Reflections on Recovering From a Heart Transplant
On August 21, 2007, I received a new heart at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. I also received a new life, a new attitude and a new appreciation for my family and friends.
I’m not going to write about the difficulties I encountered but rather I will attempt to describe my enrichment by the process. Here are some of my “awakenings” of the last eleven months.
A new appreciation for life and a new ability to “see” things I was oblivious to before my transplant. Now I “see” nature and the life around us, I “see” children at play, puppies, and love. Yes, you can “see” love but you have to look and comprehend.
I have found the real meaning of love and it is far deeper than words. Love, is a look, a touch, a gesture a movement. Love can be seen in people’s eyes, how they listen and the helpful actions they take. Sometimes you can be aware of love even though the actions taken might be wrong.
The gift of life is the ultimate in giving. While receiving the gift is relatively easy, making the decision to give is sometimes difficult, especially for families with dying loved ones who have healthy organs. Yet thousands of people make that decision every year despite the enormous grief they are experiencing. I hope my donor family knows how intensely grateful I am. I hope they know that they not only saved my life, but also caused great happiness for me, my family and my friends. Let us not forget the living donors. Can there be a greater expression of love, concern and compassion than those who voluntarily give all or part of an organ? I think not.
While I loved my family unconditionally before the transplant I love them more deeply now, than ever. And – while it sounds selfish, I now understand the depth of their love for me and how what affects me has an equal effect on them. Oh, how the phrase, “No man is an island …” applies. We should all recognize that and we would be far better people. My greatest blessing is my wife, Robin. I simply cannot express my love for her. I won the biggest lottery ever when I found her.
My dear, dear friends. An experience like the one I just had really lets you know who your friends are. There are friendly acquaintances and there are true, loving friends. While both are important to me, few of the people I know fall into the latter category. One has been a friend since we were ten years old. I finally know what the word means; I suspect he has always known.
I have learned so much more than the five items listed here, but these are the personal lessons that stand out. All in all, I have to believe I have come out of this experience as a better person and one whose “betterness” will continue to grow. In many ways, I wish everyone could have a transplant, we might all be better for it.
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