First, I want to say: I’m home!
After a very successful transplant surgery and post-op recovery at Loma Linda University Medical Center, I was finally discharged on Thursday afternoon. And it’s so good to be home! Letty was discharged on Tuesday (just one day after surgery) and she is doing well, too. A little sore, but very good.
I credit our loving, good Lord for answering many, many prayers offered on our behalf by you. Everything went very smooth. Our surgeons were very pleased with their efforts. Both of Letty’s kidneys went to work right away in both of our bodies (I’m producing more urine than ever – I’m literally a “P” machine!). The Loma Linda Staff were fantastic; many of them were believers (Letty’s surgeon actually prayed with her before surgery). And I had some great spiritual conversations with my attending nurses and nurse assistants; one of them, when he heard the story of Letty donating her kidney and about our marriage of 35 years asked me the poignant question: “So, tell me, what’s the secret to your successful marriage?” Poor guy, he listened to my 3 point sermon! But I think he enjoyed it! I also had some great times with the Lord in prayer and reading; God really met with me in my hospital room. Speaking of which, the Lord worked it out so that I had a private room the whole four days of my stay. I was supposed to move out after the 2ndday, but there was no other room available for me. So here’s where “no room in the Inn” worked to my advantage! It gave me more time to have solitude, prayer, private conversations with nurses and with family members. So it was an amazing experience!
But now I’m home and while it is so good to be home, I was faced with some new challenges. I’ll let you look at it:
Because I had a kidney transplant, I now have to take 16 medications at various times of the day. Some of them are twice a day. Some of them are three times a day. Some of them once a day. And two of them are only on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. I have to take one of them exactly 12 hours apart, 1 hour before eating and separate from all the other meds. Yikes! I have a hard enough time taking the trash out on time once a week, much less having to manage all these meds.
As well, I have to be driven to labs and clinic twice every week. This means getting up at 4:30am, taking my labs at Loma Linda at 5:30am. Take one of my meds at 6am. Be driven to the clinic at 7am. Take an insulin shot. Eat a pre-packed breakfast (made the night before) while waiting in line at the clinic. Take the other 15 meds. Wait until 8am for the clinic to open. Meet with doctors, nurses and practitioners for about an hour as they evaluate my labs. Get my prescriptions changed, if needed. Then go home and take a nap! I am blessed to have my mom and my good friend, Gary Keith, being my chauffer for these bi-weekly treks, because I can’t drive for three weeks.
And finally, I am pretty much quarantined for the next month or so. My new kidney needs protection from my auto-immune system in order to survive. So many of these meds literally shut down my protection from viruses, bacteria and bugs. If I catch a cold or the flu, it can literally lead to pneumonia and, possibly, death. So I can’t be in public. I have to wear a mask whenever I leave the house. We have to keep the house squeaky clean. I have to wash my hands every time I pet my dog. Visitors have to be healthy and wear a mask if they visit. I can’t go to church, to the movies, to a restaurant for at least a month.
Welcome to the new Normal! It’s a lot to think about and it’s really, really different. As an extravert and one who tends to be on the disorganized side, it can seem daunting; if not impossible. But what is impossible with man is possible with God, and that’s who I’m turning to. The Lord is the One I’ve turned to throughout the season of suffering and dialysis. He’s the One I turned to after surgery in the hospital. And he will be the One to lead me through this New Normal of meds, labs, doctors visits, diet, quarantine, and keeping things clean.
So what will I do? I will “abide” in Him. Jesus talks about this in John 15. I think it’s a fundamental principle, if not the fundamental principle of being a Christ-follower. If we abide in Jesus, we will bear fruit (life, love, goodness, works, transformation, blessing). This will happen no matter what situation we find ourselves in – good, bad, free, oppressed, light, dark. And if we don’t abide in Jesus, no matter how blessed our situation is, we will wither and be good for nothing. Fundamental principle. I’m learning to abide in Jesus and hopefully, over the next few weeks I can share what I’ve been learning. Pray for me over this next month or two!
I want to end by giving a shout out to my son, Jon, who gave you all “live updates” on our surgeries. Wasn’t that awesome! And thanks to all of you who responded with texts, emails and facebook posts with your prayers and encouragement. I read them all and each of them blessed and strengthened me. I love you all so very much. With my whole heart (and new kidney), I thank you!