Little Moments (A Letter To My Fellow Patients)

Many other patients have asked me what it’s been like after my transplant.  I think they, having some kind of stereotypical image, think that every patient has had some kind of transcendental experience. How do I know this? I was one of them. So I’m going to give you some advice. The advice that I wish that I would’ve had.

After transplant, it’s not going to be easy. You’re going to have some really bad days. Some days you’re even going to wonder “Why do I have to be me?” You’re going to have some days where you wish you were somebody else. Frankly, you might even have some days where you wish had never done your surgery in the first place. It’s just going to happen. This is not being unappreciative, it’s just natural due to the incredible stress you are under.  It’s going to be hard for you to come to terms with the fact that the stereotypical image of the transplant patient that you had in your mind does not exist. But, that’s why they call it a stereotype. You are an individual, and you’re going to deal with this process in your own way.
Now, on the other hand, you’re going to have wonderful, beautiful, amazing moments where you’re going to be so happy that you’re still here to be with your family and your friends. They’re not going to be transcendent, per say. They’re not going to be obvious. They’re not going to be the stereotypical moments that perhaps you had imagined in your mind – climbing Mount Everest or running a triathlon or coming up with some amazing medical invention that saves millions of lives. But, all of a sudden it’s going to hit you that without your transplant you would not have been there to share in that little memory. Hold onto that, my friend.
I don’t know what it’s going to be for you.  I do know what it was for me. Seeing my niece being born. Hearing my nephew learn my name. Having tea parties with my best friends kids. Planning renovations on my house with my husband and seeing them come to completion. Attending all three days of the Bible convention that I hadn’t been able to go to for two years because of my illness. Doing art projects with my mom. Being able to do volunteer ministry work again in the area that I love with my friends. Little, tiny moments that are not obvious to any other person but you.  However, when you really sit down and think about it, those are the moments that you would not have been able to be there for without all the hardship you will go through with your transplant.
So here’s my suggestion. Make a list of your events and memories. Or make a folder on your phone with all the photos of little memories that you have of good times. Whatever it is that you can do that works for you to keep track of all the tiny victories that you have had.
Subsequently, when you’re having a really ugly, bad day, and you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t know why I did this…,” you can go and look over your list or look over your photos and you can remind yourself “this is why.” This is why it’s all worth it. And you can reinvigorate yourself to take another step forward. Step over the mountain and keep going another day.
And that my friends is being a transplant patient. Because you’re not just living for yourself but you’re living for others.
And that’s what I wish I had realized from the very beginning and that’s what I wish to pass along to you.

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