Wow. What a weekend. Thrill! Hope! Cautious Optimism. Fear. Worry. Cautious Relief. Is this what I put all of you through? Oh my gosh! What a roller coaster of emotions.
My phone rang at 12:10 AM Saturday morning. You know how your heart races when the phone wakes you in the middle of the night? Yeah. My heart was racing and my mind processed probably a hundred scenarios I did not want to hear within the 10 seconds it took me to answer. My parents? My kids? My sisters? One of my closest friends?
Thankfully, as you know, the voice on the other end was my Aunt Betty telling me she just got called for her liver transplant. I felt instant relief and then a shot of excitement adrenaline for her. I couldn’t sleep til 2 am so I just kept praying for God’s mercy.
I don’t know why but I just assumed she would fly through the surgery just like I did. I expected that she would be taking short walks today because I did. Even though everyone kept commenting about how awesome I was doing, I guess I thought, “Sure. I bet you say that to all the boys.”
But there were some issues for Aunt Betty. The transplant community calls them “bumps in the road.” It’s kinda funny actually. A bump might be as small as someone having an infection (I had two) or as large as being put into medicated coma while they search for answers. Bumps. We all think positively and say, “No sweat, little bump in the road!” But, inside, usually we’re thinking, “Oh, crap.”
Aunt Betty, we were told would be kept sedated with a breathing tube for at least 24 hours because she was packed with ice to stop the bleeding. They told us they might complete her transplant surgery today. I’ll be honest, “Oh crap!” I was worried and immediately reached out to my friends in the transplant community looking for answers. Several of them told me the same thing happened to them. I breathed a little sigh of relief and told my family.
Thankfully, Aunt Betty, had a good night Saturday. Her blood pressure came back up and they were able to complete the surgery Sunday morning. Her new liver is doing great, numbers are good and all signs are positive right now. We are staying cautiously optimistic knowing she’s still gotta fight and stuff needs to go well so she can begin her recovery. They may let her wake up in the morning. I hope so.
Two days after my surgery, I walked down the hall. My color was back and I smiled some and hurt like hell. But, it was a different type of pain. It was a healing pain that had replaced my dying pain. I just assumed my Aunt Betty would be the same. Instead, she’ll be in ICU this week. I don’t know how I feel about that…
My bump hit maybe on day 4 or 5. I can’t really remember. All I know is the talk changed from me getting out on day 7 to telling me I’d be staying for awhile. I hit personality-shifting pain as my digestive system did not wake up. I swore loudly, threw things and cried hysterically. If you know me, you probably don’t believe that – except for maybe the crying part. When they stuck a tube down my stomach and drained my swollen gut, I felt instant relief. My pain dropped from 10 to 7. Yeah, still bad but not “kill-me-now” bad. I was determined to keep working and walking while everyone kept cheering me on and telling me that I was making remarkable headway. I really didn’t buy it.
I got out on day 14. Of course, I had read that the average stay is 10-12 days so I wasn’t really buying the praise. I got home and pushed hard. If you are a regular reader, you know I did; walking, bike riding, moving…
This weekend, with my aunt constantly on my mind, I walked my dog, edited photos, hung up bird feeders, photographed a wedding, had a Duck Dynasty pizza party with our best friends, photographed a family portrait session and edited some more. Little, ever-present aches remind me of what I went through six months ago but, I have to be amazed at what I am able to do now. Granted, it’s a MUCH slower pace than life before my surgery and it’s true that it will take me three days to recover from this weekend, but, I’m really starting to understand that my recovery has been and continues to be remarkable.
I want the same for my Aunt Betty. Actually, I’m expecting the same. It shakes me when my friends in the transplant community hit “the bumps” of life as recipients. I want everyone to experience the blessings that I have.
Wow. I need to be more thankful!
Please keep praying for my Aunt Betty. And please be praying for the incredibly loving family, who in the midst of tragedy and pain, thought of others and gave the gift of life. They lost their 49 year old son, brother, father, uncle, husband, friend. My Aunt has a second chance now because of their selfless gift.
What a weekend and what a year! No boring Christmas letters this year!