A Little Nervous...about the Beach!

I am leaving early in the morning for a trip to Florida. I am excited and nervous all rolled into one. On the positive, giddy side, I am ready for a break. Today is the last day of work for us teachers and we are all ready to get away for a little while. This year has been a huge roller coaster of emotion and recovery and I am looking forward to the relaxation that awaits. (That is assuming I will be able to relax when I get there) As I have said before, my only goal when I get there is to go surfing. Maybe, I should say try to go surfing.

On a more negative note, I am nervous as a cat on a hot, tin roof (as Daddy would always say) about going to Florida. Last time I spent an extended amount of time in Florida, I came back with second degree burns on my feet and knees. It was UGLY!! Feet swollen like a balloon and so hot, they melted ice as fast as you put it on! It was awful and all my fault. That was the first time (not the last mind you) that I ignored the advice of the doctors and did my own thing to find out they were right all along. Darn doctors....why do they always have to prove me wrong! They said not to get out in the sun because my immune system was too low and I would get burned. Yep, within 48 hours I had cut both my friends and my vacation short to make a trip back up to the emergency room at Emory.

So that is the reason that I am both excited and nervous. Maybe this time will be better. I can guarantee one thing......there will be a TON of sunscreen used this time. Say a prayer for me that I do not get eaten by a shark while surfing and more importantly that I don't get a second degree sunburn!


Conversations with Dad

The other day Mom and Dad came over to look at what I have done in my attempt to landscape my yard. After we discussed what the future plans for the yard were we began to just talk randomly about life. With my 1st transplantiversary not long ago, my birthday not long after that, and the organ donation awareness work I have been doing, there have been some fairly serious conversations between Mom, Dad, and me.

That day we were discussing how far that I have come in only a year. We were mainly discussing how I still become frustrated with where I am and where I think that I should be in my recovery. I was telling them that I was a little frustrated on my birthday because my strength in the gym wasn't coming back as quick as I wanted. (Trivial I know!) I told them that I got a smack from God in front of the church while teaching Sunday School. Out of nowhere I realized that my hamstrings were SORE!!! It automatically made me think about my groaning and whining about my progress over the year. I was standing in front of the church sore from a soccer game I played on Saturday, while only a year ago I was in my cousin's wedding scared I was going to pass out in front of all the guests. I couldn't even stand up straight because of the 56 staples holding me together. God told me then and there that I should not be complaining. I now agree....I am blessed beyond measure but sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees!

After my story, Dad started talking about "The Night." Yes, the night of the phone call, that phone call from Emory saying they had a liver for me. I have told the story of the mixed emotions that I had involving that phone call, but ultimately I was happy. I was looking forward to a better, healthier, more fulfilling life. I assumed it was the same for my family. They had seen me sick for so long, I figured they would be excited for a better life for me. I was wrong to a degree. Dad said that when the phone call came, he was initially excited, but within a few seconds that excitement turned to fear. A fear he never had before. I fear I do not understand and will not understand until I have a child of my own, I suppose. The fear was that he may be spending his last few moments with me. What should be said? What should be done? It was 2 A.M. and we were in a rush as I got to their house to leave. There was nothing to be done at that time. If my time was up, we had made all of the memories to be made. That is a hard pill to swallow. That is hard to imagine from his point of view. It is hard to think about from my point of view, because I remember having the same thoughts.

Craig has told me he had the same fears but he just wanted to keep me calm on the drive down. I remember Craig and me laughing about whatever we laugh about (which can be anything) on the way down. I remember getting upset at Dad because we were annoying him with our laughing. I remember seeing the terrified look on each of their faces. It was hard for me to see their fear in the car, as they were running the tests on me, and especially in the room before they rolled me into the OR. I can't really remember if we said goodbye. I like to think we didn't...I do remember telling them I will see them in a few hours. I do remember Craig turning his head so I didn't see him cry. That, I do believe, was harder for me than seeing Mom and Dad cry. I was glad that as I said those words the doctor was putting me to sleep.

This whole conversation made me think about how much time we wasted. We were blessed 4 or 5 good years after my diagnosis where I was fairly healthy. I could do anything or go anywhere. We didn't live, we survived. We played it safe. I regret playing it safe. I wish we had taken some trips, stepped out of our comfort zone and had some fun. We just kept on with our lives like nothing was wrong and the end was never coming. In a way we have gotten back to that same spirit of complacency.

Many families whose loved ones are victims of a tragic death do not have that time. Their loved one is lost in an instant....my donor's family is probably in that boat. A car wreck, a tragic sports accident, who knows? If they had things to do over again I assume they would make the most of the time they had with their loved ones.

We have had time added to the clock....time to make memories. I don't want to waste that time again. I want to live, not survive. I am tired of playing it safe. I want to do things that are meaningful, a benefit to others, and have a good time doing it. I want to live for God because he is the one I have to thank for resetting the timer on my life. I want to love people unselfishly. I don't want to waste any more time.

We never know when our time is up, so take the time that is left and make it worthwhile. Don't get the call and wish that more had been done, that more memories were made, that things had been said. Do something, make memories, and say what is important to say to those you love! Live! Don't survive. There is a difference.


A Blurb

Tonight on House, one of the possible diagnoses was PSC. They actually said the entire name, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis! It was not the final diagnosis of the patient but Cameron thought it might be for a hot minute. Then House was rude and shot her idea down of course. Maybe one day!

No one else probably cares, but hey, that is why I have my own blog!! I can write what I want!


Me a Mentor?

It almost makes me laugh to hear that because I am not sure that I will be able to help people when they need help. I have always been awful at knowing what to say in bad situations and my confidence is low in thinking that I will be efficient in that area. I am hoping that after the Georgia Transplant Foundation's training on May 19 I will be a little better. I think that it will be easier once I get into it. I have been through what my mentees(sounds funny!) are going through so I should be able to help, right? Anyways, I have not been able to attend the past couple of trainings due to prior engagements and had a concert planned for the same date as this one. I finally broke down and decided that it is more important for me to do this than to go to a concert. Luckily, it is an all-day concert so I don't have to worry about missing the headliner because I will head over there after the training. (Come to think of it, I don't even know who the headliner is!)

Things are have been and will continue to be nuts until the end of school which is 2 weeks away. Then I get my long break from teaching. I need it!! I have been down lately, but after praying and trying to figure out what is going on with me, I think I am just mentally overloaded. There has been a ton happen to me in the past year and I have not really allowed myself to just relax. I also tend to assume other people's problems that keeps me stressed out when there is no real need for it. I always want to do more and more and forget that it will all come with time and patience.

I have started attending a Bible study group on Sunday evenings at a church in Gainesville. I am really enjoying it and the people who are part of the group are terrific. It was a married group until a few weeks ago and they opened it up to people who were in their mid 20's to 30's. It is still made up of mostly married people so I am in the minority. They are a very close knit group and hopefully they will assimilate us into the group soon. They are all friendly and have been more than welcoming up to this point. I am not sure if any of them read this, but if they do, I would like to say, "Thank you." I look forward to my Sunday nights now....even though I still have to go to work on Monday. Something needs to be done about that!

I am looking forward to school ending and a trip to Florida that I have planned. The only thing I want to do when I get down there is to try surfing. I don't know why I have always wanted to try it. It looks cool and all but me being a good ol' boy it should be on the bottom of my stereotypical list. I guess I am not very stereotypical though when I'm compared to people from around here. I do not hunt, because I like to be warm. I like to fish, but I rarely do it. Surfing appeals to me for some reason. I think it just looks peaceful, with little spurts of intense activity. We will soon find out if I am cut out for it!

I guess that is enough rambling for now. I have gotten serious about writing my letter too. I have written a few drafts but not totally comfortable with what I want to say yet. I will be putting more up about that soon hopefully.


National Day of Prayer

After reading Jill's blog, a friend and fellow transplant recipient, from yesterday, I figured I would write a short post about today being the National Day of Prayer.

Over the past few years and especially over the past year, I have a ton to be thankful for. I have gone from being sick and given a timeline to live to being healthy thanks to the process of transplantation. It has given me a new life and I have my donor family and God for making it all possible. Before my surgery and even to this day I have numerous people praying for me. I have gotten letters, cards, emails, and phone calls from people I have never met saying I am on their prayer list. Some of those people are from states I have never visited. It is amazing to know how prayer can spread through just a few people in a small town in Georgia to places all over the country. God is amazing! I just want to be sure to give Him a little praise for the mountains he has helped me climb. I kind of like keeping Him around!

I have some prayer requests for those of you who are praying people.

Remember those 96,000+ people whose lives are on hold while they wait on their gift. Most are not as lucky or blessed as I was and are required to wait much, much longer than my 12 days. Some have been on the list for over a year. Remember them as they fight each day with whatever ailment they are fighting that has caused their situation.

Remember the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings. As a country, we tend to be fired up and there for the victims for a while and soon they fade from our thoughts. This is when it gets hard for those involved. Let's keep them in our prayers because even when we can't seem to comfort, we can pray to one who can.

On a more personal note, pray for a friend who was told that they had a tumor on their brain stem recently.

And as always, if you get a little time....send one up to the Big Man for me. I can always use them!

Donate life!! Be an organ donor!