This month marks the one year anniversary of my husband’s liver transplant. It has been quite a year. As with many big life events I think there’s a part of me that says, “Wow, it’s been a year already,” and the other part says, “It’s ONLY been a year?” It’s been a very eventful year. Part of me wishes I had journaled the events a little more closely. Reflecting on the events and emotions has been good for me. It makes me realize I can get through a lot and come out on the other end a little wiser, a little softer, a little smarter, and at the same time a little less willing to put up with too much bull*@%t.
I’ve told the story of Jerry’s transplant in previous posts. The day we got the call is a day I will never forget. Post surgery he was in ICU for a few days – which had its own entertaining factors. Like the High School students who were visiting as part of a program to see if they wanted to be nurses. Jerry gave them the history of lunacy and its relation to the full moon (???). Some of the drugs made him a little nasty at times and I had to leave the room. He fought his breathing tube and it was heartbreaking to watch and difficult for me to keep my shit together to try to calm him. But I did.
We had great nurses on our floor – specially trained in transplants. I felt comfortable enough to go home and sleep at night, among piles of boxes from moving day, and rise semi-rested to be back at the hospital for doctors’ rounds. We had to practice walking again, doing laps around the hospital floor. During one of those laps we ran into a friend who worked at the local SCUBA shop – he was also an IT tech for the hospital. Big City, Small World.
The complications were the hardest. Not knowing what was wrong, but that something was wrong, tests upon tests, doctors from every department. The diagnosis was a worst-case scenario, something incredibly rare in organ transplants. There was a significant chance he wouldn’t survive. But he did. Why? As my sister said, “Because he’s Jerry.” As he recovered, doctors and surgeons came to see him during our post transplant visits and said things like, “You really gave me a scare, I lost sleep over you.” and “I called in every day from vacation to see how you were doing. I’m so glad to see you well.” Jerry turned to me and said, “I almost really died, didn’t I?” Yeah. Yeah, you did.
During his first follow up visits he wasn’t strong enough to walk from the car into the clinic, so I’d load him into the wheel chair, get him in the lobby, park the car, run back in, and we’d get to where we needed to go. He had to wear a mask so he wouldn’t contract any germs. As the weeks and months went by he got stronger and stronger. He graduated to a cane, and now he tells me to walk faster to keep up with him. His medication schedule is a little different than most transplant recipients due to the complications he experienced, but he’s a fighter. The strongest person I know. He’s my partner, my love, my friend, my everything.
For him to receive this gift, someone else had to die. We don’t know much about her, except that she was a young female. Her family chose to give the gift of life to others and donate her organs. For that we will be forever grateful. This year we celebrated her, as we will every year. We will remember her and we will honor her. I have always felt organ donation was a logical thing to do; now there is no question in my mind. I’m quite passionate about it. So I turn to all of my readers and ask you to think about it. Are you already a donor? Tell me about it. Have you donated a loved one’s organs? I’m deeply sorry for your loss and admire your strength to make that choice in a time of great pain and sorrow. Thank you.
You can register through your local DMV to be an organ donor or you can register through www.DonateLife.net. The website answers many questions and lists all of the ways you can save a life by donating your organs and tissue. Different organs can include: heart, lungs, kidney, liver, cornea, intestines, pancreas, and tissue. Tissue can even include bone, muscle, skin, nerves, and connective tissue.
The website also addresses questions and concerns about organ donation including some that I have been asked: #1) Your life always comes first; #2) People of all ages and medical history can donate; #3) An open casket funeral is possible even with organ, eye, and tissue donation; #3) Major religions support organ donation as a final act of generosity and compassion.
So Donate Life. Save a husband, a wife, a best friend, a son, a daughter. #DonateLife