It means little to me now, but at the time, we hung on each lab report. I had been in Minneapolis for four days, but it felt like a lifetime. I wanted to burn the only clothes I had with me. I had showered just once.
I missed my own little family, especially during such a gut-wrenching time. At home my husband had gotten sick within 48 hours of my leaving.
He was completely run down and overwhelmed by what it took to care for our three girls under the age of 7 by himself — and he was even able to work from home during the stretch that I was gone. That part of this experience was quite comical, actually. He had officially done zero laundry. Our young daughters were also trying to make sense of what had happened: Does Grandma have a hole in her belly now? Did the new liver have to be the same color as her old one in order to match?
As we waited anxiously for a liver, thoughts of all else had fallen to the side. But now that my mom had pulled through surgery, thoughts of my regular life began to return… I was still a mom myself. Might want to check preschool calendar on board in kitchen.
Think she is supposed to wear green on Monday too. The next day on March 15, I ended up flying home to North Carolina. We were told that my mom might not be alert for days, and there was no need for all of us to be by her bedside. But my own family needed me, and I had faith that all would be okay. She had entered the hospital 11 days before, jaundiced and tired.
When she woke up, she had a new liver and no knowledge of what her body had endured, nor did she understand the emotional stress we had been under as her life hung in the balance. That basic fact created a real disconnect between her and the rest of us for quite some time.
On top of that, she was foggy and her personality seemed to change initially — she still spoke nonsensical things at times. She was confused, almost childlike, and she showed very little emotion. But it was still hard to handle. Of course, we were elated that her life had been saved, but it was like the person who had returned to us was someone we hardly knew.
As she recovered, her mind began to clear — but she was still exhausted and weak. She could hardly eat a thing. She resisted doing much of anything.
An avid reader, she refused even to read the newspaper — her arms got too tired trying to hold it, she said. She was depressed and withdrawn. Her recovery had many ups and downs medically, physically, and emotionally, but finally, on April 13, , after 38 days in the hospital, she was released. My dad said it felt like they were breaking out of prison! The next few months continued to be difficult, but overall, her body responded to the transplant remarkably well.
It had been a huge success. Her doctors had done amazing things at the University of Minnesota Medical Center.
We were told to expect complications because of the complexity of a liver transplant, but knock on wood , my mom has had no setbacks related to her liver. She celebrated her fifth rebirthday last month, and she has enjoyed watching my nephew, now 5, grow into a mini version of his dad. They will always share a special bond, as their stories of birth and rebirth will forever be intertwined.
In every sense of the word, her life is full. On that cold March day in , an angel got her wings. And we will be forever grateful to the strong and vibrant year-old woman who left a part of herself behind as she left this world.
I often think about how different things were for both families on that fateful day. Us, in Minnesota: desperate, terrified, hopeful — and then overcome with relief that brings you to your knees. This stranger and her family are heroes to us. April is National Donate Life Month. Are you an organ donor? From Donate Life America:. Transplantation is one of the most remarkable success stories in the history of medicine.
But despite continuing advances in medicine and technology, the need for organs and tissue is vastly greater than the number available for transplantation. Currently, more than , men, women, and children are awaiting organ transplants in the United States. An average of 18 people die each day from the lack of available organs for transplant.
For more information, please go to www. If so, please pin the image below to share it with your friends. Do you have a story to tell? Did this post resonate with you somehow? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below! The holidays are approaching quickly, and this time of year can become so overwhelming Christy, I had no idea your family had been through this. Your writing is so beautiful…I was crying and laughing and feeling your gut-wrenching emotions as I read your story.
Thank you for sharing. I hope this inspires others to choose organ donation. Blessings to you all! Thanks, Laurie — what a nice note to read! Such a miracle! Thanks again. Christy — So amazing to hear your story!
That must have been so hard. Give your mom a big hug for me next time you see her —. Modern medicine is truly amazing. Take care, and thanks for taking a moment to leave me a note. Beautifully written, Christy. I hope it is shared far and wide, and that all that read it talk to their families and friends about becoming organ donors.
I remember this time quite clearly, the shock and worry, and the relief. Thank goodness for medicine, and for humanity. Thanks, Susie. As I read through my notes from that time, I was reminded once again how crazy it was that everything happened the way that it did. We will be forever grateful to the donor, her family, and the doctors who did amazing things. Thank you for sharing your story.
My dad is undergoing tests to determine if he is a candidate for a liver transplant. Thank you again. Thanks for your note, Michelle. But at the same time, it really is a miracle of modern medicine that those who are leaving this world can save many lives before they go. Truly incredible.
I wish your dad healthier days ahead! Take care. Reading your post was like reliving the most difficult time in my life. We lost my mom in August to cryptogenic cirrhosis. One minute we were at the beach on vacation, a week later she was in the transplant unit of our local hospital.
I have always been an organ donor, but after losing my mom almost every member of my family and most of her friends became organ donors too. Best wishes to your mom, and your family.
Wow, Jessica. Your note brought tears to my eyes. I realize how lucky we were. Thank you for taking a moment to share your story. I extend my deepest sympathy to you and your family… take good care.
Lots of tests. There are so many things. In , Rebecca Perl had a new baby boy that she and her partner, Tom, named Griffin. Around 8. This is how I passed my day — and in some ways it is no different from how I pass my days when I am not ill. And it sits badly with me. This time we're only here for two days, and Griffin is with us.