Ode to a Dental Assistant and a Nagging Wife

A miracle happened this week. Miracles happen every day, but this one was very personal. Also, it was many years in the making. God has an amazing way of coordinating events at just the right time. We don’t often realize the miracle until we look back. This story is one of those events and a cautionary tale especially for men, young and old everywhere.

The newlyweds were settling into their new house, new job, new roles. When she realized he had not been to a dentist in over ten years, she began the age-old custom of wives everywhere. She called it “taking care of my man,” helping him be the best he could be. He probably used the age-old term “nagging.” She reminded him he had dental insurance with his new job and was working for that privilege without reaping the benefit. He couldn’t fight the economic argument and “let her make him an appointment.”

But something happened at that first appointment. Before ever seeing the dentist, the dental assistant took a brief medical history and his blood pressure. That blood pressure reading changed the trajectory of his life. There would be no dental procedures that day or any day until his blood pressure was under control.

Many doctor visits and several hospitalizations were needed to find the right balance of meds. And then the devastating realization that he would soon need a kidney transplant. An apparently healthy, active, young man in his late twenties, how could that be? But years of undetected and untreated high blood pressure had caused scar tissue and damage to his kidneys. Hypertension is not only about strokes and the heart. Kidneys are also in grave danger.

So began the search for a living donor. It’s often called “the big ask,” something very hard for an independent young man to do. But, several possible donors stepped up, and testing began. A match was found, but the doctors preferred a younger kidney which would offer many more years of service. A paired match was explained and offered as a solution. The kidney donated in Fort Worth would be flown to a patient of similar age in Boston. A donor in Boston would send his kidney to a matched recipient in Wisconsin. And, a young donor in Wisconsin would send her kidney to Fort Worth. All surgeries would happen on the same day at staggered times. Kidneys would be flown on commercial flights with the luggage!

That special day there were no weather delays, no lost luggage, no traffic jams. The magic began at 5:00 A.M. in Fort Worth. By 8:00PM, the miracle transaction was complete. Three donors and three recipients were in recovery. And three patients on the National Kidney Registry waiting list moved up a spot.

Yesterday, our family celebrated Thanksgiving. Where to begin? So many to thank. So many prayers. So many unknown sacrifices. “Thank you” hardly seems sufficient. Paying it forward might be a start. Husbands, listen to your wives. Get your annual check-up and your dental visits. If you are healthy, give thanks, continue to care for this miracle body God has given us, and maybe share a spare.  Then, thank a dental assistant at your next check-up, and love your nagging wife.

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