No Laughing Matter (Part One)

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April 16th.
A hard, emotional day for me, personally. Not ashamed to say it. Another important date in The Life & Times of David Adomako-Ansah. That will probably be the title of my book when I finally finish it. Anyways, the 16th! A very important day on the calendar for me. The whole month of April is a rough one, but we’ll get to that eventually (I sound like Ted Mosby.)
Six years ago, in 2007, things were bad. I had been admitted into hospital a couple months prior. My heart had failed me. It could no longer operate on its own. I was given a pacemaker in the hopes that I would eventually go home and live with this device that would zap me every time my heart decided to give out. Sounds fun huh? That’s what my life had come to. Why? All because of my lupus (an auto immune disease — Google it of you don’t know by now!) I was diagnosed with that disease about a year prior to me getting this defibrillator. As per usual, with my luck, things weren’t going so smoothly. This life-saving-device wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do, and I was getting weaker and weaker. I don’t want to say I was slowly dying, but that’s the reality.
Barely an adult, but fighting one of the biggest battles of my life. Here in the medical scene in Edmonton, once you reach the ripe old age of 17, you’re thrust into the adult side of things. It was a pediatric doctor who came to my rescue though. A tall German fellow named Holger Buchholz. A strict doctor who loved his patients unconditionally. But strict. Very strict.
I can vaguely remember our visit. I remember he came in with his diet coke (which he did almost every SINGLE DAY after this,) and a pedantic nurse named Jodi Conway. They talked about another device they used on patients on the pediatric side of things. Two kids named Cory and Melissa had been on the device and had been successful with it. The device was called an Excor Pediatric Ventricular Assist Device. Nobody called it that. Everyone referred to it as:
The Berlin Heart.
With my consent as well as my parents, Holger and Jodi would take me as their patient, and I would leave the adult world and enter into pediatrics. I was going from being the youngest patient in adult cardiology to the oldest patient in pediatric cardiology. Either way, I was the outcast. I didn’t care though. I just wanted a second chance at life. So I signed the dotted line and the rest of what happened after that is literally a blur.
My mom says that it’s good I don’t remember some of what happened to me. Makes me want to know even more.
The next thing I can remember is opening my eyes and seeing my dad, looking at me. I was in a hospital bed, in tons and tons of pain. I asked him,
“Did . . . did I get it yet?”
“Yes, you did!” he said. I glanced further down my bed, and saw this U-shaped container hanging out of my stomach. It was red. Automatically, I figured my blood was moving through it. It was noisy.
*Click. Click. Cli-click. Click.*
Well, that took care of the heart! . . . Or so I thought. My lupus was still active. As you already know, because I KNOW you Googled about it and did your research, there is no cure for lupus. Once it’s active, if not brought under control, things could get deadly. I was far from out of the woods. Nope, I was still deep within them. The next few months would test my strength, physically as well as mentally. Unfortunately, one of those strengths just didn’t stand a chance.
*Click. Click. Cli-click. Click*
(DEEP ANNOUNCER VOICE): WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO OUR POOR, SICK HERO? WILL HE PERISH? WILL THEY FIND A CURE? WILL HOLGER EVER STOP DRINKING DIET COKE? TUNE IN NEXT MONTH FOR ANOTHER EXCITING BLOG POST!
*Click. Click. Cli-click. Click.*
That’s me trying to lighten the mood. Thanks for reading. Seriously though, check back next week.
Take Care & Much Love
David The Recipient

AHS . . . You Got A Minute?

Hey. Alberta Health Services? I think we need to talk.

ImageCan I call you AHS? Please, don’t give me that look. You know what this is about.

Over the past few years, our relationship has changed.

As you, as well as most of my family and friends know, my reconstructive surgery that took place March 4th (a “minor” surgery) went well. What shocked me is how I’ve been treated AFTERWARDS.

I was promised, in writing and verbally, that I would be admitted into hospital for three full days after the surgery took place and then be released back into my natural habitat.

I ended up being there for two days (ALMOST two days.)

You’re all probably thinking, “Yay! Early exit! He must be doing so well!!” Negative. I was not released due to “doing so well.” It was due to overcrowding.

On the Wednesday, it seemed like that was the only thing that was on the nurses minds; GET THIS BOY OUT OF HERE. It wasn’t even 8 o’clock in the morning. My eyes were barely open and I was hearing:

“David! You think you’re ready to go home today?”
“Feel like heading back home?”
“You have someone to come and pick you up today?”

I felt like a cheap, Barney Stinson reject. You stayed. You got something out of it. Now leave. This happened until I actually was discharged 10:30 that night.

 

Since first dealing with lupus in 2006, I have never gone through anything like this before. Naturally, I wasn’t comfortable leaving. I was informed, three MANDATORY days. It wasn’t like I had a choice. During one of those days I was bedridden. Very minimal movement. No getting up FOR ANYTHING. For those who have stayed in a hospital (what it do Hospital Homies?), you know that even one day of doing nothing can throw you off, never mind adding surgery to it. When I could get up, I was very wobbly (truthfully, I still am. It takes a while for me to get my balance once something takes me off my regukar routine for a while.)

My physiotherapist Jon came to visit (as well as a whole lot of other beautiful people. You know who you are. Thanks for the visits, love and the gifts!) and another PT helped me get comfortable enough to get up and down stairs and through hallways and such with this leg bag that I’ve been sporting for a while.

No matter what I, my family or anyone else close to me liked it or not, I was going home that Wednesday night. Lucky for me, there are nurses in the family that were able to help me settle back in and learn how to use this leg bag. The alternative was staying the night on a tiny stretcher and sharing a room with already occupied with two sick patients. Coming home was a better option than potentially catching another infection that could potentially keep me there for a different problem.

Staying home has been one of my biggest challenges though. THIS IS NOT A VACATION. At the moment, I cannot return to work at CTV until April 4th. When you’re passionate about you’re doing, the people you work with, and the opportunities that you’re given, every moment away from it/them sucks.

Because I’ve been having this foreign object in me for weeks now, I’m prone to infection as well. Real bad ones because of the anti-rejection meds I’m on as well as my weak immune system. The other night, I had a fever. Another high one. 38 and over. When I called for assistance, twice, there was no response. That was on Wednesday night. I’m talking to you Sunday night and still have not heard from anyone. Normally, I would go and wait it out in emergency, but I usually get a response on where to go and who will be contacting me on my arrival. SO, this time . . . I didn’t go.

*Cue scolding.*

I know better for next time. What I DID do this time around though is take some Tylenol and drink litres of water. I passed out and felt better in the morning. I saw my lupus and family doctor afterwards and they advised me to just book it to EMERG next time, WHICH I PROMISE I WILL.

 Wow, this was more of a rant this time, wasn’t it? Sorry. Needed to share this experience. I hope we can still be friends. I mean, we’re both changing, but I think we both need to make a better effort to help each other out. We’re stuck together, FOR LIFE.

BUT I’m always talking about positivity right? So that’s the mentality right now! Find the positive In everything that comes your way. I’M NOT SAYING IT IS EASY. No at all. But it’s doable. That’s a David Adomako-Ansah Original Quote.Image

Take Care & Much Love

David The Recipient

Four Year Heart Transplantiversary CELEBRATION

 

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

-          Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Transplantiversary [noun; trans-plant-ih-vur-suh-ree]: the anniversary or celebration of a transplant.

-          Definition by Sarah Adomako-Ansah

 

It’s still Black History Month, so YOU KNOW I’m going to start this off with a quote from one of the greatest African Americans to ever live. It’s also Heart Month. This month WAS MADE FOR ME.

 

I made history this week. A personal achievement. February 22nd, I celebrated four years of having my heart transplant. Four years.

 

If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t even think I would reach this milestone.

 

It’s Sunday February 24th, and this time last year, I was discharged from the Mazankowski. I had been there since October 2011. I was enrolled in the Television Program at NAIT at the time, and was forced to drop out. My kidneys had started to fail and I had started a treatment called dialysis. The doctors had no idea what was going on with me. I did though. It was my lupus flaring up. They say it wasn’t, but I know my own body. Some of the anti-rejection meds that I take for my heart transplant also played a role in my kidney failure. We found that out later.

 

Every two weeks, I had a new physician come in and tell me the same thing; “We’re not sure what’s going on, but we’re going to try this and see what happens.”

 

Frustrating, right? Imagine having to hear that for five months straight. One day, in front of my Mom, my Dad and all my siblings, I just broke down. Uncontrollably. In the seven years that I have been dealing with the challenges of SLE (the type of lupus that I have), heart problems and hospital stays, I’ve NEVER let my family see me like that. At least, not that I remember.

 

At that moment, I thought that there was a chance that I wouldn’t make it out. I thought my last moments would be spent in that hospital room that I had grown to hate. It didn’t seem like anyone knew what was going on, so how were they going to get me feeling better?

 

Well, I eventually did get better. Two days after I “celebrated” my three year heart transplant anniversary, I was discharged.

 

Fast-forward one year later. I found out that so much damage was done; I now need to get a kidney transplant. I give it four more years before all of my original organs give out.

 

Kidding.

 

I promised myself that for my Four Year Heart Transplantiversary celebration, I was going ALL OUT. I would’ve travelled, but the whole kidney-transplant-workup got in the way. I’m not one for showing myself off, but after the year that I’ve had, I think that I deserved it.

 

The day started out with a prayer to my donor and the family. I’m always giving thanks to them for this second opportunity. Without their willingness to give a total stranger a chance to start their life over, this skinny black guy wouldn’t be here.

 

I got ready and went to work at CTV. Carmen Leibel, the CTV Edmonton Health Reporter asked me the day before if she could do a story about my four year anniversary for the show on Friday. I’m not the best interviewee, but I said yes. A lot of people came and congratulated me, it was great. In the evening, I got ready and went and had dinner with the people who got me through some really tough times. Old friends, new friends, adopted family, significant others, friends of friends, total strangers even.

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have the best support system ever. Period. End of discussion. I would not be here without them. As much as people say that I inspire them, it’s the people around me the inspire ME to be who I am and to do what I do. So thank you. Thank you. THANK. YOU.

 

After dinner, we headed to a club, where even more people were waiting to celebrate this special occasion with me. Because I don’t drink, I usually take it upon myself to make sure my friends are taken care of and not running astray. That night, I couldn’t care less.

 

With Sunday being the one year . . . “anniversary?” . . . of me being discharged, I thought it would be appropriate to get together with some other important people I don’t get to spend a whole lot of time with; my old pediatric nurses. I had lunch with a handful of them, caught up on what was new with them and wore that beautiful fitted blazer I bought a couple days earlier specifically for this weekend.

 

That’s right. I wanted to look good. No . . . I wanted to look LIKE A BOSS. Sue me.

 

This year has been THE BEST Transplantiversary celebration I’ve ever had. Believe that when I end up getting my kidney transplant, there will be yet ANOTHER reason to celebrate. I promise, we’ll be doing it big. EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.

 

 

Take Care & Much Love

David The Recipient

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Tis’ The Season

It’s that time of the year.

The snow is falling, bright lights fill the streets as the weather gets colder and the night comes sooner. Hot cocoa warms our bodies while we sit by the fire belting holiday classics at the top of our lungs. The TV projects an image of a log burning, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see a hand refilling the depleting fireplace. The malls are filled with stressed out shoppers looking for that perfect present, as well as kids bouncing off the walls filled with sugary holiday treats and candy canes.

For some, it’s time to get ready for the Christmas season. For others, Hanukah.  Some are preparing to celebrate Ramadan or Kwanza. No matter what holiday you are preparing for, it’s a time for presents, food, family and (hopefully) relaxation. It’s also a time to give thanks to whatever higher being you put your faith in and thank them for the many blessings bestowed upon you. Some forget that last one, but without that, there would be no holidays. No celebrations. No time off of school and work.

This holiday season, remember to give thanks for the many things you have. They could be gone in an instant. Image

EPS OWE Project a Success

 

50 people with outstanding warrants have been nabbed as part of the police service’s Project Operation Warrant Execution, or Project OWE Campaign. A total of 45 officers from several policing agencies -the EPS Specialized Traffic Apprehension Teams (STAT), its Targeted Offender Section and the Alberta Sheriff’s Fugitive Apprehension and Suppression Team (FAST) – were redeployed for the month-campaign. The second phase started November 14th.

“Crime numbers, when you compare it to last November, crime numbers are actually down,” says Staff Sgt. Regan James of the Edmonton Police Service. “We certainly attribute all of the violence reduction strategies that the police service and the chief himself has in place. So does it save us police work? Absolutely, it saves us police work.”

Five key arrests were made, including the arrest of a 45-year-old male in Louisiana wanted on assault causing bodily harm, as well as a 30-year-old male in Manitoba wanted on many counts, including sexual assault as well as possession of child pornography. The suspects have all been brought back to Alberta for prosecution.

This was the second phase of the Project OWE Campaign. The Edmonton Police Service started this last April where they saw more than 5,600 warrants and made almost 2,700 arrests in the first phase. The second phase didn’t see as many people as the first, but the charges the police were dealing with this time around were a lot bigger and the EPA are calling it a success. This campaign was more about quality and not quantity, James says. Individuals were rounded-up from Edmonton, the United States, even as far as the Philippines.

Those who had warrants out for their arrest were urged to report to one of the police stations voluntarily before police made the trip to their house to arrest them. At one man’s house, he fled to the washroom on the police’s arrival. He apparently had a load weapon, but was talked out of his washroom by police.

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New Student Advising Centre

On November 15th, NAIT opened up its new Student Advising Centre.

The new Student Advising Centre is located in the HP Centre beside Bytes (W101). The new centre is designed to support students throughout their stay here at NAIT.

“It means added support, more flexibility, minimized back and forth,” says Angela Briggs, NAIT’s Student Engagement Facilitator.

“The idea is that we can service a student a lot farther than most other areas and so, what it means for students is that there is less ‘go-around,’ the idea is a one-stop shop. It means more career support that wasn’t there before.”

“They just found he need for students, for advising in general.” says Tina Warbis from Academic Upgrading.

“Before it was pretty segregated between departments, and they wanted to create some kind of centralized location so that they can come, even if it’s from the first step where they have no idea where they even wanna start or I have a very clear idea of what program, but I need help (getting there.) It’s one-stop so they don’t have to go all across NAIT.”

“For current NAIT students, it’s a great place to go when they don’t know where else to go. The current NAIT student, sometimes they find that they need to tweak their plan a little bit, with the new academic model it’s gonna be a lot of choices for part-time pathways, maybe check out some open studies, we can help them plan all that,” says Mrs. Dayman of NAIT.

“This is a brand new thing and also for current students, we would help them with getting ready for jobs searches, so giving feedback on resumes, helping with creative strategies on job search techniques.”

Students looking for guidance on their career paths can talk to advisors at the new Student Advising Centre

David Adomako-Ansah

It’s Time For Action

Amanda Todd.Image

A couple of weeks ago, you probably have never heard of that name. Most likely, you had no idea who she was. Today, you can type her name in the Google search bar and view over 173 million results.

By now, you may have seen one of the hundreds of Facebook pages, seen the thousands of tweets over Twitter, and viewed the black and white nine minute video the 15-year-old B.C. teenager posted on YouTube.

Through written words on cue cards, Amanda tells a story of how she was constantly tormented by those around her. From sitting alone at the lunch table, to being persuaded to flash her lady parts over a webcam when she was in the seventh grade, to having them posted all over the web a year later, to being confronted by a group of girls and pummelled to the ground while a crowd watched and filmed, Amanda Todd went through something many people go through daily. She was a victim of bullying.

She started cutting herself, went through anxiety, turned to alcohol and drugs, and went through depression. Amanda moved from school to school to escape but the bullies followed her wherever she went. People would write over Facebook, ‘I hope she sees this and kills herself.’

On October 10th, Amanda Todd did just that. The 15-year-old girl took her own life.

B.C. Primer Christy Clark says that she thinks may be time to consider criminalizing online bullying.  Ottawa city councillor Allan Hubley, whose son Jamie committed suicide last year at the age of 15, told CTV News that something needs to be done now.

“There is a time for action now, instead of another study or anything like that,” he said. “We have a definition of bullying. We already know a lot of the resources that can help bullying. But the frontline resources that will help these kids when they need it most, at that moment they’re about to make that decision, they are underfunded. That’s where we need to put our energies and our efforts.”

Hubley, along with many others around the world, hopes that one day bully won’t be seen as something that is cool to do.