We have, in the past twenty one years, celebrated the anniversary of E’s heart transplant in a variety of ways. Two of the years we were with a large group of our nearest and dearest in Mexico. One year, many of the same plus a few more joined us in Las Vegas. It has been an occasion jointly celebrated with our friends because they lived through it too. They were there to take our kids to hockey games and birthday parties when we were otherwise occupied. They were there when our kids needed to be amused during E’s surgery. Our friends and family are really the best.
It was so long ago. The journal I kept at the time can help with the details if I ever need them, but I thought I would share some of the flashes, forever in my memory, which I have of the time.
- When Sue from BC transplant sat me down the first weekend and explained the ordeal of a heart transplant and then followed up asking if I had any questions. My response.. “how much time should I tell his boss he will need off from work.” She still laughs at that one. Suffice to say E was never able to work again.
- E’s dad thinking I had lost my mind when I phoned to tell him that E needed a transplant and then sending his Dr. brother to the hospital to see what the hell was going on.
- When someone said to E that he was “lucky” ’cause he was now on disability.
- A father from the hockey team told me not to worry cause “you will marry again”.
- E’s father living with us and taking care of the house and kids while we were at the hospital. I would come home at 10pm and he and I would sit in the living room, children all asleep and we would talk honestly about what the Doctors were telling me. Papa never took over or micro managed or questioned my decisions. He was my hero.
- E trusting me to make all of the decisions. Half of those decisions I made without telling him. I just wanted E to focus on himself. The details and the worrying were left to me and his Doctors.
- E’s Doctor sitting me down to tell me that E was circling the drain, but he had a plan. He was my hero.
- My friends driving me to and from the hospital every day.
- Janice R. arriving at my door with a gunny sack of freshly harvested potatoes from her farm. I have never tasted anything so good.
- Kerry arriving at my door with a pewter TinMan figurine which began a TinMan collection that continues to this day.
- My friend looking at E’s license plate, “I don’t get it. Why a Tin Man, there is nothing wrong with his brain?”
- E walking through the doors of the hospital for the operation with no more hesitation or worry than if he was walking into the grocery store.
- Lisa and Becci sleeping with E and I in the hospital room waiting for the surgery to start
- The sound of the gurney as it came down the hall to take him to the OR.
- Saying goodbye to him as they handed me his wedding ring.
- Deanne reading to me in the waiting room so I could fall asleep.
- Gary and Linda donating to BC transplant in E’s name on his anniversary.
- Andy C. coming out of the operating room in his scrubs to hug me and tell me that E was going to be fine.
Which brings up another item of interest..
Our kids were in French immersion. Very small class sizes. Our middle son was ten at the time, so grade five? There were maybe twenty kids in the class and maybe nine of them boys?
One of the boy’s father was a Profusionist. (runs the heart lung machine to keep the patient alive when the heart comes out). He was called in to work during E’s surgery but when they said who the patient was he said he shouldn’t do it and called in another on the team. But he still came and supervised. He is the Andy that came out and told me E was going to be fine.
Then it turned out that one of the fathers of another classmate was the medic who transported the new heart to St. Paul’s in the helicopter.
There was no celebration like the party on his first anniversary. Anyone and everyone who helped and supported us were there. It lasted long into the night. I think E woke up two days later. I hired a belly dancer and everyone from my young sons, to my 80 year old mother, danced with her. There were friends and neighbours, young and old. There was beer pong in the garage and limbo in the kitchen.
All and all it was a crazy time and I can’t finish up without of course mentioning our gratitude to the generous family of the donor who saved E’s life. E works very hard at honouring the gift and living a deserving life.
It is probably pretty obvious, he is
my biggest hero