Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

I'm putting together a scrapbook on Bug and found this wonderful picture. It seemed totally appropriate for wishing everyone a happy, healthy, safe 2009 filled with joy, friends and family.

As you can see, I'm revamping my blog. Yes, I will still have long rants and stories but also some lighter fare. I'm enjoying being inspired and hope that it comes through here.

In the meantime, a very Happy New Year from the crew at Best Day: Sarah, Chris, Pally, Mokey, Nutmeg, Coreg and, of course, Bug!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


So the dishes are piling up in the sink, my voice is tired, I'm waking up with music running through my brain and I haven't eaten out of a can this much since, well, probably ever. This state of disarray can only mean one thing - I am deep in the heart of tech (aka hell) week, a solid four days of four hour rehearsals.

The best part of coming into tech week is realizing how badly you suck on Saturday and then how you totally rock by Wednesday. And then you get a day off to either forget it all or let everything gel. Then you are done. The only thing left is jumping off the cliff for performances.

I love it. It's what I do.

Please come and see the show!

A Warm Fuzzy Holiday
Presented by the Northland Chorale
Fri. Dec 12 at 7:30 pm
Sat. Dec 13 at 7:30 pm
Sun. Dec 14 at 2:30 pm

DL Parsons Theater at the Northglenn Rec Center
11801 Community Center Dr. in Northglenn
$12 for adults and $10 for seniors/kids

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Two Years

On the morning of December 4, 2006, Jan from Immaculate Heart of Mary church had come to visit me in the hospital. I struggled to focus on her words, stories about the latest happenings at church. Am I tired or am I sad?, I found myself drifting. Oh, and I hope I'm not too disgusting looking. But Jan only smiled and stood next to me and prayed for me, prayed that God would grant us the heart we needed.

By now, I had been on the biVAD for almost 4 weeks. I was receiving regular blood transfusions (the perfect drug!) to help relieve the water retention and to keep my anemia at bay. Eating was pure misery - most of my nutrients came from the delicious feeding tube "sludge" diet. Yum! I needed almost constant oxygen. Most humbling was my inability to care for my basic needs. I was a mess.

Not just a mess physically but emotionally too. Over the course of the days before, I'd been getting more and more depressed. I was wearing down. The darkness was right there, hanging out on the edges. I felt broken, separated from everything I'd once known and held tightly. My grip had been loosened and I was slack.

The day before, Lisa left, headed to Palm Springs for 9 long days for a seminar called, coincidentally called "Date with Destiny." I didn't really want her to leave. She'd been planning the trip for months. Back in my previous life, so long before when I'd first gone into the hospital, back when we were sure I would've gotten the transplant by now, she'd described it to me with shining eyes. I knew she had to go. I told her that perhaps this week would be both our dates with destiny.

After Jan left on that Monday morning, I fell asleep. As much as the the constant thump-thump-thump of the biVADs was tiring, it was also oddly comforting. I had a dream that I was in my bed with little puppies and kittens snuggling with my VADs. All of us comforted by the heartbeat. When I woke up, alone in my room, I knew the time had come to decide what to do with the sadness; somewhere along the line, I had lost my sense of Sarah. Half the time, I felt more like a machine than a girl and the other half the time, I just wanted to cry.

It was time to get it together so I got into my chair and started a crossword. Simple, nothing exciting but just deliberately choosing to do something felt good. It felt great, and by the time my friend Marianne showed up to visit, I was beginning to feel a little of my old self creeping back and the darkness receded a little.

Around 8:00 pm, the door opened and four nurses came in. They stood there silently - each shifting a bit and blinking a lot - and grinning from ear to ear. I was a little confused. I assumed it was shift-change and they would start swarming around my IV speaking their nurse-talk. Instead, they just stood there. One of them started crying and through a huge smile, another said "we may have found one!"

I went as still inside as the biVAD would let me. Oh. My. God. Then I said something seriously creative like, "Are you kidding?" . They nodded and someone cautioned me about getting too excited. Not get too excited? Ha! I felt tears coming and said, "someone get over here and hug me!" I was immediately surrounded.

I called Mom and Dad, not really sure to hope or not. Pretty soon, my feeding tube was shut off. Goodbye dear sludge; ye shall not be missed. Throwing caution to the wind, I called Lisa and my bosses who were in the Hong Kong airport on their hour layover before heading to Tokyo. They put me on speakerphone and I tried not to cry. In the middle of all this, the nurses took about a gallon of blood and started me on the immunosuppressents. Mom and Dad arrived. Had time really stopped or was it just me?

I moved to the bed. Surgery was scheduled to start at 12:30 am on December 5th. Time was moving very fast. I wanted to remember this night forever so I asked Dad to get his video camera (which was handily in the car). I was visited by the OR nursing staff, most of whom I already knew from my VAD surgery. I signed the form. I consented to have my heart replaced. Then it was time.

Everyone, nurses and doctors alike, stopped and stood by the bed. Mom said a prayer for the hands of the doctor, in gratitude for their amazing service and for healing. The world felt soft around the edges. As per our arrangement, once the bed started moving, Mom read Psalm 121 - "I lift my eyes up to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord." Mom kept stride by the bed as we moved down the hall. All the way to elevator, the sounds of the VAD, the respectful silence of the nurses and voice of my mother are what I remember. The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want.

My entry into the OR was at the same time as Dr. Awesome, my surgeon. I asked him if his hands were feeling steady. Ha. I am so lame. The atmosphere was relaxed in the OR - shouldn't you people be a little more urgent? I remember thinking. I asked if I could walk to the OR table if I wanted. They said that would be fine. I was too wigged out to actually do it, but I liked knowing that I could if I wanted.

The oxygen mask came down over my face - just like in the movies - and I felt myself growing drowsy. My final thoughts before succumbing to the anesthesia were...Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

And then I was out.


And now it is two years later. Two years of mountains (both figurative and literal), monitoring, and pushing forward with a determination and drive I didn't know existed in me. Was it worth it? Hell yes, every beat of that VAD, every blood draw, every ounce of pain was so freakin' worth it. This LIFE - while it is busy as hell - is the life that I CHOSE by saying YES to every lifesaving measure possible, YES to giving up all control and YES to replacing my failing heart with that of a total stranger.

Every day I wake up with a prayer of gratitude on my lips. I am grateful to the people who invented every fancy machine and drug that has kept me alive. I am grateful for the surgeons, the doctors, the nurses, and the CNAs for their single-minded vision of saving my life. I am grateful for my friends, my family, my coworkers and my love for giving me a reason to live. I am grateful to God for being a part of this plan. And for the heart of the the amazing donor who has now fused with my soul to become this new creation.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

To Uncle

Dear Uncle,

I am calling you this because honestly, until today, I never knew your name was Steve. This is always what Liz has called you - just Uncle. I only met you a couple of times so I never got to taste the fabulous ribs that your niece talked about this morning or hear your jazz collection. However, even though I didn't really know you, I certainly know the kind of man you were. And how your simple actions made such an impact in my life - a life that remained mostly unknown to you.

You did an amazing thing in the fall of 2006 by saying yes to a sick young woman - the daughter of your late brother. Liz's heart was failing and her life was falling apart. She needed a new heart and a home. You offered your home and a chance for that new heart.

When I met Liz on that mid-October night, about 10:00 pm, it was by chance. I was headed to the ice machine and happened to see that the patient in the room across the hall also had my cardiologist and my same ridiculous liquid restriction. There were plenty of liquid restrictions on the floor but currently there weren't any heart patients and certainly no young'uns.

Sitting on the bed was a woman, maybe my age? maybe a bit younger?, with long blond hair pulled up in a ponytail. She was bent over her meal tray coloring with crayons in a kids coloring book. There was a little dish of hard candy next to her crayons. Her room was empty, unlike my room crowded with hand-drawn banners and pictures. A Halloween movie was on the television.

I think I may have startled her when I poked my head in and asked, "hey, you get ever tired of hearing that you are too young for this?" She looked up, her blue eyes were guarded.

"Yeah," she was suspicious. Later I learned that she was thinking, who the hell is this all in my business? I don't blame her. I was, after all, very much in her business. I was a little nervous, a little scared and a little hopeful.

Until Liz, I'd spent all 18 years of my heart condition without ever meeting any other woman or person my age with cardiomyopathy. I had a cadre of old-man friends - Jim and Ray and the other cardiac rehab guys that were my comrades in low-sodium diets, lasix and beta blockers. But they all developed their conditions late in life. None of them had been told they couldn't have kids because of their heart. None of them worried about making lifetime commitments for fear that a future wouldn't be theirs.

Unbelievably (or maybe not, on second thought), there she was. In end-stage heart failure like me, bloated like me, out-of-breath like me, unsure like me, a little angry like me, and also, unfortunately, tiny like me. I couldn't believe it. Here, after being absent my whole life, I'd finally met a friend - a fellow patient - in for the same reason, the same thing. It was an instant and painful connection.

The next morning the doctors asked me if I had met the new patient yet. A young woman named Liz. I had - and despite the initial excitement of meeting someone else, there was another more pressing question in both our minds. Were we competing for a heart?

The doctors said no. But Liz and I knew better. We were both very very small - and as we quickly found out - we had the same blood type too. This relationship - on such fragile ground could go either way. I did the only thing I could do. I gave it up to God.

A wise friend of mine recently told me that God always puts what we need, not necessarily what we think we want, in front of us. God put Liz there, front and center. It was up to me to decide.

So we became friends. We liked to hang out together at night and walk with our IVs to the IMCU waiting room to sneak Doritos and Funyans from the vending machine. I learned of her hard life in California, her fresh start here and her struggle to find a family. We talked about our fears and the long roads already behind us. We talked about girl stuff. We played games in my room and we cried. A lot.

Eventually Liz left to go home. We were never again able hang out together on the floor. From then on, we were on our own but always so close. The doctors wouldn't tell us anything about each other, but the nurses kept us updated. There were times when we were rooms apart but couldn't walk to see each other and were too tired to call. Chris and my parents would shuttle info back and forth as they could.

And God's plan was His plan all along. The heart that was maybe, possibly supposed to be mine - but really never was - went to Liz on November 11th. When the news was broken to me, gently for fear I would respond in anger or jealousy, I cried with joy. I called her and in my voice, raspy from the ventilator, told her that she would blaze the trail for us both. She needed to tell me everything - she would forever be my sister-in-transplant.

Ironically enough, this northern California girl who came to Colorado for a heart, had her heart custom delivered from the Bay area. She may be the only person whose heart actually did leave San Francisco.

Uncle, you have no idea what bringing Liz out here has done for me. You've given me an awesome gift. A friend to walk with me on this hardest of paths. A sister to understand the frustrations, the struggles, the pain - someone with whom I can cry, laugh and above all, shout "I HATE BIOPSIES" and will totally understand. Someone who is ALWAYS on my side, no matter what.

For all of this, I say thank you. Thank you for opening your heart and your home to Liz. Thank you for giving me this wonderful friend whom I dearly love.

Rest in peace, Steve.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bush's Reign is Over

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemies eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing:
"Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt, and pillars of sand

I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can not explain
Once you know there was never, never an honest word
That was when I ruled the world

It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in.
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People could not believe what I'd become
Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can not explain
I know Saint Peter won't call my name
Never an honest word
And that was when I ruled the world

Viva La Vida - by Guy Rupert Berryman, Jonathan Buckland, Will Champion and Chris Martin

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An Open Letter to Sarah Palin

Dear Gov. Palin,

Up until now, I've been following your campaign with the interest of someone waiting to hear what you will say next. I learned quickly, early in your campaign, to always keep in mind that we share the freedom of belief and speech. Thus, I've been okay with your simple demographic of hockey moms and "Joe Six-Packs" as I know those are the only folk that you know. Those freedoms were on my mind as I alternated between amused and horrified at the footage of your rallies - your apparent ease with which you incite hateful epitaphs followed by an "oh geez, did I do that with my facts?" charm.

I've even put aside the fact that we disagree on nearly every issue facing us today. Gun control, keeping prayer out of schools, protecting the environment, encouraging alternative fuel research, not drilling, baby, drilling, and gay marriage (to name a few). I'm for everything that you are against. But still, this is a free country and you can believe what you want. You can campaign on the platform against mine. I can register my disagreement with a single powerful vote.

However, this weekend, Gov. Palin, you crossed the line. No, it wasn't the hilarious rap on SNL. It was when you said this:

"We believe that the best of America is in the small towns that we get to visit and these wonderful little pockets of what I call real America - being here with all you hard-working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation."

Oh but wait, there's more:

"This [small towns] is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans, those who are running our factories and teaching our kids and fighting our wars for us, those are who are protecting us in uniform and those who are protecting the virtues of freedom."

Excuse me? I don't know you personally, Gov. Palin, but I think you just called me anti-American. And that is the last straw in your silly, small folksy campaign. Our differences are one thing but as soon as you go throwing down about my patriotism - simply because I am like four of five of my fellow Americans that lives in a city - that pisses me off.

I'm not going to defend my patriotism to anyone, but I am angry about the clear disdain you hold for the 80% of the country you are vowing to lead and protect. How can I even believe for a minute that you will stick up for ME - a latte-swilling, arugula-eating, tree-hugging, gay rights-supporting, peace-loving, Christian techno-nerd who resides in a (horrors!) city?

I am deeply offended by the implication that small-town living is the only progenitor of what is good, kind and courageous in this country. That those of us who live by our Starbucks and Whole Foods don't have sons, friends, brothers and sisters who are fighting for our country. That those who teach our children in the inner-cities don't qualify as courageous. That goodness doesn't extend to those nurses and doctors working in hospitals large enough to qualify as small towns. That somehow, speaking out against failed policies qualifies you as someone who doesn't like this country. The ability to speak out against what has gone wrong (and not get jailed) is the very essence of being American.

I'm proud that I am able to associate on a daily basis with an office in a small town in one of our reddest states. I love that my colleagues are patriotic, well-educated, well-spoken and some damn fine programmers. I love that we trust and work with each other despite the red state/blue state differences that the media would have us believe are dividing us. We have truly bridged this artificially forged "small town/big city" bigotry that you have shoved down our throats. Take your class warfare someplace else.

Gov. Palin, I believe that the best part of America is the people in the small towns AND big cities with whom I live, work and love everyday - the wonderful great swath that is America. This is where I find kindness and goodness and amazing courage of the Americans who are leading churches, feeding the hungry, taking care of the homeless, bringing beauty and art to this world, healing us when we are sick, pushing advances in science and technology, raising great adults, and educating themselves and others. I know deep down that is how we protect our virtues of freedom.

You scare me, Sarah Palin, and not just because of your conservative platform. But because your Wasilla is showing. You aren't ready to lead a country of 300 million when you are only speaking to 20% of us. With these statements, you've shown us that you can't think outside of what you know. This is a big nation - and a big world. Try a different tactic in the next two weeks - try acting like a leader. Try talking to those of us who don't work in factories, teach children or wear a uniform. Try talking like you want to lead the rest of us.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Heinz 57

It's always been an endless source of speculation in our family - what breeds of dog make up our beloved mutts. We are pretty sure that Claude is a solid mix of German Shepard and black Lab.


See? Look at that sweet face and tell me there's no Shepard there.

My dog Bug is not quite so simple. With his copper fur and black spots on his tongue, the first guess has always been chow chow. But really? He isn't a one-person dog - he has several families which he loves. But he is somewhat independent and there is that curly tail.

We've gone through dozens of breed guesses - maybe he is a Spitz? What about some German Shepard? Perhaps some elkhound? I know! Maybe Australian Shepard. The vet guessed cattle dog.

What do you think?

So, in what was probably the most first-world purchase we've done in a long time, Chris and I sprung for a DNA test for our dog. Bug dutifully gave a sample of blood and off it went to the lab. The results came in yesterday.

It appears, like most mutts, Bug is a mix of many many different breeds. He is unique - unlike any other dog in the world. His most dominant breed is a....

A Chow Chow! With a trace of Golden Retriever. He's our little Chowtriever.

So there you go, that's our Buggy. I've always thought that Bug has the best traits of any of his breeds. He's happy, friendly, mellow and above all, a loving little companion.

Best. Dog. Ever.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad

My dad, my sister and I have a long-standing joke between us when we are together. Someone will say, for example, "gosh, I'm hungry!" Inevitably, one of us will respond, "not near as hungry as me!" Which then leads to "I could possibly be one thousand times hungrier than you are!" and it continues, escalating and certainly ad nauseum, until we laugh to much to go on.

And yes, we are all adults. Grown up adults, as you can see.

I am so blessed to have such an amazing father. So much of who I am today was shaped by this man. I inherited this strange, mostly inappropriate sense of humor - finding jokes less funny and preferring quick one-offs and biting commentary. This sense of humor that gets us in trouble. Like the time in the hospital when the doctor told me that my liver function had improved and I responded that it was a good thing I'd stopped drinking. Needless to say, only Dad found that funny. Which was really how it was intended all along.

I also learned about eating from my father. A fearless eater back in the day, he'd eat street food in Mexico without a care. "You don't have to like it, but you have to try it" was the rule at our table. That rule lead me to my love of all ethnic foods - Thai, Vietnamese, Ethiopian...there isn't a food I won't try. And the response when I report that I had Puerto Rican stewed pig ears and belly? "Good for you!"

Now only did I learn what to eat, but I learned how to eat from Dad. One time at a church potluck, while grace was being said, I caught Dad moving out of the corner of my eye. I quickly followed and we positioned ourselves near the buffet in order to be first, trying not to laugh. By the time grace was over, we were positioned and ready. Always be first - so that you can be coming in for seconds while the line ends. Yes, we are an embarrassment to our kind.

I'm so proud to be Dad's daughter for the things that he has accomplished. At the tender age of 60, Dad decided to learn a new trade. And he uncovered a hidden talent to become a primo videographer, editor and flash designer. I call him for questions in Illustrator and he always has time to be technical or design support for me. I nurture my artistic side foregoing a more lucrative and more ambitious career in paralegal work because I want to know what I want do when I grow up NOW rather than later.

And of course, the passion I have for politics. It's no surprise that we were both political science majors. And even though neither of us do anything in the political science field, as you can see from this blog and his blog, it is a lifetime love.

So, today is the old man's birthday and I want to wish him the best. I love you a million billion times more than anything, Dad. And you can't top that.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Fault

"Can I ask you something personal?" That's how many of the conversations about my heart transplant start. Of course, is my reply. Believe me, it's hard to surprise me with a new question.

Every once in a while, though, someone will surprise me. I've actually had several conversations with people in the "personal responsibility" school. Someone who will say to me, "but don't you think maybe you are responsible for this happening?" That throughout my life, I've made a series of choices which have lead up to this critical event. Seriously? Yes, that makes perfect sense. Juvenile fibromatosis is every three-year old's dream.

I firmly believe that we need to take responsibility for what is ours. We can control certain factors that can worsen or even cause our own health conditions. I put this into practice myself. Both pre- and post-transplant, I've made sure to eat right, exercise and follow my doctor's orders and recommendations. I have always been proactive about researching every drug, every medical procedure and even track my lab results. I am a patient who, as one of my doctors says, requires more information before making a decision than any patient he has ever had. I am my own best science experiment.

But even under all this surveillance and care, I still had to have a heart transplant. Not the cheapest of procedures to have. Not the cheapest of conditions to maintain. Not the cheapest of health insurance policies to need.

That stupid argument that all our health issues are a direct result of our own choices is bull. I have had that discussion with several friends but I could've had it with John McCain. Here is what he has to say about health and mental health care:

I have stressed the central role of personal responsibility in leading to lower health care costs. Personal fitness and better lifestyles, especially reduction in addictions of all types – food, narcotics, or cigarettes – can yield dramatic improvements in the cost of chronic illness and high‐cost medical care. We can do a better job of treating addictions, but we also have an obligation to do a better job of teaching our children the benefits of good lifestyles and the perils of addictive activities.

Compare the candidates views on health care and the priority of mental health care in their campaigns. The choice is clear.

Obama/Biden 2008. Vote.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Best Political Ad I've Seen

Somehow, I like being treated like a thinking adult.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Taking a Break from Transplant Talk

Which is what this blog is sort of supposed to be about. Post-transplant talk, that is.

I'm taking a break to urge everyone to do their civic DUTY this November and VOTE.

Check out this clip from Craig Ferguson - voting isn't a Democrat or Republican issue. It's an American issue.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thanks, but No Thanks

Thanks but no thanks implies that you are appreciative of a gesture/item/service, yet you refuse to accept it.

I didn't realize that it now means thanks, but no thanks for federal tax monies for a bridge but hey! just leave the money someplace else here in my state.

Do the research.


Obama/Biden '08

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

How Does Your Party Define Religion?

The true definition of religion, as defined by the bible itself, is "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27, NIV)

I am not going to judge but instead, if you consider yourself a religious conservative, take that definition and compare it to the stands on the issues by the candidates. You can do that here.

My questions to the GOP...

How is allowing a broken and corrupt health care system to continue to exist taking care of people? How is protecting the corporation yet hanging the less-fortunate out to dry taking care of people? How are we stewarding the earth by continually raping it for coal and oil? How is sending our youth into a war based on lies taking care of people? How is taxing an already burdened middle class (and unless you make over $5 MILLION a year, this means YOU) taking care of people? How is enforcing the Patriot Act taking care of people?

I think Barack Obama said it best:

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America's promise - the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

Yes we can. Jesus rules. Do the research. ObamaBiden '08

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I Know I Shouldn't Care Now (but I sorta do)

Out shopping tonight for snacks (you should never shop on a full stomach either; you never buy any snacks) and found Nissan low sodium ramen. Not a big deal with my new totally-fine-with-real-ramen heart, right? Of course.

However, I can't help but feel just a teeny-tiny prick of annoyance. Despite my high-falutin' gourmet, non-processed food sensibilities, back in the low-sodium day, my favorite food was ramen. It was a great way to mainline salt in a craving but a rare treat. I spent HOURS looking at sodium contents trying to figure out a way to justify it. I would've given my right tooth to have found this version.

So now, they've finally come out with a low sodium version. Right about the time I've stopped eating it. I don't care, I bought a package anyway and ate the whole thing. Just to celebrate the new life while honoring the old struggle.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different

Dear beloved supporters,

It's been a long time since I've sent out an update – partly because my life became very busy but mostly because there was nothing terribly exciting to report. Nothing has changed except for a simple desire to reconnect with you all and let you know how I am doing. The short answer is that I am doing, how can I put this modestly?, freakin' awesome. Read on for the looooong answer....

I also wanted to answer the question that I get asked the most: How is life different with a new heart? I attempted to answer that question a couple of months post transplant when I was euphoric to be waking up in my bed on this side of heaven every morning. Everything in that answer was true – but oh my, if I could've told myself where my heart would take me in less than 18 months, I would've called myself a liar and stomped off.

Luckily for all involved I was able to find out organically. So, what has changed? On the surface, my life almost looks virtually the same as my pre-transplant years. I'm still singing, I'm still working, and, I'm still living a very full and busy life. But that's only the beginning.

The one thing I didn't count on when I got out of the hospital on that snowy December 2006 day was how long recovery was going to take. I wasn't stupid – I knew it would take months of rehab and sleep (lots and lots of sleep) to get righted but I had no idea it would take until May. MAY 2008.

The good thing about this time was that I didn't know I was still recovering. Every day I felt better but it was so subtle that I assumed I was done. I returned to my pre -transplant activities with renewed vigor. Even so, I searched for differences between then and now and to my mind, they seemed slight: I was happy to have the extra energy required to manage two choruses; dancing was easier and I did have a clearer head and quicker mind at work. I couldn't decide what was new and what could be chalked up to enthusiasm for getting back to my life. I sorta figured that my heart was giving me the extra energy I needed to live my pre-transplant life to the fullest.

There was one thing that was different and I knew it: my workouts. Working out? As in exercise? Sweet fancy moses, yes. I love working out. I could see constant and consistent improvement. But I still had worked out back in the day - well before transplant and even before my deterioration starting in 2004 I was doing yoga, light exercise and Pilate's. Apparently, the Miss Thing that I am had some pretty high standards for recovery that even I didn't know about.

And then came May 2008. That's right. May of this year. I'd settled into a nice routine - back to activities and having a blast. I decided to challenge myself and see what Thumper could really do. So I decided, with Chris and Lisa and my good friends (hi Kris, Steve, Deb and Brian!), to do the BolderBOULDER. The night before, I was freaking out. I''d never gone 10K in a workout and most certainly had never gone that far, on foot, at any point in my life. What was I thinking?

But the next day, in the rain and cool, we got our butts out there and did it. Less than two hours after starting (1:50 to be exact) I RAN over the finish line (watch the video here). I suddenly knew I was better. And it wasn't a drug plateau, or just extra energy or just enthusiasm. This was the real deal. I was SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER than I was before. Better than I have EVER BEEN.

I'd turned a corner. This was what it was like. I've never know what this would feel like. In heart failure, I was considered "well-compensated." I'd been living with it for so long and from such a young age, my body had grown up thinking it was normal. I was used to lower limitations and tiredness as a way of life. Even my most health and energetic times were nothing like this. As an example, when I was feeling some of the best ever - in my early 20s - I went to a concert at Red Rocks. My good friend (thanks Tammy!) had to CARRY me up the stairs because, despite as well-adjusted as I was, I just couldn't do it. Two weeks ago, I climbed 1200 vertical feet to "summit" at 12,500 feet on Mt.Bierstadt . We were turned away from the real summit because of weather. It made that Red Rocks day seem far far away.

There have been other changes. I think many people thought, myself included, that the greatest and most awesome change would've been a simple element: salt. All my adult life, I'd been wishing and praying for the ability to eat regular foods and not have to watch my sodium. When the nurse in my transplant orientation meeting back in the hospital said that I would eventually be able to eat anywhere from 2000 to 5000 milligrams of sodium per day (compared to less than 500mgs – seriously) I wondered how fast I could get a new heart into my body. It was all I could dream about.

Then there was something about the VAD experience that cut that dream short. I was separated from my beloved food. I wasn't interested in eating it, reading about it, watching TV about it or even thinking about it. I now know that I had to die to that idol. I had to find my comfort elsewhere. That separation profoundly affected me.

And not surprisingly, eating regular foods wasn't the first thing I wanted to do when I got out. The first thing I wanted to do was move. Exercise. Maybe it is a specific gift from my specific donor but the urge is undeniable. I'm even writing this after a work out that consisted of riding my bicycle from the office to the gym, another 30 minutes on the treadmill at a 10% incline and a round of weights on the circuit machines.

Don't get me wrong, though, I still love eating normal food. I love bread and pho and cheese and soups and…I could go on. But it isn't the same. I appreciate the convenience of being able to eat out without retribution or easily creating a nice healthy dinner without cooking everything from scratch. But I don't eat chips non stop or mainline pretzels. Oddly enough, I think about dessert the most. That is new for me – I had no restrictions on sweets pre-transplant. Now I crave them. Another gift from my donor I am guessing.

As if a second chance weren't enough, I now have the desire and the ability to DO STUFF. And do stuff I do. Along with the sweets craving, the exercise habits, I've developed an unlikely and profound addiction to video games. Oh, the mysteries of 18 year old males. I love this heart for its youth and strength. It makes me happy to give back by playing a little Wii. That's my excuse, people, and I am sticking to it.

I am awe-struck by how my heart has continued to change my life. I continue to pray for the family of my donor – that one day I may get to meet them and thank them in person. In the meantime, though, I start every day in gratitude for this gift and praise God for giving me this incredible second chance.

Lastly, I wanted to thank the over 100 friends, family and supporters that came to my party in January. What a blow out! I was so happy to celebrate that milestone with you and I am touched beyond belief that so many of you came. For those who weren't there, you were missed! My very talented father created a video for the event – if you were not there or wish to see it again, you can find it here.

I am truly blessed to have this life.

I will write again in time to share more of my life. Until then, I remain yours in love and gratitude,

Sarah T (the "T" stands for Transplant!) Hassell

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Defying Gravity

It was a spur of the moment decision - we were all free the following weekend so naturally, why not camp? Our original intent was to go backpacking, but lack of equipment forced us to consider car camping locations instead. We decided to camp at Guanella Pass, just south of Georgetown with, oh my goodness I could hardly believe it, an assault on the summit of Mt. Bierstadt.

Conditions were lovely as we started out on Saturday morning - it was hot in Boulder and the sun followed us up I-70 and almost to our campsite. We unloaded, set up our tents and watched the clouds roll in while enjoying our makeshift lunches. Sprinkles of rain sent us retreating to our tents for afternoon naps. Aside from the blaring music in the camp next door, a peaceful stillness reigned even as the thunderstorm amped up.

Once the skies opened up, Chris and I zipped out of our tent to set up a tarp for the wood. Immediately, my jacket was soaked. So much for my assumed-waterproof winter coat, but my brand new hiking boots were keeping my feet warm and dry. Once the rain subsided to large drips off the trees and one trip back to the town to get new water, we emerged from our tents for dinner and fellowship.

Sunday dawned in a cold mist that we kept hoping would burn off. We ate our pancakes quickly and pulled on our warmest to climb. Lisa met us at the top of the pass - the trailhead - and outfitted me with more weatherproof gear. Thank goodness for outdoorsy sisters. We started off towards Mt. Bierstadt, considered one of the easiest 14ers at 14,060 feet. Starting at 11,700, the climb would be 6-7 miles and take us up 2,800 vertical feet.

Here is us starting out.

The hike takes you across a huge portion of marshland - up and down 200 vertical feet - before starting the climbing. The expected burn off never happened but the clouds held in a mild coolness and we were soon sweating.

I'll be honest, the climb wasn't easy. Once the inclines started, I would hike until my heart rate got to 160 or so before stopping for a break. Interval mountain training is how I like to think of it. After about a minute, we'd start back up the next hill. We talked about my donor, wondering if he'd ever done something like this. He's always present.

I felt bad stopping everyone so we sent part of our group ahead with Chris, Lisa and I trailing. I was embarrassed until I looked behind me and saw other climbers doing the same thing.

Wending and weaving our way up the mountain, we stopped and started. I couldn't believe I was doing this. I couldn't believe how hard it was but how easy at the same time. We were getting a workout.

It began to rain as we summmited our first mini-mountain. Not just heavy mist, but RAIN. People coming down told us it was snowing at the summit. We were in good rain gear but no one was prepared for snow. We weren't prepared and frankly, we didn't want to deal with it. So we started back down.

I'm telling you, coming down the steep inclines, even over the scree, wasn't hard but going across that marshland was a killer. Any hike that ends going up isn't a fun walk. We trudged - literally - over the walkways and through the stream. My legs were like lead but I was so proud of myself. I had done it - we hadn't finished but the mountain will be there at least a few more days. We'd gone 1,200 vertical feet, topped out at 12,500 and traveled about 5.2 miles.

One of my goals is to get one of these babies under my belt. We'll try again. Anyone else want to join?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Everything Must Go!

This past week I've been literally cleaning out the closets. When my company downsized many years ago, we offloaded an office stocked for 300 people. The dregs of that massive effort, as I discovered last week, were STILL in the cabinets.


As I stood in the "kitchen", looking through our storage cabinet in there, I remembered obsessively keeping the cabinet the same over the course of the last several years. "Mustn't throw anything out..." I imagined myself muttering. "Must keep my precious the same."

Tricksy packrats.

Enough was enough. I realized that I've been afraid to throw anything away for the last 5 years. Time to let it all go. ALL of it go. A dumping spree ensued with hopefully benefiting those who can't buy their own school supplies.

Change propagates change. This weekend, Chris and I are doing the same with our house. It's time to move forward, not hang on to the past. My new heart pushed me into my future - and I'm claiming it.

Go forth and change.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Lost Art

I can see why home canning is out of favor in today's world. The process is fairly complicated, you need to be hyper-clean and the best time to can is the worst time of the year. Who wants to spend a July afternoon in a hot kitchen filled with several large pots of heavily boiling water? And most importantly, why bother? You can buy perfectly adequate pickles, jams and canned fruits at your local grocery store for cheaper and easier.

But even against those odds, the siren call of little baskets of bright green cucumbers called out to me at the farmer's market this weekend. I remembered snorting from getting a face full of tangy boiling vinegar and fingertips tingling from boiling hot lids and water. I remembered a kitchen so hot with billowing steam that I canned in a bikini top and shorts. I remembered being able to serve my own pickles as relish with every meal and knowing exactly what was in them. I bought the cucumbers.

And yesterday I turned out six lovely pints of deep yellow-green bread and butter pickles. Air conditioning and a strong husband helped with the heat and the lifting. It's enough to get me barely exited for winter with hearty bowls of soup and sourdough, soft cheese and pickles. (Yes, Chris and I understand and accept fully that we are hobbits).

There is no doubt that canning is as laborious and useless a kitchen task as there currently is. But seriously, there are fewer culinary tasks more satisfying than seeing rows of your own (tastier) pickles lined up in the pantry. And of course, the knowledge that the carbon footprint on these pickles is much smaller than the ones at the store is a pretty nice side benefit too.

Hooray for canning!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Being Creative

Chris and I are currently in the middle of a week of creativity. Every day for a week, we are encouraging each other to do something creative - something outside our normal realm which means creatively reorganizing the storage closet at work doesn't count.

Today's creative endeavor was in the kitchen with a no-recipe dinner of an Asian chicken salad. My favorite guilty kitchen secret is prepared salad dressing. I love it as salad dressing, marinade, quick sauce and even for a flavorful cooking oil. Such an easy way to pump up flavor on a busy weeknight without feeling like I'm simply assembling processed foods.

So, it's a super easy salad. First, take a few boneless chicken breasts and marinade them in an Asian salad dressing. I used Kraft's Light Toasted Sesame or somesuch. After they sat for an hour or so in the fridge, I had Chris fired up our grill. While it was heating, I took some diced yellow peppers and quickly sauteed them with some minced ginger and shallots. I don't care for raw peppers but didn't want them cooked so I only heated them enough to be slightly toothsome and to bloom out the ginger.

I spread that on a cooking board and got the chicken grilling. To distract me from continually poking the chicken, I tore, rinsed and dried enough red leaf lettuce for two salads. I threw that into a bowl and added the cooled pepper mixture, some diced dried apricots, sliced almonds and some ginger-garlic wonton strips I found in the salad section of the store.

I tossed the salad with some of the dressing then plated it into our favorite salad bowls. The chicken was done then sliced and put on top. We added more dressing to taste and dug in.

Mmm. My creative cooking in the kitchen was delicious. Every bite was gingery and juicy with the peppers. The chicken was moist and thanks to the beauty of the prepared dressing, all the flavors melded quickly and superbly.

An admirable creative effort if I do say so myself!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Shamefully Overdue Post

For my peeps in the Northland Chorale

song chart memes

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Random Thoughts for a Tuesday

I have a feeling that once I finally learn Adobe's CS3 Design Standard, it is going to change my life.

Relying on Web 2.0 for your life has it's challenges. Like sites constantly down due to "technical issues". Twitter, I'M TALKING TO YOU. Also, listen up Technorati!

Let the internal predators do their thing at your workplace. I'm repeating that to myself that today so I don't just tell ours to suck it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Friend Ray

My friend Ray was a great guy. He was larger than life with a history filled with stories of music, laughter, family and service. He had a deep booming voice and a tendency to hit all the notes but to mix up the lyrics. Or sometimes he'd just make up a random word if he couldn't remember the right one. It never failed to make me giggle.

We must've looked like quite a pair when we stood next to each other in choir, a rare event for a bass and an alto anyway, but made moreso by our dramatic height difference and the fact that you could probably fit all of me into one of his pant legs.

What made Ray a unique friend was his humble and sharing spirit. As a young woman with a serious heart condition, it was rare if not impossible to find another person my age who understood the life that comes with heart failure. Meeting Ray was an "ah-ha!" moment - I learned in a flash that my support system would look different than I imagined - I could find camaraderie with the old guys. See, Ray was 44 years older me - old enough to be my grandpa - yet spirited and smart enough about his condition to see it fit to befriend a young'un like myself.

Ray and I (and Jim) began supporting each other through our various heart trials. We compared stories about tests, drugs, and procedures. I became used to hearing Ray asking me, "hey, they put me on this new drug..." And since we saw each other every week it was easy to keep track of what we were going through.

I called Ray from the hospital after my a-fib diagnosis just to hear him tell me (like seeing him wasn't enough) that yes, you can live with weird heart rhythms. He clued me in on the dangers of amioderone and I listened with to him share his struggles with weight loss. We commiserated over the low-sodium diet and the charming effects of lasix.

Ray died this past Saturday after a hard struggle with lung cancer. I have missed hearing my friend's voice in choir and I will miss his support and friendship. My heart goes out Sandy and his family. And Ray, wherever you are, thanks for ignoring the 44 years between us and helping me feel less alone in my fight.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I went from basically filing my nails at work to suddenly designing, website maintenance and blogging. The best part is getting paid for blogging - it's only temporary but I'm writing the updates for two expeditions being undertaken by my boss's family. My boss and his 10-year old son are climbing Mt. Elbrus in Russia - even as I type this they are making their summit attempt. After, I'll be writing updates on the family's climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Check it out the Climb 7 blog.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Song-gasm

Despite a couple tenors making an early entrance, Sure on this Shining Night still carries the day as my favorite choir song from the 2007-2008 season - of both my choirs and we sang the bejeezus out of it tonight. Splendid. And we even held the pitch on Somewhere. Now just three more practices, two more special gigs and Miami and then I can relax...until August.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Not technically since we came in roughly 43,775th but just finishing is victory enough. More pictures (and maybe video!) to follow in a few days as we get everything uploaded and shared. The picture was taken by Chris who was running BACKWARDS in front of us grabbing shots as he could through the crowd.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

An Ode to Granola

I wonder what is happening in Ames, Iowa - right now on the Friday before Memorial Day. I can guarantee you it's not what is happening here in Boulder. You can feel the town shifting; everywhere you go there are people. More cars on the road, more people in the stores, the parking lots are zoos and the hordes of bicycles are unreal.

Here in my part of Boulder, north of Arapahoe and west of 30th, we've been living with Bolder Boulder for about 2 weeks. The same orange signs come out every year WARNING everyone with their bureaucratic enthusiasm that this road will be CLOSED or parking is NOT ALLOWED HERE on race day. Similarly, today when driving down 30th, tall fences block of the grass on the sides of the road and cars populate where a chute of people will be charging through in mere days.

Evidence is everywhere that something is happening. A giant tent is going up in the FedEx Kinkos parking lot - blocking half the already scarce tiny spaces. But for those of us sneaking past the workers into the Boulder Running Company, postcards in hand to pick up our race packets, you can see that we don't mind the extra walk. It's nothing compared to what we'll be doing a lot more in a few days; heck, most of us have already done that at the gym already.

In Whole Foods, signs are proclaiming "FUEL FOR RACE DAY" and I join my fellow shoppers in loading up on gourmet trail mix, in our stylishly casual gym clothes, eyes peeking to see what everyone else is buying. I stop outside to snap a picture of an painted VW bus - the paint worn and faded - and driven by a small gray haired woman. I already know that she will smell of pachouli and her underarms unshaven. I cheer her on silently as Old Boulder hurries into the store.

Up along Boulder Creek, by the library, a forest of more tents are going up. This is the only town I've seen that gets more crowded over a three-day weekend. Everyone stays. Everyone wants to go to the Boulder Creek Festival and eat turkey dogs, falafal and drink Fat Tire. Everyone wants to run the Bolder Boulder. Everyone wants to walk the mall, drinking in the sunshine and gazing at the mountains dreaming of scaling the Flatirons with their golden retriever or black lab.

Boulder is the only town I know where a 10-year old child climbs a mountain and sings when he gets to the top for the sheer joy of climbing. Boulder is the only town I know where a woman who spends all day forcing people to exercise comes home, gets her dogs and runs for all those who never listen to her. Boulder is the only town I know where you see groups of musicians playing the drums and singing Christian music on the mall and drawing a curious crowd.

This is my town - where the athlete, the vegetarian and the yuppie are celebrated and co-exist peacefully with the hippie, the student and the foodie. A strange conglomeration where past and present sometimes clash with money and image. But for one weekend everyone is a runner and everyone is a hippie - and everyone gets along, with a little help from the Fat Tire, of course.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Go To Meal - Thai Soup with Sauteed Tilapia

Argh. It's been too long since I've posted! So here goes with another type of post. I had no particular agenda when starting this blog other than, perhaps, a secret desire to practice writing about the various subjects that interest me - like cooking. So without further ado, my stab at a cooking/food related post!

I think everyone should have a set of "Go To" meals - you know, the ones with the easy ingredients that you always have on hand. I found this one about a year ago when I ran out of reading material at cardiac rehab (hi Denise!) and had to read one of their boring cookbooks. I painstakingly copied it by hand - THE HORROR - while working out on the treadmill. I've made a few changes and I like to mix it up, but hey, that's how I roll. Plus it's delicious. So let's get on with the cookin'.

Thai Soup with Sauteed Tilapia

The first thing to do is start some rice cooking. My new favorite is brown basmati rice made in my splendid new rice cooker. Just throw it in, add the water and get that baby going.

Then, I trundle off to put together my mise en place; I chop some celery, carrots, onion, two cloves of garlic and a tomato. Real garlic is best - I can't say if the recipe will taste the same with garlic powder. I also throw in a couple handfuls of frozen pepper strips. The green stuff there is about 1 1/2 teaspoons of Thai green curry paste/powder. Use as much or as little as you want since it can be searing hot.

Once I have all that together, I throw some sesame oil and canola in my wok and start it heating. The veggies go in until the onions are translucent then the tomatoes and the curry powder. By this point, its a fragrant mess of color and Thai goodness. All of this takes about 7 minutes or so.

I guess I should mention at this point that while fast, this recipe has quite a few steps. Rachael Ray fans should probably quietly excuse themselves here. Yummo, yes. Simple-o? Not so much.

Okay, so while the mirepoix mixture is doing its thang, get two cups of fish stock (or veggie stock - I use a cup of each), about 1 1/2 tablespoons stanky fish sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar and some minced ginger (optional). Add this mixture to the veggies/curry and bring to a boil. Let it simmer while you prep and cook the fish. And yes, I realize that is bottled lime juice, but seriously, people, even though I hand mince my garlic, who has time to juice their own limes. Or keep them in the fridge all the time.

So, I like to use the vacuum sealed bags of tilapia for my fish. They are easy and thawed under cold running water in the time it took me to get this far in the recipe. I patted them dry and then sprinkled a bit of grill seasoning on them so they wouldn't look quite so pasty in the picture, but that's optional. In a separate pan, heat up some sesame and canola oil and saute the fish until it is opaque.

At this point, add a tablespoon or so of lime juice to the soup (or to taste), adjust the salt/fish sauce and if you are feeling crazy, throw in a handful of frozen edamame. If you are feeling really crazy, a half pound or so of fresh pineapple is outstanding but you have to be able to fully embrace your sweet/savory side to enjoy.

Hopefully by this time, all is done - soup is simmered and rice is steamed. Assembly is easy - scoop of rice, ladle of soup and topped with a piece of fish.

Then serve to your hungry crew to rave reviews.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Lisa's Questionnaire

Lisa is going to a women's retreat this weekend and the leader asked all the participants to complete the following questionnaire. It requires a bit more thought than the usual passed around questionnaire - you know, the one with questions like "Hugs or kisses?" (the answer is hugs, by the way).

Favorite Color

Light pink, all shades of blue (but especially light blue), anything combined with dark chocolate brown, and red

Favorite Song
What kind of question is this? My personal theme song is Fighter By Christina Aguilera. These are some of the songs that I rarely skip when my iPod is on shuffle (my highest honor indeed): Candyman and Mercy on Me (both Christina Aguliera), Mr. Roboto (Styx), Sure on This Shining Night (my choir), What You Own and Another Day from Rent, and anything from Too Hot to Handel.

Favorite Kind of Food

Asian food - specifically Vietnamese and even more specifically, pho; FISH, FISH, FISH - love it and eat as much as possible as I sense it's on a limited-time only basis; bread and it's incarnations - sammies, muffins, rolls; over the top gourmet "foodie" food; my homemade "go-to" comfort food; any kind of soup or stew; desserts - ice cream, chocolate, cake, brownies, cookies;

Biggest Dream
To make a living off my writing/designing and be a stay-at-home-wife/mother at the same time. I would like to write a book and be able to volunteer for the various causes with which I'm involved.

What I Wanted to Be When I Grew Up
I wanted to be a scientist, a detective, a spy, a pediatric cardiologist, a foreign services officer/CIA agent and a lawyer.

Time in My Life When I Feel/Felt Most Beautiful
I think maybe now. But then again with few notable exceptions (like all of 2006) if you asked me this question anytime in my adult life, I think I would've said the present at that moment. I definitely feel gorgeous on stage with my chorale. And my hubby makes me feel beautiful too.

Time I Felt Most Free
This may sound odd, but October 2006 - the days/weeks in room 491 prior to my biVAD surgery. Yes, the circumstances sucked. I was scared and handling random crises but I knew with absolute clarity who I was and what I had to do. There was no work, no performances, no church, no bills, and no chores. My world was the size of a small hospital room - all I had to do was stay alive and dream dreams of the future.

Something People Don't Know About Me
Some people know this, but I LOVE video games. Our Wii, the Daily Show and the Colbert Report are the ONLY reasons I even turn on the television. A high school friend once had a t-shirt saying "I Wanna Marry a Rock Star." Pish posh on that, I say. My t-shirt would say "I Wanna BE a Rock Star."

Something I Really Want to Try (at least once in my life)
Singing with a band, arranging a choral song, running (not walking) the Bolder Boulder, driving a really powerful, fast car...this is worth a whole blog entry in and of itself.

Three Qualities that Make Me Unique
1) I'm living on the other side - my heart transplant at 34 - and I feel the power of that experience every day.
2) I'm a liberal Christian who votes Democrat
3) Money is of little interest to me.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My Crazy Left Arm

At practice on Saturday, Jill comes up to me and whispers, "I don't know if it's the new heart or what, but your left arm has it's own groove thing going on." It seems that my body is following the steps, but my arm feels compelled to bring its own spicy action to the party. A problem only in that I have the ONLY CRAZY ARM in the group and that makes it sorta noticeable.

Here is the email exchange with Lisa that describes it best:
Sarah: I'm so happy you are coming on Friday! Even though we are most likely going to be laying in small sad puddles of exhaustion on stage. Except for my left arm, of course.

Lisa: I can just see the choir, all laying in a huge heaping pile of exhausted
sweaty bodies with you hopefully on top and then sees movement! And its your arm, starting to flop around like a newly caught fish. But to a beat.

So I think Jill is right. I didn't dance this way before my transplant so this can only be the doing of Thumper. I suspect my Thumper used to be a dancer. I'm actually 99% sure that he was, but since I don't know, I'm not going to say for sure. I've done my research but have never heard from my donor family. If I did, the first thing I would ask is if Thumper was a musically inclined - either dancing or singing. And if he liked video games.

This is the first time in a long time I've felt the spirit of Thumper. He was strong when I first was transplanted but then everything was loud, confusing and overstimulated. I sensed he was a bit wary - comfortable, but still finding himself in this new person doing new things. But I'm hearing him now - loudly. He loves to dance - he wants to dance with me. And I'm happy to oblige. So if you see me on stage and see that left arm whacking out - you know that it's not me dancing wrong, that's my Thumper saying hi.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Best $12 You'll Spend in May

I'm not joking when I say this may be the best Northland show ever.

The lines for Speed Racer will be too long on Friday and Saturday. Save that for Sunday. See us instead.

Discounted seats if you are in a local chorus or theater group. Email me or post a comment and I'll send you the info.

Northland Chorale: Gotta Sing! Gotta Dance!

  • Dates: 5/9 at 7:30, 5/10 at 7:30, 5/16 at 7:30 and 5/17 at 2:30 (SAT matinée - not our usual Sunday matinée)
  • Price: $12 adults/ $10 seniors/ $8 kids (tickets can be bought through me, at the door or online)
  • Place: DL Parsons Theater at 11801 Community Center Dr. in Northglenn
  • What: Come see my new heart in action as we sing - and DANCE - to songs about dancing. Gary Carnes will be emceeing/hosting/making you laugh. This will be our most dance intensive show and we are dancing to all but two songs - several people have actually lost weight. Should be a great show.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Best Thing You've Ever Done

The other day I found myself saying, "man, that was one of the best things I've ever done for myself" in regards to my laptop. I gave a start when I realized that yes, buying the laptop was indeed one of the best things I've ever done. I use it all the time: for work-stuff at work, for personal-stuff at work, writing in bed at night, checking the internet while I watch tv - for EVERYTHING.

I was so stressed when I bought the laptop. I had promised myself that when the time came to get my heart replaced, I would treat myself to a Playstation. I knew, and rightly so, that if purchased willy-nilly, I would become addicted to playing video games. That has proved true. I can't get enough of my Wii. Even as I type this I'm planning my next moves in Zelda.

But I digress, when I found myself in the hospital waiting for a transplant, the PS3 had just come out for the ungodly price of $1,300. At the time, I just wanted the Internet and not video games so with trepidation, I spent the money on the laptop. I haven't regretted it EVER.

What have you ever considered one of the best things you've ever done for yourself? I'm not talking the big stuff - like going on that first date with your spouse or changing jobs - but something smaller and less life-changing. Something that you did that has made an impact on how you live your life or view the world. That's my lappytop for of the best thing I've ever done.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Evolution of Dance

This has over 83 million hits on YouTube so somebody out there in the Intertubes likes it.

Be glad the choreographers took pity on us for "Shake It".


Friday, April 25, 2008

Eyes Wide Shut

An exchange at choir practice last night

Bob: Try making your "ooohs" darker. Like the tenors are doing.

(we sing)

Bob: Sopranos, don't forget to watch for the rest.

Soprano: Hey! My eyes were closed...that's the only way to make my ooohs darker.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Choir Geek

Northland Chorale: Gotta Sing! Gotta Dance!
  • Dates: 5/9 at 7:30, 5/10 at 7:30, 5/16 at 7:30 and 5/17 at 2:30 (SAT matinée - not our usual Sunday)
  • Price: $12 adults/ $10 seniors/ $8 kids (tickets can be bought through me, at the door or online)
  • Place: DL Parsons Theater at 11801 Community Center Dr. in Northglenn
  • What: Come see my new heart in action as we sing - and DANCE - to songs about dancing. Gary Carnes will be emceeing/hosting/making you laugh. This will be our most dance intensive show and we are dancing to all but two songs - several people have actually lost weight. Should be a great show.

Sine Nomine: Singing our Lives
  • Date: 5/31 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Price: $10 recommended donation
  • Place: Park Hill UCC at 2600 Leyden in Denver
  • What: This is my chamber chorus. We don't dance :-) The show will feature the GALA set we'll be performing in Miami this summer along with music we're singing just because it's fun and just because it's pretty!

Colorado Symphony Chorus: Carmina Burana (Chris's choir!)
  • Date: 5/18 at 2:30 (this is the date I'm going, but they are singing it all weekend)
  • Price: All depends - we may be able to get some half price tickets.
  • Place: Boettcher Concert Hall at the DPAC in downtown Denver
  • What: If you've never heard Carmina Burana performed live before, the CSO chorus is who you want to hear it done by. They are fabulous and I daresay this could be one of their signature pieces.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Name

Last year, we all did the Heart Walk in downtown Denver. For us humans, it was a great day. The sun was warm and we were celebrating a heart all whole.

But for the Claude the dog - it was a CAR RIDE! a WALK! human FOOD! new SMELLS! And, he got to do it all with the people he loved most in the world. With a dog's memory span, it was highly conceivable that this was his best day of life.

Just like every day has been for me since 8 Nov 2007.

Monday, March 31, 2008

My First Entry

I figured since I was going to announce to the world that I have a blog on my Facebook site, I probably ought to have something posted on the actual blog. Go figure.

Welcome to my blog! I will be writing about various things - mostly things going on in my life. Stay tuned for more information on who I am and what I want to say.