"Learning to live post transplant, in most ways is like healing. It all takes time."
Today is July 3, 2012. In just two days my husband will be one year post heart transplant. While I am absolutely elated that we’ve made it to this monumental point in living post transplant, I feel like blogging about my own healing process as a caregiver this past year.
It’s definitely been an interesting year for sure. Quick recap - One new heart. One rare tumor. One challenging arm surgery. Thirteen right heart catheterizations and heart biopsies with even more clinic visits. One patient. One caregiver. Husband and wife. Me and Kev. And the two that keep us going, our boys.
I can honestly say at most times survival mode kicked in and I became comfortably numb so to speak. No, I did not take Valium, xanax, anti-depressants, or any medications for that matter. Yes, at times I did drown my worries in the bottom of a wine bottle. Don’t judge me. I’ve discussed this before in my blog: http://livingposttransplant.blogspot.com/2011/11/letting-go-finding-me.html Please be patient with me, I'm trying my best to elaborate.
About three months post transplant, I had to face it all. The nightmares started. Flashbacks. Everything that was ever used by a visitor in my house was thrown in the garbage. Most of my clothes started to smell like the hospital to me. Shoes brought back bad memories. All of it, garbage. Kevin thought I was crazy but my friends reassured me it was very normal to be experiencing these feelings. I didn’t know what to do with myself, with all the free time I suddenly had once again. I started working out four and five times a week, which I now know was just a distraction to facing it all head on.
About eight months post transplant, Kevin had his arm surgery. You know, the surgery I promised would happen way back when he had his LVAD. It was a success. I mean, talk about relief, right? Well, two weeks after this surgery my boss sends me on a trip to Italy. Yes, travelling is a part of my job. I hadn’t been away for nearly 17 months. My friend Gina drove me to the airport. If you live in Los Angeles you’ll know how far it is from our house to the Balboa Blvd exit on the 101. I cried uncontrollably and hyperventilated for that long. Leaving Kevin, our boys, it was something I needed to do but was so very afraid. Death was no longer knocking on our door (knock on wood). I was in need of re-gaining my independence, my confidence, my love for travel again. Italy gave it back to me.
So there I was June 2012, thinking it was over. That the healing was over, the pain was gone. I was so very wrong. The thought of our vacation back east started to haunt me. I had this fear of seeing certain people. I feared them because we hadn’t seen them since Kevin had heart failure. I didn’t want to re-live it all again. The look in their eyes, I didn’t want to deal honestly. When we arrived on the east coast, I soon realized that my fear was ridiculous. Seeing my in laws in their house, my parents, both of our families gathering around a table, visiting our married place …and finally, being in the state where my tough “Jersey girl” comes from…I needed it. All of it. It was all the missing link in my healing process. And I returned home to Los Angeles feeling rejuvenated and feeling like me again.
|he stole my heart 15 years ago.|
In looking back at the past year I'm not sure I would have done anything different. It all had to happen, it had to be what it was in order for me to heal. Yes, certain places, people and things will spark a memory, both good and bad. Healing takes time. I must take my own advice. For now, I will continue to live in the moment, love, laugh whenever possible, pay it forward, eat guacamole whenever possible, and I will continue to live post transplant with the love of my life who makes me feel like the luckiest girl alive.