These are lightly edited versions of posts that were originally shared on Facebook while we were in the hospital, immediately before, during and after Renee’s transplant. I am preserving them here for future reference.
Friday, August 21, 2015
We were released from the hospital around 4PM, after Renee was disconnected from the monitors, had the last of the IVs removed and a parade of doctors, pharmacists, nurses and Physician’s Assistants came through, each with instructions and often, papers for us to take home.
But finally, the last paper was signed, they called the orderly with the wheelie cart and us, many more bags than we came with, a walker and a bedside commode made our way down to valet parking to load up the family trickster and make our way home.
And now – we are home, Renee is sorting her mountain of medication and the kitties are up to their typical shenanigans. I made chicken tacos and we had dinner and everything felt remarkably… normal.
Except, it isn’t anything at all like normal.
We have a pile of medicine on the kitchen table that says it isn’t normal. We have a bedside commode and a walker (both of which should be temporary) that says it isn’t normal. She fell as we came in the house, part laughing and part crying – not normal. And Renee has a heart in her chest with no wires attached for the first time since she was 13, a heart beating so strong she says she can hear it in her ears.
Nothing is normal.
Scary? Yes. Amazing? Absolutely. Emotional? You have no idea.
But nothing at all like normal.
The last 10 days or so have been life altering – for both of us. Renee has a new heart, I have a new wife. I told one of the doctors today that Renee walks and talks now – she never did before. I told him that I thought she was just quiet, but maybe she isn’t – maybe it was just hard for her to talk.
I have never been married to Renee as a person who could be active. She has never not needed me to help her. We are new people, in a new phase of our lives, looking forward to our new normal.
We have felt tremendously loved over the last 10 days. I don’t have the words to say everything I feel toward the folks who have prayed for us, loved us, called and texted, sent gifts and cards, donated cash and sent gift cards. Especially the gift cards – they made survival possible. I ate my first meal at home tonight, after eating out for 3 meals a day for 10 days. Chicken tacos have never tasted so good.
The struggle isn’t over – in fact, it is really just starting. I had to call a friend tonight to sit with Renee while I went to the store – that sort of thing is going to have to happen a lot over the next few days. Renee had the following conversation with the pharmacist:
Pharmacist: That medication is $94.
Renee: I thought insurance was supposed to cover it?
Pharmacist: Your insurance paid $1156 dollars of it.
Wow. Thanks, Obama.
We are looking at so many medical bills in the weeks to come. The number of medications she is on is staggering. Just her moving around out little house is a challenge. One day soon, I am going to have to go back to work. Life doesn’t stop just because your whole world changed.
This will be my last scheduled update – life at home moves at a slower pace (hopefully) than life at the hospital. I will resume my regular programming – being the loveable curmudgeon whose love language is pot-stirring. I have been touched by the response to my daily posts – I am collecting them and will publish a slightly edited version of them at my blog as a daily diary of such. Given the reality of our financial situation, there will probably be a gofundme in our future to help with the medical bills. In the meantime, if you feel inclined to help, here is a link that will allow you to send us money via PayPal for our medical expenses.
So much to be scared of. So many reasons to be afraid. But, at the end of the day, what matters to me is my girl got a new heart, and that is worth any amount of fear. And we are always mindful that the reason she got that heart was because someone decided to donate their organs, paying the gift of life forward. That a family we do not know engaged in an act of pure love – they didn’t love us, they just loved the idea of us – and to them, that was enough. And we are grateful.
The future is bright. And filled with fear. And so much love. According to John, love casts out fear.
I am not just hoping that is true – we are counting on it.
Take care of yourself. And each other.