Tuesday, May 31, 2005

I'm Back

But with details of our trip later.

I'm sick today, so I'm trying to find a doctor to see me. Mine is out for who knows how long because of a death in the family. I completly understand his plight, but this makes it no fun for me trying to find someone to see me as a new patient walk-in. And with all of my medical drama, I don't want to see just anyone.

Anyway, I'm seeing someone at Occupational Health in about an hour. Hopefully, if they can't find out what's wrong with me, they can at least pull some strings somewhere to get me in to see a doc today.

We had an interesting trip to Miami....but more on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Going out of Town

Hi, everyone.

I just wanted to let everyone know that Rick and I are headed out to Miami tomorrow for a little R&R with his family. I'm SO excited to have a vacation! I probably won't be posting anything until next week sometime, since we won't be back in town until Monday night.

Oh, and for those of you who read my post yesterday, I did get rid of the empty beer bottles and cans without having to put it in my car. This is one of the only times you'll hear me say this: Thank goodness for all of the construction going on on campus! (Construction = lots and lots of dumpsters.) :o)

Have a great Memorial Day weekend, everyone. Be safe!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Beer Cooler

There is a 4 degree C refrigerator at work. Well, there are actually several here, but one in particular that we call "The Beer Cooler." When I first started working here 2 years ago and was learning my way around, it confused me when people would say, "Amanda, can you get _____ out of The Beer Cooler?" "Huh? The Beer Cooler? What's that?" And then they would explain to me that it is the "other" name for the 4 degree in the hallway separating our two labs. It took me several months to learn why we call it "The Beer Cooler." Obviously, it has something to do with beer. Turns out that back in either 1995 or 2000 (the reports differ) one of the doctors in another lab lost a lot of bets to my boss. He owed him a lot of beer. So, he brought it in one day (somewhere between 3-5 cases), and they hid it in this refrigerator. Over time it disappeared. I guess they would sneak a little bit of it out at a time. No big deal, other than the fact that they could have gotten in a lot of trouble for having beer on the medical center campus. So the name stuck. Now, to all who have come through this lab, they are taught that the name of that refrigerator is "The Beer Cooler."

Our lab is moving soon. We've been lucky enough to score a place in MRB IV when it opens up in late August. Until our summer high school student starts work in a couple of weeks, I have the job of sort of going through stuff as time allows and throwing old things away. Today, I cleaned out the bottom shelf of The Beer Cooler. In the veeeeery back, hidden underneath some old kits for various scientific procedures dating back to 1994 (holy cow, I know. Someone should have done this a LONG time ago) there it was. An indiscript cardboard box with a biohazard bag sticking out of it. Kinda scared me at first. I was wondering what kind of biohazard I was about to get in to. Biohazards are bad enough, but add 11 years to the equation and you've got yourself a problem. So, I pulled it out and braced myself as I opened it up. Underneath the bright orange biohazard bag was one can and about 6 bottles of various brands of beer. It made me laugh. I asked U, our lab manager, what it was doing in there and she chuckled. She said she remembered it because they had to make it look like lab equipment or supplies, otherwise, if the Radiation Safety people saw it, they could get in BIG trouble. She said that no one would argue with a cardboard box and a biohazard bag. Who's gonna think it's got beer in it?

We've got some grad students in our lab who would love to take some free beer home, but neither of them would touch this stuff. It was gross. Hiding bottles of beer in the dark for anywhere between 5 and 10 years (I'm guessing it was closer to 10) doesn't do much for the brew. The inside of the bottles were molded. The liquid was thick (and these weren't dark beers). Even when I opened them up to poor them out, the carbonation was gone. Not to mention that it smelled funny. This happened earlier today, but I'm still running water in the sink that I poured it down to try to remove the stinch from our lab. Now tonight, I have to sneak the box with the empty bottles out of the medical center and into a trash can or dumpster somewhere, hopefully before I get to my car. I wouldn't want the smell to follow me home.

Monday, May 23, 2005

A Trip Down Memory Lane

I had a good weekend. On Saturday morning, Rick and I headed up to one of my life-long summer weekend spots (one of our summer weekend spots since we've been married): Kentucky Lake.

I have been taking weekend trips to Kentucky Lake my entire life. Every weekend between March 1st and November 1st, my friends knew that I could not spend a weekend at their house. If they wanted to spend time with me, they would have to go with my family to "The Lake." Boating, fishing, skiing, kneeboarding, swimming, go carts, mini golf, and the heaven that is Belew's continues to consume my summers.

It is very interesting the looks that I get from some people when I tell them that I spend my summer weekends camping. They get an imagery of tents and mosquitos and showerless days. I get an image of a nice pool, playing on jet skis on the lake, boating, and having an extended "family." We don't tent camp. My parents own a 40-foot long Prowler camper with cable TV (3 cable TVs, actually); hot, running water; sewer; and a big, screened-in front porch equipped with a large grill, big refrigerator, deck chairs and table, and porch swing. Yeah, it's not quite "roughing it." :)

I had the chance this weekend to talk and sort of reconnect with an old friend, S. She's a little older than me, but she was the epitomy of "cool" when I was a little girl. I was 5, she was 16. She taught me to play PacMan, spit watermelon seeds at her little brother (he was 14), and she would spin me and my little sister as fast as we could go on the merry-go-round. I don't get to see her parents or her brother anymore, but her family (husband and two sweet, tough-as-nails little girls) continues to camp.

It's funny how things change so much, but stay the same all at the same time. S's brother, T, had a terrible car accident many years ago and remains in a wheelchair. I've grown up and gotten married, and so has my little sister. A lot of the faces of the people who continue to come to that campground have changed, but some of them remain steadfast. Lifelong campers. But as I sat by the pool this weekend, talking to S and watching her two little girls splash around in the pool, it made me very nostaligic and peaceful.

I talked with my parents about my first memories camping (those I have mentioned above, in addition to S's dad feeding my dog beer and then my sister and me getting very mad at him, and stopping at Hardees every Sunday morning on our way home before church). It made me realize how thankful I am to my parents for sometimes forcing me to go to the Lake when I wanted to stay home and be "normal" like my friends. I really did have the best childhood, and it looks like Rick and I will continue this tradition with our family. That'll be fine with me. I love to go and put away adulthood for a little while and act like a kid playing out on the water, it reminds me of when I was a little girl.

I guess Kentucky Lake is my Neverland.....

Friday, May 20, 2005

His Plans

I've been wondering.....do you guys think that God had me in mind when He created my donor? Not that the donor's only purpose was to help me live, but that, God, when He created this other person, thought, "not only will you achieve fill in blank here, but because you lived, another will have life, too.

Just my ponderings for the day.....

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Oh, I Forgot!

Two posts in one day, I know, I must be addicted or something.

I did forget to mention that there is a group of Lipscomb students in Honduras right now on a mission trip. They have a blog! (Can you believe it? Technology is incredible, isn't it?) You can visit their blog, leave them messages, and check on their progress here:

  • Lipscomb Missions
  • I Miss Peru

    It just hit me this morning. I was driving to work on I-40 with my windows down, listening to the radio while I was locked in traffic, when this smell hit me. I don't know what it was. It didn't smell good, didn't smell bad, just familiar. Then I looked out at the sky. All hazy. Not cloudy, not sunny, but hazy. If I looked in the right direction, I could see a little blue sky peeking out through the haze, but it was mostly a greyish-white smoggy haze that covered the sky. I kept thinking to myself, why is this so familiar? And then I remembered: Peru. The sky looked exactly like it did every day I was in Lima. I never saw the sun, but the dust from the desert rose up to the sky and created this strange haze because it never rains there. And that is why the smell was familiar, too. I, to this day, do not know what the smell in Peru was, but I'll never forget it.

    Then another thing hit me: it's May 19th. This is the exact time of year that I'm usually in Lima. Of course, I didn't get to go last year because I was waiting on my transplant, and I couldn't go this year because I've had a transplant, but the two years before that I spent a month each time in Peru working in a medical clinic, holding VBS, and playing, playing, playing with those wonderful, big-brown-eyed, beautiful, innocent children. My heart aches to be there.

    It hit me like this a while back, too. When the most recent Amazing Race (yay, Uchena and Joyce!) season started. Their first stop on their trip around the world: Lima. I wanted to cry as I watched all of those teams race around Lima and see for the first time all of the sites that are so familiar to me. I could watch Rick roll his eyes as I sat on the edge of my seat saying things like, "The Square! The President's mansion! St. Augustine's Cathedral! They're in Miraflores, now! Honey, look! I've been there! I want to go back!!!" And, of course, I kept commenting on how nice the natives were being to those rude Americans (uh-hum, Rob and Amber).

    It made me feel so good to meet and talk to some of the people that went to Lima last year when they would say things like, "Oh, you're Amanda! I had so many of those kids ask me about you, and I had to keep telling them that I didn't know any Amanda." You mean they missed me??? They, really, really missed me?!?

    I don't know how it's possible for a person to leave part of themselves with a people that they hardly know. Two months out of my short, 23 year life is not a lot of time. But it happens. At least, it happened to me. Maybe God created us that way for a reason. Maybe God put that in us so that we would know a small inkling of what He feels. I not only ache for those kids that I met (Jorge, Zuly, Jose, Eduardo, and all of those beautiful little girls from VBS whose names I don't remember) to come to Jesus, but I really do miss them. I think God feels that way about all of us, too. He aches for us to come to know His Son, but even when we do, He wants us to be near Him. Earth isn't His home, but He has still left such a huge part of Himself here, His Spirit.

    As I look over this, I'm not so sure that I am communicating well what I feel, but I still hope that maybe this might mean something to someone that reads it.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2005

    Back on Track?

    I was looking over my blog yesterday and realized that this is becoming less about my experience with transplant and more about my walk with God. I'm not upset about that. Maybe that is what is on my heart right now and what really needs to be talked about. It doesn't seem that many people with serious health issues are visiting much, anyway. And if they are, they are remaining awfully quiet......

    Anyway, I was thinking about telling the story of the day I got the call that they had a donor for me. It was June 26, a little over three months after I had been placed on the list to receive a liver. One of my friends was getting married that evening in Kentucky, so I drove up (without Rick) to spend the day with my mom and go to the wedding that night. I dropped my bag off at the campground where I was meeting my mom, hopped in the car, and we headed off to Paducah, KY to do a little shopping before the wedding. We stopped to eat, and when we got back in the car, my dad called. He said that they had a liver for me and that I had to head back to Nashville ASAP. (For those of you who don't know, the whole beeper-carrying thing is a myth. Well, it used to be true, but people waiting for an organ don't really carry around beepers anymore. The beeper company went out of business and everyone's got a cell phone anyway.) Anywho, I got lucky. My cell phone doesn't work in KY, and, thankfully, Rick wasn't with me. So, he got the message and then called my dad and then my dad called my mom's cell phone (yeah, I know, crazy).

    So, we immediately turned the car around and headed back to the campground. I grabbed my bag and headed back to Nashville. Luckily, I had a couple of hours before I had to be at the hospital, which was enough time for me to call everyone that I needed to call, say a lot of prayers, and stop by the house to pick up Rick.

    When we got to the hospital, I got checked in and they took me up to prep me for surgery. This room also happened to be the surgery recovery room, but it was not very busy considering it was a Saturday afternoon around 5pm. I was very lucky that the nurses were as nice as they were. They let everyone that came to see me in instead of limiting my visitors to 2, which is what they usually do. I was also lucky (blessed) with a surgeon who waited to take me back to the OR until my family got there and were able to see me. So, by this time, I was hooked up to several machines, I had already had an allergic reaction to the antibiotic they were giving me to kill off any bad (and even a lot of good) bacteria that were in my body so that I wouldn't get an infection, and I was surrounded by family and friends that care deeply about me and my husband. There were no tears, not even from me, but this wasn't a large feat considering the meds they gave me to put me to sleep made me very, very loopy and silly.

    My surgery lasted only 3 hours. They said it was the fastest transplant that they had ever done at Vanderbilt. Normally, the surgery lasts 8-10 hours. I was only in the SICU for 1 night. Not bad since I was originally supposed to be there for 2-3. And, really, I wasn't in a lot of pain. The worst part was the thirst. I wanted to chew up an entire cup of ice, but I was only allowed the few drops of water than one of those little sponges would hold (not much, let me tell ya).

    I was moved into a regular room the next day, and, in case any of you know anyone who is going through this, transplant patients cannot have flowers in their rooms. They may carry some bug that will make us sick. Balloon boquets and candy and stuff is okay, but no flowers. They made me keep all of the flowers that I received outside at the nurses station until I went home. Please, please, please (can I give that any more emphasis?) do not come to the hospital to visit if you are sick...even if you've "just" got the sniffles. At this point, as much as I would have liked to have seen people, I would much rather them call or send a card if there was a risk that they could get me sick. Don't take any young children to visit (also because they carry a lot of diseases), and wash your hands a lot. Wash them when you get into the room, after you leave and come back, after you wipe your nose, or touch your mouth....etc.

    Sorry, I really didn't intend for this to turn into a lecture on "how to visit transplant patients." There are some other smaller issues that happened in the next few days, but all minor. I went home three days after my surgery, and today I am almost 100% back to what I was like before transplant.

    Because of my wonderful doctors and nurses, friends and family, and all the people out there that I don't know that prayed for me, I like to tell people that this has been the best possible worst experience I could ever have had. :o)

    Monday, May 16, 2005

    Walking Alone

    "You must have often wondered why the Enemy does not make more use of His power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree He chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the Irresistible and the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of His scheme forbids Him to use. Merely to override a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For His ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with Him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve. He is prepared to do a little overriding at the beginning. He will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation. But He never allows this state of affairs to last long. Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on his own legs--to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that is ts growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. We can drag our patients along by continual tempting, because we design them only for the table, and the more their will is interfered with the better. He cannot 'tempt' to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."

    Letter from Screwtape to Wormwood, The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis.

    As with all of Lewis' books, I had to read this section a few times to really let the message sink in. There is so much that I would like to say about this passage, but I really don't know where to begin.

    Upon reading this chapter, the imagery that comes to my mind immediately is that of a toddler beginning to walk. Once the almighty, parental hand is removed from his back, he may take a step or two, but he begins to weave and wobble until he tumbles down, only to look up and around until mom or dad is in sight.

    And, of course, I have to think of myself. Recently, when asked by a friend to describe where I am in my walk with God right now, my reply was this: numb. Don't get me wrong, I know that God is there. I know that He has brought me to this place. I have no doubts that He has plans for me, and I am very contemplative about Him and Christianity right now. But head and heart often go their separate ways, as mine have in the past several months. I have no desire to pray, and when I do pray, my words are void and empty. Dear God, blah blah blah blah blah Amen. I have no desire to read my Bible. I've tried to crack it open a few times, but to no avail. My mind drifts and I may as well have never opened it to begin with. But, most importantly, I have no desire to really seek Him. But I desire to have those desires back.

    Right now, I am that toddler. I attempted a few steps by myself and I fell. I'm sitting on my butt, looking up and around trying to find my Father.

    But where do I go from here? I can't just give up and try to never walk again; however, I seem uncomfortably content with where I am right now. Stubborn. I'm just gonna sit here until He comes back. Then I'll try to walk again. I may not like being stagnant, but it's better than putting myself out there to fail.

    But I don't even think that my fear is failure. I've never been afraid of that before. So, why now? I haven't been on some mountaintop and this is my valley. My journey for the past two years has been more of a plateau, and I am recently realizing that. Yeah, I'd take a valley. Especially if that meant that I had recently been on a mountaintop.

    Friday, May 13, 2005

    Gotta Share A Good Thing

    I would like you guys to read the blog I've linked to. I think this one post, in particular, is incredibly insightful.

  • JD's Blog

  • Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    My Doctor

    I firmly believe that one of the most important keys to a person coming through a transplant (or any medical ordeal) successfully is having a good doctor.

    I have been seeing my hepatologist for 4 years now. I look forward to seeing him. I am excited when I run across him wandering the halls here at Vanderbilt. He is never too busy to stop and have a conversation with me.

    I will never forget how he broke the news to me that my tumors were growing. He didn't call me. He didn't send an e-mail. He tracked me down at work, sat down with me, and talked to me for 30 minutes. I didn't get a, "You need to make an appointment," or, "My nurse will call you," but a genuine, father-daughter like, "Amanda, this is what's going on...." And, no, I didn't get a bill for that half-hour. :o) He joked with me. "You'd never make a good MD," he said. "I can read your thoughts by just looking at your face." But he kept it real. It seemed to me as if I was the only person in the world in that instant that mattered to him. You don't find many doctors that really care like that.

    But the facinating thing is that he is able to do that every time I see him. He is an important man on this campus. I know he's always got places to go and people to see, yet, when he sits down with is patients, he has the uncanny ability to be focused only on those patients.

    Honestly, I can't say enough about him. I believe he is a man of faith, although he has never told me that. He has encouraged me to pray about my health, about my marriage, and about what God would have me do in regards to the liver transplant. He also told me at my last clinical visit with him that I will be able to travel the world again soon for mission work. I don't ever remember telling him that missions is so special to me. He said, 'You didn't have to tell me, I could already tell. It's so imporant that we work together to help people out, but you already know that, don't you?"

    Isn't it amazing how God works?

    BTW, if anyone in the metro Nashville area needs a good gastroenterologist or hepatolgist, just let me know. I'll hook you up with my guy. :o)

    Tuesday, May 10, 2005

    The Paralytic

    One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every villiage of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

    When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven."

    The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

    Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." He said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home."

    Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today."

    Luke 5:17-26

    I love this passage. I've heard a lot of sermons preached on this passage, and I'm sure you have, too. Most of the sermons/lessons consist of the preacher talking about how we should all be like the friends who carried the paralytic to Jesus. We should also carry our friends and family to Jesus through prayer. Good point. I agree.

    Then there are the sermons that tell us that we shouldn't be like the Pharisees, questioning God's ways and doubting his power. Point taken. (Note to self: don't be a Pharisee).

    And, still, there are the sermons about the healing power of Jesus. He can do anything. Heal anyone He wishes through our prayers and the prayers of our friends. This one gets a little more difficult, but I can still go with it.

    Yet, I have never heard anyone preach a sermon from the point of view of the paralytic. Oddly enough, I think that this person is the one with whom most of us can identify with in one way or another.

    I'm a paralytic. Like the man in the story, my ailments are physical.

    Oh, yes, I have the friends. The friends that carry me to Jesus. They've been doing it for years. Like the friends in the story who diligently took the time to remove the thatch from the roof, my friends and family have taken the time over the past 5 years to bring me to Jesus. They've never given up. The thatch may become more difficult to move, the job boring and tiring, but they keep on because they want me better and because they know He can fix me.

    And finally, one day, it's done. The thatch is removed and I'm laying at the feet of Jesus. My friends and family watch and wait with anticipation. "Will He heal her? Will the CT reveal that her tumors are gone this time?"

    I look up at His face and think, "Okay, com'on. You can do it, Jesus. I know you can heal me. I've seen you do it for so many others!" And I wait, only to hear the words, "Your sins are forgiven."

    My sins are forgiven? What!? My sins? I don't care about my sins! I just want to be healed! No more tumors! A healthy liver, that's what I want.

    But then, which healing is the true healing? Seems to me that healing a physical liver would be easier than healing my soul, so why did He chose the more difficult route? But maybe that's His way to teach me. To show me that the healing that I really need is not physical, but spiritual. I am a fallen human being. If I am healed spiritually, my physical needs are not important. Because He has chosen to take the more difficult route, to heal my sins, I will one day have a whole body.

    "Take up your mat and go home," He says. One day, I will. I will leave this sick, worn out body for a new one. Until then, I will rejoice in the healing He has already offered me.

    Friday, May 06, 2005

    My Immune System

    Oh, wait, that's right. I gave my immune system away when I got a new liver! Ha! That would explain all of the colds/paper cuts that take weeks to heal/weird viruses that I get!

    Seriously, though. I have noticed a drastic change in my immunity since my transplant. That is to be expected. And, since I've already rejected once, they (my wonderful, wonderful doctor and nurses) keep my immune system as low as possible.

    When I get a small cut, I end up with a scar now. Weird, I know. It really takes a week or longer for something as small as a paper cut to heal. And last night, I came down with a cold. I thought it was allergies at first, but now I'm pretty sure that it's not.

    There is a guy in my lab that is recovering from viral meningitis. The goof-ball came back to work before he was completely healed. Now I'm freaking out that I'm coming down with meningitis. I really have no symptoms of it, except for a lot of headaches, but still. He should have known better!

    There's another guy in my lab that has had a chronic cough for several weeks now. I could have whatever he's got.

    And then, there's the baby. I babysat for one of my bosses yesterday for an hour while she was in a meeting. The most precious little 1 yr old girl. She wasn't sick, but I know that kids carry diseases around with them like clothes in a suitcase for a month-long trip, so I could have picked something up from her.

    I really don't know the point of this post. I just felt like I needed to post something today, and I think I'm a little loopy from the allergy meds I've been taking trying to get rid of whatever it is I've got.

    Hopefully I won't have to go back to the doctor. Last time I was there, he called me "a walking blood agar plate." (You know, those little petri dishes we use in the lab to grow all sorts of creepy bacteria on). Yup, that's me. A big bacteria lollipop. Well, I hope they're enjoying it. I'm sure not.

    Thursday, May 05, 2005

    The Letter

    Yeah, you know the one. The one that I really, really need to write to the family of my organ donor.

    I think about my donor a lot, but I've been thinking about him/her a lot more recently. So far, I haven't been able to bring myself to write the letter. Of course, I'm behind on this. All of the other transplant patients that I've talked to are able to do this relatively quickly. Frankly, I don't know what to say. The past couple of weeks, I've really been wondering how to even start it:

    "Dear Friends," seems a little too non-chalant.

    "To Whom it May Concern," is just a little too formal.

    "Hello," just doesn't seem to fit right.

    And that's just the first line! How in the world am I ever going to be able to express in words the gratitude that I feel?

    I know what I want to tell them. I want to tell them that I've been praying for my donor and his/her family since March of 2004, even before I was technically placed on the transplant list. I want to tell them that the day I got the call to come to the hospital, I prayed for them (the family) almost all the way to Nashville from Kentucky (a 2 hour drive), and that right before they took me back to the operating room, all of my friends and family that were at the hospital prayed for them. I want to tell them that I will never be able to express my thanks for the gift that they have given me.

    But from there, how much about myself do I disclose? Do they even care? Will they even read the letter? (Not that their reading it means too much, I need to do it whether they read it or not).

    I try to think about what I would want to hear from the recipient if one of my loved ones was able to donate their organs, but I think I'm a little biased.

    So, my question to you, my Cyber Friends, is this: what would you want to hear from me?

    Tuesday, May 03, 2005

    Act Your Age!!!

    So, I'm surfing around blog world and I find this site. You take a 10 question quiz and then it tells you what age you act. Here's mine:

    You Are 28 Years Old

    Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.
    13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.
    20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.
    30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!
    40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

    Is there anything wrong with acting 28? No, not at all. That is, unless you're 23!

    So, here's my dilema: I don't want to act 28. I want to be an irresponsible 23-year-old who goes out and parties with her friends and cares more about clothes and shoes than remembering to take her medication twice a day.

    Wait a sec....back up a minute.....party? Did I say "party?" Why, yes, I did. The last 2 years have been so full of stress and pain and heartache that I just want to go and let it all out. My flesh is crying to be considered "normal." I don't want people to look at me funny when I tell them that I had a liver transplant. I don't want to be treated differently by my friends and family because they think that I can't stay out past 9:00pm because I can't physically handle it, or that every time I say I have a pain somewhere they think I'm rejecting my new organ. I don't want to be introduced as, "This is Amanda. She just had a liver transplant." Do people hear "Amanda?" No! All they hear is "liver transplant" and that's ingrained in their mind forever. They will never know my name. I'm wearing a big scarlet 'T.' I'm not a "normal" 23 year old, but I want to be.

    But, then, I have another dilema because I am reminded of this passage:

    The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Romans 13:12-14

    And I remember: when I feel my flesh crying out for "normalcy," what it really wants is to be in the world.

    "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here," He whispers to me. What a promise. What hope He offers us.

    "Wrap yourself in Me. Don't think about being "normal" by the world's standards, I love you more than they ever will," He reminds me.

    So I keep trudging on. Slowly moving forward. I often end up taking steps back, but God is faithful, and He loves me. So, I go on living like a 28 year old, and I'm better off for it.

    Monday, May 02, 2005

    Friends and Family

    Sometimes, you really don't know how much you mean to people until something like this happens. Maybe it's not that you don't know, but that you take people for granted. Rick and I are very blessed to have so many people care about us. Many of our friends and family drove in the night of my surgery. My in-laws, in particular, hopped in their car and drove 14 hours to be here. Of course, they did not make it in time for the operation, but they were here the next day when they were moving me out of the surgical ER and into a room.

    I will never forget one of my best friends in the whole wide world, L (I won't post her name on here to respect her privacy) who sat with me and held my hand and prayed and laughed with me as I was getting prepped for surgery. She kept my spirits up as the doctors and nurses hooked me up to more and more machines and inserted more and more IVs.

    Then there's K, my husband's best friend. What a guy. He was at my apartment taking care of things that I knew Rick and I would forget about. We hadn't even thought about what to do with our puppy. K was there. He took care of enough of the things around our house, and also made it to the hospital in time to keep Rick calm and grounded for me before my surgery.

    My parents and sister made it in not long after that. These people stayed in the hospital all night long. The pastor from the church that I went to as a child in Kentucky drove down to be with my family, and he drove back home that night once the operation was complete. I never saw him, but I know he was there.

    There are countless others, but one group that I want to speak about specifically, my church family.

    First of all, I want to make it clear that we have only now been at this church for almost 2 years. At the time my transplant took place, we knew very, very few people.....but that didn't stop them. I have never in my life met a group of people that care more and show it by action as the people at Otter Creek. We did not go hungry in the months following my transplant. I received calls and cards and visits from perfect strangers. People wanting to do our laundry, clean my house, take me back and forth to the hospital for additional tests and blood work and doctor's appointments. My husband didn't want me to be alone during the first several weeks after my surgery, and the people from Otter Creek were always more than willing to help. To sit while I slept. To keep me company. To just simply be there.

    I have often thought about what motivated these guys to action. I've gone to other churches before, smaller churches even. Churches where I knew everyone by name, but I've never seen anything like this. Why are these guys so different? I think I know. I think it's because they have a grasp on what it means to be united in Christ....on what it means to be a church family. They really did treat me like they would a daughter or a sister.

    Often, we talk about our church as family, but we don't really mean it. It's like we use the word "family" to describe the people we worship with, even though we don't necessarily treat them like family. Acquaintances, definitely, family, well, maybe occasionally. But more like the "Thanksgiving-get-together" kind of family where you're re-united with cousins and aunts and uncles that you haven't seen in ages and you're comfortable giving them hugs, but not really being there for them.

    I am honored to be apart of this family of faith. That's just what we are. United by our faith in Christ, a bond that goes much deeper than blood. I smile at that thought, and I'm sure He does, too.