Today is the day. The date on my computer reads May 7. The day that my dad will get a new liver. The day he gets a new lease on life and the day I’ve been waiting for since last year. Kind of funny that now that the “big day” has arrived all it involves on my part is sleeping on a table, perhaps we’ve been too dramatic… This will be my last post for awhile, probably best for the safety of the general public that my thoughts remain in my head while I’m on pain killers. In the meantime though I’ll hopefully have my lil’ brother or sister update my facebook page so you can check in. If not follow my dads page which is linked over here on the sidebar —–>
I set forth saying I’d do this honestly. So honestly tonight I have to get something off my chest. As people have found out about my journey, this process of giving a piece of me to my dad, they’ve said so many unbelievably nice things. They use a lot of adjectives like selfless, and brave. Tonight I have to admit that I appreciate all of this, but it makes me cringe a little on the inside to hear it. I cringe knowing that in my heart I am neither of these things. I really do appreciate the words, but let me explain.
I am not brave. Bravery involves standing in the face of adversity when every bone in your body screams run. Brave is the soldier who willing goes into battle knowing they won’t be returning. Brave is overcoming your apprehensions to make a hard choice because you know it is right. Me? I have no apprehensions about this decision and I never have. Yes there are risks, but I am no soldier. No part of me has wanted to run from this situation, only towards it headlong. All of this though has nothing to do with me. If you read through my blog you’ll see there is a source of this certainty. I take no credit for what I’m about to do or how I feel about it, but rather praise God every single day that he has allowed this opportunity and quieted my heart through the whole process. If I was terrified of doctors, then yes call me brave. If I feared for my life, then call me brave. Because there are people who have these feelings and go through with the process anyways. My dad is one of them.
This story has been about my dad and I, but I feel like I haven’t even begun to uncover the depth of what “my dad and I” entails. I ran into the same problem while I was at Lahey interviewing to be a donor. See, they check you for all kinds of things; general health, blood type compatibility, liver physiology (did you know I have 2 bile ducts? I know now), and etc etc. There are also interviews with several social workers. I understand why. They have to make sure that potential donors truly want to donate. That they’re not being pressured, paid, or manipulated in any other way to donate. Its a good idea, but I found the process somewhat… tedious. Here is a complete stranger, staring across at me, determining if my relationship with my father is sufficient to warrant giving him a liver. He asks me questions like “How would you describe your relationship with your father?”. I try and answer as best I can, mumbling phrases like “We’re extremely close.” However, I can’t help but become aggravated in the process.
“We’re extremely close.”? Is there any possible way this funny little man in those perfectly round glasses can gleam even a thousandth of a percentage of what that phrase carries? I don’t know. I’m not even sure if he could, that I would want him to know. Why would I share this with this stranger? Describe my relationship? Really little man? You best cancel the rest of your appointments for the day. How do I tell him about my relationship with the man who shaped me into whom I’ve become?
This is a man who went to Florida for 2 weeks during my senior year of college and missed more of my baseball games in that span, than during the rest of my life. In 16 years I think the number of games he’d missed was countable on a single hand. He was always there. When I was young he was a coach. He’d take me to the field and I’d beg him to throw me just one more round of batting practice and after the fifth “last round” we’d leave as the sun was setting. When I had a bad game he would focus on the one routine play I’d made and pretend it was a highlight. Do you think I don’t know how hard this was for him? I know that’s not how he grew up. This is a conscious decision he has made because of his love for my brother, sister, and I. Does the phrase “extremely close” convey this love? I doubt it.
I can’t tell you how old I was, not old enough to remember the details, but I have a distinct memory of being in the kitchen one day and being a terror to my mom. What I said I haven’t the slightest, but it must have been baaaaad. What I remember? In an instant my dad sat me down and was VERY sternly telling me that I would NEVER disrespect my mother again. He told me I could be angry at her, I could be angry with him, and I could be mean to him, but if I ever spoke to mom like that again I would see him like I had never seen him before. In that moment I learned to respect and defend the women that I love. Still today, rarely am I seriously upset by anything, but disrespect my sister, my mother, my friends, my loved ones and you cross the line.
In a world where it seems like every movie involves the cliche touching moment where the cold father finally admits he loves his children, I grew up constantly engulfed in love from both my parents. I am blessed beyond a doubt. In a world where many people are afraid they’ll be as bad at parenting as their parents were, I’m afraid that I can never live up to mine. They’ve taught me integrity above all else. They’ve taught me that you’re never above a job when their are mouths to feed. They’ve taught me if you want to get respect first you must give it. Most importantly they’ve taught me that nothing can fill the void of love.
Is any of this covered by “extremely close”? I’ve already said there is no way to squeeze my relationship with my father into a curt little response that fits nicely into the allotted space on the questionnaire. To ask me to do so is near offensive. Which is why I cringe when I hear people say that I’m being unselfish. Really? Unselfish? Is it unselfish to give a small part of me to someone I love so that I can keep them around? Is it unselfish that I’m not ready to let go of one of my best friends? Is it unselfish that I’ll take the small risk that comes with this procedure so that my children will meet their grandfather? (although leaving my future mini-me’s with this crazy old man is actually what I probably question most;-)) No. The answer is no. Its selfish. I Joshua Abram Linscott, am selfish.
There is another reason I squirm at the term, selfless. I’m giving up relatively nothing. My liver will grow back. I’ll lead a perfectly normal life after recovery. So what am I giving up exactly? Then I start to compare this to my example of selflessness. A man who never even met me. A man who gave up not just a piece of his liver, but everything. A man that prayed to God that he didn’t have to die, but saw no other way to save me and then hung willfully on a cross. This man is selfless, this man is brave, this man is my savior. For some of my friends, I realize reading this this may be more than you ever wanted to hear, but this is honest. Christ is my example. Don’t judge him by me, I fall short in every single way. If you wan’t brave and you want selfless ask me about him and judge him for yourself.
4 hours from now I will be in a hospital. 12 hours from now I’ll be ending or coming out of surgery. In the meantime I have the opportunity to share life with a man I love. Yes there are some small risks, but I would take them if they were ten fold greater, all the while knowing if the tables were turned he would do more than the same for me. I do this willingly, I do this lovingly, and I do it without hesitation. Today is a new day and today is a new start. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers. We can’t wait to celebrate with you after the recovery. God bless.
Let me leave you with a song that has stuck with me today and come and listen.
Monday morning we report for surgery. I’m hoping while I’m under they can tack on a Tommy John too. For those of you who don’t know, Tommy John is the name of a surgery that is common for baseball pitchers with elbow problems. You may remember a few post ago I said I hated to use the term “former athlete”, but now as I sit on the couch 8 hours after our Bates College Alumni baseball game, I don’t have any problem with that anymore. I had completely forgotten the game was scheduled for this weekend and was crazy excited that I was able to go. It was another reminder of how wonderful the people in my life are and have been in the past. Back on the field with the sun shining down I could feel my smile stretching from ear to ear.
It was quite a change from how I was feeling just a month ago. Hmm, how do I explain it. March SUCKED! I think that’s the most honest way to describe it. If you know me, you know I like to have a plan. I like to have some semblance of control, and I like to get my way (if I’m being honest). For the entirety of March I didn’t have any control and nothing was happening according to my plan! I was taking my qualifying exams, which is the last landmark before officially becoming a doctoral candidate, I was trying to continue my research, and Dad was in the hospital for essentially the entire month. That would have been a lot to handle in itself, but then it seemed like everything that could go wrong did. I got the flu and fell behind on the written part of my exam. Dad was released from the hospital only to be readmitted days later when it was clear nothing had been fixed. I was losing control and soon I was losing sleep.
One of my friends had a bout with insomnia last year. He says it was miserable. He would try and sleep because physically he was tired, yet no sleep would come. His body wanted off, but his mind pushed on. That was how I felt. I’d fight exhaustion all day trying to be productive, get home and get ready for bed and then my mind would be off to the races. It seemed nothing could slow it down. Eventually I would stop fighting it and watch TV or read or stare at the ceiling til 4 or 5 in the morning. One friend suggested I read before bed to relax, my nurse friend suggested benadryl to make me drowsy, another suggested just sleeping whenever I was tired. Nothing worked.
Eventually though, I did find something that worked. Giving up. I had been fighting hard for control, but losing sleep over the fact that I didn’t have it. I wish I could say I at some point I stepped back from the situation, a light bulb popped over my head and I realized how simple it all was, but that didn’t happen. Instead, I gave up because I lost the fight. I lost. I’d been standing bashing my fist against a stone wall and my fist broke, while he wall remained unmarked. I hated it. I hate losing. I felt broken, I felt lost in despair (melodramatic much?), but then I felt something else, relief. I came back to the one thing that has remained constant through my life; trust God and he will provide.
That statement doesn’t mean I stopped working my hardest on my exams, that I suddenly didn’t worry about my dad, and that I spent the rest of my month on the couch watching spongebob saying “Oh I’m not worried, God will provide.” It meant that I tried my best and I had faith that whatever the outcome God would get me through it, like he always has. I worked hard, I still worried, but suddenly I could sleep. Often when my mind would start to race and I’d think I wasn’t going to be able to sleep, I’d open that old leather bound book I keep by my bed, the one that far too often I let accumulate dust, and I would read. I especially liked reading the Psalms (I have one tattooed on my back). I liked to see that David, the same David who was called a man after God’s own heart, was moody like me. Sometimes he’d be thankful or happy, but other times he was sad, angry, even depressed. In these times I’d remember that its OK to have emotions. God gets that and I think he prefers to see these emotions. If you’re the all knowing creator of the universe, you’re probably well aware of the fact that no one is going to be uber happy every single day of their lives and therefore pretending to be is just lying. I’d read these Psalms and talk to God, telling him what I felt. It brought me peace.
Some days were still harder than others, and some nights didn’t involve much sleep, but in general I felt much better. I had peace. Now, we’re two days away from surgery (technically one since its 2:39AM) and still I find peace. There have been ups and there have been downs, but still peace. After the surgery there will be more ups and downs, but hopefully more peace.
Tomorrow I’ll likely log the last entry for awhile. It’s one that’s been on my heart for awhile. After that we’ll find a way to make sure updates are available on how dad and I are recovering. Until then thanks for your endless support and love. From Maine, from New York, and from Florida. From Ireland, Canada and Mexico. Thank you and pray for peace 🙂
If you’ve been reading this blog from the start you know that I started it on a whim and figured it’d be words whispered into the wind. You’ve been reading it though and I’ve been blown away. I’m constantly hearing from friends, reconnecting with people from my past, and even meeting some new faces. Its awesome. I love people.
This morning I had to get up at 7:00 to go to Lahey for pre-op at 7:30. I was a zombie. The mornings and I… we don’t see eye to eye. The day went by quickly enough though. Some more blood work, a few meetings, lots of blah blah blah. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t want to hear about what is going to happen anymore, I just want want it to happen. They tell me things like “We’ll make an incision here and then divide the liver here and blah blah blah” I want to say “Great. Yea sure. Do what you gotta do. I’ll be asleep.” It makes me think of Jerry Seinfeld’s stand up routine. He makes fun of airline pilots for describing exactly how they’re going to get to their final destination. His take is, just get to where it says on the ticket. That’s how I feel.
Tonight we’re back at my parents house. Dad and I are both in the living room watching whatever we can find that has the strangest title on netflix (no hits yet). Him, because he often sleeps out here (its easier for him) and me because I’m always awake at this hour. These have become my favorite times. Sitting around at home just being together. Its funny, when I was younger I was always itching to get out of the house. I wanted to go somewhere, do something, and be with my friends. I couldn’t wait to be independent. Now I come home and I don’t ever want to leave. What an about-face. I still want to see friends and visit my favorite restaurants, but I relish every second that I’m here, sitting in this chair and hanging out.
I’ve made it home almost once a month lately, but still I wish it were more. I’m selfish. I’ve been home for holidays, the super bowl, my parents move to a new house, and basically every other excuse I could think of. The holidays are my favorite. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have an excitable side. Sometimes also referred to as a childish side. I’m the guy who ends up playing with all the kids under 10 at the family reunion (even other people’s family reunion). People say things like “oh you’re so good with kids” or “how nice of you to put up with them”. What they don’t know is that I’m the one starting all the games and I’m having the most fun. On Christmas morning I still wake up at about 6:00AM (the only day of the year I do this gladly) and yell “CHRISTMAS WOOOOOOO!” to wake the house. Coming home for holidays and family time is the best.
I have to admit though, its been hard at times this year. When you see someone everyday its tough to notice gradual changes. When you see someone once a month its much easier. Its also terrible. Over the last several months I’ve seen my dad’s health deteriorate before my eyes. Its horrifying. This isn’t how things are supposed to work. Under 50 men aren’t supposed to melt away before you eyes, but this one did. I tried not to show it, but when I’d first come home I was often surprised to see that dad was visibly sicker. I hated it. The only thing worse was seeing him in pain.
Christmas afternoon we were in the living room visiting with family after a delicious dinner. Apparently, big meals are tough on liver patients. When one organ starts to fail it makes it harder on everything else in your body. Even routine physiological processes become a challenge, even digesting food. As we sat in the living room dad started having extreme abdominal pains. His face would contort, he’d make noises, and I’d watch in horror. Horror mostly because there was nothing I could do. Nothing to do, but watch.
As time has gone on his health has deteriorated. Its been hard to watch and I know even harder for him to go through. Happily, there are still good times mixed in with the bad. Yes he’s sick, but he’s also still the man I’ve grown up knowing. His sense of humor still shines through in spite of everything else. We laugh and everything feels normal. Today, for example, we were at Lahey when my aunt said “Dr. Pomfret and Dr. Pomposelli. Hmm, those are distinct names. I wonder if they’re related” (what she meant was “Those names sound similar, I wonder if they share an ancestry”). Silence lingered for a second and then dad said “Yea… I wonder if they’re related… because their names are so different…?” We laughed and we’ll probably continue to laugh about it for months to come.
Its nice to think of the months to come. They say I’ll feel as good in a few months as I do today. Dad, he’ll likely feel better than he does now. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to help. I got an email today from a good friend. He told me he’d come across my blog and wanted to let me know he could relate. Recently he had been in “the waiting room”, as his dad went through chemotherapy to treat leukemia. He said I just wanted to let you know that you have something to look forward to in the months ahead. Then he said something that really hits the nail on the head, something that I’ve picked up on in conversations with others, something that identifies them as having been through a similar experience. He said “Its great that you are actively able to help your dad, I think that’s amazing”.
I worry that I’ve overplayed the helplessness card. I know when people say things like my friend did they don’t mean it as a slight in anyway. What they mean is, waiting is the worst part and it must be nice to feel like you can actually help. They’re right. As hard as it has been to feel like I’m just waiting, what a blessing its been to have the chance to do something. If you’ve been in “the waiting room”, as I’m sure many have, man its tough. I want to tell you that you have more courage than I. To remain strong, to be positive, and to continue to wait? Now that’s brave.
Unfortunately in this world there will be trials and there will be tribulations, but don’t despair! I encourage you if you’re in one of these times, reach out. Reach out to family, reach out to friends, and I suggest reach out to God. You’ll find very quickly that most of these people have just been waiting for the chance to reach out to you. Thanks for reaching out friends. My dad and I both look forward to the times when we’ll be there reaching out for you.
I said I’d write this blog honestly. So honestly, today I felt nervous. I’ve talked a lot about how I’ve felt so far and I’m fairly certain this is the first time I’ve used that adjective. Its not a bad nervous though . I hate using the f word, but as a former athlete I’ve had these nerves many times before. It means that something big is coming. This isn’t the average, midweek, out of conference game we’re talking about. This is a weekend series, against your in conference rivals and the winner goes to the playoffs.
Its good to have nerves before something like that. It means you understand what is about to happen and you’re ready for the task at hand. Unfortunately for me, I’m not exactly sure how to translate preparing for a baseball game to preparing for a major surgery. In fact, when game day comes I’m pretty sure I don’t really do anything but lay on a table. After that the surgeons take over and it’ll all be in Gods hands.
I think the nerves came today because my journey began today. I packed my bags, I shut down my electronics and I said my goodbyes knowing I may not be back for up to 6 and a half weeks. It felt really strange. I think part of it is that I hate goodbyes. Absolutely hate them. I’m normally very confident and personable, but when saying goodbye I get awkward and uncertain. I don’t know what to say. Am I encouraging you? Are you encouraging me? Still I do them because I feel its important.
Actually one time I did manage to skip the goodbyes. Last spring I was home in Maine around the time of the Bates College graduation. There are those in the class of 2011 that I consider very good friends, so I went up the night before graduation to hang out and then see them off. The next morning I watched them walk in to the ceremonious end of their college career. When everyone was settled and the program began I took off. I didn’t want to say goodbye because it seems like the end to something that shouldn’t have an end, a friendship.
There are some positives to goodbyes though. One positive for me is that often goodbyes are accompanied by physical contact. A handshake, pat on the back, or a hug. I love this. I thrive on the physical contact, it makes me feel connected to people, like were more than two people who coexist nearby, but that we’re actually linked. The second thing I don’t mind about goodbyes is that the guards come down. Why is it that we wait until goodbye to say things we’ve been holding in all along? I know I’ve done it, I bet you have too. We go to say goodbye and suddenly its “Hey I just wanted to say I’ve always admired/appreciated/valued…” Why can’t we just say these things up front? Something I”ll work on in the future.
Tonight I’m at a hotel in Burlington, MA. My mom and dad an adjoining bedroom. Tomorrow morning we check in to Lahey at 7:30 AM (apparently this is a reasonable time where things happen in the normal world?) for some more pre-op tests, meetings and a few final little things. Its really happening friends and I’m nervous. Good nervous though. My last few posts have been about how bad the wait was, but now it seems things have actually happened really quickly! In the end God is good and his timing is perfect. Soon dad will have a liver and we’ll both be on the road to recovery. In the meantime thanks for your thoughts, prayers, encouragement. No really, thank you.
If you missed me before I left New York today, I’ll be back soon. As a friend said “Its not goodbye. See you later!”
I realize that with this post I’m establishing some sort of pattern. I’m alternating between a chronological styled story telling and specific event focused events. It was completely unintentional, but now that I’ve recognized it I think I like it. My favorite part of this blog so far has been that I haven’t actually tried to write anything at any point. Each day there has been something on my heart, I sit down at my computer and it comes out. I’m envisioning some sort of analogy comparing my writing to late night taco bell or Denny’s, but I think I’ll spare you the details. Where was I…
As much as I loved the waiting room as a little kid, now it has become one of the most tedious places in the world. What am I supposed to do? I try and find things to entertain myself, but honestly I’m more likely to pick up an issue of highlights for the hundredth time than pretend there is anything that captures my attention in “Country Kitchen”. Its torture. When I found out dad had begun the evaluation process for transplant I was initially terrified. I leaped from one end of the spectrum to the other. Previously I’d convinced myself that he was sick, but he didn’t ever have to get any worse. Suddenly I was scared I would have to watch him die and there was nothing to do, but wait.
Linscott’s are miserable waiters. Not that we’re bad at serving food, but we wan’t action and we want it NOW! I would post some text messages my Aunt and Cousin have sent about wanting to get the ball rolling for surgery, but I’m scared the FBI might show up to their doors with questions about threats they’d made to medical personnel (I’m only kidding. Sort of). We’re impatient, but with good reason. One of our loved one’s is sick and we are all willing to do whatever it takes to help them. It has been beautiful actually. I’ve always thought my family was great, even if a little crazy, but seeing the way everyone has responded to my dad has been very moving. Two of my cousins volunteered to be donors, one Aunt is constantly encouraging people to become organ donors, the other is just short of attempting to cut her own liver out and force the surgical team to use it, and everyone is constantly checking in on both dad and myself. The extent to which our family has gone to show how much they care is beautiful. The odd thing is though, no matter how much anyone has done, we’ve just had to wait.
Volunteering to be a donor is a serious commitment. You’re a healthy person who is volunteering to undergo a major surgery with rare, but real risks. After the surgery you’ll be able to return to a completely normal life, but in the waiting period you may have to make some “life changes”. Specifically, what I mean by life changes is that you can’t drink alcohol if you want to be a donor. In no way was I a heavy drinker before volunteering, but it has brought some changes. I’m a big beer fan. Especially cold craft beers on hot summer days. I’ve had to give that up. No more local drafts to wash down spicy chicken wings and no more liquid courage to hit the dance floor on Friday night. Do I miss it? Honestly, yes. Is it hard to give up? Not at all. Sometimes things change entirely based on your perspective. When the choice is give up beer or give up dad, there is no hesitation, no list of pros and cons, just one clear choice.
However, if you were a fly on the wall, or perhaps a friend from school, seeing this abrupt “perspective change” was probably very strange. I can only imagine that it was even more confusing for the people who were graced by the presence of “Vanilla Ice”, very much in his element, only a week before. At first I would make up excuses, try and keep too many people from finding out what was really going on. I was putting up walls (hard to believe now that I’ve torn down the walls and built a highway to the heart of the city). I would deflect their offers to drink with silly comments or plausible excuses. “I have to be in the lab tomorrow”, “Nah, not tonight”, “I can’t, I am with child”. Eventually though the truth started to come out. “Actually I can’t. My dad needs a liver and I’m hoping to give him mine”.
Can you think of a worse line to use at a party? Cause I can, “Hey ladies, let me buy you a drink and I’ll watch. Gotta save my liver for someone who won’t be able to use their’s soon ;-)” All joking aside, it was strange at first. Know what the strange thing is though? Because of those conversations I was able to talk about what I was going through with dozens of people. The more I talked about it the more I realized it was ok to talk about it. I stopped putting on my hero face and saying things like “Don’t worry, soon everything will be better than normal” and started being honest. Saying things like “He’s not having a great week, but its gonna work out. Thanks for asking”. Soon there were people checking in on me regularly and while I was still stuck in the waiting room at least there were other people around.
Our time in the waiting room is about to come to an end. The morning of May 7th the nurse will poke in and say “Mr. Linscott, the doctor will see you now.” Its been a long wait. Boring at times, agonizing at others, and oddly kind of fun in spurts. See, regardless of what has happened and how the week has gone, we’ve kept a positive outlook and a good sense of humor. It hasn’t always been easy, but it is a testament of how when we open up and enjoy the company of others we can leave behind our surroundings. Most recently we’ve been laughing about the conversations we have with dad while he’s sleeping. He keeps telling us that we’re crazy and he’s the one leading the conversations. Like I said, good sense of humor. My favorite episode was during Easter when I was showing Shara where I live in New York on Google Earth. I pointed at a building and said “so this is the church and I live…”, meanwhile we could here dad mumbling something while moving his hands. As we paused our conversation to listen, we heard “This is the church, this is the steeple, open the doors, see all the people”. A rhyme taught in Sunday school and he was doing the accompanying hand motions. He was confused when he woke up and we were all looking at him reciting the start of nursery rhymes. We explained why and he laughed.
It hasn’t been easy, but we’re coming out of the waiting room. I won’t be sad to see it go. When I look back at this time in my life though I’ll remember that I got through it with family, friends and a sense of humor.
It is ironically that I use “Dr. Linscott” in the title of this post. I do it because at this point I find it humorous trying to explain to people what I’m actually doing with my life at the moment. So let me try and explain. If things are still unclear, please don’t ask my family, it will only confuse you infinitely more. Yes, my program is in pharmacology, but I will never be a pharmacist (that’s pharmacy). Yes, the program is part of a medical college, but I will never have an M.D. Yes, it is a doctoral program, but that’s different from a PharmD and I will never work in a hospital. Well, at least not on the patient side of things. Sometime in the distant future I will receive a Ph.D. in Pharmacology. Then what? I don’t really know at this point, which is probably what further confounds things. My hope is to be involved in the discovery and development of new drugs to treat disease that are currently poorly managed, or even untreated. However, I will never allow anyone to call me Dr. Linscott. I don’t know if this is because I’m not a fan of titles and accolades make me queasy, or just that all my favorite professors have done the same? That being said, prepare for my best doctor impression.
Today we confirmed a date for surgery, May 7th. For many of you this is old news. Dad had already leaked date rumors over the weekend, but I didn’t want to say anything until it was official. The call came while I was in the lab. I missed it actually and instead received a voicemail. “Hi Josh, its Denise. Just calling to confirm May 7th for the transplant. Call me back.” The smile that covered my face was involuntary, but entirely welcome. Afterall, this is what I’ve wanted to hear since we started the donor matching process in January. I called back and we confirmed the date then quickly went over some small details. The end of the phone call was accompanied by a head rush. A switch somewhere in me finally flipped. “Its real” I thought. This is really going to happen.
The emotions I felt were overwhelming and I don’t think I can find a way to properly explain them. Predominantly there was joy and excitement, that finally I’d have the opportunity to help dad. There was a hint of shock and surprise that we have an official date now and its soon! Lastly, there was an undertone of relief. Relief because the waiting was over (I’ll pick up where I left off my previous blog next time). This isn’t the first time I’ve felt too many emotions to be able to describe accurately. The last time was after I was finally convinced to watch this horror movie called “The Notebook”. Girls would excitedly ask what I thought of the movie. After a slight pause I’d say “It made me angry”. First I was happy, then I was sad, then I was angry, then I was kinda happy, but a little sad, then I was happy I was sad and nervous that I was happy… then I was just angry that someone would play with my emotions like that. Seriously though, it is the scariest movie I’ve ever seen. I know what you’re thinking, “What about the texas chainsaw massacre, the ring, or silence of the lambs?”. Well I don’t live in texas, the ring is fake, and Zorro would never eat someone in real life. However, falling in love with someone, building a life together and then having them forget that life together happens every day. This is my worst nightmare now! Thanks girls.
Anyways, I’ve gotten distracted. No more 2:00 AM blogs. I intended to write about the surgery (hence the Dr. joke), because it amazes me and additionally I’m sure many of you are curious what is about to happen. On Monday dad and I will go to the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, MA for a live liver donation. We each have our own surgical team, our own operating rooms, our own nurses, but soon just one liver. My dad’s liver, which has been destroyed by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), will be entirely removed. They will then separate the right lobe of my liver through an incision in the middle of my stomach and place it in him. The right lobe makes up about 60% of the liver, but soon it will regenerate in him to a fully grown functioning organ! That sixty percent is the inspiration for the name of this blog. It also represents the only time in my life that my parents have been OK with me not giving 100%.
My remaining 40% will also regenerate to full size and in 3-4 weeks nonetheless. It almost sounds like magic. To me this has been the biggest blessing in our entire situation. Other organs don’t do this. The liver is “privileged”. A blessing for us, but the number of people who die every year waiting on a list to receive an organ from someone who can no longer use theirs is unacceptable. On my last visit home we were watching the red sox (lose. If the recovery goes well dad and I will probably both be in the bullpen by July. Couldn’t make them any worse.) when suddenly I looked over to see dad crying. One of his friends from a support group had passed away waiting on one of these lists. A mother of two young children. Its selfish, but my first response wasn’t sadness. It was determination. This will NOT be his fate I thought. Still, it was an amazingly sobering moment and it has stayed with me since. This family often finds their way into my prayers, even though I don’t know their names. Its alright, God does. If reading this irks you like it does me, click this link http://donatelife.net/register-now/ . Think about registering to give life to someone else after you’ve lived yours. For the people who share in the support group with my dad, thank you for being there for him. There is no way I can understand what he is going through like you can. There is no way I can encourage him like you can. Continue to support one another and continue to push on for life.
After the surgery they say I’ll be really tired. I guess regrowing an organ does that to you. They told me during recovery I’ll likely feel good when I wake up in the morning, maybe try and do something, but then be tired and need to nap for awhile before trying to continue the day… I said “So it’ll be like a normal day for me?”. Being a graduate student isn’t so bad sometimes. One thing I found amusing during the initial consult was that since they knew I had a background in science, when they’d explain things they would often tack on phrases like “as you know”. It made me think of the penguins of Madagascar. “Just smile and wave boys. Smile and wave.” I didn’t actually have any idea what they were saying, but still I’d smile and nod. As long as the surgeon knows what is going on I’m set.
Life can be like that. Sometimes I look around and I have absolutely no idea what is happening around me. Things that seemed 100% certain are now my biggest source of doubts. I finally feel like I know what direction my life is headed and it gets completely turned around. This has happened constantly over the last year as we’ve gone through the different phases of this disease. Its during these time that I turn to God. I wait for the skipper to tell me what to do. He looks at me and says “Just smile and wave boys. Smile and wave.” As long as he knows what is going on, I’ll let that be enough. If life has been confusing for you lately, like it has been for me. I’d encourage you to stop trying to sort it out on your own, there’s an easier way. Look to the skipper and smile and wave.