The moment when everything stopped (& please don’t get offended by this but I’m sure some will, and for that I’m sorry).
I was already in ICU and had just found out that I definitely needed a liver transplant because my liver was definitely dead, and my main doctor (Dr. Mobley) responded to a question posed by Sean, “how long is this process when she will get a liver”…and the doctor responded, “oh she’ll have one in a week”. That is a moment I will never forget…I think until then I had figured that it all wasn’t that serious, and I’d get reprimanded for drinking a lot and sent on my way. I remember looking at Sean and trying my best not to cry because I was so frightened. I refused to cry in front of Sean or my Dad because I wanted them to think I was strong for them and it was ok.
See at this point all of this information about transplants was so foreign to me. I had no idea what wait-lists were, or status 1’s or a MELD score. I got the joy of being a status 1 priority level…MELD (Model of End-Stage Liver Disease) score of over 40. I had days to live. That’s when shit got real.
This part doesn’t actually fit in well right here, but writing this made me remember another “oh crap” moment. Lori Smith Johnson was visiting me and I was hooked up to everything known to man that monitored my breathing, oxygen level, heart rate, etc…and an alarm went off. At first we thought it was my pulse elevating because it had been doing that a lot lately, but a nurse ran in and it turned out to be my oxygen level. And I’ll never forget Lori half laughing, half serious yelling at me, “BREATHE LEAH BREATHE”…
But I digress…I’ve had surgeries before, but never one so serious where I actually wondered if I would wake up after. A liver transplant is one of the most strenuous surgeries on your heart there is. There are so many many tests they run on you every day for a week straight just to make sure your body can even handle the surgery. Fortunately my kidneys decided they wanted to cooperate – though they still only function between 30-40% on a daily basis and that won’t improve. It was about this time that my visitors got scarce. My father came to visit me on the dot at 5 pm everyday with Sean. At first, Dad couldn’t even bring himself to come in the door because I looked so bad and was hooked up to so many things, but he eventually did. However, the occasional alarm or dialysis bell would send him running. And Sean quickly discovered how truly awful trying to sleep in the chairs in the ICU room was.
I wish I could have seen what it looked like from everyone else’s point of view…especially Dad’s or understand at the time that people couldn’t bring themselves to see me how I was or were worried they’d get me sicker since I didn’t have an immune system…but the harsh reality was….no one came except my dad and Sean in the end when things got hard. And I’m not saying this to point out people or be mean….I’m expressing it in the sense that literally some things are just too hard to bring yourself to see first hand. The old adage that if you don’t see it – it didn’t happen. But if that was it….I had Sean and Dad.
And the wonderful moral of the story is…that was more than enough between them for their love and support for me.