a simple phone call changed our lives forever. I remember every single detail of that day as I am sure I always will. I'm shaking even as I type this out for you!
It was a beautiful June day and I woke up in my room at the Ronald McDonald House as I usually did every week day while Lindsay was in the hospital. It was around 9:30 am (really, about an hour earlier than I would normally wake up because I always stayed with her so darned late! But, my girl is a night owl just like her momma! I just like to blame her nurses instead! ha ha) and was getting ready to go see my princess. I went earlier because I had a "Suzie" afternoon planned in Kalamazoo to get a pedicure and to do some bookwork for the business. I spent about 1 hour with Lindsay before I left for home for a couple of nights to spend time with my boys. That time, for the first time, Lindsay saw me leave and as I walked down the hall, I could hear her crying. Oh, the heartbreak! I wanted to just grab her and leave.....even just for 2 days! So, walking the rest of the way to elevator, I was crying! The drive home was very normal. Grabbed my large McDonald's coke before hitting the highway, adjusted the cd changer to play my favorites, and sang all the home. Yes, I sing to myself and I don't care who sees me! ha ha Stopped home for a few minutes to drop some things off and then to the salon I went. At this point, it was around 2:30pm and getting ready for my "Suzie" time. Went upstairs, WITHOUT MY PURSE!!!!, and began to get my pedicure. Which was fabulous by the way! I needed to have "flip-flop" feet! Just about 3:45, Missie (who works for me and is a personal friend as well) came upstairs with my phone. She said it had been ringing and this time she decided to grab it for me. It was JR. I was thinking that maybe he wanted to discuss what I wanted to do with the boys tonight since I was home. Oh no! NEVER expected to hear what he had to say next!
JR: "Hi honey. Are you sitting down?"
Suzie: " Um, yeah (kind of like the smart ars that I am!), I'm getting a pedicure. What's up?"
JR: "She's getting her heart tonight!" His voice was shaking and I could tell he couldn't tell me fast enough! And the heart is a PERFECT MATCH!!"
Suzie: " What?!!!" Then the sobbing started and totally didn't stop for at LEAST 10 minutes! I have two witnesses on that one! After I calmed down and ended the phone call with JR, I started notifying everyone that I had on my list. I even had nurses from U of M calling me because they were so happy and they knew that I finally was aware of what was going to happen! I bet they were just dying to call me before Dr. G could! ha ha Meanwhile, Jessica is TRYING to paint my toes!
JR: " Yes, Dr. G just called me and said that he couldn't get a hold of you (because I left my purse DOWNSTAIRS!!!!) so then he told me. He asked me if I was driving, I said no. Then he asked if I was sitting down, then I said no....but I will! ha ha
Dr. G: " Lindsay is a getting a transplant. (DUH!!! ha ha)
JR: " Yeeeaaaaahhhhh........
Dr G: " And that will happen late tonight!"
JR: " OMG!!!" (well, he didn't say OMG, Oh My God! That would have been pretty funny though! ;-)
Dr. G finished by telling him the details and when we needed to be there and then they hung up.
Before I left the salon, my phone rang again. It was Dr. G. He wanted to make sure that my husband got ahold of me! ha ha I politely (because that smart ass in me almost came out again) said yes, he did. ;-) Then after he gave me the details too, Jen (Lindsay's primary nurse in the PCTU) got on the phone. Waterworks again people! I remember her telling me that it was ok to cry. So, I did. I don't think she understood a single word that I was trying to say I was so emotional! She was working that day and then said that she was the next day too so she would have her when she got out of surgery. How perfect was that plan!
I finally got home around 4:30 after running to the bank and post office (travel documents had to be mailed for clients!). JR was running around gathering things to take with. When I walked into the house, we just dropped everything to hug and cry AGAIN!!! SOBBING!!!! And when I say this, this time the cry was with the sense of relief that it is finally happening and with fear that we never see her again after this. It could easily go either way. The unknown is scary. After a few minutes of this and then trying to regain composure, we finally were on the road. It was now 5:00. I drove and made it to A2 in record time! ha ha 1 hr and 15 minutes! Normally this drive is 1 hr and 38 minutes from our driveway! Pretty good and not having to get pulled over and explain our situation of why I was in such a hurry. Trust me, I had plotted the whole speech in my head on the way if I were to get pulled over!
When we got to the hospital, we walked down the halls and there was a definite vibe in the air. Nurses and Doctors definitely were in a great mood because of the news and kept peeking in on the princess. She definitely has a fan club over there! The evening was filled with laughter and just plain starring. I caught myself a few times just soaking her in. I needed to remember what she looked like, every detail, every scar, every eye lash, just everything! That evening, Lindsay just happened to have one of her very special nurses.....Mindy. Mindy usually took care of her "2nd" shift and Lindsay just loved her to pieces! So excited that she was able to have her that evening. As midnight came upon us, I asked her if she was ready to leave. She said, "No way! We have been waiting for this day and I'm staying and taking her down with you!" I was so touched by that. Oh, everyone that took care of the princess just got so attached and if I were in Mindy's shoes, I wold have done the same thing! Megan came back after her shift was over too to spend some time with the princess before hand. Other visitors were Aunt Carole and Uncle Robb. They were working in Lansing at the time and left as soon as they could so that they could see Lindsay before surgery. In it for the LONG night with us were my mom, Sue, and Stephanie (Kalamazoo Gazette reporter). My dad was in Florida on a fishing trip at that time. It was tricky trying to get ahold of him in the middle of the ocean! But, we did and let me tell you something, I have never heard my dad cry before. EVER. At least not the way he did when I told him. Now I know where I got that from! ha ha What an incredible moment!
After being delayed for a while, signing consent forms, meeting with Dr. Ohye (he was just THRILLED by the way!) it was finally time to head down to the 3rd floor. I held her in the wheelchair on the way and my stomach was in knots the entire time. I felt my body getting sweaty and warm. Don't pass out, Don't pass out!!!!! I didn't but it certainly felt like it! Nurse Mindy and Lindsay were with us along with my mom, Sue, and Stephanie. As we arrived, we were greeted by 2 anesthesiologists. They asked a few questions and before we knew it, we handed our baby off to them. One magical thing happened before that though, As we passed her around for hugs and kisses, Lindsay, for the first time, said "HI". We all looked at each other and just got even more emotional, along with the shock! ha ha After she was down the hall and the doors completely closed behind her, JR and I just lost it again. We were so grateful that we had support around us because it was a very difficult thing to do. We have handed her off before, but the feeling was never like this. We regained composure and then headed up to the oh so familiar PCTU waiting room for the long night ahead. Jessica and Krissy showed up with some goodies for us because they couldn't sleep either! So nice of them. I walked the halls trying to hear the helicopter. I would keep looking down at the street to see if I saw the ambulance come in. I didn't hear or see either one. hmmmm. At around 3:30am (June 5th) we finally got an update from the OR. The heart arrived at about 3am and it is in and beating! Such an amazing feeling to hear that news. Words just can't describe! It was another 3 hours before we were able to go in and see her and when we did, she looked absolutely incredible! GOD IS GOOD!!!!!
As I write this out for you, the donor family is in my mind. My heart is broken for them. It is a weird thing to think about meeting them someday. I hope that happens. But, what would we say?? I can write all the letters that I want, but what would I say to them "for real". Maybe just a hug and silence works. Sometimes that is the best way to say something because there really are no words. We are completely blessed by this family that made this selfless decision to help another family and we couldn't be more grateful that that family was us. We probably wouldn't have Lindsay today without them. I look back to the pictures of her the night prior to transplant and she was really gray. She was probably running very thin on time here on earth. She now has special guardian angels watching over her and one very special one that she holds their heart for them. Thank you donor family. We will always cherish what you have given us. the gift of life for our daughter.
With much love on a very special day. Happy 1st HEARTiversary Princess! (tomorrow) ;-)