Michelson Kidney Blog, July 2020-December 2022


What follows are periodic updates on my progress from transplant on June 24, 2020 to December 31, 2022, when it was pretty obvious that I was going to survive with spectacular kidney numbers (now at .88 for the creatinine, 16 for the BUN, and 88 for the GFR), much to the disappointment of my readers. I have also noted that the verbosity of the blog seems to have increased with the passage of time, which might be a sign of recovered vitality and concomitant loss of consideration for others. Sorry about that. Obviously it's time to bring this blog to a peaceful conclusion.

In what follows, I have done some edits since there were inevitable overlaps in reporting, or just plain and simple TMI. Bonum Lectio! And thanks for your indulgence.


I was originally a candidate for a kidney transplant from a donor beginning in 2018, and even initially scheduled for a transplant in Ft. Wayne on November 5, but complications in the program at Lutheran Hospital, Ft. Wayne, eventually led to my being transferred to St. Vincent's Hospital in Indianapolis in January 2020. After a number of unexpected further delays primarily connected with hospitals in Indiana closing down surgeries because of COVID-19, I was finally scheduled for a kidney transplant on June 24 at St. Vincent's. Coincidentally June 24 was also the somewhat mysterious Noapte de Sânziene (Romanians will know what that means.) Both my donor (youngest son Paco) and myself came through the surgery well and my new only slightly used kidney started functioning beautifully and prolifically immediately. I was released on June 27, but had to go back in on July 6 to repair some herniated tissue near the main incision. This also went well and headed off any further complications from a hernia later...which would have been bad. I had difficulties getting in and out of bed early on which further stressed the incision. Part of the problem was that two days before the transplant, I injured the anterior deltoid muscle in my right shoulder which in effect left me one-armed and the less dominant arm at that. This was remedied by getting a mechanically adjustable bed, which allowed me to get almost vertical before rolling out of bed.

July 24 is now four weeks since the surgery. The incision is now completely closed and no longer leaks, seeps, or anything else, and does not hurt when I cough or bend over. The mechanical bed continues to facilitate egress and ingress from bed, for which I am grateful. The bulge on the right side where the new kidney was inserted has gone down to the point that I am now symmetrical on left and right. (BTW, the old kidneys are not removed; they will just atrophy away.) I like my doctors very much and am pleased with how smoothly St. Vincent's Transplant team works. The usual drill is to visit Indianapolis Mondays and Thursdays for the first several weeks, but a COVID19 benefit is that they were able to arrange for Thursday's blood draw to be done at Huntington Parkview Hospital and if there needs to be discussion of the results we can do this via video conferencing which has become commonplace to avoid COVID issues. This saves us one trip weekly to Indy, although at 90 minutes the drive isn't excessive. My fourth week visit with the doctors in Indianapolis was on Monday, July 20. The surgeons seemed pleased with how things looked and that basically I was back on schedule despite the second surgery. My numbers are good and the kidney functions at 4 weeks are where they hoped they'ed be at the end of 8 weeks. (For those who know what this means: my creatinine level is below 1.0 and the BUN is in normal ranges.)

I am eating a lot of stuff previously verboten (think nuts, cheese, TexMex and black beans), and seem to be tolerating the immunosuppressant drugs. I still lack energy by evening, but this is partly due to the presence of the anaesthetics in my system that will take some time to clear and party to my shoulder injury. This is gradually getting better (I can now eat with my right hand without noticing) and has a positive knock on effect that I am not at all tempted to lift more that 5 pounds which is my limit until the incisions heal up completely. As a result of the shoulder injury, I also now have a lot more sympathy for one-armed people. I am taking several long walks each day and enjoy the fact that in small town Huntington, one can actually walk several blocks without meeting anybody and needing to mask.

However, in the final analysis, all of this progress would not be possible without the loving and excessive caregiving of my Jean, who is also the family pharmacist (Jean: “Here take these pills.” Me: “Really? All of these?”) and dietician (as in: Jean: “OK, you've had enough of that. Eat more of this.”) I frankly don't think things would go very well without such a competent and unflappable caregiver (not to mention driver since I won't be allowed to drive for a while yet).

And I am grateful to my family for their loving support, starting with my youngest son, Paco AKA Paul-Philip who was the donor (and is recovering nicely, already is allowed to drive, and has his next check up in six weeks) as well as my brother and my other son who also volunteered to be donors. (A nice fringe benefit is that we see Paco, his wife, and grandson Lowynn more frequently than anyone else since they are on the same quarantine regime as we are). The others—my siblings and our Nashville family— have been constant in keeping in touch, making special trips here to help, and so forth. Thanks guys. The same can be said about the people at College Park Church and Huntington University. Our Sunday School class has been especially close and encouraging.

I now realize that the actual surgery and post op were the easy part and that the following weeks will have ups and downs and will be a bit more of of a slog, but there is light at the end of the tunnel that isn't an approaching train. I will be semi-isolated until Christmas, especially because of the current COVID crisis, and won't be able to fly until sometime next year, but can get around and will return to a healthier new normal than prior to June 24. To all of my friends and colleagues, at home and abroad, especially those in Romania, I am grateful for your concern and support. Soli Deo Gloria.


I had the 5th week+ checkup on Monday, 3 August. I had the stent removed and half of my staples. The rest will go next week. When they allow me to drive, I will know that I have gone over the required hurdles. My blood pressure is normal and stable; ditto my temperature and weight. The new kidney continues to function admirably and my creatinine level hovers around 1.0, which is excellent. The weather is exceptional for July/August so I am able to walk between three and four miles a day. A fringe benefit of living in small town Huntington (pop. 16,000) is that I can walk for a couple of miles in the morning and a couple more at night and not encounter anyone, thus maintaining my semi-quarantine. My injured right arm is improving day to day, and for some functions (like eating) I can use it without any appreciable discomfort. All in all, I am doing well. Thanks be to God. And thanks to you for your support.


I had the 6th week+ checkup on Monday, 11 August, at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. The rest of the staples were removed successfully. Because of the healing herniated tissue, I will still have to be cautious about lifting and too much strenuous activity, but I can now bathe normally, I have clearance to drive a car, and feel better every day. My right should (the torn anterior deltoid) continues to be a problem, but helps me avoid lifting too much. The mechanical bed is a God-send.

Late summer is gorgeous and our flowers are in full bloom. I have upped the ante on walking and now do around three miles + (about 5 km) every day. Small town Huntington is great for walking because most streets are tree-lined and one usually doesn't meet anybody en route. Because my immune system is suppressed, I have to avoid direct sunlight, so I have SPF shirts and sleeves to cover my arms and a hat to cover my head and neck. Skin cancer is the Nr. 2 problem for kidney transplantees (following Nr. 1: rejection of the transplant), so I have to keep covered up and have a yearly dermatology exam to check for cancerous growths. I have never been very sensitive to sunlight, so I am hoping this aspect will go well, but with a suppressed immune system, ones biochemistry changes dramatically.



We went to Indianapolis for the 7th week checkup on August 17, and the doctors were pleased with how the transplant is thriving. My blood sugar is up, mainly as a known side effect of the immunosuppressant drugs. The doctor isn't alarmed by this, but did suggest some dietary minimization of carbohydrates, a little weight loss, and a discussion with an endocrinologist.

The big news this time is that starting next week, we will go to Indy only every other week. Secondly, we will be doing only one weekly blood draw instead of two, and I can do this at our local Parkview hospital. Our next Indy visit will be August 31, which is a critical checkpoint in the recovery process.

I still have minimal use of my right arm and found that healing of a torn deltoid can take 4 months or more. The arm is getting better.

I continue to walk more that 3 ½ miles a day, which I actually enjoy.


We went to Indy on August 31 for the ninth week check. My creatinine numbers are holding steady around 1.0, which is good, and my blood sugar number has come down: not quite normal, but close. Although I need to continue to monitor liquid intake (which must be at least 3 liters a day), I no longer have to capture and measure the liquids output, which is obviously more convenient. They adjusted downward this week one of the immunosuppressant drugs, so we are getting there. The doctors seem pleased with how things are going and I have more energy every day. This is a sign that the anaesthetics are clearing from my system. The goal is to release me to the care of my local nephrologist around mid-December, and we seem well on target.

The new routine is now established: Alternate Mondays we go to Indianapolis for blood tests and clinic with the doctors. I also have an excellent transplant coordinator who is quite reachable by eMail and responds quickly. The other Monday I go to Huntington Parkview for the blood tests, which obviously is much more convenient and quicker than Indianapolis. In fact, I usually am in and out in less than half an hour and it's another five minutes back home. We only do once weekly blood tests.

Interesting factoid: I had imagined that the immunosuppressant drugs permanently suppressed your immune system, but that is not the case. In addition, your immune system includes T-cells and B-cells, which I don't think are affected by immunosuppressants. The point is to adjust the immunosuppressants to keep the donated kidney from being rejected, but low enough so that your own immune system can resume partial function without harming the transplant. Until that point—which is projected for December—I will continue to avoid or minimize public exposure, but am allowed, for example, to go to Costco where the aisles are wide enough and everyone seems to be masked so that social contact is quite minimized. I'm not crazy about shopping as such (so this isn't much of a restriction), but do like to see what Costco has on offer from time to time. Easting out is problematic, but most restaurants now have carry out, so if I really want something exotic we can order it. More of a problem: can't yet visit any of my favorite book stores! Despair! Misery! Woe! But I'm finding plenty on Amazon, Exlibris, and ABE to keep me amused….and broke.

I am now free of most other restrictions, except lifting, which I can't do much of anyway because of the torn deltoid, which is getting noticeably better as time passes. (This will take several more months to heal.) Tomorrow I will drive Jean home from a visit to the orthopedist, which will be a first, though I have been allowed to drive as necessary for a couple of weeks now. Since I don't go out much except for walking, this hasn't been a temptation.

Waking continues to be a pleasure. The past week I was over 3.3 miles every day and two days was over 4.4 miles. I am enjoying looking at the varied architecture of Huntington around our neighborhood. Nothing as interesting as Romanian cities, of course (at least those that Ceaușescu didn't vandalize), but worth looking at anyway. And, contrary to prevailing mythology, no two houses in a couple mile radius of ours are identical. (By the way, I find both tiresome and ignorant the complaint of urbanites that small towns have cookie cutter houses: just how much variety is there in the layout of urban apartment buildings, other than the penthouses or dwellings of very wealthy people? Just more snobbishness and misplaced elitism. NB Joseph Epstein has an excellent book entitled Snobbery: The American Version [2002], which punctures a lot of pretentiousness.)

Pardon the rant. (And remember, you don't have to read this if you don't want to. And after all, this is my blog. If you don't like it, go write your own.) This testiness must be sign that I am recuperating enough to regain some of my customary cantankerousness and all round irascibility. That's progress in excess I would venture. However, dear friends, this grouchiness does not extend to you and your many kindnesses. I promise to listen to more Bob and Ray humor selections on Apple Music, which might alleviate the situation...or not.


The good news is that as of October, I have graduated with honors. (OK, I made that last part up.) I have completed the first half of my recuperation period (three months) and the doctors say my numbers are good and consistent and, therefore, I move to a less restrictive regime of treatment. My creatinine hovers around 1.0, which is excellent and means the new kidney continues to function very well.

I will miss the frequent hospital visits, however, since being asked several times on each visit for my name and birth date has helped me get these items firmly affixed in my aging memory (I have a nearly 90% accuracy rate on the responses: how about that?) (OK, I made that up, too. I don't really remember my accuracy rate. Ha, ha.) What I do remember is that my right arm is still healing, which will continue into the new year. It is noticeably improved each week, which obviously is encouraging, not to mention that I can use it more and more without flinching.

For the next three months (October-November-December), we go to Indianapolis only once a month for labs/blood draw and consultation, and do a once a month blood draw locally. So that means a total of two hospital visits a month for the last half of the regimen and fewer opportunities to get up at 4:30 to drive to Indy, which both Jean (my trusty driver) and I much appreciate. (I can drive, but Jean prefers that she drive to Indy because if we were in an accident on the interstate, the air bag blowing out of the steering wheel would hit me right in the ole transplant.) My treatment drugs seem to have stabilized and I have been taken off of the transplant diet and returned to the normal diet for people my age (good bye unlimited steaks: the regular diet “suggests” red meat only twice a week). I will have to watch calories and carbs as I now need to lose a few pounds and bring my blood sugar down. This means additional record keeping. (I will be consulting an endocrinologist on the blood sugar this month.)

As far as record keeping (and other matters), I need to express my deep appreciation and thanks for my home dialysis training with Davita. They were very careful to stress the importance of keeping a daily (practically hourly) log. They also emphasized (long before COVID19) the need to carefully wash hands in antibacterial soap, taught me the 20 second rule, and drummed into us the need to maintain sterile surroundings (disinfecting countertops, sinks, bathtubs, faucets, and shower heads). As a result, it was a breeze to adapt to the kidney transplant log keeping and disinfection routines, not to mention all the PPE that we have on hand left over from home dialysis, including a high quality scale and blood pressure monitor. My appreciation and thanks to Renee and the others at Davita Ft. Wayne, from the receptionist to the nurses and staff: you done good (as a colleague of mine used to say).

I am continuing to get the walking in: for the last three weeks, I have been walking between a minimum of 3.5 miles, but mostly 4 miles + a day. Fall has fallen, so it's getting a bit chilly early mornings and late evenings when I usually walk (so I don't have to worry about sun exposure), but so far it hasn't been unpleasant. However, we'll see come November and December how things are, when I will either have to walk inside or venture out during the day well-covered against the sun (remember, skin cancer is, after transplant rejection, the biggest problem for transplantees. BTW, I also had my first visit to the dermatologist to get an initial skin cancer check which was all clear. I will have to do this at least yearly).

Another Big Step Forward for me is after consultation with a neurologist, I may have started a regime that will keep the plague of restless leg in check. Can't be sure yet, but I am over three months without many actual restless leg symptoms. Praise the Lord!

You will notice an amazing number of -ologists above. I may need a psychologist if this number keeps going up! (This reminds me of my uncle who studied psycho-ceramics at medical school. This, for those in the audience who missed it or just didn't care) is the study of how to deal with crackpots.)

OK, I guess that very bad, but the inclusion of a classic Michelson family joke may indicate that I am running out of things to say, so I'll conclude with asking you to keep those cards and eMails coming: I enjoy hearing from you and appreciate your encouragement.


Last week was the end of the fourth month since transplant and my visit at St. Vincent was excellent. My new (borrowed) kidney is functioning very well: creatinine level was below 1.0, which is first rate. My blood pressure is consistently in the 110/60 range, which is not only good, but maybe even slightly lower than they would prefer. They adjusted my medications accordingly. (Who knew that after decades of high blood pressure, which is what killed my kidneys in the first place, they would be mildly concerned with low blood pressure?)

My blood sugar is still a bit high, so they sent me to an endocrinologist who recommended a very low dosage of insulin daily. BTW: the insulin shot is completely painless, which is more than I can say for the twice daily finger sticks to monitor the blood sugar levels. The blood sugar readings are coming down after a week of treatment into normal ranges. So that's all to the good. Whether this is a permanent procedure or only temporary until my body gets used to the immunosuppressant drugs which are the main cause of this remains to be seen. I also had a visit this week to the oncologist as a followup to a slight marker detected in the run-up to my transplant at St. Vincent. The results were completely normal, so they will occasionally monitor it every six months or a year just to be on the safe side.

Two more months and I will complete the six month post-op monitoring and treatments. I have two more visits to Indianapolis, one in November and one in December and if all goes well, I will enter the more or less normal phase post-transplant. Under usual circumstances, at the end of December I would have been able to resume normal activities and diet (which was already begun last month), travel normally, and so forth. However, as you may or may not know (note the ironical tone here), we are not in normal times by any means. Because of COVID19, I will continue to avoid crowds, will restrict going out, will use PPE and require visitors in home to do the same, won't be able to fly, and all that because COVID19 is dangerous for people with compromised immune systems (that's me at the top of the list) and old geezers (me, again). Things will change when there is a COVID19 vaccine, but I will have to wait until it is validated as safe for kidney transplantees. My doctors were optimistic that come next fall, I might even be able to fly if the above happens, so I am getting my hopes up for a visit to Romania later next year unless things are once more closed down because of COVID19, vaccine or not.

A correction to a previous post, which indicated once the 6 month process was completed, I would be transferred back to a Ft. Wayne nephrologist. I will actually continue treatment permanently (i. e. forever) with St. Vincent, doing most of the blood draws in Huntington, but having a monitoring consult with them every few months. This suits me fine since we like the St. Vincent people and are confident in the level of care and expertise there.

BTW, my son AKA the donor is doing well. He also had a four month checkup and all is normal.

I want to take a moment here to thank those who volunteered to donate kidneys to me. All through this, I was never in the position of wondering how long it would take me to climb up the list to get an anonymous kidney donation (which in this area takes 3-5 years, and that is below the national average). I was on the list, of course, as a fallback position, but generous Christians and family were always there for me. I have to mention here Hannah from our church, bless her, who out of the blue offered to be considered, but for various reasons could not proceed. Then there was my brother, Joel, who was an almost perfect match (what else?), but turned out to have a kidney stone in the preferred transplant kidney. Subsequently, my oldest son, David, stepped up, was a good match, and went all the way through the months of testing until the last test, which although acceptable, was marginal and the doctor thought it might be too risky for him later on if he had kidney complications. He was rather disappointed, having already picked out reading matter to indulge in during recuperation. And obviously he had invested a lot of time in the testing process. Then my youngest (oops, and the only son left), Paul-Philip AKA Paco, leapt into the fray and we started the process all over. He proved to be a good match, and passed all of the tests, was told he needed to lose some weight, proceeded to lose forty pounds, and we were ready to go in September 2019. (And I still had one more volunteer donor, Bryce, standing in the wings if necessary. Thanks, Bryce, who was a former student but apparently didn't hold a grudge. Ha, ha?) I am deeply sincere that I can't thank enough all to my potential donors.

Let me urge all of you out there in the semi-real world to consider becoming a living organ donor, or at least have an organ donor provision in your Advanced Directives for your physicians and hospital. (You DO have a set of up-to-date Advanced Directives, don't you? If not, why not? It doesn't take long and might save a life.) Contrary to popular belief, kidney donors rather than than shortening their longevity, actually live longer than non-donors. So extend your life and someone else's at the same time. (OK, there are some risks that shouldn't be minimized, as with any surgery, but my two sons are much healthier as a result of going through the donor process than they might have been otherwise.)

However, after a few more glitches including a postponement following being scheduled for a transplant on November 5, 2019 (almost exactly a year ago), the untimely though temporary closing of Ft. Wayne Lutheran's program in January 2019, a timely transfer to St. Vincent Indianapolis (the top-ranked kidney transplant hospital in Indiana), assisted and facilitated by Ft. Wayne Lutheran, and finally the inopportune advent of COVID19 which shut down hospitals in Indiana from March to June 2020, we finally arrived at the big day, June 24, 2020 and got the job done at the expert hands of Drs Ghoneim, Cantafio, and Moiz working in side by side operating rooms, which meant that the time between removal of the transplant kidney from Paco and transfer to me was at a minimum. This was good because it meant that the kidney did not “go to sleep,” but started functioning almost as soon as it was hooked up. (A kidney donation from a deceased donor usually means that the kidney does go to sleep, which can result in complications.)

And here we are, four months+ down the pathway to what looks like it will be, Deo Volente, a highly successful conclusion to the transplant process. I have even driven by myself into Ft. Wayne to the oncology office, so Jean is beginning to get some relief as 24 hour caregiver. Who knows? One day I may be able to take care of myself (mostly). Our 53 year plus partnership continues, for which I am grateful.

Fall has fallen, which is going to make my daily walking sometimes problematic when it rains or snows. I have been out in 32° F/0° celsius bundled up and have kept pretty warm, so when its good weather but only cold, I should be all right. The leaves were pretty good this fall, but with freezing weather at night, alas, are almost all gone.

You will have been happy to note that I have refrained from even alluding to you-know-what coming up in November until now...and I intend to keep it that way. Don't ask.

To all of you who have persevered this far, thanks for eMails, cards, calls, and other ways of sending your good wishes. We appreciate it.


Actually I am now just couple of weeks away from my Sixth Month update, but nothing particularly spectacular happened between my November 3 visit to St. Vincent and my November 30 visit (which was the Fifth Month visit). My numbers at the end of November were pretty much as expected, my medications seem to have balanced out, and we continued to work on my blood sugar. Since then, I have lost a couple of pounds and have been watching calories and carbohydrates (look for this to go off the rails during the holidays). Things look good for my Sixth Month clinic, which is now scheduled for January 4. My injured right shoulder is healing: it functions about 80% these days. It gets better on a weekly basis.

To while away the time, I have compiled a listing of signs that might characterize a successful kidney transplant patient. You might find amusing the pdf of these “15 Signs of a Successful Kidney Transplantee.” (Or you may not, but you don't have to read it if you don't.)

In the meanwhile, we had a nice Thanksgiving, November 25-27, as David (and his family) came up from Nashville to celebrate at a slightly lesser distance with us than usual, and with our Ft. Wayne son, Paco (and his family) so that the Michelson clan could be together for the first time all COVID Year which started for us around my 75th birthday in mid-March (what a rotten birthday present. Of course, the transplant in June could be considered a delayed gift, so I'm not complaining). The Nashvillians stayed with the Ft. Waynians to avoid possibly spreading or contracting COVID19, but we met on the 25th at their church hall in Ft. Wayne, and the afternoon and evening of the 26th at our church gymnasium in Huntington. In both venues, nearly a dozen of us could maintain social distancing of 20-25 feet (7 meters) in fairly high-ceilinged spaces. We wore masks except when eating, but the susceptible old codgers, AKA the family patriarchs, were across the room from the rest of the clan. Ft. Wayne produced a marvelous Korean meal on the 25th and Huntington provided an American-style (more or less) meal on the 26th. A special treat was that our oldest grandson, Simeon, now attending university in California, was able to fly back for the holiday. A good time was had by all, with the usual Michelson argybargy. Despite the masking, distancing, and other precautions, we had a lot more fun than one would have suspected, though, of course, when nearly a dozen Michelsons get together in a single location, one shouldn't have been surprised that we had fun. We managed to keep the chaos down sufficiently that local law enforcement officers were not summoned by the neighbors, at least not to our knowledge. And, naturally, the star of the show was the youngest grandson, Lowynn.

The other event of note was that my last blood draw on December 14 was the first one in memory that showed every single category in normal ranges. My blood sugar is now where they want it, my creatinine is excellent at 1.15, and my BUN is at 21. And surprisingly, this fall I have not been hit by most of the usual seasonal afflictions: it's amazing how few colds, flu, and so forth one gets by just staying at home in isolation and minding ones own business. We'll see if we can keep this up, but overall this is pretty good news.

We are now in the midst of the Christmas season, which because of COVID19 is a little peculiar, but rewarding none the less. Since we are more or less healthy, we have revived a few family traditions that had been in abeyance for the last few years, which has been fun. In addition, we will be able to celebrate Christmas twice this year: once with our Ft. Wayne family on December 24-25; then again in January in Nashville, when we hope, Lord willing, the whole gang will be together (the socially distanced type of togetherness).

For now, we wish all of you a Blessed Christmas and a profitable COVID19-free new year. 2020 was tough, so it shouldn't be too difficult for 2021 to be better. On the other hand, certainly there were likely high points for all of us in 2020 if we care to ponder on it. There are those who are urging all of us to burn all our 2020 calendars. This might be going a little too far. In the end, we cannot ignore history; we need to learn from it.

This time of year also reminds us that we have much to be grateful for if we look at the Big Picture, as J. R. R. Tolkien suggests in the following excerpt from his 1936 poem, “Noel,” which he published in his old school annual, but which had been “lost” until recently:

'The world was blind
The boughs were bent
All ways and paths were wild.
Then the veil of cloud apart was rent
And here was born a Child….
The bells of Paradise now ring
With bells of Christendom
And Gloria, Gloria we will sing
That God on earth is come.”



The big day arrived on Monday, January 4, without incident. This was the critical sixth month checkup at St. Vincent. Under normal circumstances, following this I would be able to rejoin the human race. Under normal circumstances, but, as some of you may have noticed, we are not living under normal circumstances, so I will continue under a quarantine, albeit somewhat less restrictive. We left early for Indianapolis because of predictions of bad weather, but it was clear and above freezing, so we arrived 30 minutes early for the blood draw, even though for once we (I was driving) scrupulously adhered to the speed limit. The clinic visit was uneventful since all the blood numbers were as expected. My coordinator said my progress was the best of their current group and he wished he had as few problems with the others as with me. Still no word on when the vaccine will be available to transplantees, but once they get enough data on side effects and possible adverse reactions with various drugs they will be able to decide: maybe February, maybe March… My next clinic visit is in March. The good news is that next time I can do the blood draw here on the Saturday prior and not have to drive to Indy in early morning, but can leave at a respectable hour for the 10:45 clinic. (Just watch: we'll have a blizzard during the night and have to leave early any way. However, if bad weather is forecast, we will just drive down Sunday night since my insurance pays not only for the travel, but also for hotels if necessary. So there…) All in all, another landmark passed without a hitch.

One piece of good news is that my caregiver/wife Jean will be able to get the vaccine during the next month, so she will not be quite as leery of being in crowds of careless people going about without masks or with their noses uncovered. Also, my donor/son Paco got his first shot this week because as an autism counsellor and teacher, he is considered an essential worker.

At this time of year, people are fond of making resolutions and looking both backward and forward, possibly in honor of the Roman god Janus. I made my traditional resolution, which was not to make any resolutions. Why? Because, when it comes down to it, January 1st is no more significant than June 1st or October 1st. My aim, for those of you taking notes, is not to bounce back from the experiences of the last year, but to bounce forward. Doesn't that make more sense? I have been able to resume writing projects and other interests including the C. S. Lewis and Kindred Spirits project in Iași, which is really very exciting. Since usually I don't have to be anywhere in particular, I can carve out blocks of time to work on such matters. However, I continue to be busy sorting and filing stuff, which seems to be an endless process. I will soon acquire two more filing cabinets which will help. Less on that anon. Once the mess is cleaned up, I will be able have clearer access to my library and can get down to serious work.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Ch. 6:25-27, Christ says “I tell you, do not be anxious about your life….which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to to his span of life?” Concerned? Yes. Cautious? Yes. Foresighted? Yes. Anxious? Definitely no. Christ points out that life is much more than material or physical things. Instead, we allow ourselves to be distracted from what's really important in life, and as a result, in the words of Thoreau, "lead lives of quiet desperation.” Let us receive joyfully and gratefully the grace of God, and become a light and a fragrance in the lives of those around us, and, in the words of the Apostle Paul, when we refrain from being anxious, “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard” our “hearts and minds in Christ.” (Philippians 4:6-7) I hope you can join me in bouncing forward this year and every year that we are given.

Thanks for listening.


This week, on February 8, I had my Seventh Month blood draw to see if things are continuing to progress since my January 6 blood draw and Clinic visit (which, as noted above, was a key check point in the transplant process). This week's results were on a par with January, meaning that things continue to go well. They adjusted downward my dosage of Prograf (one of the immunosuppressant drugs); otherwise same old same old. Put another way, no news is good news on that front. Boring is always better in these cases.

The big news was that on the same day, St. Vincent gave me the go ahead to get the first COVID19 vaccine shot, concluding that no evident side effects had surfaced so far and that, therefore, it would be healthier for me to get the shots rather than not. (Their judgement is that anyone more than three months past transplant should now go ahead.) I was a little concerned that Indiana has now widened approval for shots to 65 and older and that I would have to go to the end of the queue. However, that afternoon, I went online on the Indiana vaccine website and found that I could get the shot the very next afternoon, which I did on Tuesday. The shot I got was the Moderna mRNA variety which, like the Pfizer-BioNTec version, does not contain live viruses. This is important for transplantees. I experienced only mild soreness at the muscle injection site, though people say the second shot tends to produce more reactions. The main Moderna contraindication is that it should not be taken by people with a history of known severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), which I do not have. Moderna takes 14 days between shots to become fully effective; Pfizer is only 11 days. On the other hand, Pfizer has to be stored at extremely cold temperatures, whereas Moderna doesn't. (For those of you taking notes, you can see the Moderna fact sheet here.) I am now scheduled to get the second shot on March 11. Once it becomes fully effective (March 25), we plan soon after that to be off to Nashville for Easter. Jean got her first Moderna shot last week, so she will be done before I will. My donor, Paco, was considered an essential worker because he is an autism counsellor and so he has already finished both shots.

The distribution of vaccines has been pretty smooth in Indiana, possibly because they have been planning the distribution process for more than six months. I registered online, showed up at 3:20 in the afternoon and within five minutes was getting the shot. They then keep you for 15 minutes or so to make sure you aren't having any reactions and I sailed back out the door at 3:39 and was back home by 3:45. Indiana has been on a COVID19 downtrend since mid-December, which is good. Interestingly, the two lowest % groups of COVID positives are 70-79 and 80+. Maybe there are fewer of us over 70 to start with.

In other January news, we were happy to celebrate a later than usual Christmas with the whole Michelson clan on January 15-17. We made the same arrangements as in November: the Nashvillians stayed with Paco in Ft. Wayne and did not come to our house; we spent one afternoon and evening with the Ft. Waynians at Paco's church's hall and another at ours. A jolly time was had by all and the weather was pretty fair for January. And we have all stayed healthy since. Being unable to go to Nashville to visit is probably the greatest inconvenience that COVID and the transplant have caused us. We don't really have anything to complain about, certainly not nearly as much hardship as a lot of you and others have had.

Now, we are “enjoying” renewed winter. We have about 10 inches of snow on the ground and tomorrow it is supposed to be single digits Fahrenheit (about -15 Celsius). How fun! On the other hand, the main streets and highways are clear and mostly we don't have anywhere to go anyway, except the grocery store, pharmacy, and occasionally over to Ft. Wayne to see Paco and his family. We hope you are keeping warm and, especially, healthy. Remember to keep bouncing forward. There appears to be light at the end of the tunnel and, hopefully, it isn't that of a train coming toward us.



This week, on March 8, I had my eighth month clinic visit at St. Vincent Transplant in Indianapolis. Dr. Moiz asked me how I felt and I said “Pretty good.” He replied, “Well you should be feeling terrific. All of your blood and kidney numbers are great!” OK, so change that to “Terrific.” He wants to bring my blood pressure up slightly (note to self: and all these years we've been trying to bring my blood pressure down!). The transplanted kidney is functioning exceptionally well, my blood test numbers are within normal ranges, and my endocrinologist is pleased with my blood sugar levels. I would like to lose a little weight, but they seemed unconcerned about that. All in all, a good visit and remarkably short at that, which I also take as a good sign.

It also means that this blog entry will be somewhat shorter, especially if I refrain from editorializing about this and that. But to avoid cancel culture, I'm going to do just that.

By coincidence, TODAY IS INTERNATIONAL KIDNEY DAY. If your kidneys are functioning well, be grateful. Try to avoid high blood pressure and/or diabetes if you want them to stay that way. If you have kidney disease, try to modify your diet. There are plenty of suggestion in the internet. If you have Stage 3 or Stage 4 kidney disease, start looking for a transplant program. If you can get a transplant prior to going on to dialysis, your chances of a successful transplant are improved, so don't wait until you have Stage 4. Lastly, CONSIDER becoming a kidney donor. Giving up a kidney if you are in general good health (which the screening process will determine) does not affect your health in any way. Certainly a transplant operation is not to be taken lightly—both for the donor and the transplant recipient—but these have been done so long that they are generally quite without incident. INTERESTING FACT: studies of US military donors (which is a very large sample) demonstrated that kidney donors actually have greater longevity than non-donors. This possibly owes in part to the thorough medical workup involved which might alert you to health issues long before normal medical checkups would surface them, but the longevity factor is real. And get the process started early: it may take as much as three months to go through all the screening procedures for donors. CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL KIDNEY DAY BY THANKING ANY DONORS YOU MAY KNOW AND, AGAIN, THINK ABOUT VOLUNTEERING TO BECOME A DONOR YOURSELF.

This afternoon I got my second COVID19 shot. I'll let you know next time about side effects. I'm certain you will all be awaiting this with abated breath. Jean has already had her second shot, so we are almost ready to go. Two more weeks to full immunity for me and then it's off to Nashville for Western Easter (April 4). Just to demonstrate our ecumenical fervor, we probably will return for Eastern Easter (May 2). We hope the whole Indiana/Tennessee Michelson clan will be able to gather. (The Nashville people are getting vaccinated next week because their household has a person with a compromised immune system.)

Huntington County this week had a yellow metric score of 1, just above the blue cutoff, and a positivity rate of 4.9% which is in the blue register. Both of these are on the downward swing. Most of the state is now in the blue. Our church has resumed live services and plans three services for Easter. The prediction by a Johns Hopkins scientist that by April life will begin to approximate normal (what the heck, “approximate the new normal” as we are fond of saying these days) looks increasingly possible. We shall see (another abused cliché: of course we shall see, since time moves forward, other than in science fiction).

Warm weather is here, near 70 this week°, and we have been able to resume walking outside. Just in time, as I was getting a little bored riding a stationary bike, even though I could read, watch TV, or think great thoughts while doing it. Today we have had a little rain, which is much needed which will clean away the dust and dirt left by melting snow.

All in all, a good week for us, and next week will be even better as we will be celebrating the Michelson Month of Birthdays on March 17th. Grandson Lowynn will be 2 years old on the 14th; Jean and I celebrate 76 years on March 16th and 19th respectively; and Paco—our son, jovial donor, and all around good guy—will be 39 on March 30. (My late father was born on March 31.)

We are saddened to hear about numerous friends who have not been as fortunate as we have: some with severe cases of COVID, others that have passed away either from COVID or natural causes, others with extremely difficult medical situations and issues, yet others with economic and personal problems. Our prayers are with them and with you. May God be with all of us as He provides His grace, mercy, and healing power. Soli Deo Gloria.


Last week, on April 24, I celebrated the tenth month since my Kidney Transplant on June 24, 2020. My next clinic visit in Indianapolis is May 24, which will be the eleventh month checkup. For the tenth month, I just did a blood draw at Huntington Parkview with excellent results. My creatinine level was at 1.01 which is great—since it means the semi-new kidney is functioning in high gear—the BUN was at 22 and the GFR was 72, both good. My blood sugar was at 109, which is nearly normal. I think I need to lose a little weight, but will see what the St. Vincent dietician says in May.

Since we and the Ft. Wayne people are now fully vaccinated and the Nashville people are partially vaccinated, we were able to take an Easter trip to Nashville, where we celebrated with David and his family. We were joined by Paco and his family, so the whole clan was together. In Indiana, the curve is downward, with Huntington County now at blue, the lowest rate, with a weekly metric at 0.5. Other places, such as neighboring Michigan, are not so fortunate.

For those of you in Orthodox countries, this weekend is Easter. Paște fericit! Hristos a înviat!

That's about it for this interim report. Hope you-all are staying healthy and safe. Deus te benedicat.


Summer Begins Today! Although I'm a little less enthusiastic about summer than I used to be because of the threat of skin cancer for transplantees (see below). This means that I have to avoid direct sunlight for most of the day. However, we do have a garden in and lots of flowers and there is usually plenty of shade and the air conditioner works well when it's too hot to be outside and there are always more books to read, so ENJOY SUMMER!

This update is a little late, so we need to start with a Spoiler Alert. This coming week, June 24, 2021 will the 12 month anniversary of my transplant. Interestingly, I won't have any check ups on this date. I had my 11th month consult May 24 in Indianapolis; I will have my next blood draw on June 26th and then my next clinic on July 26. My May 24 consult went very well. My blood tests are in normal ranges and they adjusted downward slightly one of my immunosuppresant drugs. The big news is that my key kidney number, the creatinine number, is actually better than normal (0.95; with 1.00 to 2.00 as the normal range). I would like to lose more weight, which has stayed pretty much the same for the last six months. They weren't very interested in that, but did agree that I could raise my daily steps total from at least 5,000 to at least 7,000. Since then I have had over 8,000 steps (3 ½ miles) most days.

The new walking regime has led to changing my winter routine to a new summer routine. Last year through fall, winter, and spring, we tended to sleep in until I needed to eat breakfast and take my morning meds. Then I would mostly walk in the evenings when the Ultra Violet (UV) rays are low. These—as you will recall—can cause skin cancer and after kidney rejection are the second greatest problem/concern for transplantees. What kind of UV rays are there, you ask? (You didn't ask? OK, skip down the next paragraph.) There are UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA are longer wavelength and can penetrate to the dermis or to the middle layer of your skin. This is bad. UVB rays have a short wavelength that only reach the outer layer of your skin, the epidermis, still unhealthy, but not as dangerous. UVC is the highest energy level, but is blocked by the ozone layer of the atmosphere (yes, my friends, the ozone layer is still there. Not to be confused with the Moldovan Romanian pop group, O-Zone, famed for their hit, “Dragostea din Tei,” AKA “The Numa, Numa” song. You can find videos on YouTube).

In Winter and Spring, we usually went to bed after midnight. The new routine is to get up at 7 AM, take my early morning pill, and then go for a walk of at least 5,000 steps while the morning UV is low (that is 2 or under; this usually goes up after 9 AM). Main meds at 9 AM and a pretty normal day thereafter. In the evening, I try to get the day's steps up to 8,000 or so (Jean usually accompanies me on the evening walk), and turn in around 11 or 11:30, though later still seems to still be the norm.

Huntington County's COVID19 rate continues to be at the lowest level, which is good, since one is less likely to meet someone with COVID. We have been going out a bit more to eat and shop, and last weekend we drove to Wisconsin for a nephew's wedding. It was outside, so we didn't wear masks at all. We are able to attend church for the first time since March 2020. And at the end of this month we will return to Nashville for our second grandson's Eagle Scout ceremony.

The one fly in the ointment for the time being is that there is some evidence that people with suppressed immune systems (such as kidney transplantees) may not be producing antibodies even though they have had the vaccine. Further study is needed, particularly with regard to whether they should get a third shot. However, other immune defenses, such as the T-cells and the B-cells are there, so I'm not defenseless against COVIT. My transplant team said we will more or less be following the pre-COVID guidelines for kidney transplants, namely stay away from people who appear to be sick, socially distance, and wear a mask if you can't socially distance. I asked what the prognosis for our planned trip to Romania in the fall might be and they said at this point we could still plan to go. So we still have to be careful and use common sense (of course, common sense isn't very common anymore, but…). By the way, I was able to “go” to Romania the weekend of June 4-6 to participate in and give a paper at the Xenopol Institute of History's Annual Conference. This is one small benefit of the COVID crisis in that thanks to ZOOM we can “attend” conferences that under normal wouldn't be possible to go to in person.

Instead of a one year clinic, on June 26, I will do a blood draw locally. Then on July 26, we will go to Indianapolis for the next clinical visit, which will officially be the 13th month. As we near the end of the first year AT (after transplant) things look good, I am in a fairly simple meds regime (7 AM; 9 AM for the most important ones; 7 PM; 9 PM again for the main drugs; and once during the night. And the most I take at any one time is six smallish pills). I am not getting up at night as often, usually once or twice, but since I have a pill to take during the night, that's all to the good. My kidney functions continue to be superlative, my appetite is (too) good, my blood pressure and blood sugar are mostly normal, and my temperature is usually under 97º.

It has been good to see more friends and relatives, especially grandchildren, and to be able to get out as needed or wished. We were able to attend in-person church and Sunday School yesterday for the first time since COVID struck. A sort of normality is returning. Perhaps the scourge of COVID19 is on the way out: still dangerous, but along the lines of influenza, where a yearly vaccination helps mightily. Our hearts go out to places like India and parts of Africa where the toll is still going up, but, God Willing, this will come under control as well.

I will be back sometime after June 24 if there is anything interesting to report, but likely I wait until after the July clinic visit to Indy. I hope to see more of you in person soonish; you can regard that as a promise or a threat as the case may be. ONE YEAR UPDATE, JULY 26, 2021. CELEBRATE!

ONE YEAR is an important watershed date for kidney transplants. If the transplant has made it this far, things are looking pretty good. Actually, the one year milepost was passed on June 24, but my one year clinic visit to Indianapolis was this week on Monday, July 26. Both Paco, my donor, and I went down to St. Vincent, I for my regular quarterly checkup and Paco for his six month check.

The benchmarks were passed with flying colors (whatever that means). My creatinine level is at 1.07 (normal range: 1 to 2, lower is better), so my previously owned kidney is functioning at a high level. My other numbers look good, though I am still working on getting my blood sugar levels down and maybe start losing a few pounds. They took me off of one drug, so that's fewer pills to take. I will go back to Indy in October for the next check, with an interim blood draw in Huntington.

To CELEBRATE, We declared July “THE MONTH OF GIFTS” in Paco's honor, including books (what else?), new work gloves, various exotic food items, lunches and dinner out, and other classy stuff too numerous to mention. Did I mention books? (BTW, for those of you taking notes, I think the Romanian Communists tried to transform Christmas into the Month of Gifts, with limited success as the Romanian population stubbornly held onto their Christian heritage.)

My stomach muscles are pretty much non-existent what with the surgery and all, so that's something I will now work on. My back had been a bit sensitive from shifting all those books in May and June, but now is feeling pretty good so I can do some stomach exercises without being derailed by my back. My CK readings had sky-rocketed in April, May, and June, which was a function of all the exercise I was getting with sorting, packing, and moving books. It is now down to normal.

I am getting a lot of exercise, having upped my goal from at least 5,000 steps a day to at least 10,000 steps a day. I try to get maybe 15,000 on Saturday and Sunday. 15,000 is nearly 7 miles (11 km). Last weekend I did over 15 miles (24 km). I usually walk for an hour to an hour and a half before 8 am to avoid UV rays and then top it off in the evenings. Its also cooler in the mornings. The only fly in this ointment is when it rains, but I have a pretty good weather app on my iPhone that shows when it's not supposed to be raining so I can plan accordingly. In the worst case, I can ride my stationary bicycle indoors, but haven't had to to do that much. Walking in the mornings just after sunrise is also quite pleasant and there's scarcely anyone else around.

We are still waiting for the CDC to decide if solid organ transplantees should get a third COVID19 shot since our immunosuppressant drugs apparently also suppress the formation of COVID antibodies. Good work: they're doing their job, but unfortunately this is one job that they might ease up on. A CDC advisory panel has recommended a third shot, so one would think that the CDC will move on this sooner than later.

Otherwise, summer has been pleasant. When its hot, inside is nicely air conditioned. I am getting a fair amount of research and writing done, and Jean has excellent flower gardens and a nice vegetable plot in the back yard. Somehow home grown tomatoes seem to taste better than ones bought in the store. The rabbits think so as well, so in the end, we have had to put a fence clear around the garden. Of course, I can keep out of the direct sun fairly easily: in the morning, I can sit on the back patio since the sun is in front; and in the afternoon, I can sit on the front porch since the sun is in the back (you, of course, could have figured that out for yourself).

Thank you again for your prayers and best wishes. Some have commended Paco and I for our courage in undergoing the transplant, but I have to say that given how streamlined this procedure has become, I don't feel anything exceptional on my part. (Paco's generosity is another matter.) Getting a transplant is nowhere as difficult as the situations being faced by a person with cancer or with an amputation or any number of other afflictions that really require resilience, courage, and fortitude. Look around you: there are likely numerous people who not only deserve but need your sympathy and care. Maybe you could visit someone you know that really is dealing heroically with health issues, or at least give them a call or send them a card of encouragement. And don't forget to sign up to be an organ donor! Without volunteers, something as simple as a kidney transplant, could become a life and death crisis.

Best wishes to you all. Have an enjoyable summer.


Since I am now in the next, “more or less normal for the rest of my life stage” of my kidney transplant, these comments will be more stream of consciousness and random, rather that taking off from lab and clinic visits (the next one of which comes up at the end of October).

Start on a positive (but exhortative) note on FOMO versus JOMO. Before COVID19, many people were greatly influenced by FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out. This is social anxiety caused by the fear that others might be having fun when we are not there or connected. One consequence of this is that we pile mindlessly into social media so that we can stay connected with others and what they are doing virtually minute by minute. COVID19 offered the possibility of blunting that and opened the way for JOMO, the Joy of Missing out, of being content with your own pursuits and activities, of not checking Twitter or Facebook minute by minute, but actually turning your iPhone off and checking your eMail a couple times a day rather than several times an hour. So where are you? Still dreading FOMO? Remember, the average person has a life span of 4,000 weeks. What did you do with last week? Get a life and experience JOMO.

Moving on to a negative transplant note: my donor has developed a slight umbilical hernia which currently is not causing him discomfort, but may in the future. Though susceptibility for such a hernia usually dates from birth, St. Vincent agreed that the transplant surgery likely provoked it and they are going to pay for the reparative surgery and related costs. Paul-Philip AKA Paco is now scheduled for this surgery on September 20. This is usually a pretty simple procedure, but there are always exceptions. We would appreciate your prayers for this surgery. Otherwise, he is doing well and had basically kept off all the weight he lost prior to the transplant.

On a positive note: my blood tests and other test measures continue to look fine. I recently got the results from something called the Allosure test which measures the probability of kidney rejection based on DNA. The result was lower than in January, which is good. The probability of rejection is very low.

I have upped my daily walking goal to over 10,000 steps or from 4 to 5 miles (or 6.5 to 8 km). The sun is coming up later and later these days, so I usually don't get up quite as early as I did in July and August. The weather has been delightful lately—between 60º and 65º (15º-18º celsius)—but this is going to end eventually. Thankfully we aren't in Alaska, where the four seasons of the year are June, July, August, and Winter. However, last winter I did accumulate a lot of wind and cold protection gear, so bring it on. (And, of course, I have my indoor exercise bike as a backup.) As a result of the walking, my weight is coming down somewhat, but I need to lose more.

On another positive note: I got my Moderna booster shot on last week on August 23 (a used-to-be important date in Romanian history). I had almost no reaction to the first two shots, which indicated that few if any antibodies were actually formed. This time I had a sore arm for a couple of days, which is good and means that something happened. I felt a couple of times that I might be running a temperature, but measurements proved that my temperature was actually below what it usually is. Ha, ha. The shot will be fully effective September 6.

We continue to hope to be able to travel to Romania in November, but clouds are beginning to form on the horizon as COVID19 Delta is causing an upward trend in new infections. In Huntington County, the level is now at Orange which is just one step below Red, with a positivity rate of nearly 13. And the vaccination rate in Romania is low. Not good.

That's it for now. Thanks for your support. And best wishes and good health to you all.


Here is my quarterly transplant update. I had my clinic visit with my doctors via a teleconference on Thursday, October 21, since things seemed pretty normal with my blood draw earlier in the week...and that proved to be the case. My “new” kidney is actually functioning better than normal with a BUN at 16 (9 to 21 is standard) and my creatinine at 0.94 (normal is 1.0-2.0). Both of these are the best they have been since way before my kidney disease struck. My GFR is at a healthy 78, which indicates no kidney disease. All my other numbers are good except for a slightly high glucose reading, but it is apparently being controlled with a low dose of insulin. All in all, a good report. My next clinic will by in three months.

I am still doing at least 3-5 miles of walking a day. Since daylight is getting later and later, I have shifted to walking after 8 in the morning and after 5 in the evening, when Jean can walk with me. When it rains, like today, I still have a stationary bike I can ride inside and watch TV at the same time, so we're good. I do find walking much more interesting than the bike, but take the less good with the good. With all the walking, I still need to lose weight, so we are trying to cut down on calories or at least the wrong kind. We shall see.

Back to kidney transplant-related items. There are several other items on the docket to report. First, and most important of all, on my daily walks since last year I have found $2.98 in change so far. This comes out to a little more than ½ cent a day. If I can find another $1277.11, I will be able to buy that new HDTV flatscreen I so badly need. In addition to the money, I have also found a plastic nickle, a nice marble, an almost new hubcap, a neighbor's school ID card, two round plastic disks that apparently are from one of those spinner things that were trendy a few years ago, and miscellaneous junk worth picking up. Who says retirement isn't profitable? Side Note: I am finding less and less loose change as time passes, which may be an indicator that people are becoming more careful with their money as inflation goes up. Who knew?

Secondly, as mentioned previously, my kidney donor/son Paco had surgery for an umbilical hernia, which was caused in part by the kidney transplant donation. Oooff! This was on October 7 in Indianapolis, having been postponed by lack of free ICU space and nurse shortages, both related to COVID19 Delta. St. Vincent Transplant and the Kidney Donor Foundation paid for all of Paco's costs including the hotel, so that was one less worry. The surgery was supposed to take 2 ½ hours, but wound up at 3 hours and 45 minutes because once they got in there, they found they needed to repair not only the transplant incision, but also a few other goodies. These which were not complications as such, but prevented a number of potential complications in the future, so this was a blessing in disguise. We went down on Wednesday and came back on Friday afternoon. Lowynn did pretty good with grandpa and grandma and with accepting of the fact that he couldn't see his father in the hospital because of COVID19 restrictions. Paco is recovering well—he was going up and down stairs the day after, however gingerly, and will be off work for about two weeks—but has developed another rash similar to the one he had with the transplant donation, which is driving him crazy with itching. Some kind of allergic reaction. The doctor prescribed some heavy duty cortisone cream that has brought this under control. We went down for the post-op on October 19 and this went well: half an hour or so and a release by the surgeon to his family doctor. Your continued prayers are welcomed.

Thirdly, and lastly on the kidney front, we regret that we have had to cancel our planned November Romanian trip, especially for the November 18-20 C. S. Lewis and Kindred Spirits Conference in Iași which we very much wanted to attend. My kidney doctors advised against it, even though I have had the third Moderna shot (Jean will get her booster this coming week). They specified that unless I could be certain that the people around me were 1) vaccinated (not good: only about 25% of Romania is currently vaccinated); 2) people were masked (possibly OK since which we think this might be the case in Romania); and 3) if we could maintain social distancing (pretty much out of the question both flying there and at the conference: how do you keep 6 feet away from everybody on an airplane? Not to mention boarding and deplaning?). We realized that if we are being very cautious in our own city and church, what chance was there that we could do even half that well outside of the country? Alas. Needless to say, this is slightly inconvenient (OK, more than inconvenient, but c'est la vie), but obviously better than getting COVID. We are now hoping to go to Romania in June 2022 for the Timișoara Society for Romanian Studies congress, with visits to Cluj, București, and Iași. But that by its nature has to be a very tentative plan. The new MERC tablets might be a game changer. I haven't been to Romania since November 2018 and Jean hasn't been since summer 2016, so we really, really, really want to go soon. Or it may be that with COVID19, the days of overseas flights are over for people with severely compromised immune systems. I wonder if we could travel by tramp steamer to Constanța? Or are we destined to visit only via ZOOM? We hope not. We have so many dear friends and colleagues that we wish to see once again. (Whether they want to see us, however, is another question.)

And now for something completely different. (BTW if you find philosophical and similar musings boring, inappropriate, or uninteresting, you can skip to the end). In these days of rising, falling, and then rising and then falling COVID19 and its variants; days of increasingly incompetent political leadership (both in the US and in our “second country” Romania—and, come to think of it, practically everywhere); days when common sense is strikingly uncommon and reasoned discussion has been replaced by shouting (apparently because we equate volume with effective argument) and name calling (apparently because no one seems to remember that ad hominem, personal attack is a fallacy of logic); days when economic IQs are headed to virtually zero, it is easy to give way to pessimism. No wonder I rather incline by nature to a short term pessimism, though this is mitigated by a long run optimism. Pessimists see the glass as half empty; optimists see it as half full. My view is that perhaps our glasses are too big. This is no time for foolish pessimism, but it is not time for an equally foolish optimism. My advice? If you are a pessimist, lighten up a little. If you are an optimist, look a little on the dark side.

In this regard, I would recommend to you the great French sociologist, philosopher, and theologian Jacques Ellul's Hope in Time of Abandonment (1977), which begins with this observation from Enrico Castelli: “Much has been written about hope, almost always in a hopeless manner.” (p. x) This is not unreasonable on the part of those, like the philosopher E. M. Cioran, who have lost The Way, or, to mix our metaphors, who are adrift in a rowboat on an endless and hostile Nietzschean sea with no prospect of getting back to shore, a shore which possibly doesn't even exist. Ellul notes that “it is quite surprising to observe that those...who reject Christianity as a consolation for the afflicted, as a spiritual succor...vie with one another to find an answer to the material needs of man...by political means. They reject the idea of God as a 'stopgap' and clearly prefer the psychoanalyst to the confessor. Yet they readily accept any of the world's courts of appeal (political party, union) as the stopgap.” (p. viii) Ellul goes on to point out that modern man's astonishingly naïve materialism has paradoxically managed to become combined with an astonishingly naïve spirituality. It is important in our present “spineless age” to remember that with the coming and work of Christ, “Hope became near, living and all-embracing.” This is not just “a theological formula. It became also the response.” (pp. viii-x) Amen to that.

Possibly one thing to be learned from the last two years is that we have gotten too complacent about what constitutes “normal.” It seems clear that COVID challenges our equanimity. In the early 1970s, a trendy book was Alvin Toffler and Adelaide Farrell's Future Shock (1970), which sold some 6 million copies. The key term refers the psychological problems caused by "too much change in too short a period of time." The main shock for me at that time was that the authors thought they had identified something unusual and “shocking,”when young people of my age (OK, so I was 25 at the time) found nothing unusual about rapid change, which only needed to be sorted out and assimilated where it was lasting and ignored where it was not. What is shocking about COVID19 is its unpredictability and its politicization. We are used to change: personal computers, iPhones, private space travel, 75” flat screen televisions that the average person can now lift by herself or himself (did I mention that I need one or maybe even two of these so I can watch in different rooms?), online dating, electric vehicles, social media, digital books, etc., etc., etc.. Not all of these deserve to be embraced, certainly such as digital books at the expense of book books, but even access to a digital book or pdf is better than no access at all. Social media, on the other hand, appears more and more to be embraced less and less. We have become used to change, but not change that we can't predict or control at all. As for politicization, it is clear that even the most trivial and inconsequential matters are being politicized as politicians become more and more desperate to disguise their misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance. But enough of that: why should I allow this blog to become politicized through criticizing politicization? A pox on all their houses.

Life goes on. We are able to attend church and Sunday school live, but not some of the more social activities, which is unfortunate, but at least we have some of the human connection that is so important for what the New Testament calls koinonia. Because going to church involves no flying (so far), this is one key aspect of our lives that is slowly moving back to something approximating normalcy. Other aspects, I'm not so sure.

On that cheery note, I close this far too long entry in my blog. Have a nice warm cup of tea (I am currently enjoying something called Yorkshire Gold which is a blend of Assam, Kenyan, and Rwandan teas: see www.yorkshiretea.co.uk) or coffee (Turkish or Western, your choice). Put your feet up a bit each day and reflect on the big and little things that you encountered that day. And think especially of your friends and friendships.



Outstanding News! Yes, while the rest of you have been huddling indoors and shivering as the weather gets colder and colder and generally feeling miserable, I've been doing my 3-5 miles a day walking and/or exercise biking, and, more importantly, (drumroll please) as of February 1, I have upped my coin collecting total AKA finding money on the streets and sidewalks from $2.99 to $3.45. Who says exercise doesn't pay off? A little more and I will be able to retire! (No, wait, I am retired so I will have to come up with some other idea to expend this surplus value on.) “Laissez le bon temps rouler!

This past week, on January 27, I had my 18 month kidney check up and all seems to be going well. My creatinine and BUN numbers are outstanding, so Kidney #3 is doing fine. They advise more caution again in social contacts because of Omicron, but we have already cut down on what little outside physical contacts we gingerly have had since November. We are fortunate in that we can do this will relatively little discomfort or inconvenience. Obviously this is not a viable option for most. My donor has successfully recovered from his followup hernia surgery—which St. Vincent and the Kidney Fund paid all the expenses for—and is back to normal. My blood sugar has fluctuated unpredictably recently, but the thinking of my endocrinologist this is due to too many carbs and sugar and weight gained over Thanksgiving and Christmas. The numbers of all three have come down in January and I'm looking forward to a more austere February and March. Sort of. To all of you out there who are young enough for this to make difference: don't abuse your internal organs; they may take their revenge when you are in your 60s and 70s and quit on you. If you are in your 60s and 70s, it may not be too late to reform your eating and other habits. It can't hurt.

COVID19 continues to dominate our national and international discourse, and while we cannot ignore the elephant in the room, do we have to endlessly talk about it? Do we have to unceasingly politicize it? Do we have to keep talking interminably and hopelessly contradictory about its shape and size? I am sure most of us have heard The Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant. Asked what an elephant was like, the blind men grabbed various parts of the elephant and declared that he was like a great thick snake (the trunk), a medium snake (the tail), a mighty pillar (the legs), hard, smooth, and tapering (the tusk). The Indian version continues: “Every one proposed his view and they disputed and controverted, and wrangled, and litigated, and bickered, and quarreled, and called each other names, and each one imprecated all the others, and each one denounced all the others, and they abused and scolded, and they anathematized and excommunicated, and finally every one of them swore that every one else was a liar and was cursed on account of his heresies.” Ha, ha. Those dumb blind guys. Those dimwitted ancients! Of course, they didn't have access to the Internet or Facebook or Twitter. Fortunately for us, we do and we know better and more than any previous generations in history. How are we doing so far? Hmm.

Here is the real question for us to face for 2022, as articulated by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “What, then, is the answer? We must accept our unwanted and unfortunate circumstance and yet cling to a radiant hope. The answer lies in developing the capacity to accept the finite disappointment and yet cling to the infinite hope.” Martin Luther King, Jr. “Unfulfilled Hopes,” Sermon Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, 5 April 1959. Citing Jeremiah 10: 19, King goes on to say that such an attitude is not fatalism, but the practice of Biblical endurance.

Among the infinite hopes is that “This, too, shall pass,” as it has in the past. In 1859, Abraham Lincoln recounted the story of an Eastern ruler who “charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: 'And this, too, shall pass away.' How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! -- how consoling in the depths of affliction! "And this, too, shall pass away." And yet let us hope it is not quite true. Let us hope, rather, that by the best cultivation of the physical world, beneath and around us; and the intellectual and moral world within us, we shall secure an individual, social, and political prosperity and happiness, whose course shall be onward and upward, and which, while the earth endures, shall not pass away.” "Address before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society," 30 September 1859, Abraham Lincoln Online, Milwaukee, Wisconsin..

In the meanwhile, let us Biblically endure.

Stay healthy my friends.


EASTER WEEK(S) 2022 Easter Ruminations

“All things have become light, never again to set, and the setting has believed in the rising. This is the new creation.” St. Clement, Address to the Greeks

April is not the cruelest month, as some would say,
Since Easter comes with the sweetness of an April day.
Spring softness is upon the face,
Alive with hints of natural grace.
A warm end to long journey from a winter past grown cold,
On Pascha Morn God warms our souls with His grace of old.

And what should our reaction to the Miracle of Easter be? Here is what William Law suggested in one of his letters: “Give yourself up to ever so many good works, read, preach, pray, visit the sick, build hospitals, clothe the naked, etc….For the new creature in Christ is that one will and one hunger that was in Christ.”

War in Ukraine...and Easter
In general, I have tried to keep this blog from too much political commentary. However, the Juxtapositioning of Easter with the War in Ukraine ought to give all of us pause for thought. One would hope that the brutal Russian offensive will at least pause for Orthodox Easter. If it doesn't, perhaps that might be an indicator of the sincerity of Putin's alleged Christianity. Meanwhile, the Ukrainians are demonstrating endurance; one of the Cardinal virtues; it remains to be seen if NATO, the US, and others will be able to do the same. And, as always, pray and work for peace.

Endurance and Hope
In my last blog, I mentioned Martin Luther King on Biblical endurance. Here are a few more reflections on Hope and Endurance: In Hebrews 12:1, we read “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” Why? Because according to Romans 5:4, endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” And further, in Romans 15:4 “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

This reminds us that we all need to practice the classical virtues:. Here, particularly, perseverance, already mentioned as one of the four Cardinal Virtues, and hope, one of the three Theological or Christian Virtues. At Easter, there is no clearer virtue than hope.


Now back to the more mundane. I am pleased to announce that there has been an exciting kickoff to Spring 2022 on the found money front!!! Since the beginning of the year, the grand total has risen from $3.45 to $4.57. If I'm not mistaken, this puts me, at least temporarily, well ahead of the current surging inflation rate. It's possible that some of this money was hidden by snow and hove into sight when the snow melted. Or maybe people become more careless when Winter fades into well-deserved oblivion and Spring's verdant colors begin to emerge. (If any of you have alternative explanations, let me know.)


Apart from my burgeoning found money resources, the biggest personal news this time is that the FDA recently approved on an emergency basis a new monoclonal antibody treatment called Evusheld. This treatment has been developed particularly for people with suppressed immune systems (such as kidney transplantees) and people with compromised immune systems, both groups for whom the by-now-normal COVID vaccines may or may not work. If you are not particularly interested in the details behind Evusheld, feel free to skip down to the next entry.

I was able to get the shot (which is not a vaccine) on March 30 without any side effects and less of a stick than a flu shot. I will keep up my COVID vaccines as well, but these are still of indeterminate effects for immunosuppressed people. One positive side effect is that we are again thinking about a trip to Romania this summer. More on that when it is decided.

Otherwise my health seems to be excellent, except for a slight cold (my first cold in over three years). My creatinine and BUN levels are normal to slightly better than normal, so my new kidney seems to be doing its job. I drink at least 3 litres of liquid a day. And I am upping the ante on walking. Today I reached 430 consecutive days of walking at least 5,000 steps. I also now have 20 consecutive days with at least 7,000 steps (3 miles+). In summer, the UV rises quickly, but until 9:30 a.m. or 10:00 a.m. and after 6:00 pm is at acceptable levels, so unless it is raining I am enjoying pleasant walks in the quiet confines of small-town Huntington, Indiana, and its surroundings.

My son, David, has a friend at Vanderbilt University, Dr. Rob Carnahan, who is one of the developers of the Evusheld treatment produced by Astra-Zeneca. Here is how he explains it: “...we know the RNA viruses have a propensity to change...so we knew we wanted to go in with what we call a cocktail – which would be two antibodies to distinct sites. The idea being there if you have two antibodies that are at completely different sites, it's very unlikely a virus is going to be able to change two things at once so if it changes one, you have the other side and vice versa. So you're kind of preventing, you're mitigating any kind of escape risk. We're also doing basic science biochemistry experiments looking at this concept called synergy. Which is the idea—could one antibody not only function but could it be combined with another antibody and the sum of the two is greater than either of them individually….we found an antibody partnership where they not only worked well together, they worked as a good cocktail to prevent escape, but they were also synergistic so they would sort of be helping one another function better.” (Source: Carnahan Interview)

Here is what Evusheld looks like:

Evusheld, thus, is two shots, which you are given on opposite sides of the gluteus maximus (“fund” in Romanian for those of you taking notes) simultaneously. It is not very painful and there are virtually no side effects. It also has an 80% plus success rate. Eventually Evusheld will be able to be administered in a doctor's office during a regular visit. In contrast to mRNA or other COVID vaccines which try to prevent COVID but whose effect is difficult to tell on immunocompromised people, Evusheld is an injected monoclonal antibody drug that launches the body's own therapeutic countermeasures to attack the COVID and other viruses and neutralizes or lessens the impact of COVID. The two medications in Evusheld are lab-produced proteins which help your immune system to fight an infection. It is particularly valuable for people with damaged or suppressed immune systems. Unfortunately, it is still in short supply, but eventually the target audience of around 2.4% of the US population will be able to get it. [For those inclined to geekiness, here is a research piece (with cool color illustrations) by the Astra-Zeneca team, including Dr. Carnahan: Nature Article]

CODA Well, that's about it for now. Mainly good news on the personal front. Not so good news on the international front (but how does that differ from “normal”?) And, most of all, good news on the eternal front: the Good News of Easter, when “Every mystery of Christ's assumed mortality was fulfilled and His immortality alone remained.” (St. Ambrose).



This month will mark the two year point from my June 24, 2020 transplant. Possibly more on that later.

The big news is that we will be off to Romania and Oxford between June 10-July 14. Things were coming together pretty well for our “EXPECTED ADVENTURE” on June 1, when we circulated the following message:

We are coming up on the two year anniversary of my kidney transplant on June 24, 2022, and most  many a few of you maybe one or two of you have been waiting with bated breath (Merriam-Webster definition:  “in a nervous and excited state anticipating what will happen.”) for the update.

But—SPOILER ALERT—this is not my transplant blog, which will come out later in the summer. Please contain your excitement until then.

The main purpose of this note is to share some good news! Since COVID19 has tapered off and since my transplant doctors think it is safe for me to travel by air again, Deo Volente, Jean and I are going to Romania and Oxford, June 10-July 14. We to Cluj, the capital of Romanian Transilvania, which will function as our home base. From Cluj we will go to the 9th International Society for Romanian Congress on Romanian Studies in Timișoara, June 15-17, returning to Cluj for a week or so and then to Oxford to do some research for a week or so, and back to Cluj until July 14, when we will fly back to Chicago.

Our Transilvanian trip will serve as a kind of trial run. If things go well, we will plan a return trip to Eastern Romania in the fall. But, as always, remember “Man proposes and God disposes.” This old chestnut is a loose paraphrase of Proverbs 19:21, which roughly can be translated as “A person might have many plans, but it is God's purpose for him that stands.”

We wish you a pleasant summer.  We would appreciate your prayers.  We would also appreciate your prayers for peace in Ukraine and for the more than one million refugees in Romania, for Moldova where a local population of four million is being overwhelmed by refugees, and for the nearly four million refugees in Poland.  J. R. R. Tolkien once wrote: “The world is full enough of hurts and mischances without wars to multiply them.”  Sad, but true.

We will have our computers, so we can get eMails and text messages throughout. Keep in touch.



Just a note updating our June-July 2022 Summer Trip to Romania and Oxford. We had a great trip: flew from Chicago to Cluj, which was our home base. We took a train to Timișoara for the SRS congress, back to Cluj for a few days and then flew to Stanstead to spend 10 days in Oxford rummaging around in the Rushbrooke archives at Regents College.

My niece lives in Old Marston and has a guest room.  We really enjoyed our stay in Oxford, did a bit of traveling with her and her husband who teaches at Oxford Brookes. She is an economic development officer for Bucks, but a lot of her work is still online, so she was relatively free when we weren’t busy at the archives.  She took us on excursions to the Cotswolds, the White Horse of Uffington, Stow-on-Wold, the Rollright Stones, Brill, and Blenheim Palace among other delights. We countered with taking them dinner at The Trout in Wolvercote where C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and their buddies used to hang around. We had gorgeous weather (one afternoon with a little rain; temps mostly in the 60s. My niece said we were lucky: usually it is sunny one afternoon and rains the rest).  Good weather always gives one a slightly mistaken impression of places being visited.  

We photographed over 2,500 pages of documents at Regent's College's Angus Library archives, working as a team: I identified relevant documents and while Jean compiled a register and took the pictures.  I estimate we got done in 7 work days what in yesteryear might have taken 2 months or more with greatly increased likelihood of copying errors.  Who says the good old days were always the best?  

Working as a team, and with the help of the friendly and competent archivists at the Angus Library, Jean and I were able to completely go through the relevant archives at Regent's College and photograph nearly 2,500 pages of documents relevant to my study of the struggle of Romanian Evangelicals during the interwar period for political and religious rights. This was the last piece of the puzzle that I needed for my research on what will probably be a smallish book on the subject. It was an archive that I have been waiting to get to since I became aware of the documents there during COVID. Now, of course, I need to print off and process the materials….

We had avoided Heathrow and Gatwick in flying in and out of the UK from and to Romania, which proved to be a wise choice since we did not experience the amazing delays and cancellations elsewhere. And we left the UK two days before the horrible heatwave (not caused by climate change) struck and the British government collapsed. We had to wait for more than two hours at Luton to take off, but it was in the 60s still so we weren’t uncomfortable.  The pilot said the problems were 1) lack of luggage handlers to get the plane loaded, and 2) shortage of mechanics to do the final pre-flight checks.  We all agreed that we were willing to give the latter some leeway: take your time checking, please. A day or two later, when the heatwave struck, Luton was closed down for a while because the runway was melting.  Hmmm.

The remainder of our stay in Cluj was equally great. All in all, our health was good and we hope to return to Romania in October, mostly in the east:  București, Iași, maybe Chișinău, Moldova.  Given the inconveniences, unpredictabilities, and unpleasantnesses of air travel (our checked bags were delayed; the last arrived three weeks later. I am going to look into whether we can get to Romania by boat.


This blog entry is a little longer than usual, partly because it covers a lot, and partly because this is the final entry for my June 2020-December 2022 Kidney Transplant blog series. Enough is enough, don't you think? I believe you will readily agree with that. You also will probably concur that, after two years plus since the transplant, the new kidney, Deo Volente, has been and will be a success. For 2023, there may be occasional blogs, but they will not be part of the Transplant Saga. How's that for news to make your Christmas merry and bright? I thought so. The Transplant blog will eventually be archived here for historical purposes and for people who are nosy. The rest of you can lean back and relax.

First things first. On August 18, Paul-Philip had his wrap-up session with the transplant team at St. Vincent. This was his final appointment with them and he was released, having come through the process successfully. However, I will continue to have at least twice a year checkups from now on out as well as doing blood draws quarterly to monitor my transplant and check the levels of various immunosuppresant drugs.

The next big item on our agenda was our second five week trip to Europe, this time from October 6 through November 15 to Romania and Moldova. Our first five week trip in June-July to Cluj and Western Romania as well as to Oxford was the first time we had been out of the country since 2018 and the first time on an aircraft since then. It proved successful and safe, so my transplant doctors gave us the go-ahead for a second excursion across the Atlantic. The October/November trip had several purposes: to work with the C. S. Lewis and Kindred Spirits project in Iași in various ways, principally to do colloquia in connection with the 70th Anniversary of publication of C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity.

In mid-October, we drove with Florin Vasiliu to Moldova where we had the unique opportunity to visit three of the refugee camps or, more accurately, refugee settlements being run by the Moldova Baptists. The visits to these refugee centers as well as lengthy discussions with Evangelical refugee ministries in Iași and Cluj gave us insights into the innovative, self-less, and generous work being done by Romanian and Moldovan evangelicals. (Bear in mind that Moldova is the poorest country in Europe and Romania is not that well off either.) There is also a noticeable degree of spiritual revival linked to Evangelical efforts in this region.

We weren't as fortunate on this trip, since we both caught nasty colds, which required a round of antibiotics when we got home, but, tired and exhausted as we were, we were also energized by this second Romanian trip in six months. We also managed to pick up 200+ lbs of books on these trips, catching up on four years of publications. (Michelson Family Motto: there are never too many books, just too few shelves.)

However, we were glad to be home after spending 10 weeks out of the last 26 in Romania, Moldova, and UK. Adventures are great, but there is something about sleeping in your own bed at home….

On December 15, 2022, I had my six month checkup visit with St. Vincent Transplant, almost 2 ½ years after the transplant. My blood work at this point is exceptionally good. For those of you keeping score: the creatinine level is 0.93, which is better than the range between 1 and 2 that they want; the GFR is 84 which is the best it has been since before the onset of kidney disease; and the BUN was 18 which is normal. My next checkup will be June 22, 2023, the three year visit.

Some of you have been following my Found Money report on money found (so that's what “Found Money” means) during my daily walks. This will be my final report on that front: my final total was $7.75. In addition, I found two 50 bani coins in Romania and a 2 pence coin in the UK. I appear to be a little short of my goal of the $4,000 needed for the 75” HD TV I so badly need, so I guess I will have to do without. Maybe I'll buy myself an ice cream sundae instead.

In closing, it is time to say thanks to all of you who have stuck with us/me these last two years. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from a Nazi prison on 13 September 1943:
“In normal life one is often not at all aware that we always receive infinitely more than we give, and that gratitude is what enriches life. One easily overestimates the importance of one's own acts and deeds, compared with what we become only through other people.” —‑Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Works,, Vol. 8 (2010)

I have felt and appreciated your support. I have also appreciated various kind remarks about the content and tone of my blog; thanks. Of course, my highest appreciation on the kidney front goes:

(If I have missed anyone, I plead the well-known propensity of professors of all ages to be absent-minded, which is perfectly normal as opposed to premature senility.) The encouragement all of you have provided has definitely played a role in the successful outcome of my transplant. Thank you all.