Saturday, October 1, 2011


The things that have happened. They peeled away the layers. There is a film that falls over the reality of life. It is put there by the experiences that numb us that make us callous that teach us to behave a certain way. When I gasped for life, fought to feel the beat of my heart, take the breath that would inflate my lung one more time I knew that the film caused the real gift and brightness of life to dim, to fade. It makes my interactions fractured, the air tainted. I cannot hear what it said, see what is happening, touch the truth that is the ground beneath my feet and the things that surround me. To see the world without the film is to feel things so acutely. I dance with abandon, I sing with my throat wide open and I feel every thread of the soft cotton sheets around my toes. With the heightened joy comes the ability to be cut through to the marrow by the reality that hits me like a blow to the freshly opened navel. The homeless man with his flawless bones, his organs aching for free air, clean blood and a chance. I watch him eat garbage, inject his veins with poison and look at me with pity for his fate. Does he really think he is fighting for his life? I want him to know what it really feels like to want to live. I want to say something so that he will know the will to live. If he could feel that why would he self-induce what I was forced to endure?

For the first several months post-surgery I could not walk by someone who was risking their life in any way without feeling a bodily sensation of nausea and the sensation that I was going to collapse. The sorrow I felt for their unwillingness to live was unbearable when it had been so hard for me to fight the battle. Now I have forced myself to desensitize. I stared at people smoking and tried to remember what it was like to understand it. I watched the Olympics as people raced down mountains and break-neck speed. This time I could tolerate it. I am slowly replacing the film. I have realized that some of it is necessary for tolerance and resilience of a different kind. I haven’t lost my gratitude for the shine of the moon and the turn of each season and I still dance with the abandon of a child but I am learning to wear the film like a cloak when I need it. The only unmoving law is I will not allow my son to wear skulls on his clothes. Why would you invoke death when life is such a real and present gift? He doesn’t like them anyway. I believe we’re kindred spirits on that one.

Along with this feeling of newness is the knowing that there is a new soul inhabiting me. It is not something I have tried to notice or believed ahead of time. It is just something that is. There are parts of me that were never there. I itch when I get out of the shower. I like to buy shoes and clothes. I spend a lot of time getting ready in the morning. I like dogs. I have a temper. I won’t be messed with and if you cross me I’ll let you know about it.

There are things that haven’t changed. I love going on adventures and I love my friends and family and I will do anything for someone I love. I forgive everyone and the Tater Tot is the shining beacon that guides everything I do in my life.

I haven’t finished getting acquainted to all the parts of me but I recognize the new parts as my dear friend Meghan. We were always the same yet opposite so it is funny to have her habits (some of them that used to drive me crazy when we were roommates!) coming out in me now. I’m so grateful that I received an organ and now that I know the profound effect that it has had on me and my body and spirit I am even more grateful that is from someone who I admire so very much. I could not have been more blessed.

Much love,

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Meghan has graduated from Miss.M To Mrs.M! She married her fiance of 3 yrs today(May29th)!!!

Meghan you are such a special lady, and Mr. T(ha!) is lucky beyond words to be united with you in marriage.

Thank you for saving my dear friend, and now I wish you a lifetime of happiness as you begin this new chapter in your life.

Congratulations to you both!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Happy Transplant-iversary!

One year ago today. I still have all the text messages on my cell phone that were exchanged this day and many from the days that followed. Who was going into surgery at that moment, how it was going, when everyone was out, how pleased the doctors were with how it all went. Meghan* gave a piece of her life so Michelle could continue hers. That is pure magic!
It's hard to believe it's been a year already. My home phone message remains unchanged, from when I had to put my contact info for media to reach me if I wasn't home. People wanted Michelle's story, they wanted her to get her surgery. And she did! It's been a hard journey, but as an outsider I can see she is doing so much better. She is vibrant and glowing. She has more energy and is back to doing many of the things she couldn't do when she was unwell.
Meghan gave a selfless gift, complete with it's own sacrifices. She is also doing great and is back to the things she loves, like riding her horses and getting engaged to be married!
What a year it's been for these ladies! To celebrate organ donation month, Meghan and Michelle's story will be published in the April edition of Reader's Digest. Watch for it coming soon!

*let's not kid ourselves, most of you know Meghan is Miss M, so let's give the lady some credit and use her real name!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Pebbles and Stones

It's 1:10am. The eve before the eve of my transplant 1 year ago. Tomorrow I return to work from my pneumonia tune up. I felt weak and ill again and was amazed how familiar the feeling was even though I had kissed it good bye forever. I couldn't find the power in my knees to float me to the top of the stairs without a moments recovery. The energy of my 3 year old washed over me like a wave that nearly drowns the avid surfer. I began to feel hopeless that my life would wash out to sea without me. But, after all here I am back and returning to work tomorrow. It's a new beginning, a new job, the realization of a lifelong career goal. But I cannot sleep. My heart is heavy tonight. I cannot fit all the pieces in the right place. Despite the level playing ground of delight, pain keeps trying to insert itself. Tragedy keeps peeking in on the scene. Something is not in balance. I feel like the princess trying to snuggle down to sleep atop her mattresses of gifts and successes but I feel a pea lying between the folds and I cannot rest. There is something more I must do to find peace. I just don't want to take apart all the mattresses to find the pea. I've tried to ignore it but it's too prominent. I've tried to squish it, but it's too strong. I will have to find it and see it. Another round of bravery is required. There's always more of that isn't there?

Thank you for all the gifts, for my beating heart, for the feeling of joy and overwhelming love I feel for the family and friends and people in my life. I am so enjoying being there and being able to pay forward a small portion of the kindness showered on me.

Much love,


Friday, February 4, 2011

The Little Liver That Could...DID!

Michelle's ultrasound back in December showed that her new liver was still undersized, but working well. A more recent ultrasound showed that her little liver has made it to full size! I don't think this was expected, thus a pleasant surprise! This is only a partial liver though, and is missing some parts you and I have with a full/whole liver. As Michelle says, she doesn't have all her plumbing! So there are still some deficits, issues with fluid retention for example. But her liver is doing great! The biggest task at hand right now appears to be getting through this pneumonia. They think they have her on the right med regime, so hopefully it is just a matter of time. Please join me in praying for her lungs to heal, and for her body to adjust to the long-term antibiotics. The antibiotics are making her feel a bit sick.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Tribue to Grannie (from Michelle)

I was unable to attend my Grannie's funeral after working so hard. As it was happening I was having my lung scope and try as they might they could not put me to sleep. I ended up going through the proceedure with my eyes wide open. At least now I know what the inside of my lungs look like! I thought of Grannie, my broken hearted Grampa and all the family who surrounded him with great love and respect. I wanted to be there to grieve and comfort with them but I knew my place was to restore myself to health. In the end, I made it out of there the next day in time to meet everyone for lunch and return home for rest. I wrote this piece to read at Grannie's funeral. I thought I would post it here in her honor. It was never read.

Dear Grannie,

I wrote this piece after selecting pictures from the boxes of options that represented the 94 years of your life. As we shuffled through them, Gramps regaled me with the background stories behind the images and they bloomed to fill the senses of your character.
We were separated when I was only a baby and re united after I had fully grown. I missed so much. You told me of your disappointment that I wasn’t there to create childhood memories with our family. I cam as soon as I could.
I always dreamed of knowing you, of having a seat in the circle of your heart. In recent years we had our chance. Through our time together, sipping soups, stooping over sewing machines or during one of our many chats we caught up on our missed years. You taught me much of being a lady, cooking, loving and being courageous in mind and body. I will hold you close to my heart forever.
Your life has sparkled through a century and it seems you never wasted a day. Your whimsical art, travel adventures, decorating, painting, sewing, knitting, teaching, selling and celebrating the people you love tell the tale of a woman who has led a life to be proud of and a legacy her family can treasure forever.
When I saw you last I told you I find you and dad to be masters of wit and irony. Even then, lying small in your hospital bed your strength and humor pressed through to refuse my fear and sadness into laughter. I like to think you and dad are up there- holding your sides and laughing together.
Grannie, I’m so happy we really know eachother now. Thank you for your love of me and my family. Thank you for showing me what courage and strength of mind and character it takes to survive life’s challenges. Thank you for proving that true and enduring love is possible and the imprortance of cherishing your marriage.
My son has said he loves you with all his heart- I can’t say it any better then that.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Michelle was discharged home last night! Just talked with her Mama and got a bit of an update. After her procedure yesterday Michelle wasn't feeling very well, but was able to go home. She continues to not feel well today, but will hopefully feel better as some of the sedation drugs leave her system and her other meds are regulated. She will be going to the transplant clinic on thursday, when she should also get the results from the samples taken from her lungs yesterday.

"Are We There Yet?"

Michelle was hoping to be released yesterday, but the team reviewing her respiratory status wanted to do a little more investigation. She was scheduled for a bronchoscopy yesterday at 11am. They wanted to take some samples from each lung, hoping to get a better answer as to what is causing her pneumonia. I haven't heard how the procedure went or any results yet. Michelle was told to quit asking about discharge estimations, so just trying to take one day at a time. Her primary doc called this admission a "tune-up", which highlights I suppose that a transplant doesn't end after surgery. Please continue to pray for a speedy recovery.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


There were some concerns that there might be something more...but it's "just" pneumonia. Still cr@ppy, but I'm guessing better than the alternatives. The doc came up to see Michelle after a CT scan to report "you're going to live"! She has pneumonia bilaterally(both lungs). They want to try to determine exactly what the cause is so to best treat, then she can be on her way! Hopefully she will be home today, tomorrow at the latest. Unfortunately her admission to Delta Hosp resulted in a little fluid loading, and she has some very uncomfortable bloating in her abdomen. Hopefully this will pass soon. Things have been been rough with Michelle's breathing for months, and it is suspected she could have been brewing something since the summer! So this is what immunocompromised looks like...
Here's hoping that with answers you will find relief! Love ya Chikadee!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Difficult Times

Michelle is in the hospital tonight. Unfortunately a few days ago she was struck with horrible chest pain and difficulty breathing. Turns out she has pneumonia. A couple of days in her local, small-town hospital for IV antibiotics, she was discharged home yesterday. She and I spoke yesterday evening. She didn't sound well and was having a lot of pain in her swollen abdomen. She went to see her family physician today, and I don't have all the details, but she has been admitted into Vancouver General Hospital (VGH). She is expecting to be put on the transplant floor. The doctors suspect she may have another infection along with the pneumonia. She is on heavy duty antibiotics and may have to stay on them for some time. The little liver-that-could remains on the small side, but is holding it's own right now. Michelle is really hurting tonight not being able to be with her son. Also, she lost her Grannie last week, and she was really hoping to be available for Gramps. Please pray for Michelle's health, and for her family as they wade through these difficult times.