Tuesday, March 04, 2008


In less than a week, we will celebrate the four-year anniversary of Mark and Anthony's transplant surgeries. As usual, my mind is flooded with memories of the days leading up to the transplant.

One of my most vivid memories is of the GI telling us (my mom and me) that Anthony needed a central line IV and that he was going to place it, not in surgery, but in Anthony's hospital room. When he told us that it was still considered a surgery, we hightailed it out of the ICU. We were NOT hanging around for that. We decided to go to the cafeteria and find something chocolate. Something VERY chocolate. A big piece of gooey chocolate cake totally fit the bill. It was such a pretty day outside that we decided to sit on the patio and enjoy some VERY RARE warmth with the sunshine. What we didn't think about was how windy it was! We had napkins flying around and we were in danger of losing our cake. It was a silly situation, but it was made much sillier because of our emotions running so high. I still laugh, and can still feel the anxiety I had felt that day, even now. It was not a good time for Anthony. He was SICK and we knew the transplant was going to happen in the next week. The GI had made it clear to us how severly sick Anthony really was, and explained to me what STATUS 1A means; at that point, the patient is considered too sick to continue to sustain life on their own for more than a week. So, for us, the chocolate cake was perfect.

One of my other memories is of my mother- and father-in-law's faces when they finally got to Omaha and saw Anthony. Mark, my mom, and I were in the ICU with Anthony when Mark's parents arrived. My father-in-law would be an excellent poker player because his emotions rarely show on his face. But when he looked at Anthony, and saw him lying in the big ICU bed, he couldn't hide his fear. It touched me so deeply, that he cared so much that he wasn't able to hide his emotions. My mother-in-law is more like me: our emotions are right there on the surface. Neither of Mark's parents had seen Anthony since we had left to come to Omaha, except in pictures. Seeing him in person had to be a huge blow. But they were awesome. Hugging me, telling me what a good job I was doing; hugging my mom, thanking her for being there with me. All the while knowing that they were going to tell their son goodbye in the morning, and send him off to surgery. And then a few hours later, send their grandson into surgery, too. I know what it's like to hand your son over for surgery. I imagine that the fact that their son was 26 didn't make it any easier for them to tell him goodbye.

We went to dinner at a restaurant that night: my mom, in-laws, Mark and I. We laughed and talked. I think my mom and I each had a small glass of wine. I had barely been out of the hospital in the month since we'd been there, and it felt wonderful to put on makeup and go out. I felt guilty for about two whole seconds. I felt liberated. Like maybe I could pretend for two hours that my life wasn't really mine. But always, in the back of my mind, was the thought of my sweet baby boy.

I'm so glad that most of my vivid memories aren't of the horrible times; the night before Anthony was readmitted to the hospital because of "fulminant hepatic failure" is a blur to me. The first few weeks in Omaha are all a blur to me, too. I will always be grateful that Anthony was far too young to understand many of the things he's been through. Maybe I'm grateful that I was too young, at 25, to understand most of it, too.


angie said...

As our tx anniversary is also approaching...I understand the realm of emotions that you are feeling. Isn't it crazy the things that we remember about that time? I'm so glad that Anthony is doing so well today. He is a miracle...and Mark is a hero. It's just amazing to look back and think, "that was my life?". Sometimes it feels to me like I was just an observer....observing from the sidelines. Congrats on 4 years of good health:).

Lacey said...

I love you Laurie!

fairenuff said...

You made me cry with the memory of your in-laws turning up and seeing Anthony before transplant.
Wow, how Anthony has grown up though. I was just looking at your new avatar on LF and thinking how grown up he looks. You didnt come into our lives until much later than transplant but I can see such a difference from the time we first 'met' to now.

I think Anthony is a superstar. I think you and Mark are superstars too (because you have a lot to do with Anthony's superstardom!) and I think you are an incredibly lucky family to be close and look after each other.

I wish Anthiny many many many more transplant anniversaries with lots of smiles and squeals of laughter.

Big hugs