The end and the beginning

Do what God tells you. Walk in the paths He shows you. Follow the life-map absolutely, keep an eye out for the signposts, His course for life set out in the revelation to Moses, then you’ll get on well in whatever you do and wherever you go. 

 1 Kings 2:3 The Message

Nine months ago, I answered a Facebook post about a beautiful young man who needed a liver transplant in Pittsburgh PA…I didn’t overthink it.  I had his blood type.  All I knew was there was a mama’s heart that was crying out to the world “save my boy!” and as a mama, I had to try at least to answer that call.  You know the rest of the story…if not, go back to my first post.  

Six months later, I am in an OR in Denver, Colorado surrounded by the best of the best medical staff ready to take out 60% of my liver to transplant it into a woman who I may never know in this life.  I was asked one last time if I understood the risks (death, life-long liver issues, etc.) and if I was willing to go through with it.  At that moment I could have flinched with zero repercussions and the medical staff would have said I was medically unfit for this transplant.  I took a deep breath throwing myself on the mercy of God, said “yes”, and was quickly asleep.  Honestly, I was very scared.

For the forty days before I had been fasting sugar and praying for reassurance that I was doing the right thing.  I didn’t want to cause my family any heartache or undue pain because of my rash decision.  Who was I to think I should/could/would save a life? What I was searching for was reassurance that I’d wake up.  I had a 2 in 500 chance of dying and they had never had a death in 20 years at Anshultz…I barely passed statistics but it seemed in my estimation they were probably due for one. All he would tell me was to prepare and be ready. Ready for what?

Going into the hospital on February 6, 2022, I was ready for whatever was going to happen.  I told all my loved ones I loved them and shared with my family my wishes regarding whatever may come.  That early, early dawn was very intense yet I felt light like I was walking a well-known path home.  

Fortunately, we all know I woke up and came home 5 days later.  I don’t remember the hospital much or even how I got home.  I assume the staff was amazing and I was a terrific patient.  The physical therapist who made me walk every day annoyed me though. Before I knew it I was home on my comfy couch with my blue blanket on Valentine’s Day. 

Since then, I have gone through weeks & weeks of recovery.  Great weeks followed by bad weeks…my energy has grown and I’m even gone back to teaching yoga very part-time.   I am not back to where I was before but I have time.  I have a killer scar that I don’t mind showing off. 

Mainly I have come away with an assurance that I can jump into crazy things and I will be caught.  The famous naturalist, John Burroughs, once said, “Leap, and the net will appear.”

Here is a random list of things I learned over the last 17 weeks:

  • I have felt particularly close to God in the pain.  He’s never left me.
  • I have the greatest community in the world.  Honestly, I didn’t think anyone would support us, yet we were fed very, very well for over 8 weeks plus and I got lots of extra treats on my 50th birthday.
  • Patience is the worst but also the best.  All good things come on slowly so they are steady & strong…like a tree.
  • I am in total love with my family and I am the biggest fan of my kids and Dan.  It’s probably not easy to have a mom/wife who doesn’t do anything small yet they are always there to love me and support me, even if it means taking off from college and work and walking our Guy. Despite my best efforts, my kids are all seriously amazing and caring. They rallied 150% for me.  
  • There are a thousand bad liver jokes. Yes, I was de-livered.  
  • Dan had to put up with a lot more push-back and stress than I thought he would.  I am forever grateful for his love and support. I probably didn’t help his blood pressure.
  • Facing uncertainty made me gain a new deeper appreciation for the everyday.  I got a clearer vision of what is important and what is not.
  • You can get to the end of YouTube.
  • I am in total awe of Western medicine and the physicians and nurses who work way too hard every day for a very unappreciative society.  
  • My body (and yours) is freaking amazing.  What a marvelous creation!  High-five to God the Creator.  
  • Walking for exercise is tremendous.  I don’t know if I’ll ever have the fervor I had for running again but you never know. I’m walking for now.
  • Have I mentioned I have a killer scar?  I was afraid Dan would find it hideous, but he doesn’t.  I love him for that.  Do you want to see it? 
  • You can completely love someone and never know them.  My recipient is doing well.  The ball of meeting me is in her court now and I have nothing but love and admiration for all she has and will have to go through to get her life back.  I have no regrets and will never feel remorse if I never meet her this side of heaven.
  • And again, God is the best.  I am forever grateful for my salvation and the reason that I live…to be a picture of His love to the world. 

In conclusion, I want to thank all of you for your words of encouragement and love.  They have been amazing to read.  I am “out of the woods” so to speak, yet I will be followed closely by my Anshultz Transplant staff for about 2 years, and then, my whole life, if any liver issues come up. 

One note: please, please, please consider being an organ donor.  Mark it on your driver’s license.  You can’t take it with you and you certainly won’t need any of it.  

So what now?  A funny thing happened while I was praying about becoming an organ donor.  One day, I felt inspired to fill out an application to pursue my dream and I found three amazing people to write me recommendations.  Nine days after my surgery and when I was barely conscious, I had a three-hour group interview.  I don’t remember a lot of my answers, but Renah was near and said I did fine and was fairly coherent.  No, I didn’t show them my scar. 

Two months later, I was surprisingly accepted by the University of Northern Colorado’s Graduate School to pursue a Master’s degree in Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling and Therapy.  92 people applied for the 32 slots…I am still shocked that I made the cut.  Go Bears! I start this August.  I am so excited and scared to start school again, yet since I graduated from Cornell in 1994 it has been my wish to be a trauma/grief therapist. I have a huge learning curve ahead of me but I’m ready to take it on with God’s will and my family’s support.  Plus Seth will be there to show me where things are. There’s probably nothing like going to college with your mom. Lucky him! Fortunately, Dan fell in love with me at college so I’m just returning to my roots…28 years later. 

Again, thank you for your support and love and concern over the last 17 weeks.  We all have appreciated it and cherish all our friends and family. 

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?  Mary Oliver

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