everything to do with life.

For information about kidney disease, visit these informative organizations:

The program Joanne is enrolled in:
Virginia Mason Hospital & Medical Center, Seattle | Seattle's Top Doctors are at Virginia Mason

For information about becoming a donor:

These are just a few of links available to find information. Google "kidney disease" to find a wealth of information about PKD and "becoming an organ donor" to access organ donor programs.