So we're back. Two years and counting. We got picked up in Minneapolis by our friends Scott and Gail that we met when we were here for our transplant. We were able to spend a day with them touring their home and stomping grounds in Maple Lake, MN. We had a great time catching up with them and getting a taste of how they live. The highlight had to be beers at the local legion club and getting to know the "regulars". Think of the bar as a dingy and divey Cheers, but with characters every bit as colorful as on the show.
We arrived Sunday afternoon at the Gift of Life House. There are actually two now, right across the street from each other. We are housed in the new one this time. It isn't quite as homey and intimate as the old one, but it is a lot more up to date. The rooms are bigger and nicer, there are beautiful gardens and fountains with more outdoor seating areas available.
But regardless of the amenities, it is the people housed here, and who work and volunteer here, that make it so special. You walk in the door, and you are immediatley bonding with people. There is no pretense, and very little small talk. Within minutes of meeting someone you are sharing each other's medical history and respective journies. I am once again struck by the realization that no matter how bad you believe your lot in life has become, there is always someone with even greater and more grave challenges.
The first couple we met, as we walked in the door no less, are from Corvallis. They have been here 10 months now, with her still at the top of the donor list, waiting for a lung transplant. A rare blood type and unique anti-bodies complication have made it very difficult to get a match. Another woman, Terri, told me of her sister, Summer, who is today on her 60th day in the hospital. Summer is a 33 year old single mother of 5 kids-the youngest is 4 years old. She has leukemia. She has had numerous complications since her marrow transplant, including being in a coma that lasted 3 weeks. Their other sister lives in Arizona, has 6 children of her own, and has taken in Summer's 5 as well while Terri attends to Summer here in Minnesota. So me? After that 30 minute re-introduction to life at the transplant house, I think I'm doing pretty good!
I actually had a couple of tests on my heart today to see if it has been affected by the amyloid proteins. I trust and remain hopeful that it has not. I have a whole battery of tests and visits tomorrow, so I should get some feedback by Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday. If all goes well we should be done Wednesday afternoon. There are some tests scheduled for Friday which we hope to move up earlier in the week, and if not, I think they can wait until next visit.
Things feel differently this time. I can't yet articulate it. Feeling like our visit may be so short-lived, there is not the same sense of belonging or connection that there was in the past. You almost feel guilty being one of the many who are just back for "check-ups". A couple of days in and out and your gone. Also, as I mentioned above, this house doesn't lend itself to being quite as intimate as the original Gift of Life House: a lot more spacious.
Anyway, going to close for now. Don't know if I have any readers left on this blog, but if so, I hope this finds you well. Cheers, Rick