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To Those Who Wait

Many people worry about how much time I've spent waiting for a heart. Today it's 80 days total in the hospital. But do. Not. Panic. I read as much as I want and while I'd obviously rather be home with Josh and going to work with my beloved NFP family, waiting is not something I find tedious. Blame my parents for allowing me to self-amuse with any book or toy that I chose as long as it was appropriate enough for our surroundings. (Please note, my sister and I were very content with this arrangement, as it frequently meant new books, a puzzle toy, or permission to bring our American Girl doll and gather various accoutrements before departing on long car trips, plane rides, and vacations.) (Also note, this meant Dad was largely ok with note passing in church. Although that could also be due to the fact that Mom sang and sat with the choir, in combination with his sometimes blessedly low awareness of just how much we were not paying attention. Sorry, Jody...)

But yesterday I heard the bell ring again. My unit is the last stop for most cardiac patients, including those of us that have heart transplants. You get the transplant surgery, you go straight to CTICU, and once off the respirator and out of immediate danger, they send you here to 7B which is why it's designated a "progressive" unit. You spend a week or so here, give or take a couple days, and then they let you go home once you've met the required post-surgical milestones. Patients that have new hearts get to ring a bell as we leave, to honor our donor and their family. Similar to the cancer-free patient videos that I absolutely refuse to watch any more of. (I'm looking at you, Joshua Taylor. And no more soldier homecomings, either.)

Waiting for my chance to ring the bell is frustrating. I see my doctors every day. And every day they have to come in and tell me they have no news and no changes. They always look a little sad and frustrated themselves underneath their kind, professional masks and words of hope and encouragement. They tell me to keep waiting. But I do my best to make sure they know that I want what they want: to make sure it's the right heart. The perfect heart. Going through a rejection would suck. Like getting dumped by someone you really liked and trusted and now are in so much pain over that the only cure is to refuse to bathe and immediately gain 10 pounds through a careful diet of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and Cheetos. No thank you.

So we wait. But I'm not waiting alone. My doctors wait. My nurses wait. My husband waits. My mom and sister wait. My best friend Megan and my godparents Kathy and Tom wait. My grandparents wait. Friends of Josh wait (even wrestler friends that didn't know and thought Josh simply dropped off the face of the earth for the past few months. Hi Heath!). Friends of mine wait (some I've reconnected with for the first time in years). My coworkers wait (and send me fun socks! I love them!). My childhood church congregation waits, along with our sister church in Guatemala. My extended family waits (and some extend their own families! Hi Brooks and Nolan and soon-to-be-here little guy!). People I've never even met from places I haven't even been wait, simply because they know someone that is waiting with me too. A fellow congenital cardiac patient is also waiting for his own heart, while he also waits with me.

It's an astounding network of support.

So while I wait, I have very little that I need to worry about. Which book to start next. Which blend of black tea I should have with my breakfast. Whether or not I should go ahead and decorate my room for Christmas in the most obnoxious fashion I can manage. The rest of it is handled. So keep waiting, friends! I'm not fearful of anything. I've got more people in my corner than I can fathom. But for those of you waiters that are impatient and ready to be done reading these entries, here's a poll to keep you busy! Answer cheating!:

Should I deck my room out for Christmas now, wait until mid-December, or skip out altogether?

  • 0%DO IT! Do it right now!

  • 0%Too early. Wait another week or two and then deck the walls!

  • 0%Decorating in case you spend Xmas in hospital sounds AWFUL.

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