Friday, May 6

Tenth Liver Anniversary

I just lived the most wonderful forty-eight hours I've experienced in a long time, celebrating ten years of life and liver health since my transplant. With the two most special people in my life, my husband and my mom, I celebrated the gift God gave me with a second chance, a perfect liver, a new life awakened to His purpose and calling. Since there's no manual on celebrating the anniversary of a life-saving surgery, I have to make it up as I go. This was the epitome of celebrating a transplant anniversary.

My mom came down to visit on Wednesday. We had a good time remembering the same day ten years ago, when the transplant team came into my room and said they had a liver for me, and the rest of the day was spent preparing for surgery. I remember when they came to get me for the Operating Room around 10 pm, how hard it was for my mom to say goodbye. (I was so out of it because the liver dysfunction affected my brain, and because of the pain medications I was on, I didn't have much of a reaction.) How grateful we are that I woke up twelve hours later, and the liver has been a perfect match for ten years. God did a miracle then, and continues to do miracles for us every day. My Wednesday with Mom was wonderful, and it was made even better by the sixty-five-degree temperatures and sunshine - wow, it was beautiful! And to top it off, when Mom was getting ready to go home, Hubs popped in the door - home from work ninety minutes early, ready to start celebrating with me.
Wednesday was one of those days where you sit and smile at the joy coming from your heart, and you wonder if you're even allowed to have a day that beautiful. It was the epitome of "celebrating life," for me. I went to bed a happy girl.

The next day, Cinco de Mayo, Hubs arranged to be off work and we had a few activities planned. Unfortunately the weather was less than perfect, but the rain held up at the important times of the day, like when we were walking through the farmers market, and when we were sitting at a picnic table behind the burger drive in eating lunch.
First thing in the morning, I woke up and pulled out my scrapbook. I looked through it and set it on our ottoman. Hubs and I looked at it more, off and on, throughout the day. It contains photos of my livers before and after transplant, some of my doctors and nurses, pictures of me in the ICU, and lots more. (If you're interested, see my post My Liver Transplant in Photos.) Many memories and stories, and I so appreciate that my husband takes interest and learns the information so we can share the memories together each year.

Then we drove downtown and went to the farmer's market. It was opening day, so there weren't huge crowds or the maximum number of tents there probably will be later in the summer. But it was fun! There was SO many beautiful flowers, mostly tulips this time of year. The big cut bouquets were $15. Hubs said I needed to get a bouquet on our way out, and I was trying to decide which colors I wanted. Then saw a farm booth selling a living pot of Gerbera daisies, also for $15. These are a special flower for me; they became my favorite flower when I was given a bouquet of them after my surgery. And every year for my anniversary my mom would buy a plant or bouquet for me to mark the day. I decided this was more in keeping with my tradition, and they will provide blooms all summer - much longer than a cut bouquet. So we bought the pot of daisies. I LOVE them. :)

Hubs and I ended the night with a "fancy" dinner out to Thai food. We both really enjoyed it. It was fun to dress up and be taken out on a date to a place with dimmed lighting and pretty decorations. We could do this more, but we just get lazy. It made the day more special to have a fancy date. And it was another part of celebrating, because as I was enjoying a snap pea and onion in the Golden Cashew Chicken in front of me, I said, "Hey, this is another way of celebrating my day!" It was only after my transplant that I stopped being a "picky eater" and started eating vegetables beyond the typical kiddie peas, corn and carrots. We used to joke that my donor perhaps grew up on an onion farm, because I have a love for the allium family that NEVER existed pre-surgery.

Me before dinner, looking pregnant!

It was a wonderful day spent with my best friend.

I'm so thankful to be alive, and I'm glad that I took two days with special people to celebrate this milestone. What made it even more special is all the well-wishes I received. A few people popped out of the woodwork, people I never would've expected to say something, and that was a cool surprise. When I hear from people, about what my life and story mean to them, and that they're glad I'm alive, it encourages me that I'm doing something worthwhile. That I'm making my life (my miraculously extended life!) count. It encourages me to keep going, even through the other health challenges I face, because I know it's helping someone. Every good and perfect gift is from above - it's onward and upward from here!