Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Three Weeks Post Transplant...

Well, its official.

I am three weeks post transplant. And so far - all is well.

That first week out of the hospital was pretty packed with meals out, trips to different stores to get things here at the apartment set up, and getting things I'll need for my rehab/recovery. This week was relatively quiet. A few short trips to different places, a few visitors - but mainly just a lot of time resting. I'm still fighting quite a bit of discomfort so there were a few days the pain got the better of me and I honestly didn't feel like doin much.

But then there were days like Saturday where we spent a few hours at the Riverside Arts Market near downtown.

Have I ever mentioned my slight obsession with farmers markets, flea markets, and just about all other kinds of "markets?" Well, lets just say its significant. It could be 100 degrees outside or hurricane force winds blowing and I'm goin.

I love goin to markets where there is a blend of produce, art, locally made cheeses and baked goods, jewelry - anything unique or hard to find outside of the market grounds. I love talking to the vendors. They are always so passionate about what they bring. One of my favorite vendors from Orlando, Argyle Gifts, was actually up here in Jacksonville this past weekend and I was so excited! I've purchased quite a few things from them over the years and I always love catching up with them to see their newest pieces. The specialize in creating jewelry, candleholders, wind chimes and other items from old silver serving peices. They frequent estate sales, thrift stores, garage sales, and buy online silver from all over the world, some new, some hundreds of years old. One of my favorite pieces if a baby spoon ring that I literally wear everyday. This past weekend my mom purchased a pair of earrings made from silverwear that had the most beautiful pattern on it. I can't remember exactly what he called it, but apparently it was the silver pattern of King Edward (?) before he abdicated the throne for some reason. (sorry I don't know my history LOL) Apparently, once he abdicated the throne they sold the pattern off and it began being reproduced, but not for royalty anymore. Or something like that. So, its got some cool history, even if my understanding of it is sorta iffy. Regardless, they are beautiful! And super unique - yay!

So after browsing the market, Mom and I buying some fantastic spoon jewelry, Chris loading up on locally made honey and a variety of locally made beef jerkey, we headed back to the apartment. Later that evening we had what my family affectionately refers to as a "Fam Jam" which basically is anytime more than about 3 of us get together at once. This evening, two of my cousins, my cousin's roommate, and my friend Amanda from Orlando came over for a spaghetti dinner. It was so much fun just to hang out, eat and relax for a while. Later that evening the boys left to head out for a few (much needed on Chris' part - bless him) beers, while Amanda stuck around the apartment and caught up.

Speaking of Chris, I want to take this opportunity to brag about my husband for a minute.

As most of you know, Chris and I have been together for going on 13 years  (5 years married this May). It wasn't long after we first got together that Chris found out about my cystic fibrosis. It wasn't something I kept a secret or anything, but it wasn't something we discussed a lot either - mainly cause I was so healthy it really never was on either of our minds much. It wasn't until college when I started getting sick that it became something we had to "deal" with. I'd be lying it I told you I wasn't sure how our marriage was gonna pan out early on. Not because I didn't love him, or doubted his love for me, but when your dealing with a chronic, terminal illness...well, it makes things difficult to say the least. Knowing that you or your spouse can/will die because of this illness at some point, and not knowing how soon/late that's going to be makes finding a balance tricky sometimes. It wasn't long after we got married that I could no longer work fulltime because of my constant illness. Going on disability at age 24 was humiliating for me. I felt like a huge drain on my family, my husband...everyone. I could work part time - at best - and my ability to be a great "housewife" was seriously lacking. For the last 4 years or so I have been plagued with guilt over the fact that our relationship felt SO one sided. Chris works 10-12 hour days almost everyday, rarely ever taking a day off. Anytime he takes a new position somewhere he goes through a process of making sure they offer wonderful insurance (for me mainly, since he hasn't been SICK in about 7 years), that he is guaranteed XX amount of pay to make sure that he is able to pay for ALL of our bills, and that he is withing XX miles of our house so that if he needs to get home to help me, he can get there quickly. When he comes home from his long days at work, he's the one that takes care of the dog, takes out the trash, vaccuums the house cause I physically can't, always helps me make sure I have my oxygen in whatever room I want to be camped out in, brings me drinks and food cause I am to short of breathe to make it to the kitchen to get it myself. He does most of the laundry and dishes. And hardly EVER complains. Don't get me wrong...he doesn't do it all with a smile, but I don't expect him to. Hell, I sometime WISH he'd be more upset about it. Cause let's be honest...I don't know if I'd be so nice about doing all that. I'm just not as selfless as he is, and thats just the truth.

Take the past three weeks. Chris has been absolutely AMAZING. He stayed all but ONE night at the hospital with me, and that was only because I insisted he go back to the hotel my parents were at just to get one good nights sleep. Nights at the hospital were not great. I was up, in incredible amounts of pain, every two hours. And everytime I woke up I would need him - to bring me something to drink, to help me move to a new position, to rub my back, shoulders, feet or whatever part of my body was in agony. And then there was the constant disruptions of any hospital - the IV alarms that go off when a med is done infusing or my pain med was almost out, the nurses coming in to take vitals every four hours, the xray techs that started rounds at 5am everyday, followed by the blood draws at 6am and the surgeon rounds at 7am. I don't know how he managed everyday. But he did. He was there, encouraging me, comforting me, helping me, and sometimes antagonizing me to work harder and walk further everyday. Its because of him that I am where I am in my recovery.

Its because of him that I am alive right now at all.

I know that when we got together he couldn't know the impact he would have on my life as this disease destroyed my body. I know that cause I didn't know either. I would have never expected someone to be there for me like he has been. I never thought that the thing that was literally destroying my body, would be the thing that would bring us and tie us together in such an unimaginable way. We've had a very tough last few years. But in these last three weeks....somehow all that makes sense now.
These years have forced me to learn to rely on someone other than myself. That was never something I was good at. I was always incredibly independent, never compromising on what I wanted, no matter what. It was my way or the highway. (And I mean that literally. I've actually kicked someone out of the car on the highway before because they refused to do as I said.) I am still not great at relying on help. Still not great at not having the final say, of the control over everything. Probably never will, which is why my relationship with a small anxiety medication will probably be for life. Ive took to it kicking and screaming, but honestly I didn't have a choice. I was dying, and I couldn't do it alone.

Enter Chris. My best friend and soul mate. May sound cheesy, but its true. We were meant for each other and its clearer to me now than its ever been. He was meant to help me through these last few years. I don't know why it had to be so difficult...probably because Im so stubborn it would take an absolute disaster to break through my thick head. But coming out the other side of this, my life seems to have a different perspective. I can finally become the wife I want to be. To have a marriage thats set on a more equal footing than it once was. I can get a job that actually pays a few bills. I can participate in household stuff (to some extent), maybe even have dinner ready when Chris comes home. I finally don't feel like a liability. You have no idea how excited I am for this new life. How excited I am to have a marriage that gives us both what we deserve.

Well, I think thats all for now. Tomorrow I head back to Mayo for my follow up visit after the labs and tests I had done today. I'll update you all on my current status tomorrow. Send up a prayer that the med adjustments we did last week have brought the mild rejection under control and that infection is still non-exisitent.
Have a great night...much love...


  1. What a loving tribute to a wonderful husband. God bless you both.

  2. This warms my heart. What a power couple. You guys don't know the extent of the impact your relationship has on people. It is so inspiring!

  3. Erin! Thank you for sharing your story, your struggles and your triumphs with whoever is out there and willing to read. I pray nothing but the best for you and your family. It is sweet and inspiring to read of a love that is pure, honest and devoted in all the trials of life. You are a blessing to many! <3