Find a different way to stand

That Oprah lady has some good things to say every now and then.

This quote by her sums up what I want to tell people when they ask me how I have made it through these trials at such a young age.

"Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don't fight them. Just find a different way to stand."
--Oprah Winfrey

Find a different way to stand! That's deep enough..nothing else to add.


One Year - So Much To Be Thankful For

Today marks one year since this journey with my new liver began. I have been thinking a lot about how things were before. I do this to keep perspective on how far I have come in the past year. There are mixed feelings about almost everything as I look back. There are things that I have done since surgery that I wish I hadn't. There are many more things that I wish I would have had the courage to do.

The past year has both flown and creeped by all at once. Looking back, I can't believe that a year has past, but as I was going through some of the trials it seemed so slow. I have had relatively few setbacks, the main one being the sinister CMV.

Today was a great day, though I was tired. Craig and I spent the weekend in Bristol at the race and got home around 3:30 AM. Three hours later, I was out of bed and getting ready for work. The day was non-stop with surprise after surprise. The people that I work with went completely out of their way to make today all about me and the transplant. Through some sneaky planning, my class made pancakes for me(blueberry with peanut butter, my favorite), my co-workers made a huge spread for lunch, and the faculty showed up for a party at the end of the day. They also had a lady from Lifelink (the organ procurement agency for Georgia, Florida, and Puerto Rico) come discuss organ donation with the faculty and give out some Donate Life goodies. The school wore green today for organ donation awareness and I knew nothing of the entire thing. I, of course, was wearing my green "Recycle" t-shirt (photo to come). There were some sneaking suspicions, but I never imagined the extent they would go to make me feel special. I am not the type who enjoys being the center of attention. I actually tend to shy away from the spotlight, but today was nice. It is a great feeling to know that you have people who are there for you. That people are willing to take time out of their busy schedules as moms and teachers to plan something that is special to me. Organ donation has become one of my passions and I am trying my hardest to get more and more into furthering the cause in any way that I can. The people that I work with realize this and are helping me to meet this goal. These types of things do not go unnoticed. I will honestly remember this day for the rest of my life. I cannot remember a day where so many people came together to show me that they love me. It still amazes me and more than once today it choked me up, and is again as I type this.

It is so easy to lose sight of all that you have to be thankful for. There is the obvious, the transplant, that is the reason that I am here and able to type this today. But there are many other things that I have to be thankful for. I am thankful for the donor family, who in extremely hard times, were unselfish enough to donate their loved ones organs to me and possibly others. I intend on writing a letter to them when I find words that can BEGIN to wrap around the love that I have for those people. There are my friends and coworkers who show their love everyday, in ways they do not even know. They show their love even in times where I am extremely close to unlovable. My family, who has stood beside me through this entire process. There have been many ups and downs that they only know about, and even more that Craig only knows about. He has been the one that I lean on, he has been the one that I can tell when I hit rock bottom. He is the one who constantly pulls me back up when I am ready to give up. That has been more than once. Sarah, though she came after the surgery, has been another person that I can tell anything to in confidence and know that I will not be judged. She has been my motivator and does not let me use the transplant as an excuse to give up on anything. For that I am thankful because there are times that I get lazy and would use it as a crutch. She pushes me to better myself constantly. There are so many people that I could name that have been an inspiration to me. There are the doctors and the nurses on 9E and in the transplant clinic who never told me that my goals were unreachable. They told me they were lofty, but that I should shoot for them. If any of them happen to read this, I want them to know that each one was met. I returned to work in August, I went hiking, I am back on my mountain bike, I am working out, and I am enjoying life like I never thought that I would again.

There are many things that I haven't done and at times I feel like I am still not living. I want to step out of my comfort zone and make a difference in the world. I don't need to make a big difference, just a little ripple will be fine with me. I want to make my donor and their family proud. I want them to know that their decision was not made in vain. Their loved one is living on inside me and I tell our story everywhere I go. I am thankful for so much and this post barely scrapes the surface of all that I am feeling at the moment. I thank God for giving me the faith to trust in him, the strength to carry on through hard times, and the time to make a difference in the world for him. I want Him to be proud of me when it is my time to go more than anything else. Happy 1st transplantiversary to me! Happy 1st transplantiversary to my donor! Happy 1st transplantiversary to all those who have stood by me and loved me through it all.


2 for 1 deal

As I was checking my email this morning, I noticed the top story on Yahoo! was about liver transplantation. It was an awesome story which will no doubt raise ethical concerns in the near future. As a transplant recipient and knowing about the organ shortage it was nice to see that organ donation and transplantation had front row seats on one of the most popular websites on the internet!

The story told of a 21 year old college student who got the call that she was to receive a new liver. When she got to the hospital, she learned there was a baby girl who was in serious need of a liver as well. She asked the doctor if he could split the liver and give part to the baby. The liver is able to regenerate itself in about a month with enough blood flow. Most pediatric livers use only one lobe of the liver and often times the other is given to someone else or thrown away. The doctor agreed to split the liver and now two lives were saved with one organ.

This is a fascinating story about a brave girl who was willing to risk her chances to save someone else. She is my newest hero! That is one heck of an example of unselfish love for your fellow man. I applaud the doctor for taking the chance as well as the young lady who was able to be so unselfish at a time when she had every right to be selfish!


Q&A update

Yesterday was the Q&A at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. It went surprisingly well even though I could barely talk! It never fails that I lose my voice on the days that I am required to talk in front of people. Oh well, it was a very informal support group type meeting so no big deal. I think that Jenn and I did a pretty good job and hopefully calmed some of the parent's fears. I feel for the parents of these children who are never going to know a life without medication and doctor's appointments. I hope that seeing Jenn and me as productive citizens post-transplant will give them hope for their children to live fulfilling lives.

We got some good feedback from some of the people running the show and have invited us back for something similar in the future. I can't wait to go again. I honestly think I could do that everyday. It has been exciting meeting so many people here lately who are passionate about organ donation and transplantation. I admire each one of them, but some have never even been directly affected, those I really admire. They have a love and a passion for others that hopefully one day I will realize. They amaze me.

18 days until my 1st transplantiversary!!


Walking and Riding for Organ Donation

Next Wednesday is the big day! I am going to talk to the group of parents at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and I am getting excited about going. I am going into this blind, not knowing what to expect but I am looking forward to talking to people about my experience with transplantation. I have no idea what I am going to say. I hope that I will be able to say something worthwhile to the parents. Brent left a comment on my earlier post telling me to be honest about my feelings. He said that the parents are wanting to know what is going on inside of their children emotionally so they can help. I think that was great advice and I will be taking that with me to the session.

I have also been in contact with others who are active in the organ donation world. It seems I have been meeting lots of wonderful people lately. First there was Kim, from Pensacola, which I mentioned in an earlier post.

In the past week, I have been fortunate enough to speak with two other people through email. The first was a lady named Amanda Prather from Jasper, Ga. Her father received a kidney from her sister through the living donor process two years ago. She is organizing a walk for organ donation in Jasper on April 14, 2007. The name of the walk is Donate Life Walk: Raising Awareness One Friend At A Time. Here are pictures from last years 1st annual walk. If any of you are willing to walk, I am going to try and get a group from Dahlonega to head over to Jasper that morning to show our support for organ donation as well. If you are interested let me know and I will get you a registration form. There is a registration fee that includes a T-shirt. All of the proceeds will go to support the Georgia Transplant Foundation.

The other person that I have been talking to is from California. (This is where technology amazes me. I never would have known about Team Donate Life, let alone talk to someone involved if it weren't for the internet.) Kent Mulkey and I have been exchanging emails lately about biking and organ donation. Mr. Mulkey is riding in the Race Across America (RAAM) for Team Donate Life. He will be riding over 1500 miles in 8 days on a bicycle. He became involved in organ donation after his best friend and best friend's dad went through the living donor process. He is now the main man in charge of Team Donate Life as well as his own life. Check out Kent's blog, An Unfinished Life. It is an inspiring one!

I think that it is cool how many doors have been opening up lately for me to get to know so many people in the organ donation community. I enjoy meeting everyone and hope to meet many more in the future!