Previously on The Diagnosis: The Diagnosis The Side Effects of Elective Surgery Transplant One After the transplant I settled into learning how to function as a human again and the spring of 1994 was uneventful. In April I got to go for a weekend to visit my buddies at Trinity and take care of some business, getting my summer school classes approved, meeting with my advisor, and taking my place aside my roommate for the next year to secure a room in our preferred dorm. I would be suitemating with Shannon and Erica and rooming with our friend Leslie. Transferring entry level classes was fairly easy and I was going to be getting two of them out of the way from Cameron University at home in Lawton that summer. At that point I had just twelve hours at Trinity under my belt and I was woefully behind. By mid-way through July summer school was over. My mother was a planner and spontaneity was not her strong suit, so when she did something unexpected it was delightful. Doug and my dad started

Transplant One

Previously on The Diagnosis: Part 1: The Diagnosis Part 2: The Side-Effects of Elective Surgery The freshman class of Trinity University had been instructed to arrive a few days before classes began for orientation. I had managed to gain sufficient weight and though my energy level was sub-par, I was deemed healthy enough to go off to college. So at the very tail end of August 1993, my parents and I loaded up the Sundance and one of their cars and we caravanned south to San Antonio.  I did not know anyone going into the semester, aside from a few stray science camp attendees that were not close friends. My roommate had been assigned by the university about a month ahead of time. Shannon had called me a few weeks before school started and we had a really great conversation. I filled her in on my medical woes and she wasn't phased in the slightest. I felt better about school already. Our suitemate, Erica, was Shannon's best friend. They had opted not to room together so they coul

The Side Effects of Elective Surgery

Part 1: The Diagnosis can be read here By the time I was in junior high it was apparent I was developing a receding chin. It was really not a big deal, a lot of people are built this way (think Carol Burnett before her surgery), but my orthodontist dad had tried everything in his arsenal to fix the problem in his own office and told me someday surgery would be an option. My mom was especially eager about this idea, probably because she had a weak chin of her own, though not nearly as pronounced, and likely felt responsible for passing that feature on to me. They had a full plan in place, that I should wait until after high school when I would be 18. I would be old enough to reasonably undergo surgery then and it would be less weird showing up at college where no one knew what I looked like. At the time I thought there was no way in hell was I voluntarily going under the knife for something cosmetic. The parents didn't press the matter and more or less dropped it. Midway through the

The Diagnosis

The moment I suspected something was not right with me I was at a science camp for high schoolers at Trinity University the summer before my senior year. I was sitting by the pool with a fellow camper and a University student counselor when I noticed my ankles were swollen. My companions agreed that was strange, but since I was preoccupied by a pretty packed schedule at the three week camp, I put it on the back-burner and would consult with my parents if it was still a problem when I got home. It was. When I say my ankles were swollen, I mean painfully so. My mom had me into our family practitioner's office within days of my return. He immediately ordered a set of labs including bloodwork and more importantly, a urine sample. He suspected the kidneys were involved. A couple of days later I was at home by myself in our temporary apartment. We had sold and moved out of the spacious home of my childhood two months earlier and were living on top of each other in a cramped condo with a


This is going to be a strange year for holidays. Thanksgiving was weird and Christmas will be no different. For this post I thought I would take a stroll down memory lane of Christmases past. Christmas movies that feature chaos and extended family gatherings were always foreign to me. Aside from a few years here and there when we were very little and my mother's parents joined us, it was mostly just my parents and my brother. I'm not going to lie, it was really nice. I do understand there is value in the big family Christmas, but what I grew up with, the quiet times of togetherness and ritual, were very special to me. The Christmas season at the McBride household began with a trip to the tree lot, usually the weekend of or the week after Thanksgiving. We were a "real tree" household. Every year we would trek to the same lot, the one behind the Burger King with Wisconsin firs. Dad would strap that sucker to the top of the car and somehow get it in the house and on its

Jeff the Cat

Ryan and I are often thought of as dog people. We've had three pups since getting married, each with their own distinct personalities and quirks. But once upon a time our first pet was a yellow tabby. This is the tale of Jeff the Cat. Immediately after graduating college, we moved into a small apartment together in Austin. Ryan felt that this new phase of adulthood should involve getting a dog. The Steans household had included dogs since Ryan was in elementary school, and he wanted one of his own. We found a cute six month old border collie who was being fostered, brought him home and named him Clark. The Clark Experiment failed on two levels. One, though I liked dogs, I had absolutely zippo experience raising one. This wouldn't have been a problem if I wasn't the primary caregiver, but Ryan had an actual job and I was still in the process of looking. The second issue was that at the end of our first week with Clark, his comfort level with his new surroundings had increase


For the first 14 years of my life, Thanksgivings were spent at my maternal grandparents' house in Houston. Since the parents had to work and kids had school until Wednesday, we would all pile in the Station Wagon or Caravan at midnight that night and arrive in Houston around 9:00 the next morning. This was a great deal for us kids, as Doug and I just passed out for most of the trip. I'm sure my mom snoozed a little, but my dad powered through and drove most of the way. Sleep wasn't a big thing for him back then.  My grandparents lived pretty close to downtown Houston, though you would never know walking around their tree-filled neighborhood. They were still living in the same house my mom grew up in, purchased around 1950. Houston was half a million people in the 50s and the city more or less exploded around them (it's around 7 million now). That little house felt very mid century, with much of the original furniture and decorations still in place.  I loved visiting my