After a blissful, blessed evening with beautiful beings offering up pure love in every direction, it is hard for me to believe that this time last week I was still in the hospital coming off of heavy anesthesia from the procedure stenting my common duct to take me out of acute, round the clock pain from cholangitis.
For five days, every day seems now to be better than the last. Slowly my skin is less golden delicious, although my eyes give away the jaundice, and my wounded skin is a testament to ongoing pruritus. Nevertheless, today I ventured back into a yoga studio to take my first class in 6 weeks. It felt good. Since my doctor ingrained in me that fitness level and nutritive health were paramount to recovery after an organ transplant surgery, I have been diligently maintaining my self practice, even while in hospital with a cannula in my arm. So far this approach seems to have paid off. I am now even a proud owner of my first ever 1 kg weights which are supposed to help retain muscle even when the liver wants to feed off of it in the nighttime hours.
The latter part of my day was spent at the hospital with a member of the surgical team learning in depth about the types of donors and the many surgical risks. Not unlike a card game, different organ donor types trump others, and it is important to know what the different types of organ donations are and how they rank when thinking about longevity. For example, one type of donor organ may last 5-10 years, others 20-40. When talking about the likelihood of being around 10 years after a transplant or 30, things like how compatible this foreign organ will be with my body and what condition the organ is in upon retrieval become rather important. I want to see my little boy turn into a man!
Through all of this, the most surreal aspect of this is that I feel better. Not, slowly, a little bit better, but better as if life goes on, because at the end of the day who knows what will happen to any of us. Yet, my life doesn’t really go on as ‘normal’. What if I got the call tomorrow, or suddenly things started to get much worse very rapidly? It’s a possibility. I’m in this transitory state of being well enough to participate in some things, to live within a hairline of ‘normal’; yet I’m waiting for a major complicated surgery that carries its own risks and life changing dependencies. I begin to see it in people’s faces as they encounter me, knowing my situation or not. They may have heard I’m in a grave state but then I am at a yoga studio or a cafe, or teaching a yoga class? The confusion on faces is understandable, yet difficult to ignore. And whatever those people may be thinking, imagine being with that confusion all the time. But then I’m reminded by some distant yet soothingly familiar voice, ‘Ohhhh, but this is life.‘
Life carries its own risks. Many of us live under a set of preconceived assumptions. Our alarm clock rings at a certain time every day; daily events and extracurricular activities are a given. Most people don’t plan to get hit by a bus, and don’t have a plan B in mind for when they do. Life goes on with its expectations and blinders that propel us forward on our day to day path until proven otherwise. Only, so often there is an otherwise.
Getting into a car or plane or bicycle in a big city to travel? Risk. Taking any form of medication? Risk. Eating too much of anything? Risk. For the most part, we go about daily life having some vague idea about the risks but not fixating on them, and certainly not letting them slow us down. I now understand that I have to to live my life, and see the liver transplant in that way as well.
Who knows how long I could be waiting. The trips to the hospital, the weekly calls with the transplant coordinators, the continued call out to the universe for a potential live donor? All of those things are the sundry items that one must adapt and integrate into ‘normal life’ while waiting for a transplant. It’s not so very different than switching from taking the bus to riding a bike. There is a trade off in risk and a little extra to carry as a cyclist, but one adapts, and doing so brings great reward.
Awareness is imperative, fixation is lethal. To live happily and fulfilled in the moment, we must accept our choices and strive to take the world as it is, not as it might be.