151 Band

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Part 3: Up To Date

It was merely a week after my transplant that I was discharged from the hospital and sent home.  That week included exercise, pain management, meetings with doctors and pharmacists, and yes, a bit of anxiety.  At first, I thought that one week out from the transplant may have been a bit early because I was still exceedingly weak and required assistance to just walk around the room or to go to the restroom.  But, the doctors knew best and I was discharged with an arm full of medications, instructions, warnings, and even a good dose of encouragement.

Arriving home was surreal.  I had been gone for a month and while it was home, I saw it in a new light.  I saw home as a sanctuary; a place to heal and a place to get my head and my spirit right for what was to come.  The process of healing from a transplant can be pretty arduous and there are a multitude of things to remember.  Fortunately, there is actually a handbook that I can refer to upon occasion to refresh my marginally depleted memory.

The first day home, I got comfortable on the couch and then decided to try and make it to the bathroom.  I was issued a walker so I tried to use it to help me stand up but my legs were so weak that I just collapsed on the carpet like a rag doll.  I couldn't get up but somehow I found the humor in it and began laughing.  "Oh, how the mighty have fallen," is what I muttered under my breath, followed by a brief prayer, informing God that I "got it," that I see that humility was going to be my friend and humility and I would become very close over the next few weeks.

Carolyn helped me up and eventually, I made it to the bathroom, but not without pain and frustration. I confess that the level of pain was astronomical and nothing seemed to work to curb it.  There were moments when I thought that there was something severely wrong, but was reassured by my transplant team and my wife that what I was experiencing was normal; I had just had major, major surgery and it would take a while to get back to the "new normal."  

I've had occupational therapy, physical therapy, and have tried to stay as active as I could as the pain subsides and affords me the opportunity for mobility.  I've even overdone it a couple times only to be set back a couple days in terms of progress as a result.  But with each passing day, I could see and feel myself getting stronger and able to walk without the aid of a walker.  

There have been some emotional sticky places as well.  They usually take place when pain is almost unbearable and my frustration hits the roof.  I admit that I questioned why I had received the miracle of a second chance when clearly, I wasn't up to the task.  Somehow, I've made it through thus far.  I've continued to fight and push towards the goal of being self-sufficient completely.  My kids were at the hospital with me and spent a great deal of time with me but now, the routine is back in play and I don't get to see them; particularly Heather and Matt who live out of state.  My youngest two are working and schedules are a bugger.  Makes it a little tough, but thank God for FaceTime.  

I have some friends who have been unbelievable through this process and they deserve a shout-out to say the least.  Steven and Jen Jones have been there by my side at the hospital and have been regular visitors to the Gorilla's Cave since I came home.  Jen underwent a double lung transplant a couple years ago so, we're kindred spirits of sorts.  Many of the things I experience now, she once did as well.  They have been a blessing beyond measure and I can't adequately describe how much it means to me.

Even my sisters-in-law flew up from California to be here with me, to make sure I don't do anything stupid and to ensure I stay on target and on track.  Debbie and Sandy are two truly remarkable women who have been selfless and caring to a goofball like me.

To all of you who have sent your prayers and well-wishes my direction, and those who have paid me a visit, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I can't tell you how much I appreciate you and your kindness.

Now, the battle rages on.

Ron "Gorilla" Black