Some of you reading this may know that years ago, when my dad was sick, I wrote a blog. He wrote a blog too. It was mostly about his/our journey through the process of liver transplantation. I think both of us needed some sort of outlet, a way to process, a way to stay sane… Or at least mostly sane.
For other readers, you will be surprised to learn that I ever blogged at all. Some of my old blogs may be even more surprising than the fact that this site exists.
Either way, its been more than 3 years since my last post, so why write this post and why now? Two reasons – (1) it has always bothered me that this story was left unfinished, but I didn’t know where to pick back up or how to end it – (2) I think I finally know what I want to say. First we need to catch up on the last three years. As Inigo Montoya said in The Princess Bride “Lemme explain… No there is too much. Lemme sum up.”
When my dad was sick everything was about getting him to surgery and getting him healthy. After surgery there was a big push for him (and me I suppose) to recover. After recovery there was a feeling of “what now?” Turns out there was a whole lot of “what” waiting for us around the corner. During the transplant process and during recovery I started talking to a girl (every good story has a girl). In fact, we talked through FaceTime the night before the surgery even though we had never met in person. Eventually I got to meet this girl and like every good story there was fireworks and romance when we met (no really, we met on 4th of July). We met on July 4th and on July 5th I told my dad I was going to marry this girl… and I did. There was a little more to it than that, but its a different story for a different day.
After the surgery not only did I find a girl, the girl, the one, but I along the way I decided to change careers. I had been in graduate school working towards a PhD. I liked it, but something was missing. Laying in my hospital bed the day after surgery, I watched the doctors go on rounds and I thought “man, I wish I had gone to medical school”. Then I thought “Its probably not too late to do that?” Then I decided “Yea, I’m going to try and become a doctor!” I went back to NYC and my PhD program and told them I was leaving to become a doctor (or at least MD doctor vs. PhD doctor). Fortunately, the program directors and my boss at Weill Cornell were great people and instead of kicking me out the door immediately they worked with me to help me achieve my goals. I delayed medical school for a year and they helped me finish my PhD early! It was a blessing and sort of a miracle.
So now I have a wife and a degree and I’m gonna be a doctor. All caught up, right? Well sort of… One more big change happened in the last 3 years… Actually it was in the last 3 months. This guy was born!
That’s my son, Calvin James Linscott. My wife Kristen and I have always wanted a family more than anything, so when we found out we could expect a little something extra this Christmas, we were elated. Being new parents has brought a lot of changes. Mostly good changes, some expected changes, and some that were sort of expected, but that we could never understand until we finally met Calvin.
If you’re like me, you grew up hearing things like “You’ll understand when you have kids of your own” or “You won’t know real love until you have a child”. I guess I sort of believed people when they said these things. I didn’t really have reason not to, but I certainly didn’t understand what they meant. At least not until December 28th at 7:37 PM. If you’re a parent you know exactly what I mean. You know how your whole world changes in an instant. Its weird. I don’t really have a better word for it. I guess I could pull out a dictionary and search for a 10 cent word to better describe it, but I doubt I’d find the right one.
Let me explain what I mean by “weird”. When I first held Calvin there was instantly this connection. I knew that from now on his needs would always come before my needs and that I would do everything in my power to give him the best life possible. Yet at the same time he was a perfect stranger. I knew absolutely nothing about him. I didn’t recognize his face, I didn’t know his smell, I didn’t know his personality… nothing. Yet our connection was so strong. How? I remember thinking at one point, “Is this how my parents felt about me?”
If you remember, when my family originally found out that live liver donation was a possibility, my parents looked at my siblings and I and said “We’ve talked and we don’t want to let any of you be the donor.” At the time, I thought they were crazy. I thought if there was any opportunity to save my dad, we were taking it! Years later though, holding my son, I stopped and thought to myself “I get it.”
It has been almost 4 years since our surgery. The disease that once consumed our lives has been put in its place. Its still there, haunting us in a different form. Surviving an organ transplant brings life, but also an ever-present risk of infection or rejection. If you’re a survivor who has someone else’s body parts inside of you, you know the feeling. This summer I worked with patients who have an inherited kidney disease called autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). Those who have the disease almost universally require a transplant. Post-transplant many do extremely well. I met people 15+ years out from surgery. In the eyes of the world they have conquered their disease, but in their eyes I see that persistent little shadow of doubt that lingers behind. Its the shadow that has them holding their breath when they have their blood labs drawn. Is everything still functioning properly? It has them closely following their temperature when they feel sickness coming on. Is this the flu or something worse? My dad has to deal with this to a much greater extent than the rest of the family. It wears on him. It stresses him out. He tries not to let it, but once you’ve been through hell I can’t imagine the average person wouldn’t flinch at the thought of having to go back.
Still, at this point the memory of surgery and sickness doesn’t come to mind every day. There are days that are “normal”. The type of days that we longed for when he was sick. The day I met my son wasn’t a “normal” day though. I found myself thinking about our surgery, I thought of the pain I felt when I woke up, I thought of how scared I was to lose my dad, and I thought of how willing I was to do anything to help him. I had these thoughts because really what I was thinking was how desperately I pray that I will be a good enough father to my son that he would have no hesitation if he were asked to do the same for me. Once I started thinking about everything my mind continued to wander further and deeper. I
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and some of you know how important my faith is to me. Some of you don’t. It kills me to think that sometimes my life is so far from reflecting what I believe that people who I call friends wouldn’t know that I am a Christian, but I recognize that it is likely a reality. If you don’t want to know about my faith, if its not your thing, I get it. The world we live in is broken. Its chaotic. Its imperfect. Inside our broken world people use religion for all kinds of twisted things. They use it for politics, they use it for business, they use it to push their personal agenda. Do me a favor though, since its Easter and all, read on because I don’t want to talk about religion (or politics), I want to talk about grace.
Since our transplant, Easter has been an emotional time for me and it is because of grace. Let me contrast the story I’ve been telling through this blog with the one that will be told tomorrow morning. When I found out there was something I could do for my dad, I was relieved. Why? Because it is so hard feeling like there is nothing you can do to help a sick loved one. Being a donor was an easy decision for me. Why? Because my dad deserved to live and I wanted him to live. He deserved a piece of me and he would have given anything for me if the shoe was on the other foot. I took a small risk to save one man who deserved to continue living.
The story I will listen to tomorrow is one I have heard many times, but one that has struck a deeper chord each year. It is the story of the death that Jesus chose to die for me and had to die for me, because I am imperfect. I am imperfect to the greatest extent of the word. I can’t even manage one day of perfect, never mind a lifetime of perfect. I do not deserve for someone to die on my behalf in order to make up for my imperfections and I certainly cannot make up for these imperfections on my own. This is why I find grace to be so astonishing. Grace takes care of all my imperfections and most amazingly it is free of charge, no money down, guaranteed.
It is the fact that grace is so impossible to achieve by my own actions that I am so amazed by its concept. I watch us as Christians trying to earn our grace and I can’t help, but be amused by how silly it is. Imagine you walk by two people. One is standing on his tip-toes reaching his hands as high in the air as possible. The other has climbed up on a chair and is doing the same thing. You ask the first person what exactly they are doing, and they say “I’m reaching for pluto!”. Before you can even ask the second person they butt in “Me too and look I’m closer”. This must be how silly we look to God. Reaching for what we can never earn on our own, sometimes even competing to see who can get closer. We look at the person standing on the chair as if though they’re special and are distracted from the fact that grace is entirely free to us.
It is free to us, but it came at a great cost. There have been a few times where my dad (as a pastor) has used our story as an analogy. He talks about how I laid down my life so that he could live. How I was scarred so he could be healed. I understand what he is doing and how it can work as an analogy. I appreciate the gesture, I really do, yet I can’t help but cringe inside when the comparison is made.
This Friday I sat in a church, in front of me a cross, a reminder of the horrible suffering that Christ went through. I thought of the comparison between my story and his story. I went to sleep on the operating table assuming I would wake up shortly after. I woke up holding a glowing button that I could push it in order to release pain medications that would reduce my suffering. I was scarred to save one of the people I love most in the world, a man who absolutely deserved the gift I was able to give. Jesus went to the cross knowing he would not wake up the next day, but 3 days later having died and then conquered death. He was beaten and bloodied then hung to a cross in excruciating pain, no morphine button sight, just a sponge with some old wine. He gave everything to me, to you, to all of mankind even though we had done nothing to deserve it. He did it because that is how great the love of our father is for us. His sacrifice the only way that our imperfectness could be fixed. His grace, given freely.
I have only started to understand how great the love of a father is for his children. While I am thankful, I am still baffled by grace. Sometimes I recall a moment that has stuck with me through the years. When jokingly asked “what is the purpose of life?” a friend replied simply “chill with God”. Tomorrow I will be thinking about grace, thankful for the peace that comes with knowing through that grace we have the chance to chill with God. This blogged has reached its end and although it ends here, our lives do not. The experience has transformed and shaped our lives. The sixty percent I gave was enough to save my dad and I would gladly do it again. However, it is only because of the one hundred percent that was freely given to us all that I am who I am today.
What defines you? How do you define yourself? The questions appear similar at a glance, but they can be entirely different. This is something that has been on my mind for a few days now. Lately the more something stays on my mind, the more likely it is to end up on paper. Virtual paper at least. Back to the question(s) at hand. What defines you? Is it the things that you do? Is it your perceptions of yourself? Or is it something entirely different?
I find that being defined by the “what” isn’t always bad, but it does need to be kept in check. I believe actions speak louder than words. I know that the things I do will partially define me. However, I think the “what” often defines me more in the eyes of others than how I define myself. I’ve recognized this since early on in life. The context where I develop relationships with people affects how they see me. When I was younger this meant that I was either “the weird homeschooled kid”, or “the kid who hits homeruns” (my athletic career peaked at 12). In jr. high and high school I kept the weird homeschool part of me, but added other taglines. I was now also a “friend from church”, an “athlete”, and before long “aren’t you that guy in a band?”. See, in every context I made friends and connections that were special, but in each situation I wonder how I was perceived? I recognized that all these different aspects of my life contribute to who I am, but do any of them define me? As a whole person?
Unfortunately there have been times where I have let the “what” define me entirely. Last summer was a prime example. I let myself get caught up in being defined as a “scientist”. It was far too easy actually. At the start I saw it in a positive light. I was working long hours, but I told myself it was because I was motivated. That’s a good quality right? I got a taste of success and the number of hours I worked continued to grow. Still not necessarily a bad thing though… That is until the lab became my priority, my life, and what defined me. I don’t know when the transition occurred, but soon lab was my excuse and reason for everything. My excuse for not hanging out with friends? “I have to go to lab”. When I was in a bad mood? “Things just aren’t going well in lab right now”. Why I was tired, insensitive, and selfish? “I just have to focus on lab right now, it’ll end soon”.
It did end. I wish I could say by my own doing. A sudden realization that I was missing out on what counts, but it was actually something else. I got scooped. Basically what that means is that at the time we were preparing to publish my results and findings, another group published the exact same thing, but before I could. All of that time, all of the work, and know what I got out of it? A bunch of clear tubes in a freezer that I haven’t touched in months. I was crushed. You know why? Because I was being defined by my work. It was clear from my actions and my decisions who I was, I was “a scientist”. That’s not how I want to live. Even if I hadn’t been scooped, know what I would have gotten from all of that? My name on a piece of paper. A piece of paper that few would ever read and even fewer would care about. That’s would have been my reward for being defined as “a scientist”.
If being defined by the “what” is bad, then “defining yourself” must be the way to go, right? Again, I feel like this is a double edged sword (side note: isn’t a single edged sword just a big knife? I’ve never really understood the phrase). In a healthy light “defining yourself” may present an opportunity to outline your priorities and your values. Sadly, our human nature makes it so that even these well intended thoughts often end up being misdirected. At least mine does. I want to look at my composite parts and determine what is most important. I want to collect my thoughts and know that what makes me “Josh Linscott” is actually a combination of: the things that I do, what I believe, how I feel, and ultimately how that translates into actions. Often though I end up instead defining myself by my desires, my failures, and what I think will impress others.
That seems like a conflicting list doesn’t it? How do I define myself by my failures and what I think will impress others? Maybe that’s the root of the problem. When I “define myself” to others I don’t have to reveal all my thoughts, but regardless of how hard I try I can’t hide any thoughts from myself. On the inside I end up conflicted. A lot of this spills over from my recent experiences. For the last several months I’ve been defining myself as “the kid who’s donating his liver” and that’s also how I’ve been defined, but that chapter in my life is mostly over. So now what? This experience will forever be a part of me and part of who I am, but I don’t want it to define me.
I guess at the heart of it that this is really what this blog is about. Over the past year the “what” has defined me as “the guy who has a sick dad” or “the guy who is donating his liver” and for awhile that’s how I’ve defined myself, but that’s not who I am! It seems like who we are and how we see ourselves should be entirely obvious. Yet its not. Who we are is a complex sum of parts, actions, beliefs, and experiences that makes a singular identity. That identity is so complex that sometimes we miss out on its base elements. Have you even talked with a friend, told them a strength you admire and had them give you a questioning look of astonishment? One of the things you value most, they can’t even see. To them, this quality is so innate they don’t even see it. They don’t acknowledge it as a strength, but its defines them none the less.
At the end of all this babbling I’m less sure than ever that this is even coherent, but I’ll try and summarize. I don’t want to be defined by a what. Not a career, not an event, not a single line generalization like “the guy in the band”. I want to define myself, but I screw up even that. Instead what I’ll do is try to compile my parts, and my actions and ask “Do I want this to define Josh Linscott”. Honestly, right now there are some things that are part of me that I don’t want defining me, but luckily there others that I do want to define me. I realize that I’m not complete, but a work in progress. One of the things that defines me is I believe that God is out there and he has a plan for me. I believe that even though I’m not complete and at times I’m actually quite broken, that he accepts that and loves me the same.
Let me rephrase the question. How are you defined?
p.s. One of my parts is music. It allows me to create, think, and reflect. This is a song I recorded last week that helped lead to this blog. http://www.myspace.com/joshlinscott/music/songs/i-39-ll-take-your-broken-heart-88376272
My first real memories of post-surgery came on Tuesday. I woke up as I was being wheeled to Lahey 6 central room 01. By the time I was settled in my room I was somewhat coherent and at least aware of my surroundings. There to greet me, again, was my head nurse Denise. The first question she asked me was “What is your pain level?” In a lot of hospitals now they use a 1-10 point scale to help better manage patients pain. I had to think about it for a second “6? no, 7”. “Press the green button” she said. This was my introduction to a PCA (patient controlled anesthesia) pump, a magical green button that you can press whenever it illuminates in order to release medication to ease your pain.
The next questions were “How do you feel? Is this about what you expected?” I said I felt ok and that it was about what I expected, but in my head what I thought was “IS THIS WHAT I EXPECTED!? You said it would feel like I got hit by a truck, but it feels like I got hit by… oh ok, yea this is about right then.” In all honesty there is no way to describe the pain you feel those first few hours of consciousness. Everything is wrong, everything hurts, and to top it off suddenly you’re too weak to do things like sit yourself upright. Man, that was a weird feeling. When I was an athlete a lot of my life was about building core strength. So when you suddenly wake up one day and can’t move your own legs to the side of the bed, it’s an odd sensation. At the time it was miserable. Thinking back now though, it was certainly worth it given the trade off.
Tuesday was the first day I really remember visiting with family. Mom, Shara, Jake Groom, and Aunt Gloria were all there. I’m sure I wasn’t very entertaining. I think I fell asleep about every 30 or 40 minutes. I do remember at one point Shara discovered a program on my TV called “Puppy Party”. It was exactly what it sounds like. A quick push of the magic green button and all those puppies equals hours of entertainment. It was early evening when my nurse came in to give me meds and check vitals. Seemed pretty routine until she said “Alright, time to get up and go for a walk”. Ha, good one. A walk. Sorry I had surgery yesterday. As it turns out she wasn’t kidding. She helped move my legs to the side of the bed, then helped get me standing and soon I was half pushing half leaning on my IV drip as we made a half lap around the recovery floor.
A day after surgery and I was walking around. That’s amazing to me. The human body is just absolutely incredible in the things it can do. The best part of walking around was that I walked to dad’s room. Even though people told me he was doing ok, I really wasn’t settled until I saw him for myself. Seeing him made me feel much better. The first time that he walked to my room I felt I could finally relax and breathe. From there things went pretty quickly. Soon I’d figured out a way to sort of throw my weight and push off the bed to get up on my own. I was moving around a little better and starting to feel somewhat myself. Although apparently I wasn’t completely myself because a few weeks later Shara told me “Well, mom and I knew you felt pretty terrible because you weren’t even flirting with the nurses.” So apparently this is how my family measures my health, how much I flirt. Which personally I find preposterous and ludicrous, and it hurts me deeply. Thursday the docs came in and told me I’d be released on Friday. Again my first thought was that they must be joking. I wanted to say “Don’t do it, I feel terrible!” I was still only eating apple sauce and jello. I felt better, but I wasn’t ready to be out was I?
I guess I shouldn’t have been that surprised. After all, they told me before surgery that they kick the donors out as soon as possible. They’ve found the longer you stay in the hospital the more you act like a patient. As it turns out they knew what they were talking about. Friday I was discharged. I was feeling pretty good. I walked myself out of the hospital. Partly because I was feeling up to the challenge and partly because I can be a little bit proud at times. I hate showing weakness. When the doors opened to the outside and I walked into the sun nothing could have made me go back to my hospital room. That fresh air was the best medicine I’d had all week.
All in all my hospital stay was rather unremarkable, but I’m thankful for that. When it comes to hospitals, boring and routine is more than alright by me. After being discharged they have patients stay in a nearby hotel to make sure everything is ok before you go home. The hotel is nice because it gives you some semblance of returning to normal life, while also providing comfort in knowing you’re just minutes away from medical professionals. That weekend (might have been more like the first week?) I was visited by several close friends. Dan came the first night and admired my scar while listening to my stories as I tried to fight sleep. Becca visited and brought gift baskets full of entertaining little games, inside jokes and books for both dad and I, just like the teacher she is. Lisa came with cookies and stayed to make dinner for me and my mom, who was exhausted by this point. Meghan and Leigh took me out to dinner and we ate, laughed, and reminisced about summers of old spent at IDEXX.
As is the reoccurring theme in this story, loved ones were there to take care of me when I didn’t deserve it and had nothing to give in return. I’ve forgotten a lot of details about what happened after surgery now that we’re almost 3 months out, but I’ll certainly not forget all the people who were at my side as I recovered. Even this past weekend a group of friends gave me a welcome back party (I’d been back for almost a month, but its the thought that counts) and card which made me a little more emotional than I expected. In my eyes my friends are sort of like the PCA I had in the hospital. Life comes and goes and my personal pain level fluctuates on a scale of 1-10. One day I might feel like a 1 and seemingly the next my heart hurts like its a 10. In those times though it always seems like one of my friends is there illuminated at my side saying “hey let’s get that down to a 7”. I don’t know your struggles, and I don’t know your pain level or if there is someone at your side trying to help. If not this is me saying “I’m illuminated for you, lets talk.”
These posts have become less and less frequent, but there is a reason why. I tend to write when my heart and mind are full. Its a release for me, a way to process, and its a lot cheaper than a therapist. Before dad and I had surgery in May I was writing every day. I wrote because it was all I could think about. Getting through the surgery was consuming my entirety, so of course I wrote about it frequently. The fact that the blogs come slower these days is a blessing. It means there are other things in my life that can occupy my thoughts from time to time. I’m getting to the point in this episode where the focus of every conversation I have isn’t about surgery or livers or how sorry everyone is for me and I like that.
Ironically after starting like that, dad is back in the hospital today. He has a fever from an infection, they’re going to drain and abscess on his intestine and check some other stuff as well. I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little worried. I can’t wait to be done with these unplanned hospital visits. When I told a friend about this yesterday her response was “I’m so sorry”. My response? Don’t be. Sure there have been some tough times this past year, but I prefer to focus on the good times of in the last few months. Since the spring I’ve completed my comprehensive exams, I was confirmed as a donor for my dad, we had surgery and it went smoothly, we have both started to recover, I got spend time in Maine with family and friends, I was part of a wedding for a dear friend, I feel as good as if I’d never had surgery, and I had the opportunity to meet someone who put a spark back in my eye. That’s three lines of blessings that have happened since March. Things are looking up and life is good. God is good and I’m excited for the future.
However, I’m also scared. See, the past year of my life has been focused on getting to surgery and coming out the other side. Through the whole thing I put on my brave face, determined to show no fear and no sign of weakness. It worked, I fooled everyone… including myself. Although its true I was never afraid before the surgery, since then I’ve found that some of the emotions are catching up on me. In the last blog, writing about the morning of the surgery the emotions that came back to me were overwhelming. I cried, I shook my head in disbelief, and I thanked God for how far He’d brought us from that point. Now I’m finding some other emotions, thoughts, and feelings are catching up on me. Real life stuff. A lot of things got put on the back burners this last year. I figured they could be dealt with later. It seems like later has finally arrived.
As I was recovering I had a lot of time to think. As early as the hospital I couldn’t shake this one thought, this small voice in my head that kept asking me “Are you doing what you want to do? Is this what is going to make you happy?” It seems like the answers to these questions should be fairly clear. It is my life after all, why would I do anything apart from what I want and what makes me happy? I found that I couldn’t look in the mirror and answer these questions. I just wasn’t sure. And I was shaken by that fact. I come off as a
cocky confident person, like someone who has it all figured out and suddenly here I am completely unsure about the decisions I’ve made. If this were a fictional piece of writing, this is where there would be some breakthrough that I could tell you about, where it was revealed to me exactly what I should and shouldn’t be doing. Life doesn’t work like that. I have no breakthrough, instead I have questions.
I believe God has a plan and that his timing is perfect, but that doesn’t mean I can just walk through life with my eyes closed and everything will be ok. I believe that he can open the doors to the paths that I should walk, but I don’t believe he will push me through those doorways, it is up to me to take the first steps. Right now I worry if I’m looking hard enough at some of these doors. I’m worried I’m standing in a room with my eyes closed saying “I wish God would intervene in my life” and meanwhile there are open doors in the room with huge flashing arrows that say “this way dummy”. He’s opened doors and I’m too scared to go through them. Although I’m not sure if I’m happy now, I feel pretty safe and I think that keeps me from looks harder at the doors. A new career would be terrifying. What if I’m not accomplished enough to do what I want? What if I get rejected? A new relationship is even more terrifying, who is going to put up with me and my baggage? What if they break my heart or I break theirs? Nope, much safer to just sit in this room with my eyes closed… Through this blog I’ve talked about certain goals I have for becoming a better person. One major goal is to love on other people, especially those who are hurting. Another has been to do a better job of living this faith I claim to have. I think the third one has become to look for open doors. To ask God for guidance, to not to sit in a room with my eyes closed wondering where I’m supposed to go and to step through the doors when he opens them.
I don’t know if you’re still reading this blog (I don’t really know why you even started, but that is a topic for another day), but if you are I promise I will finish the story that led to “thesixtypercent”. In the meantime though, would you think with me about what it is you’re doing? Are you happy? If you’re not sure, lets look around and see what doors God has opened for us. Peek in and see where he might be leading us. If you are on that sure path, how’d you get there? How much do you still doubt? Your comments would be much appreciated.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13
I guess I should probably start this off with an update since almost 6 weeks have passed since my last entry. The update is life is good! I got back into the city this week and am getting back into the swing of things. Likely at this point many of you have heard from some other outlet that the surgery went well and both dad and I are healing marvelously. I want to say that the thoughts, prayers, warm wishes, and support we received was overwhelming. Literally overwhelming, I didn’t respond to each of you as I had hoped in the rush of things. If I missed you, let me say thank you. Truly, thank you all.
My plan in writing again is to resume from where I left off. Telling this story about my dad, his liver disease, and the chance I was given to help. I want to carry this story to completion as both a release for me and potentially as catharsis for those of you who are still reading. If I’ll continue to write after that I have yet to consider, but that sounds like a problem for future Josh to figure out (+2 points if you get the reference).
I woke up to darkness after what seemed to be minutes of sleep. It was 5 AM, but I wasn’t tired. The adrenaline rush of realizing “the day” had finally come far surpassed my fatigue. We loaded into the cars and drove made the short drive from our hotel to Lahey. While the rest of the family parked the cars, dad and I went to check in for surgery. The hospital was essentially empty. There aren’t too many 6:00 AM appointments to get blood drawn, I suppose. While I was pushing dad in a wheelchair around the hospital I had a sudden realization. I’m terrible at driving a wheelchair. I think I pushed him into a few doors, a wall, and maybe a few other things. Luckily we managed to avoid any major accidents.
Shortly after checking in they had us report to surgery. While we waited we tried to make some small talk, take our minds off of things. Its tough to come up with a topic that is more distracting than the thought “Hey, someone is going to cut you open in a few hours” (that should be read comically). I was called in first, through a set of formidable looking double doors to a little fishbowl room where told me “take off your clothes and put this on”. So much for the romance I’ve come to expect from Grey’s Anatomy. They didn’t even buy me a dinner first…
After I had changed into my johnny they pulled back the curtain so that family could join me. Mom, Shara, and her husband Jake (not to be confused with my little brother Jake) came in first, my Auntie Gloria was with dad and would visit later. None of them were looking particularly excited, it was about to be a much longer and trying day for them than it would be for me. The first thing I told them was “I love you guys so much and no one could ever replace all the love and memories you’ve given me.” At least I think that’s what I said. Shara claims I said “I’m not wearing any underwear.” It is up to you to choose who you’ll believe… Some nurses came to take my vitals (the first time of 302,407 that would happen that week) and had me sign some final paperwork and then I got to cross the hall to see dad. In his room we continued to make small talk until a nurse came to say it was time to prep me for surgery. It was time to say goodbye.
Except not really goodbye, I’ve always prefer “see you soon” over “goodbye”. As we shared a hug and I kissed him on the top of the head I realized I had been duped by Hollywood. This parting was too quick and nearly dramatic enough. I don’t know what I expected exactly, maybe some type of wide-angle shot with my family surrounding us, our doctor looking on, and a slow motion zoom into our embrace before cutting to black? This was far from that picturesque scene. However, there is one thing that Hollywood has gotten right about these scenes, the emotion. That short embrace, tears welling in our eyes, the nervous look on his face, words that didn’t need be spoken, this is what I remember most from that morning.
Back in my room they started prepping me for surgery. Poking me with things, asking questions, and doing who knows what else. My anesthesiologist came in to give me a sedative while they were doing all the prep work. She was quite entertaining. She gave me a shot and said “I call this the happy hour shot”. Why? Well, because a minute later I felt like I’d had 2 or 3 drinks. Hadn’t felt that in awhile! When I asked her if I could have some for after surgery, she reprimanded me and said I sounded too much like her boys. One of them is a football player at Tufts, where one of my best friends from college happens to coach, what a small world.
When the prep work was done my family got to come in one last time to say their “see you soon”s to me. People still tell me I’m very brave to do what I did, but they were the brave ones that day. I certainly wouldn’t trade my May 7th experience for theirs. I spent most of the day completely unaware of my surroundings while they had to spend it fully aware. I really can’t imagine what it was like for my mom having a husband and a son in surgery on the same day. Then again I really don’t have any idea how she has managed to do all she’s done until this point either.
After the room was emptied except for the medical staff, the anesthesiologist said “Ok, I’m going to give you this and it will seem like 3 minutes and you’ll be waking up…” As she finished her sentence I woke up, but it was several hours later. I have only two memories from that day post-surgery. The first is of a styrofoam cup with swabs hanging over the sides. It didn’t take me long to figure out what was in the cup, water! I remember trying to reach a hand towards the cup while making some guttural noise to convey desire. Suddenly an angel, or maybe a nurse, understood my grunts and handed me one of the swabs. The feeling as the moisture hit my lips and a slight trickle of water wet my tongue was one of the most satisfying “drinks” I’ve ever taken. The other memory is of my nurse Denise, the donor coordinator, leaning over me and saying “Josh breathe” (yes apparently I’m too stupid to breathe on my own) and then telling me the surgery went great and my family was here to see me.
Although far from coherent, there was a rushing sense of relief in hearing that things had gone smoothly and having family by my side. Man is it a blessing to be surrounded by loved ones like I have been that past few months. What is more amazing to me is that this love hasn’t come from only close friends and family members, but from all kinds of people. People I hadn’t heard from in years, people I’ve only met once, and people that are states away that I’ve never actually met. That is crazy to me. I’ve done nothing to deserve this love, but still it comes and I think it comes because of our humanity. See, even though we spend a lot of time fighting about different things; politics, religion, and how any sane person could support the Yankees, we’re all human. We know what it feels like to hurt, to be scared, and to want to be loved. We know exactly what it feels like and how greatly we don’t want to feel these things. So when we see someone who is we put our differences aside, and our hearts go out to them… At least sometimes. Admittedly some people are much better at this than others, and many of you are much much better than me.
Last night I was at an “end of the year” party for the graduate school. It was a great chance to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen for several weeks. At one point a friend tapped me on the shoulder and said “Hey, I wanted to say welcome back. I hope my facebook message didn’t scare you. I know we’ve only met once, but I found your blog and wanted to give you my support.” She’d sent me a message before the surgery. I remember it because I was struck by how amazing it was that this person would make such an effort even though the last time we talked I’d been dressed as Vanilla Ice. So no, it didn’t scare me. It touched me. I wish we did this type of thing more, as friends, as a society, as humans. I wish that we would be more willing to put differences aside and realize, this person is hurting, how can I help them? Seems it should be something that comes easy to me right? After all, I’ve said several times that I believe this guy called Jesus and all these things he taught us and as far as his teachings go, this was kind of a big one. Turns out its a good thing he was Jesus because I’m far from it, but after this experience I’m determined to be better, especially in this aspect.
Last thought of the night. I know how hard it is to open up when you’re hurting, but after this experience I would encourage you to give it a try. Try, because there are people out there who will love and support you, even if you don’t know it yet. Don’t go it alone when there are others who would walk by your side.
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.
When you’re a kid, the waiting room at the doctor’s office is a top 3 place to be if you must be dragged along on some sort of tedious errand. There are these weird wire toy things that exist only here and in daycares, you get your own little private space away from the adults, AND they have highlights magazine (the hidden picture game is unrivaled). That is how I remember my doctor’s office at least. As you grow older though, it becomes less
acceptable entertaining to play with the toys and highlights must only release one issue a year because by the time you’re 12 you know where the sock is every time. Suddenly when you’re in the waiting room, you realize that you’re just waiting. The last few months have felt like that for me. Here I am. I know what needs to be done, but it won’t happen until the nurse peeks in and calls “Mr. Linscott”.
My first blog ended with dad being released from the hospital after a pretty big scare. It was after this episode that he felt called to share his story with all of you. He talked about fear, blessings, and hope for the future. I was still a kid in the waiting room though. I read and remembered how scary it had been at the time, but when I was done reading I went back to playing with the wire toys. At first glance everything was looking up. Sure there was a very real possibility things would get worse eventually, but in my mind that could have been 5, 10, 40 years. Being in the city away from it all made it easy to pretend that everything had returned to normal. Still, at the same time I wanted to be home more than anything.
In the summer I got a chance to come home for awhile, but why seems to slip my mind. It was sometime in July and we had some type of family get together? Or something? I remember a lot of family and friends being there and eating some food and stuff… What was it? A jenga party? No. Pool party? No, dad hates water. Ohhh right. My little sister got married!
I received this comment from her on my last post, “Ok so how come as your one and only sister I didn’t get a special mention in this blog?? I wrote a song about you and multiple stories and you can’t even mention me? MAN! haha just kidding”. Oh the Dello, if you only knew what was coming. The Dello is what I call her. It comes from a cartoon I watched in junior high school. This character, homestar runner, was searching for a rare and beautiful bird “the yellow dello”. Shara was wearing yellow that day and the rest is history. Besides there is no phrase that is more fun to utter that “Helloooo dellooooo”. She has a more affectionate name for me, “cwapface”, it comes from the same cartoon. I even have a voicemail on my phone from when she called to tell me she was engaged where she addresses me as such. I’ve always been close with my siblings. I guess you kind of have to be when you’re homeschooled, otherwise its tough to have friends at school. Joking aside, they are both wonderful people whom I love dearly. At holidays lately, Shara, Jake and I, like to sit around and reminisce on the few days where we were able to break mom’s iron will and earn an unexpected day off from learning. Now suddenly Shara was all grown up and getting married!
The wedding was beautiful. It helps that Shara’s husband (Jake G., yes another Jake. My poor Gramma) is an amazing man who is loved by our whole family. One of my favorite parts of the wedding was that my dad, who just 3 months before thought he might not live to see another week, was the one to join the two souls. I enjoyed this for two reasons. First, because I knew he’d been looking forward to it since the moment they had asked him and second because it meant we were able to tease him endlessly about how he would undoubtedly cry at the wedding. When the day of the wedding came I sent Shara a text that said “Its gonna be pretty funny today at the wedding, when dad, Jake, and I are all crying, and you and mom are just smiling”. It was meant to be a joke. Yet when dad asked Shara to speak her vows there was a little choke in his voice. Then from behind me tearful noises from little brother Jake and suddenly it was all over for me too. Because up at the front of the stage I didn’t see the stunning 21 year old adult woman the audience saw. I saw a little blonde haired girl pushing me over in the snow (onto a stake mind you), playing in the treehouse with me (upset she couldn’t pee outside), and quite contentedly singing “Josh is a plebian, plebian, plebian. Josh is a plebian YA!” (her way of remembering the Plebians were the poor, commoner class of ancient Rome). I love that all those stories have deeper back stories only she will understand. As the tears streamed, dad attempted to pronounce Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Groom.
We knew he’d cry. One reason being that he cries at everything, especially these days, and the other reason being that there is no doubt he loves each of his children more than words can describe. In a world where it is common to grow up in broken homes, to have fractured relationships with parents, and to feel it is impossible to measure up to expectations, I have a dad who has made sure that above everything else I know he loves me. Don’t think that I say that lightly. I’m blessed. I’m spoiled. I know. See, if it were me in my dad’s position, if my liver was failing he’d make sure I got a new one. If my liver was failing and he could give me his, but it wouldn’t grow back, he’d still try and give it to me. This is why when my parents told me they didn’t want a family member risking the donation process I laughed at them. Its not their choice. Besides, there is another Father who’s got my back.
At the reception we danced like no one should ever dance! No really. I doubt that anyone has ever truly looked good while dancing, but when you realize that I think it only increases the level of fun. That night though, in the waiting room, I was suddenly distracted from my toy. Downstairs I heard SCREAMS of pain. The day had been a little much for dad. His calves were cramping uncontrollably and he was in agony. I hated watching it. There was nothing I could do to help and it felt terrible. Luckily though with a little rest he was feeling better again by the time I left for Manhattan, so back in the waiting room I grabbed a highlights magazine.
The next few months were somewhat uneventful. At least compared to how I would describe eventful now. Unfortunately, things were definitely still on a decline. It was frustrating. In my heart I wanted to believe dad would never get any worse. I prayed that God would keep him at least at some semblance of health. I even prayed for a miracle, that He would heal my dad! Those things didn’t come. No matter how hard I tried to deny it, eventually I had to accept that my dad was sick and that things may get worse. And they did. I remember the point at which I stopped denying in my heart that he was sick. It was the end of October and he called to tell me he had just been at Lahey Clinic. They had decided the time had come to start evaluating him for a liver transplant. He was on “the list”. Within an instant things the situation became very very real. The toys were no longer interesting and it was obvious that the sock is in that guy’s sleeve. I was still in the waiting room, but suddenly I was just waiting…
Much like how you’re going to have to keep waiting until later for this story to continue. Goodnight friends.
Micahel Scott makes me laugh. He just wants to be loved. I love people. Maybe not something you’d expect to hear from a sciency type like myself. I’ll be the first to admit, I do come in contact with quite a few who feel much more comfortable talking to a plate of bacteria than being forced to interact with horrifying multicellular humanoids (especially the female kind). This weekend was our
nerd convention pharmacology retreat and I had a great time, because people energize me. Sure we spent a good amount of time discussing research, pretending we understood each other, and encouraging one another that our work will someday be the next big thing, but the retreat has a bigger purpose. Building community. Stowed away in an expansive retreat center we become peers, student and faculty alike. Yesterday afternoon some of us spent a few hours playing basketball, faculty vs. students. I don’t know if they realize it, but to me this simple act speaks volumes about the Pharm program and faculty. On the court jostling and joking around were all three program directors. Suddenly they became tangible people, peers, and even friends in a way that the student-faculty gap can’t normally be transcended.
It made me realize how blessed I am to be here. To be a part of this community. See, God has a plan and even when I have no idea what it is (which is most times), its always better than my plan. It happens time and time again, yet still I’m surprised. It reminds me of how much my friend Ryan and I love “object permanence”. Object permanence is a phenomenon we learned about freshman year of college in a psych 101 class. Essentially, during our course of development there’s a point where if we can’t see something we forget it exists. This is why babies love peek-a-boo, and why you can hide a toy behind your back then reveal it to the delight of some tiny human. Ryan and I like to talk about it and laugh at these foolish little children. We’ve talked about it and are both 98% sure neither one of us ever suffered from this object permanence thing… Except for the fact that I still do sometimes when it comes to God. I’m trying to do better. Maybe its like development and I’ll get better with time?
I think that part of His plan in bringing me here was that he knew about this transplant and he knew about it well before I did. As I’ve been through consults at Lahey Clinic preparing for the surgery they keep asking me about loss of work and what will happen while I’m away. My initial reaction is normally a slight chuckle. When I went to tell my PI (science speak for boss) about my dad and our situation a few months ago, he told me to take as much time off as needed, make this the first priority. I met with the administration last week and told them I’d have to be away awhile recovering from the surgery. They told me they’d take care of everything and that all they asked was that I let them how the surgery goes and keep them updated. I think it’ll be ok if I miss some work. Last night our program director talked to me about the procedure. Asked how I was, how my dad was, and gave me a hug. She was one of the ones who was on the court in the afternoon. This is what I’ve been talking about, community.
Last time I was home my dad and I stayed up talking late into the nights. It was awesome. At one point he said, “Boy, you’ve certainly been blessed with some great people throughout the years.” I couldn’t agree more. In my early high school years a tight-knit group of us that met at youth group would hang out constantly. We were a mix of young impressionable boys and girls. We laughed, we fought, we dated, and we grew up. Some are married now, others have moved away, but sometimes I still stumble across a picture of us all dressed up at a murder mystery party and smile. From that group three guys became like brothers. We spent days, weeks, and years traveling around playing music or what we called music. Mrs. Tounge is still convinced we were just as big as relient k at the time.
Senior year of high school led me to an amazing group of guys. It was a bible study that turned into more. All were welcome and more always meant merrier. A pair of giggly girls started to tag along more often than not. One would later hold an amazingly special place in my heart. College brought new experiences and friends from every walk of life. There were scientists, bollywood dancers, classmates, and amazing team mates. It also led me to something I never thought really, truly existed. Life-long closest bestest most special friends forever friends (LLCBMSFFF). I’ve already mentioned Ryan, who was my room mate since basically freshman year. Senior year we picked up two more room mates, Dan and another Ryan. Anyone who has seen the four of us together is absolutely certain that they’ve never met a dumber group of humans in their entire life. Its that type of friendship. We are altogether too comfortable with each other, constantly laughing at jokes that don’t really make sense, and carrying out entire conversations no one else can understand. I pray for them, I thank God for them and I know they do the same for me. We’ve even established a tradition of vacationing together once a year, we call it mancation. Even my iPhone now recognizes mancation as an actual word (a near impossible feat considering the completely non-customizable Alcatraz of an operating system apple has imprisoned us in). Man, its great to have friends.
That brings us full circle to where I am now. Again surrounded by people who astound me daily with their love. I believe God created us in his image and its in people that I see him daily. We’re made to laugh and love and serve each other. When we do those things, man, it feels good. This is why I told you that I loved you at the very start of this post. Because I do. Where I am now, its a journey, but you’ve been there to help me through those things and I appreciate it. The reason this post is so long is because of you, so don’t complain to me its your own dang fault. You’ve blessed me. Maybe not directly, but if you’re reading this we probably have a connection somewhere and if we didn’t before, we do now. So this me saying thanks. For being there for me. For being there for my dad. For praying if you’re the praying type, or keeping us in your thoughts if your not. Even for the sole purpose that you’re made in God’s image and remind me of him daily.
The next posts will probably focus back on the story of the last year and whats to come, but this one had to be about you. Thanks for reading and thanks for encouraging. Lastly, thanks for teaching me not to read your comments on the blog in public because then I have to fight back tears and look I like a fool. You rock, don’t ever change.
I find this to be slightly ironic. That I, who rarely confides in anyone, find myself spilling thoughts out here in a supposed public arena. I imagine somewhere some head shrinkers are studying exactly what it is about the internet that allows us to feel comfortable exposing our innermost secrets for anyone to stumble upon. In my mind its the fact that it feels like you’re talking to no one and everyone simultaneously, and you can decide which depending on your mood. Maybe part of it is that I’m my father’s son. He felt called to blog honestly about his journey this past year. That transparency has amazed me. It has also helped me feel connected to him when I can’t physically be there. So I guess my hope is to do the same. To write honestly about my thoughts, emotions, ups and downs, and everything in between for anyone who cares enough to read. If you didn’t know, my dad needs a liver transplant. So I’m giving him 60% of mine.
It was almost a year ago today that this all started. I remember because I was about to head off on a retreat with the Pharmacology Program. I remember that mom had called and left me a voicemail. This was weird because normally our conversations start with a text and even missed calls rarely are accompanied by a voicemail. I listened to the message from my lab, “Hey honey, It’s mom. I’m in the hospital with dad, give me a call when you get a chance. Love you.” My heart jumped to my throat and at the same time that my stomach dropped through all 19 floors of our research building.
My dad had been diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) a few months before, but the disease tends to have a gradual onset (if it even gets worse) so there shouldn’t be any need for panic… Unless you really really know my family. I told my cousin Stephanie the other day that sometimes its hard to gauge the reality of the situation. See, dad takes after his side of the family where one bad touch of the flu and people are starting to talk about when to pull the plug. Mom on the other hand, “they’re having a tough day” could mean someone had flat-lined and then been resuscitated with a defibrillator.
I called back to find out what was really happening. Dad had gotten sick while my parents were in Florida on vacation. A similar event had occurred the month before and a short hospital stay put him back in balance. This time was different. From what I gathered he was sick again, but this time the doctors thought it was serious. One doctor said his liver was “useless” and if he didn’t get a transplant in 48 hours it was over. I cried. Thank God that idiot was wrong and by the time I was leaving for the retreat it was clear dad would make it home and we weren’t in an emergency situation.
Still it was confusing. I remember feeling dazed while at the retreat center. If you’ve ever had a concussion (somehow I’ve managed two from baseball), it was kinda like that. I knew things were happening around me, but whatever was happening seemed to go about 100 times more quickly than I could comprehend. I kept wandering off during breaks to be alone. The weather was beautiful. Gorgeous sunshine rained down on patches of new flowers. I appreciated that. Nice weather always makes me feel better. Not quite better enough to overcome my emotions though. I was sad, scared, angry, and mostly confused.
Confused as to how this could be real and happening to my dad. This was a young man, full of life, who had recently set out to start his own church. He had a vision of reaching out to people that a church institution wouldn’t connect with. People who were lost to the world. How could God let this happen now? It didn’t make any sense. I spent a lot of time talking with him about it. God I mean, not my dad. Asking him why this was happening? Pleading with him to give me understanding and begging him make it go away. Over the year I’ve still spent a lot of time having these same conversations… Although that’s not entirely true. I’m sad to admit that sometimes I don’t really talk to him. Its not that I don’t believe he’s there, or think he’s not listening to me. Its just that its a relationship. One in which he’s perfect and I’m oh so deeply flawed. I get frustrated with him, and I punish him by withdrawing. Yea that’ll show him! It doesn’t. It just makes me feel alone. I decide since he hasn’t healed my dad yet its time for me to be in charge. That hasn’t worked out either. Eventually I decide to talk again. I come running back crying, saying “This is too much for me. Too much.” He acts as though nothing has happened and welcomes me back. The beauty about having a relationship with this unfathomable higher power is that he’s always perfect and I’m always not. When I can admit that he doesn’t hold it against me. It’s been a long year, but faith has brought me through it.
Back on the hillside of the conference center as I prayed I suddenly had this feeling. Like there was a way to make it all go away. Before the retreat I had read up on transplants (a perk of being affiliated with the medical school). As it turns out, brilliant surgeons and scientists have figured out that a part of the liver can be taken from a live donor and given to a recipient in need. Being a
nerdscientist I am fascinated by the process. Can you believe that the donor’s liver grows back to almost 100% in 3-4 weeks? And the piece in the recipient becomes a fully functioning organ? What!? As I sat there praying somehow I knew even then, that I would be that donor. It wasn’t something I wanted to talk about to others. It was weird. It still seems weird. That’s just the nice way to say it. It was crazy. That’s what I tend to think of people who say “God told me blah blah blah”. The blah blah blah is the part where I’ve already stopped listening. It’s not that I don’t think God doesn’t still tell people things. Unfortunately, I think some well meaning people can be a little over zealous about what “God told them” and make the rest of us skeptical. Maybe the reality is that I should spend more time listening and less time talking.
Crazy or not, this week I received official word that I’m “an acceptable donor” for my dad. Last April we didn’t even know his blood type. Turns out its A+, just like me (I have always been a perfectionist). Was it just a coincidence that I had this feeling that I could be his donor? Was it God showing me things would be alright? I dunno. Don’t know don’t care. My God is great and he has a plan. If this wasn’t part of the plan then I would be ready to trust in him for whatever was.
This is already way more than I intended to write and milkshakes are calling. I think I’ll wrap the first post here. A year ago I was scared, angry, sad and confused. Tomorrow I leave for the same retreat. At the moment I’m still confused, but I have a feeling that is often apart of our lives no matter how old and wise we may become. I’m learning to deal with it and enjoying the fact that amongst the confusion, today I’m content and hopeful as well. More to come later.