Today is a very special day.
It’s my 1-year Transplant Anniversary.
12% of us who receive new livers don’t make it to this day, and that in itself is so sobering to me. I’ve been given a gift and my body has nurtured it to live within.
After what I’ve been through this year, the polarity of the ups and downs, the critical moments I’ve been though, I’m so thankful to have come out alive. I pray though I’ve been tried through fire, I’ve come forth like gold.
The memories are so strong today. Waiting for my organ, the surgery and recovery, trying to merge my new and old lives… Often I don’t like my mind to go to these thoughts, but they are a part of my soul.
Today, I remember sitting at the kitchen table on a summer night, during the waiting period, reading every word in my transplant binder. I can close my eyes and feel each cool saline flush running into my jugular line, the taste of it behind my throat. Then I remember trying to read the lunch menu only to find the words vibrating beyond recognition all because of the high-dose of steroids I was on. I remember spending two days at the Clinic in an exhilarating whirlwind of exhaustive testing – all to gain UNOS’ approval. Then there’s the sick feeling I get when I remember leaving my parents and best friend for the last time, not knowing whether or not I would ever see them again. I cringe to remember a week propped up on pillows, thoughtfully arranged to take away as much pain as possible. I remember going into a fake diabetes cycle while I was hospitalized after my transplant. I had to get my blood sugars drawn and usually had to get insulin afterwards. I was miserable. I remember great nurses I had during my 3 hospital stays on the transplant unit, like Chrissy, Natasha, and Kat… and a few who are nameless in my memories, but all as much special. One word: chemo. I hate reliving Dr. Peter pulling out my drains like snakes coming out of my abdomen. I can’t even keep up with the ups and downs of my blood counts! The Epstein-Barr virus was a disaster. I so love Michelle at LabCare. I can’t stand remembering the pain that no pain pump could control. I remember going home – so glad to be home but too extremely uncomfortable to be happy about it.
This year, I realized I was stronger than I thought. I learned God had the final say and everything before that was in His control. I really, truly suffered – mentally, physically, and emotionally. I watched my family all but break. I met new friends. I learned so much. I pushed myself. People sacrificed for me. I grew. Yes, somehow I grew.
My transplant was a miracle in many ways. It is first and foremost a beautiful, selfless gift to me from a complete stranger. I am humble. I am without words. I am forever indebted to the family of my donor, whomever, wherever they may be. On my day of gratitude and celebration, I know they are mourning the one-year anniversary of their son’s accident and death. That makes this day so bittersweet. There’s a little dark cloud in my sky that won’t ever go away. It’s extra dark today. If only I could know his first name, even if only for my mind’s sake.
It’s so hard to “get” …
Someone had to die so I could live.
On another note, I’m thankful for this year although I feel a little “at capacity” right now. I pray God keeps His hand on my life and on my health, and I’m eager to see what comes from here.
Lastly, I owe a thousand “thank yous” to people literally around the world who have shared in this journey. If you played any part at all – big or small – in my miracle during the past year, please take a thank you for yourself. I pray I can give back what has been given to me.
So much love,