At First

This is a living, breathing, healing journey to be.  Emotions are very raw right now.  The ups and downs have caused some whip-lash.  Today, Michelle shared a story, that on a normal day, wouldn’t have been that big of a deal.  Yet, on this day, in our current reality, the story caused both of us to start crying.  We have been preparing for the possibility of a heart transplant since last October.  Although, having said that, nothing can truly prepare you for that moment when your doctor informs you that you won’t be leaving the hospital until you get a transplant.  A piece of me feels like I have failed because I won’t be able to keep the heart that my momma gave me for my entire life here on earth.  Yet, in the midst of feeling this sense of defeat, all of the staff, here at the hospital, have been so congratulatory.  Which was hard for us to process, at first.

Let me explain.  The fact of the matter is that not everyone who needs a heart will get a heart.  There is a long list of criteria that needs to be met before this kind of investment is made by a hospital.  We realize that not only is it important for me to get a heart in order to continue to live, it is also important for Tampa General to pick the candidates whom they feel have the best chance for success.  The thought of not getting accepted into the transplant program had never crossed our minds, but that possibility was very real.  The program is investing in me and they want to make sure they get the most for that investment.  This is one of the reasons why I am going through this process now while my body is still healthy, other than my heart.

If you were to sit with me today, other than the amount of medicine I am taking, I would be just like you.  Walking, talking, eating, laughing, breathing, writing, dreaming, etc. I am no different today than I was a week ago when I was teaching, preaching and playing the guitar at church.  The only difference today is that we have reached the point where the doctors believe that my heart is not going to get any better.  Thus, the decision was made to pull the trigger and go for a transplant before my kidneys or liver or lungs start to suffer because my heart isn’t functioning.  This gives me the best opportunity to not only quickly recover, but also to live a long, successful life with a transplanted heart.

We know we are getting ready to experience one of the roughest things that we will ever have to face.  For those of you who don’t know, I am very squeamish, and I have passed out before by simply having blood drawn for an annual physical.  On one of our earlier visits here to the hospital a nurse gave me a hard time when I confessed my squeamishness.  She said, “Honey, you are in the transplant program.  You better get used to this real quick!”  We can only imagine what it is going to be like to physically and mentally recover from a heart transplant.  Not that this reality will keep us from going down this road, we simply acknowledge our fear and trembling at this point on the road.

We know that through our faith, our family and friends, along with some good old-fashioned just do-it-ness, we will overcome.  Our lives are going to be forever changed because of this experience.  We are making the choice to believe that this change is going to be for the better.  Not that it won’t be hard, but that, in the end, we will all be better for the experience.  For all of us this is truly a journey to be a successful heart transplant recipient.  We hope you will stick with us to find out exactly what that means.  For this truth is way more than mere semantics.