Every day is a good day: Meet @scottij
ROSEMARY: What brought you to Mayo Clinic Connect?
@scottij: The cardiac transplant social workers at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix referred me to Mayo Clinic Connect. They felt it might be helpful in my recovery from the successful – so far – heart transplant I had on December 30, 2019. Also, I suspect that they thought I might have something to offer others. In turn, I suspect others may tire of my offerings.
I have always known about Mayo Clinic. I grew up in northern Iowa, only a few hours from “The Mothership,” though people always called it “Rochester.” If someone had a difficult medical condition, they always went to a magical place called “Rochester” and most returned with good news.
ROSEMARY: What motivates you to take part in the community?
@scottij: Arrogance. Sheer unadulterated arrogance.
ROSEMARY: What about Mayo Clinic Connect makes you feel comfortable to share and to be open with the community?
@scottij: I have never been shy about sharing. It might be food, a ride, or even the less preferred things to share like opinions, perspective, or objective facts. But I have grown cautious about where I do so. Accordingly, my Facebook account is gone; as is Twitter (I shall not call it letter #24). I am no longer active on those social media due to the judgmental and pejorative responses to even the most innocuous observations. And while I have had a disagreement or two with people on Mayo Clinic Connect over providing medical advice or questioning the motivations of Mayo Clinic, it is a safe venue where people share.
As a retired person (against my will), I am told that one of the leading causes of decline is not having a community. While I have strong face-to-face relationships in my community, I do enjoy the relationships cultivated on Mayo Clinic Connect.
ROSEMARY: What groups do you participate in?
@scottij: I primarily participate in the Transplants Support Group, obviously. It covers all the transplant categories and not just the toughest members of the transplant community, “the cardiac kids.” I have learned a bit about the challenges of the other solid organ recipients. We are all different and yet generally share one thing in common: gratitude.
I also follow the Chronic Pain Support Group as I have developed a variety of aches. Some are the result of my beloved immune-suppressant drugs. (I will find the inventor of tacrolimus one day and vengeance shall be mine.) And so, I have two new hips with the right one giving me pain of late. I also have sore hands and have developed immune-suppressed gout that shows up in my hands and toes. I mean, I never got the pleasure of over drinking or eating too much red meat and I get gout? There is no justice in this world.
ROSEMARY: Tell us about a meaningful moment on Mayo Clinic Connect.
@scottij: I found my donor family through Mayo Clinic Connect or rather, they found me. I promised myself to write a letter of gratitude every six months until my donor family answered or told me to shut up. I had sent five letters under the established protocol with no response. Then in June of 2022 I received a message on Mayo Clinic Connect. It was in response to my answer to the query of how to write a letter of gratitude to your donor family. I mentioned my intent to write on or near my anniversary of transplant, 12/30/2019, and at the half year point. Their reply had some urgency to it. They requested that I contact them immediately as they had something I needed to know. I responded and learned that the member suspected that she was the mother of my donor. She had been searching for me and when she saw the transplant date it corresponded with the death of her son.
I wanted to burst out in song, but I felt the need to be cautious. I wanted to verify the truth via those correct protocols. (I will not bore anyone here with those rules.) We finally confirmed with Mayo Clinic’s help that indeed this was my donor family. So why did she have to search for me if I had sent five letters? Sadly, they had never received any of my letters as the forwarding organization failed in their responsibility. I will cut them slack as they moved office locations, lost personnel, and the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020 which caused significant disruption and missed expectations.
My wife, Vicki, a.k.a. the Vickstress, or She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed, and I have met with the mother and grandmother of my donor multiple times, and we stay in touch.
Every day when I complete my exercise routine, I pat my side and say, “Thanks J****.” Without him, I would not be writing this boring screed.
ROSEMARY: What surprised you the most about Mayo Clinic Connect?
@scottij: I am most surprised that I have stayed with it. I tend to get bored with things. As a skeptic, I often spot what is wrong with something before I enjoy what is right. Also, I feared that it would fall apart much like Facebook and become the realm of whiners and complainers. It has not. It is supportive, informative, and dare I say it, fun.
ROSEMARY: What energizes you, or how do you find balance in your life?
@scottij: Energy has never been an issue for me. Just after the transplant the nurses asked my wife how to slow me down and The Vickstress just laughed and said, “It is not going to happen.”
Still, I try to intentionally seek balance across physical, mental, and emotional aspects of my life. Physically I exercise every day and for at least two hours, and include an hour long walk each day. I will not bore you with the details, but I am averaging 30,000 steps a day and I eat a healthy diet.
Mental balance demands that I stay engaged so I am always reading though it is getting harder as I age. Afternoon reading often ends in unintentional afternoon napping. I have tried to insert fiction reading but I am prone to read non-fiction.
Emotionally I try to connect with other people and keep my toe in the professional waters. I serve as the Chair of the Board of Advisors for the Dhaliwal-Reidy School of Accountancy at the University of Arizona (that is a mouthful). I also have a variety of mentees that still seek my counsel forhalf an hour every month to say hello and catch up.
ROSEMARY: Tell us about your favorite pastime or activity.
@scottij: B-ball, Roundball, Hoop, Basketball. Oh, I love that game. Is there any sweeter sound than nothing but net? The drive, the draw, the dish? About two years ago I organized a Friday morning league. You must be over 60 years old and under six feet tall. As ‘The Commissioner’, my nickname, I can waive the qualifications, so we have two diaper dandies in their late fifties and one player slightly over six feet tall. Our oldest player is seventy-six. In the depth of summer, we start at 6:00 AM and in the winter we start at 9:00 AM if it is warm enough.
I do a weekly write up of the game in classic SportsCenter fashion: ‘Downtown’ Joe was on fire, ‘Slick Denny’ was a magician, Jim ‘The Rock of Gibraltar’ owned the paint. From a distance someone might wonder what these old men are doing on the basketball court because it may not look like basketball, but we have fun. No politics, no religion, just friendship and occasional glory-day memories.
ROSEMARY: Do you have a favorite quote, life motto or personal mantra?
@scottij: Oh, so many and they have served me well over the years. I cannot say one dominates as each has power in specific situations. I will limit the response to seven. (Seven, you say!)
Here are two from my dad. “Successful people have the habit of doing the things they do not like to do. It is not that they like them any better than others. It is the strength of their purpose that subordinates any distaste.” Whenever I do not want to do something, I hear my dad in my head growling that quote. I get up off my butt (Dad would be more graphic) and get busy. The second quote works for me when confronted with a challenge. “The opportunity for failure never obviates you from trying.” Dad did not mind failure if you learned from it.
And two from Mom. “Never forget that greatness is in you, but it is never of you. It will only come through you.” This has been true throughout my life. I receive copious credit for a variety of accomplishments, but I never did them alone. I had smart people along the way right by my side. And today, I have my donor, J****, literally by my side. Number two from Mom is, “It takes a long time to build an old friend.” This is a reminder to take intentional effort to build and sustain relationships and to do so over time.
On the spiritual side, I have two. As a natural born skeptic and cynic struggling to be a stoic with strong Buddhist overtones I use the reminder in Latin, “Memento Mori” or “Remember that you must die.” For me this is a call to live actively and correctly, and to cherish my second chance with the transplant. The reminder of death is not morbid but a call to life. And the other spiritual quote, in Buddhist tradition, is the phrase “Ko Paraga” with its multitude of spellings. It means “Anyone for the other shore.” It motivates me to make an effort to improve myself and my relationships.
Lastly, an overarching quote uttered every day in response to the common farewell of ‘have a good day’ is “Every day is a good day. Some days are simply better than other days.” I am not sure where this came from, but I have said it throughout my adult life. And it is not a passive statement but an active reminder to make the day a good day and better than yesterday.
And my apologies to the quotes that I have left on the sideline. You are important too.
ROSEMARY: If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see cast as you?
@scottij: Well, my life should have a superb cast, but I am not sure what the plot would be. Given that I spent 20 years as an international arms merchant, I would have to say Liam Neeson and of course he would have to repeat the classic quote from Taken, “I have a very particular set of skills. Skills that I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.”
And of course, I must have a female co-star, but no one is as beautiful as Vicki, so I am stuck.
ROSEMARY: Puppies or kittens?
@scottij: Puppies. Whenever a small child walks away from their home and the city begins a search, they find them with a neighborhood dog wrapped around them. The cat walks by with indifference. Puppies all the way
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