Well, if you have been around anyone who has had a life altering health issue you have probably heard the term “new normal” quite a bit. That seems to be the way to communicate what is otherwise hard to put into words. Many people (friends, family, all those who have loved on us and prayed for us so faithfully) have asked me how I am feeling and doing and it is such a hard question for me to answer. That is part of the reason why it has taken me so long to write another blog entry! As a rule I am one of those personalities who struggles to always know exactly how I am feeling on the inside and I also tend to be somewhat ignorant of what is going on with my body as well. I guess that can be a blessing and a curse! As much as I can tell, though, I am physically doing really well and I am so thankful!
My biggest adjustment so far has been remembering to ease into physical activity because my nerve endings were severed when my old heart was taken out so it takes some time for my brain to compute when my heart is working harder. Once I am warmed up, though, I am encouraged to see and feel the ease to which my body and heart is working. It feels good to exercise and work out my lethargic muscles! The hardest thing I am experiencing in my new normal is the effects of the prednisone steroid. Thankfully that drug is not one that I will have to continue long term so I will get a new “new normal” once I have tapered off of it. But for now I seem to have fully acquired the jowls or chipmunk cheeks and puffy shoulders and arms that usually accompanies the drug :(. I am amazed that after all I have been through I still go right back to struggling with my vanity! But I see that human nature is what it is and contentment will always be something we have to work at no matter what our circumstances are. So for now I have to be happy being puffy!
The best thing about my new normal is that I have a very strong heart! My ejection fraction ( the fraction of blood ejected from a ventricle of the heart with each heartbeat) is now over 70% and it was 26% with my old heart. The average heart pumps at about 60% so I am thrilled by this number! I finally have blood going to my brain again so I am hoping that will improve my memory and overall brain power! I was starting to feel like such an air head for a while there! And since the blood is coursing readily through my veins I don’t look like I should be part of the cast of the Twilight Movie. I was sobered to learn that my old heart was definitely worn out and my doctor said it had about 6 months left before it gave out completely. That is a mind blowing thing to hear and just makes me so thankful for the sacrifice of the family who agreed to give their loved one’s organ to me. It is sobering and surreal.
And that is the main thing I find myself telling those who ask me how it feels. It feels surreal. Almost like a dream. I can’t believe I spent over 3 months in the hospital waiting on a heart donor and then had a HEART TRANSPLANT! WHAT?! Seems so crazy and hard to comprehend. Yet here I am and I have been given a second life, so to speak. Now what? That can feel very daunting and yet very exciting as well. I try not to get overwhelmed at the thought of it and just focus on staying healthy and being thankful for everything. No matter what part of the journey I have been in I realize that my perspective must remain on God and His faithfulness to me. That is the only chance I have at being content and living a full and abundant life!
Yesterday I had my 5th biopsy and am waiting to hear the results. Up until now I have had 0% rejection of the new heart and I am expecting the same results from yesterday. My pressures are good and I am feeling healthy. The prayers of so many have been heard! We continue to be so humbled and grateful for the many, many wonderful people who have supported us in prayer and finances and emotional support. Thank you! I feel very blessed and thankful to be living this “new normal”.