Frog in Throat vs. Paper in Mouth

It’s an age-old dilemma, of course: is it better to have a frog in your throat or a paper wrapper in your mouth? I had an opportunity to test that crucial question in a recent live broadcast on Urban Health Outreach Media, Kidney Stories 2.

Picture this: I was struggling to clear my raspy throat during the on-screen interview that Betsy and I did with Jim Myers about our new book, The Insider’s Guide to Living Kidney Donation. Naturally, I first calmly reached for a sip of water. When that repeatedly failed, I frantically grabbed the nearest throat lozenge (yes, I always have one at the ready). I popped it in my mouth, and as I started to mentally heave a sigh of relief, I suddenly realized that this was the kind of throat lozenge with an interior wrapper.

So, here I am, painfully aware that I must continue to blithely suck on the wrapped lozenge. In case you’re wondering why I didn’t know about the extra wrapper–in my defense, this was my husband’s favorite lozenge, not my own favorite, Ricola Honey-Herb variety. Any lozenge in an emergency, right? (Not anymore.) Clearly, spitting it out—or, alternatively, reaching into my mouth to remove the offending paper, was not really a viable option.

I’m happy to report that even through the wrapper, the lozenge’s benefits do emerge. But at a certain point, the lozenge mostly dissolved, there was far more wrapper in my mouth than lozenge. I had no choice but to turn from the camera, and demurely (or so I like to think) use a tissue to remove the wrapper and toss it into a nearby trash basket.

Full disclosure: this was not my only broadcast mishap in recent weeks. My first Facebook Live video, describing what’s in the book, found me battling different versions of Live Producer, trying to answer questions I didn’t understand, and “waiting for camera” in vain. I tried again 15 minutes later. That didn’t work either.

A glutton for punishment, I decided to make one last attempt the next day. The good news is that I succeeded in recording an 11-minute spot that is now on my site. The bad news is that the first 27 seconds consists of my awkwardly trying to figure out if it was recording or not, punctuated by the occasional full-face nervous smile for the camera–that is, basically, the FB Live equivalent of the well-known Zoom refrain with participants of a certain age: “Can you hear me?” “Can you hear me now?”

Yes, I know there’s apparently a way to trim a video on both ends, but every time I’ve tried I failed. I decided to leave it as is. And my brief follow-up a week later, discussing FAQs from the book, about COVID and live donation, was only slightly more successful.

I like to think viewers gave me points for perseverance–doing whatever it takes to help promote our book.

For related posts and information on our new book, The Insider’s Guide to Living Kidney Donation, be sure to explore the rest of my website.

LIVE on Kidney Stories 2 Tonight!

My co-author, Betsy Crais, and I are going to be guests tonight– 8 pm EST live–on Urban Health Outreach Media’s Kidney Stories 2 with “Uncle Jim” Myers. We’ll cover a lot of ground (about our own donation and transplant experiences and, of course, “the book“) in a nearly hour-long interview. Please join us!

Jim, a kidney recipient himself, is extremely knowledgeable and very active as a kidney advocate. He was named the National Kidney Foundation’s Advocate of the Year in 2019.

Selena Gomez: Are You Vaccinated?

I trust that you are because you’ve spoken out against COVID vaccine misinformation. In the winter, I wrote about the importance of everyone getting vaccinated, particularly transplant recipients like Stevie Wonder, Selena Gomez–and my son.

In the spring, we learned that organ recipients, who must take immunosuppressants to keep their body from rejecting the gifted organ, do not get nearly as much protection (sometimes none) from the vaccine. That certainly does NOT mean transplant recipients shouldn’t get the vaccine–it’s safe, not a live virus, and any protection against COVID is worth a jab or two or three. But their vulnerability makes it even more important that the rest of us do get fully vaccinated.

Now that the Pfizer vaccine has full FDA approval, and it’s in the works for other vaccines, we can hope that more people who were hesitant will get their jab–for their own protection and for their loved ones and yours and mine.

Selena, Stevie: hearing important COVID vaccine information from you just might make the difference. Please continue to try!

For related posts and information on my new book, The Insider’s Guide to Living Kidney Donation, be sure to explore the rest of my website.

Quick (Important) Read Before Getting the 3rd Jab

When I wrote on Friday that CDC approval of a third COVID vaccine dose for organ recipients was going to happen really soon, it wasn’t hyperbole. It actually happened that very afternoon (Friday August 13)! My family, like so many other donor/recipient families, was elated. Our first impulse was “quick, get thee to a pharmacy!”

Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, and after reading an important article on “6 Things to Know,” my son took the precaution of contacting his medical providers. Once he got the green light, he called his pharmacy to see if they were offering the Pfizer shot, which was what he received for the first two. And yesterday, barely 24 hours after CDC approval, he happily received the third dose! Fingers crossed.

Photo by Gustavo Fring on

So, if you or someone you know is immuno-compromised and ready to run to the nearest pharmacy for a jab, slow down just a bit–you’ve waited this long, you can wait a little longer. Take a slow deep breath, contact your transplant team, and read that short article first.

Here’s hoping!

For related posts and information on my new book, The Insider’s Guide to Living Kidney Donation, be sure to explore the rest of my website.

Great News for Organ Recipients!

I’ve never done this before, but this is in fact BREAKING NEWS:

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

In case you haven’t seen the headlines: the Food and Drug Administration has just approved a third COVID-19 shot (Pfizer and Moderna) for organ transplant recipients! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to give its own approval very soon—as in, maybe today (August 13). That paves the way for physicians to hurry up and order shots for immuno-compromised folks, like my son, who are fully vaccinated but still not protected. Granted, there’s still no guarantee that even a third shot will provide adequate protection against the virus for some people with weakened immune systems, but study results are encouraging. We can hope.

Our Living Kidney Donation Book Is Finally Here!

Well, would you look at what the UPS truck just brought: advance copies of “the book”! At long last, The Insider’s Guide to Living Kidney Donation is a reality!

Here are a few interesting book-related stats for you trivia buffs (most of them not the kind of stats that WordPress will show in a widget):

Number of pages: 258

Months in production: 5

Months from date Betsy and I sent manuscript to copy editor until bound books: 7 months

Elapsed time from conception to bound books: 83 months (yup, you read that right: 6 years, 11 months)

Number of drafts: I haven’t a clue but probably upwards of 10

Meetings with Betsy: hundreds

Number of large notebooks filled with handwritten meeting notes: 2.5

Number of sleepless nights: far too many to count

Feeling of holding it in our hands at last: priceless

You can pre-order the paperback or Kindle version on Amazon or purchase now here.