Alligator or log? Before you read on, you have to watch this little cartoon that my son sent me. If you skip it, you probably won’t understand anything in this post.
It reminded me of my wife and I. (Please don’t tell Robin that a water buffalo makes me think of her!) Did you see yourself in it at all? What is your normal perspective when you face the unknown?
There’s junk floating in our ponds. Some of it is harmless and other pieces, not so harmless.
Through my liver transplant journey, Robin has been like the second wildebeest. I’ve had stuff come floating my way and I’ve looked at each and every piece suspiciously, like the first. I poke at it with my Google stick, I push on it and then I finally jump on it. She’s usually right but sometimes … CHOMP!
Is the glass half-empty or is it half-full? We switch perspectives and glasses depending on the situation. With medical stuff, I tend to go right to the worst-case scenario while Robin shrugs it off and says, “It’ll be nothing.” She won’t take medicine. Me? I take something at the first sign of any malady. Alligator. Log.
When you have a transplant you can’t help but wonder if every little ache or pain has something to do with your new organ. Gas pain. “Uh oh, is something wrong with my liver?” Headache. “Prograf anti-rejection pills?” Knee pain. “Are my blood levels off?” Log, log, log and very rarely have anything to do with my new liver. Still, I wonder, “Alligator?”
I’m not a pessimist overall. I generally have an upbeat attitude and choose to be positive. I like to have fun and laugh a lot. The wildebeest cartoon made me laugh a Mitt Romney style guffaw.
Some have commented on my positive attitude through this journey asking how I can possibly manage it. There have been down days, numerous down days when depression has threatened to take over. In each instance, like a dog fresh out of a pond dripping wet, I’m determined to vigorously shake off the negative. Sometimes I am more successful than others and some days I am downright mopey, wallowing in self-pity. I allow myself some mopey times but I refuse to let them take over.
I remember being unable to walk on my own July 4, 2011. My family wanted to attend a parade in Freeport and I refused to miss out on it even though it meant allowing my youngest son to push me in a wheelchair. Pride swallowed. Memories made. When Fall arrived with agricultural fairs in tow, I used a motorized scooter to keep our family fair tradition intact. Pride swallowed, sausage sub sampled and giant, blue-ribbon pig spotted.
As the disease worsened, my outings were less frequent but still, I forced myself to take small outings and live life. Robin drove me to the waterfront in Portland and pushed me along the jogging path. She even tried pushing and jogging. That was funny! By the start of 2012 I couldn’t handle much of anything. The alligator swam closer and even Robin had to admit that it was no little log. Still, we had movie nights, saw close friends and went for drives, doing our best to stay positive.
By the time my transplant day came I just wanted to get it done. I didn’t want to go on living like I had been. I didn’t care if transplant was a dangerous alligator. The way I saw it, my suffering would end one way or another.
Robin assured me I would come through surgery fine. (log) I agreed but also had pre-scheduled a “final goodbye” blog post that would have appeared July 1 if I did not survive. (alligator) The truth is that liver disease is an alligator. I have seen it devour 6 people in my support group in the past 9 months. But, to this point it hasn’t beaten me.
Thankfully, I’ve had a bunch of “sticks” to poke at it and keep it at bay. I’ve had thousands of prayer sticks from people all over the world, my family has kept watch at the waterfront 24 hours a day and friends have rallied to patch up the bites I received. The biggest gator deterrent has been my faith fueling my attitude. (James 1)
The liver disease gator took some big chunks. He got our savings, our retirement funds and our home but he did not get me. He fed on the stuff that gave us a false sense of security and he taught us that putting our security in stuff is not the way to live.
Today I am rich. I’ve got awesome friends, a spectacular family and a wife who is beyond words. Robin has hit that gator with a canon ball every time it has come for me. She’s nursed my wounds, helped me stand and has tirelessly taken care of me day after day.
You might be standing at the shoreline now looking at a floating object wondering what it might be, log or alligator. Or you may have barely crawled back to the shore after a brutal attack. Maybe you’re in the jaws right now. I want you to fight.
1) Choose to stay positive. Chase negative thoughts out of your mind
2) Look for at least one positive every day.
3) Do your best to stay connected. Swallow your pride and sit in that wheelchair. If you won’t, you’re family and friends are already living life without you. YOU ARE NOT DEAD!
4) Be thankful that every day is another day to fight.
5) Be entirely honest with God and ask him to take care of you.
I truly hope that the unnerving thing floating toward you is a harmless log but if it’s a gator, get every stick you can find and poke it away from your shore. Poke! Poke! Poke!
Gators come in many different shapes, disease, sickness, unemployment, foreclosure, divorce. You can hold off that gator if you don’t lie down and give up!
Remember, not every suspicious circumstance is a gator.