I remember once, years back, when I was in the air above Chicago’s O’hare airport circling and waiting to land. Back then there was no wifi, no tv’s and laptops were few and far between. I was listening to the headset air traffic control channel. After circling for more than 40 minutes, I heard our pilot radio the tower with our flight number telling them we only had enough fuel to circle one more time. He requested that we be able to land immediately or be rerouted to the closest airport. Within a minute I heard the reply of the tower granting immediate clearance to land. We made a very fast descent. Being in the back of the plane, I looked forward and could see every row and the front of the plane. It was like I was sitting in a theater. I was tired of circling but nervous about the rate of descent. Knowing the seriousness of our situation didn’t help me at all.
Today I am in a holding pattern waiting for a liver transplant and hanging in the air waiting for the Lahey Transplant Center to call me in. I had hoped to have my 2-day assessment done by January 1 but it’s just impossible for them as they care for so many. Maybe they will call me in to start of 2012. I’m not looking forward to getting called in, but I know my body is running out of fuel and cannot hang here forever. I have boney legs, boney shoulders, boney arms and a swollen belly with ascites fluid. I weigh 209 pounds now including the 10-15 pounds of fluid. I tire easily and am not to lift more than 20 pounds. I contribute nothing. I am circling, taking lots of medications and waiting for the terrifying call that I am cleared to approach the runway. I know that if I continue circling and waiting that I’ll run out of gas and crash but that quick descent is scary. I’ll just hang on tight!
Meanwhile, I sense something changing inside of me. I am truly able to be thankful and look for the positives. My faith is rebounding from question after question to simply trusting my God and being happy. It’s hard to put into words but even on bad days now, I am able to laugh a little and have confidence that tomorrow will be better.
Every night I watch Christmas specials and cry while Robin laughs at me for the waterworks triggered despite bad acting, low budgets and predictable Christmas miracle happy endings where everyone finds love. I’ve always cried at the good ones like It’s a Wonderful Life, Scrooge and White Christmas but these are cheesy Hallmark and Lifetime Network movies! I’m a mess!
My life is full of Christmas miracles this year. It began when 16 family members gathered at our house during the Thanksgiving Holiday. That alone was enough for me but then a guy from Time Warner showed up at my house and installed cable TV! My sister Gail and niece Stephanie spoiled me with an early Christmas gift of a year of cable TV. You know what I did? Uh huh, I cried. It’s so nice to not be laying here in silence with no television signal. It was depressing. Now, I can watch Storage Wars, Myth Busters, Hoarders, Sports Center and News rather than just dwell on my health.
Then, my wife’s boss told her he is going to provide us with health insurance! My deductible will drop from $15,000 to $1,500 ! My reaction? Well … of course, I cried.
Then, I went out to get the mail earlier this week and saw an envelope for Social Security. My heart sank a little because it had been less than five weeks since I applied for my disabilitybenefits. I was certain it was the denial everyone told me to expect because applicants usually hear no decision for three months. I expected to have to appeal, give more documents and then not get it settled for 6 months to a year. My lawyer sister was all ready to file the appeal. I had to read it three times before I believed it. My disability insurance application was approved and my monthly deposits would start arriving in just a few days!!! That’s a miracle! Surprise, surprise… I cried. It will be a big help.
We are ending this year with our mortgage paid and able to pay off some of my medical bills that have gone to collection. There are many, many kind and generous people in the world. We’ve experienced God’s love through them. Grocery gift cards, checks, encouragement notes, phone calls … we are so blessed and amazed.
From old high school friends to strangers across the country to our friends in Mexico, God has blessed us so much. I have people who have volunteered to help raise money for my transplant with bracelets, events and spreading the word. My cousin Shari and her little girl Gracie even gave me a pig that they are raising so we can have a pig roast or an auction. My new friend pianist Ron Carroll is putting together a night of jazz with 6 others in his band to help while my dear friends and brothers in The Wrecking have offered to play a local benefit concert in the midst of touring nationally with their unique rock sound.
And then, today, we received an offer on our house and reached a deal. My head is spinning! Now our search for a home can begin.
So many things are happening. I have the sense that the bumps on this flight that have rocked us are smoothing out so we can enter the transplant process without huge weights on our shoulders.
Soon the call will come from Lahey, “Flight Bald Guy 48, you have been cleared to land. Come on in.”
I cannot fathom the depths of God’s love for me and you. I simply can’t.
As you watch the next Christmas special, hold your loved ones close, be thankful and shed some tears with me.