Monday, November 7, 2011

On Not Going Gently

So, what happened in there, the night of my biVAD surgery?

I was sitting with my surgeon, Dr. Awesome, almost a year after my transplant. He was late to the appointment by almost 90 minutes - his last of the day -  but had called ahead to his nurse to ask if I would mind waiting. We were there, ostensibly, to talk about my wiring.

My chest wires to be specific. The ones that sort of look like twist ties wrapping around my sternum were poking me from the inside. None of the options were worth the inconvenience of living with being poked so we continued on to other subjects. 

I actually knew full well what had happened on the night of November 7, 2006. I'd managed to get my hands on my medical records and had pored over them with the help of Google to translate the medical terminology. I'd read the timeline of events and frankly, there in the stark black and white of the doctors' messy handwriting, it hadn't seemed nearly as dire as I had heard. 

He told me the surgery had started out well, especially for someone who was hanging by a thread, in multiple organ failure and on a balloon pump with a heart beat that was as steady as a popcorn machine. Once the biVAD was in, by all accounts, the operation was a success. 

And that's when something bad happened. My blood wouldn't clot. I wouldn't stop bleeding. They did everything, he said. I was loaded with as many clotting agents as probably exist. They talked about just leaving me open to monitor, but in the end decided to close me up and hope for the best. All in all, I received enough transfusions to replace my body's blood at least three times over. He stopped talking for a second. It was out of our hands, he finally said.

It was your will to live.

Even now, I still have a hard time finding the words to describe what happened that day. The day where everything bad that can happen to a heart happened. The day that my family (and friends) pulled together around me like a sweater. The day that God did something that I can never deny.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
- Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)

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