It occurred to me that if I was going to be spouting off about kidneys all the time like this, it might be a good idea to become semi-legit. So I sent in an application and donation to the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois, and in return the foundation sent me a spiffy silver medic alert bracelet with a red hexagon in the center and that snake wrapped around a stick, so in case I get bonked on the head or become otherwise unable to communicate everybody around me will know I'm not what you'd call 100 percent healthy.
On the back of the bracelet there's room for five tiny lines of engraved text. I consulted with my AWWOE (Angel Who Walks On Earth), DaVita dialysis nurse Diane King, to determine what those lines should say.
We agreed upon my name (although I probably could have figured that out on my own);
the name of my nephrologist (though his full name, Abdel-Moneim Attia, is too long to fit on one line so we decided to shorten it to
Dr. Abdel Attia
I hope they can find him in a pinch);
his phone number, unnecessary here;
and my only known allergy.
I now have four bracelets on my right wrist. I'm starting to feel like a Jamaican. In addition to the new silver lifesaver, I have the brown beaded bracelet with the butterfly in the center that our 10-year-old, Madison, made for me early in our relationship. I can't imagine taking that off anytime soon; maybe when she gets married. And yes, real men can wear butterflies.
Then there's the bright blue-and-green rubber bracelet I wear from AFSP, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (http://www.afsp.org). It's a cause I support and a bracelet I wear on behalf of Jake Kaidan, a beautiful and engaging teen who took his own life four years ago, devastating his mother and my dear friend Lisa Johnson and her husband, Frank. I don't think there's anything that affects me more deeply or intensely than teen suicide. What an incredibly tragic waste.
And there's the simple green plastic strand I wear because Madison thought it matched the color of the AFSP band. I use it to remind me to stay green (I'm a committed – some might say fanatical – recycler) and to make more green stuff any way I can. Wouldn't it be funny if emergency medical people couldn't find the medic alert bracelet amid all the other bangles?
Hey, wait! That wouldn't be funny at all!