Soo… what is going on, exactly?

I won’t speak for Tristan about the current situation, but I can try and summarize it for you.

Tristan was the recipient of a kidney transplant about 13 years ago. After surgical complications, he lived as a relatively normal kidney transplant recipient for about 6 years. At that point, he was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer: Burkett’s Lymphoma–later linked to some of the transplant-related complications or medicines… or both. In 2007, T was declared cancer “free”, with as much confidence as an oncologist can give.

Fast forward 6ish years, add in a life partner, a new state of residence, and an awesome job at one of the most amazing aquariums in the world, and we are here. Last fall 2013 Tristan started experiencing extremely high blood pressure, a not-too-uncommon situation for transplant recipients. However, the BP situation really spiraled out of control. Kidney transplants can trigger high blood pressure, but ironically enough, high BP leads to end-stage renal failure (aka kidney failure). At that point, Tristan was living with about 30-40% function in his kidney. After a bout with pneumonia, a sudden and scary onset of flu, and one terrifying hospitalization, Tristan was diagnosed with kidney failure–10% function or less.

Now, the options are dialysis and another transplant, which is very tricky given Tristan’s history with his current transplant. Read my post on dialysis to understand what our options are for dialysis, but that will be the next step.

Meanwhile, Tristan is working with a number of amazing alternative care practitioners, in addition to his kidney specialist and primary care doc. In the world of kidney specialists, there is no such thing as healing a failing kidney. In their minds, the ultimate outcome is grim and there is no way around it: his kidney will stop functioning, he will live off dialysis, he will need another transplant.

In the world of Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, and other forms of alternative care, healing is possible. People go off dialysis every day and people get off the transplant list because their function is restored. This option sounds a lot more appealing, obviously, but we are dealing with the delicate balance of marrying the west with the east and allopathic medicine with naturopathic medicine. How does one on 7 major prescription drugs for hypertension and hyperparathyroid have a chance at a more natural approach to healing? How do you work together? How do you find true healing? Is healing a cure? Is healing a state of mental health, physical health, both?

This is what we are trying to figure out, and these are the questions we have to ask. It’s complicated and scary and depressing at times, but the only option is life, and that is the focus.

Tristan is going to write some posts with more details about his history and the current situation, because this was a WAY simplified version of an explanation. I hope it helps clear up some questions, though.