Former Livermore City Councilman Bob Coomber says he is fortunate that his chronic kidney condition hasn’t worsened as he heads into the new year on two waiting lists for a transplant.
Coomber, who chose not to run for re-election in 2020 to concentrate on his health, said in an interview on Dec. 30 that he continues to spend his time hiking and enjoying the outdoors in the Tri-Valley and Sierra foothills.
“There’s still no need for dialysis, and everything is holding steady,” Coomber said. “I attribute it to eating well. So it’s working. So far so good.”
A year away from the city council, which he served from 2016 to 2020, Coomber said he misses his old position “to a degree” but not enough to run again.
“I won’t be tempted to do so until I get a new kidney,” Coomber said.
Coomber has waited for that kidney since 2018 when doctors diagnosed him with chronic kidney failure. He’s on waiting lists at UC Davis and Stanford medical centers, hoping for a match. However, he doesn’t often hear from doctors, which in some ways is a good sign because his need has not become dire, he said. “I probably need to call to see if everything is on course,” said Coomber, who visits his own kidney specialist locally. “I haven’t heard anything adverse.”
Coomber’s kidney diagnosis was the last in a string of medical setbacks — none of which have ever held him back. At 20, he began taking insulin and keeping track of his blood sugar levels after doctors discovered he had juvenile diabetes. As a young father, Coomber’s legs shattered from osteoporosis, a condition resulting from the diabetes. He has used a wheelchair to get around for years. uses a wheelchair to get around.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, Coomber did not give in. Although he stayed home with his wife, he ventured out to hike as much as he could in local wilderness areas.
“I didn't take any special precautions,” he said. “I just was careful about where I mingled. I'm so used to being out by myself anyway.”
Once the subject of the documentary, “4 Wheel Bob,” which chronicled his attempt to become the first person in a wheelchair to cross the nearly 12,000-foot elevation Kearsarge Pass in the Inyo National Forest, Coomber takes his hikes a little easier.
Most mornings, Coomber leaves his wife, Gina, working at home and spends his time at Sycamore Park or in the Sierra foothills, where he likes to “putter around” on trails in Sonora and Angels Camp. He hikes as much as he can and feels up to it, he said.
“I really like driving. I like getting out on a quiet road,” Coomber said. “I’ve learned there are so many in California … It doesn't take you much to get out on a good back road and go through farm county and good hill country.”
Coomber said that during treks to Sycamore Grove, he looks to see if any otters are enjoying the creeks. He recently watched a mountain lion at Lake Del Valle cross the road. He looked on as a golden eagle stood over the hole to a squirrel den, waiting to pounce for a meal.
“We don’t see that very often,” said Coomber, who didn’t get close enough to disturb the bird. “I didn’t want to make it fly away. It was just good to get a look at it and take a close look at its head and big dark beak. We have more bald eagles around here than golden eagles.”
Although he doesn’t stray too far from home for vacations, Coomber said he is considering a trip with his wife to Maui next year, or perhaps a camping trip in the mountains.
“It depends on how things go,” he added. said.
Although he visited his daughter in Cotati in Sonoma County recently, he stayed home for Christmas and New Year’s, and planned to do the same for his birthday. Coomber turned 67 on Jan. 4.
“Just to know I made it through another rough (year) is good enough for me,” he explained. said.