This morning at 6:45, the phone rang. It was the transplant team at Duke – there was a heart available for Renee, and we needed to get there, ASAP.
It was a blur. There was rushed showers, shoving clean underwear and t-shirts in backpacks, calling coworkers and family members, hiding a key for whoever was going to come feed our cats and chickens, wishing we had done the laundry yesterday, trying to get out the door as soon as humanly possible. We got to Duke by 8:30 AM. I was sort of proud, to tell you the truth.
Valet parking, at $9 a day, because I am not going to drop my wife at the door while I go hunt for parking – not on a day like this. We make it to the admissions desk, where we are given incredibly complex directions that involve various elevator colors and door sizes (go through the little door, past the big doors). We get lost and go back, to find out that really, we go in the elevators in front of us, go to the 9th floor and turn right. The door (which seemed normal sized to me) was on the left.
It is pre-op, and they are pushing Renee into a gown, getting urine samples and doing verbal checks of the 15 various meds Renee takes each day, complete with dosage and when the last time she took them. People come and go, papers are explained (You understand that there is risk of death and that there are no guaranties provided…) and then signed and witnessed. The nurse leaves to get the equipment to install an IV in Renee’s arm.
We have a wide circle of friends who love us and want to help – we need to tell them and Social Media is the fastest, most efficient way. But the reality is, we have fears around sharing this information on Social Media for several reasons – one being that, as the papers we just signed stated so bluntly, there is a risk of death, and honestly, I don’t want to live tweet my wife dying on the table. So I am in the corner, on my laptop, preparing a statement to go on both our Facebook pages, telling folks what is going on, how to help us and telling them we are going silent. If all goes well, I will notify them on the other side.
Just as I finish the statement, the nurse is called to the phone at the nurse’s station. While she is gone, Renee’s cell rings. It is the transplant team – there was something wrong with the donor’s heart. We can go home and wait for another one. The nurse comes back in the room to tell us the same thing. Get dressed go home. Wait for the next call.
Better luck next time. Today isn’t the day after all. It is just another day.
We leave the hospital at 10:30 AM, just two hours after we arrive. In the last 4 hours we have felt the whole range of human emotions, from excitement to terror to fear to anticipation. There was signing of documents saying my girl might die, and my saying I won’t sue them if they kill her. We called friends who began a four hour drive to be with us, and then had to call them back to say stay home. We were exhausted and hungry and severely caffeine deprived.
We went to Whole Foods on the way home and ate at the hot bar for breakfast. I thought I would need a heart transplant myself when the woman told me the total for eggs, sausage, biscuits, and grits for two of us was $28.00. It was on a damn paper plate, for crying out loud. It is a sign of my state of mind that I didn’t even protest.
And then we went home, and unpacked the clothes and I took a shower and went to work.
After all, it was just another day.