His Name Was Ed
The first time I went to Omaha, Nebraska, it was October of 1994. It has since become like a second home, it bears that sort of feeling.
But that first time, I was there because I was in liver failure. I was twelve years-old and my parents had exhausted options in our home state of Florida.
This was an era before Internet; fax machines were the hot technology. The information and support available to patients and families was limited. Being as we were so far from home, we stayed in a sort of group home offered as a patient resource. It was a converted Victorian-era home called “The Potter House”, where families from out-of-state could stay more affordably than a hotel for extended visits. We were in room six, on the second floor. Our room had a lovely sitting area, a sunroom of sorts, that was ideal for reading. It overlooked the quiet neighborhood about two miles west of downtown, which is now known as the Blackstone area.
I was being evaluated as a candidate for a liver transplant. This process can be lengthy, requiring all sorts of tests before learning whether one will “qualify”, for lack of a better term, for the national waiting list. And, once a person is listed, there is no guarantee that they will receive the organ they need. Life on the waiting list is precarious, but that’s another story for a different day.
The idea of a liver transplant was terrifying, as in the early nineties, it was still kind of a new thing. There was a support group and some books available, but I was unclear about what my future would entail, should I receive a new liver. Would I be able to attend school or play sports? I was at that time very sick and home/wheelchair bound, so all my hope was to be a “normal” kid again.
Then I met a man named Ed. To this day I don’t know his full name or really any details about him. I just remember coming downstairs to breakfast, gathering in the communal kitchen; I watched Ed lace up his shoes and sprint out the door, going for a run.
Ed had very recently undergone a liver transplant. And he was out for a run. I was fascinated.
“What advice can you give me?” I implored, incredulous, to this man that was a picture of health.
He smiled and considered my question. He replied: “it’s gonna be hard, it’s gonna hurt, but you gotta push through it.”
I was floored. In that moment he became a sort of enigma, embodiment of a muse.
Nearly 25 years have passed and I have thought of Ed’s advice every day. It was simple advice, but he represented the very torch of hope to me.
In many instances, his advice has gotten me through the day.
I don’t know what became of Ed, but I am still here. His advice helped me navigate and recover from two liver transplants, one on April 16, 1995 and another on August 5, 2011. His advice taught me how to be a good patient, because that in itself is a difficult prospect at times.
Ed will never know what he did for me that day. It’s amazing that we can touch another person’s life without ever knowing it.