On the eve of Thanksgiving, my mind has been in full-time “grateful” mode and a bit of the birthday party mode this week as well. (See previous post)
Regardless, I want to write a bit about the above subject, “Kindred Hearts”.
This a good quote to start with ~ You meet people who forget you. You forget people you meet. But sometimes you meet those people you can’t forget. Those are your ‘friends.’”
Soon after my heart transplant, when I came out of a coma, I was told that I had a new heart. As I laid in the ICU, my mind was racing, when I wasn’t being stabbed, poked, X-rayed, etc, etc ……. I was thinking “Heart transplant”, OMG, I don’t know anyone that had a transplant, I know nothing about this “stuff” at all. While I was extremely grateful to still be alive, I was beyond scared, I was petrified. In all my years in the military, in business, in any aspect of life I was prepared, I knew where I could get answers ~ I SHOWED NO FEAR!
But, this was a whole new situation and I knew NOTHING and I was SCARED. A few days later I was out of the ICU and placed on a nursing floor. A gentleman walked in and introduced himself as volunteer and a heart transplant recipient. He had his heart almost 20 years at that point. Seeing this gentleman, speaking with him, being able to ask questions meant the world to me. And even though I was still scared, I finally had some HOPE!! He became my first “Kindred Heart“. As that week went on, I met three or four other heart recipients and it really helped me a LOT!!
Those experiences stuck with me over the course of the next year as I recuperated, got stronger and felt “almost normal” again. At my first annual heart catheterization and clinical visit with my transplant doc’s, my doc said to me, “you should do some volunteer work” ……….. the next week I sent an email to my wonderful social worker, and I was on my way for training ….
My volunteering efforts have introduced me to many, many wonderful people. A lot of them fit into the final category in that above quote ~ But sometimes you meet those people you can’t forget. Those are your ‘friends.‘
I have made some incredible friends on this journey. I can’t count the number of people who I have now met with a new heart, but it’s probably close to three hundred. Of those, there are a number that I would do ANYTHING for, I’d jump in front of a speeding train, stop a bullet, dive on a hand grenade, give them my last dollar …….. In my mind, these people have “kindred hearts“, attached to mine. In this group there are all kinds of stories about their path to transplant, there are some young, old, male, female, some transplanted before me and some after. There are only two things these people seem to have in common. All have had or are waiting for a heart transplant, and all have touched me in some VERY profound manner.
As a side note is that when I volunteer and meet various patients, in my mind, I’m never processing the patient’s age, sex, hair color or anything about them other than they need a new heart or just very recently received one, and they might need some HOPE, some HELP …… my wife will often ask me general questions …. age, etc …… and I really need to stop and think at those times.
Today, I’m only going to write about one of my “kindred hearts” ……. when I first met Kristy she had recently found out that she needed a new heart. She was young, a new Mom and scared. Her pregnancy had destroyed her natural heart. It was a disease called “Peripartum Cardiomyopathy” (PPCM) I could see how afraid she was in her eyes the first time we met. I spoke with her and her lovely Mom for a while and tried to give her an ounce of HOPE. I saw them on and off over the course of a few months during which she went through LVAD (left ventricle assist device) surgery / recovery and finally getting a transplant a few months later. Her story touched me. At times I’d cry most of the way home. Over the course of the past 2 years, I’ve met her loving husband, her beautiful son, her ever supportive Mom, Dad and Sister-In-law.
She has touched my heart forever!
Recently, I was surfing YouTube and came across the below video. It lasts 2 minutes, 38 seconds and I know how GREAT the outcome is, but this little video had me in tears. Tears of happiness!!
On Thanksgiving Eve, I give thanks for all of those that have touched my life, touched my heart in ways that we may never know, or ever understand. These people, my “KINDRED HEARTS“, give me hope, they give me drive!! May God Bless each and every one of them.
With Kristy’s (HIPPA approved) permission, please let me introduce her ~ please click this link ~ KRISTY!!