Sunday, June 08, 2008

The phone call just came...

and my brother is on his way to Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland to receive his new heart. It's not quite 4 a.m. here on Whidbey but there was no chance I was going to go back to sleep after that phone call, so I'm up pouring nervous energy into a blog post.

The cats are bewildered---what the heck is she doing up? Why has she fed us, though we're grateful? Is she okay? Is she going to turn on the heat? Is she going to let us out? Why is she not making that funny-smelling stuff? Is there something wrong?

My brother is almost nine years younger than I am and had his first heart attack when he was 30 years old. Ever since that time (25 years or so) he has struggled to cope with heart-related health concerns and a month ago passed all the contingencies to get on the transplant list.

He's a big guy, 6'4" and bulky, though not fat, so we all knew it was going to take an extra-large heart to sustain him. It doesn't feel very good to pray that some strapping young man will die accidentally so that my brother can live, so I could only pray "please, God, help Buz find a new heart", with the knowledge lurking that our joy will mean sorrow for someone else.

My brother is a fine man, generous and loving, with his own quirks and particularities, just as we all have. His journey with heart disease has been rough. He's had two open-heart surgeries, one which reshaped his flabby heart muscle, removed calcification, and gave him three years of improved health. That was three and a half years ago. Last fall his remodeled heart ran out of steam and the subsequent surgery implanted an LVAD, a left ventricle assist device, which would keep his heart beating at a rate that would give him some quality of life, but the implications were clear: this was just a stopgap, he had to have a new heart.

What a birthday present! Any time the phone rings in the middle of the night, one's alarm systems blare, but I've been expecting the call and my mind jumped there, not to any assumption of doom somewhere else. I'm so grateful, God, thank you so much.


Anonymous said...

Ms. Kitty, I'll be thinking of you and Buz today. Happy Birthday, indeed.

ms. kitty said...

Thank you so much, Momma. I'll let you all know how it goes.

Anna Banana said...

Hoping it all goes well for Buz. Kind of miraculous for one person to receive another's heart! Try to celebrate your birthday at least a little today.

ms. kitty said...

Thank you, AnnaB. It's already a celebration! But I will be ready for more as the day progresses.

Lizard Eater said...

Wow oh wow. Isn't medical science amazing. And aren't we fellow humans amazing, that we donate our organs when we can no longer use them, so that someone else may live.

Lighting a candle right now, that everything goes well.

Happy Birthday, Kit.

ms. kitty said...

Thank YOU, LE, for kind wishes out of your own overflowing plateful of crisis.

ogre said...

I'll keep you and Buz in my thoughts and wishes as well, Ms. Kitty.

There's a member of my congregation who celebrated 10 years with his new heart... oh, a year or so ago. It's amazing what's become, well... almost "routine" and "normal"!

God didn't do this, just as God didn't decide to snuff out the donor. Things happen, sometimes for better, and sometimes for the worse.

Which is why we need each other, I think.

ms. kitty said...

Thank you for your wise and encouraging words, Ogre. I am so thankful to people like the family of the donor, to have the courage to say yes to a transplant of life for an unknown person.

Shelby Meyerhoff said...

Hi Ms. Kitty, I'm saying a prayer for you and your brother, and another for the family and friends who lost their loved one. May your brother have a successful transplant and a healthy life ahead.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, Shelby, your prayers are much appreciated.

Masasa said...

You and I were born only a day apart not considering the year! Happy birthday!

Any updates? I have been thinking about you and your brother. I am praying and celebrating with you.

Do you need something else on which to keep your mind? Feel free to totally ignore this if you want or if you've done it before (I couldn't recall), but I thought this one was fun.

I tag you:

1. Write the title to your own memoir using 6 words.
2. Post it on your blog.
3. Link to the person that tagged you.
4. Tag five more blogs

ms. kitty said...

Things are going well right now, Masasa. My sisterinlaw called to say that he is still in surgery but the docs have told her that he's doing well, the heart is in place and is beating but he's still on the bypass machine. More tomorrow, maybe.

Joel said...

This is the first I've heard. Do please keep us posted.