I’ve been reading over the last blog I posted for you and realized I left off some important events from last week at the hospital. I was led to tell you about my sweet Rose and now I’m led to go back and tell you about a few things I feel blessed to have been part of.
This blog was hard to write for some reason. I don’t know why it was so difficult. It was such a blessing to witness such a remarkable experience but it’s hard to put into words how powerful it was and the true impact it has had on my life. I hope it all makes sense to you as you read....
January 12, 2011
It was Wednesday morning and I left my house in West Nashville at 5am. It was hovering around 16 degrees outside and I was determined I would not be late picking Patti up from her hotel. The VA Hospital gave Patti a hotel room near the hospital the night before her surgery because she lives about an hour outside of town. Otherwise, she’d have to wake up at 3am to drive in for her surgery and take the risk of icy roads or anything that might prevent her from making her 6am appointment. Since Patti has experienced my occasional tardiness, I (safely) hurried down the interstate to make it to her hotel lobby by 530am. I made it at 5:28am. Patti was impressed!!
Mama and Michelle pulled up right after me and we all hung out in the lobby for about 15 minutes with Patti. Patti was very calm and at peace. She said she was not anxious and could feel all of the prayers being said for her by people she had never even met. She was in good spirits and even made jokes about the sweatpants she was wearing! She had been instructed to wear clothes that she didn’t mind being lost in transit at the hospital. I believe she said that she’d had the sweatpants since 1988!!
At 5:45am we all piled in our cars and caravanned to the VA hospital. On the way there I asked Patti how she rested the night before and she said pretty good until 2:30am, then she was awake until we got to the hotel to pick her up. I hadn’t slept at all the night before. My mind wouldn’t shut down. As soon as I’d almost fallen asleep, I’d wake myself up and start thinking again. I was thinking about Patti’s surgery, her family, and then I started thinking about how I needed to sleep. Once I started thinking about how I needed to sleep, I couldn’t sleep at all. I tossed and turned all night and was afraid to take a Tylenol or Excedrin PM because I didn’t want to oversleep!! Needless to say, on Wednesday, I kinda felt like I had a hangover all day! :)
We all arrived at the parking garage and began to walk inside the hospital. I started getting a nervous feeling in my stomach and then my heart was beating very fast. My heart rate is probably the first thing that changes on me when I get anxious or nervous. It FLIES!!! ‘Breathe deep’ is what I kept saying to myself in my mind. The last thing I wanted was for Patti to sense I was nervous. We stopped at one point on the way in and Patti asked if one of us would keep her cross necklace for her while she was in surgery. I volunteered and Patti put it around my neck. I love crosses and especially love wearing them. They comfort me and tend to calm me down if I hold them in my hand for just a few seconds.
Once inside, we took the elevator down to the basement. How appropriate that we’d be going to the basement? I’ve always been afraid of basements and I was afraid right now. The basement in this particular hospital is where ICU was and where all of the surgeries take place. It was quiet that early in the morning! The only people in the hallway for a while were Patti, Mama, Michelle, and me. Finally, other patients began to arrive and then this man walked around the corner wearing blue jeans & a grey sweatshirt. His skin was a color I’d never seen before. It kind of had a grayish tint to it. I looked at him and then I heard Patti say, “There’s John!” Following John were his wife, daughter, and two of his friends. He walked straight up to Patti and hugged her. Immediately, his wife began to cry and made her way over to hug Patti. She hugged Patti for what felt like a long time. It was an emotional day for all of them. He’d waited for so long for this day to arrive and now he would get his life back. Introductions were made and then Patti asked if we could all hold hands and say the Lord’s Prayer. We formed our circle of 9, bowed our heads, and all said the prayer I’d heard my entire life. I’ve always said it like I say the blessing “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food….”. You know what I mean? Just kinda monotone and with no emotion because it’s something I memorized as a child and have been reciting for years. But it sounded different that day. I meant every single word we said and so did everyone else. I knew God was in our circle, and was a part of this entire experience with John & Patti. He is our FATHER and was delivering John from the sickness that had taken over his kidneys. He was, and is, always in control and He was there with us in that basement hallway.
Shortly after the prayer, the nurse called Patti back. Mama left for work and Michelle and I went back with Patti. I get nervous even thinking back on that walk to the anesthesia area. I knew she was doing the right thing and everything was going to be ok, but I was still scared for Patti. They let us stay back there with her for about 30 minutes and then told us we had to leave. Ok, now this is where, if I were in Patti’s shoes, I would have a problem. I would need someone right by my side until I was fast asleep! If I was having surgery, and was not asleep yet, and the nurse told me I had to be alone, I’d say “Nah-ah girl, I gotta have me somebody back here until I don’t know I’m alone.” NO WAY! I didn’t want to leave her in that room all by herself, but we had to go. I looked at Patti and told her we loved her, God had this all under control, and that we’d be right there as soon as she woke up after surgery. I don’t know if that was comforting or not for her to hear. It was the only thing that came to my mind. She has told me since then that she remembers me saying “God’s got this” and it helped her so much. :)
Michelle and I walked back upstairs and out into the world... to wait in the waiting room... to wait on the surgeons to come find us 3 hours later and tell us everything went great!!
My last blog filled you in on all that happened after that point until Patti left the hospital to go back home. Now, I would like to tell you how everyone has been doing since surgery day.
January 15, 2011
It was the Saturday morning after the surgery and I arrived at the hospital in hopes to drive Patti back home. Patti was having blood tests done and if all her levels were good she could leave. Her blood work was great so we packed up her things and began to get ready to leave the hospital. Good news is her sweatpants from 1988 made it back to her room so she wore those home!!
Patti asked one of her nurses if she could leave her flowers for the veterans that didn’t have any. What a sweet thing to do! I don’t know if I would’ve thought of that but that’s how Patti’s mind works. She never thinks of herself.
Patti was in the wheelchair and I was about to begin pushing her down to the car when she said she wanted to go see John and tell him goodbye. I told her “Of course we would go see John.” I asked the nurse at the station where to find him. I found out he was still in ICU and in room 13. Patti was leaving room 313. How weird was that? I notice everything like that. They were truly connected now.
I told Patti I would probably just push her into John's room and wait outside for her because I didn’t know if he would want me, or anyone he didn’t really know, in there. I also wanted Patti to have her moment with John. We found ICU and walked through the double automatic doors. I’d never been in an intensive care area of a hospital. I was amazed at how it was set up. The nurse and doctor’s station was in the center of a big room and all of the patient rooms were enclosed with glass in a semi-circle around the center station. The patients were never out of sight from their caretakers. John’s room was the first one as we came in the area. I pushed Patti in the door and stood behind her. As soon as I saw John and saw that his skin color looked peachy pink and he was alert, I knew I had to stay and listen.
Patti started with “Hey John! You look good. “
He just smiled and said “Hey Patti!” (That makes me smile as I type it.)
She said, “I just wanted to tell you goodbye. I will see you soon.”
He started to cry. He was crying and tried to say something to her but he couldn’t get it out.
Patti began to cry too. They just looked at each other for a moment and John said, “Thank you Patti.”
Then he paused for a minute, “You have given me an extension of my life. Thank you.”
He began to cry again. Patti did too.
Then John smiled and said, “When I get out let’s have dinner with our two kidneys!!!”
Patti laughed and said, “I would love that.”
John said, “I can eat mashed potatoes, strawberries, bananas, AND WATERMELON NOW!!!”
His entire face lit up when he said watermelon!
Patti told him that they would eat ALL of that!
Shortly after that conversation, we left for the parking garage. We only stayed for a moment in ICU, but I know that brief moment is what Patti had been living for, for over a year now. I’d never seen anything like that in real life. I’d seen it in the movies but this was real stuff. It was a quiet walk back to the parking garage. I don’t think Patti nor I knew what to say.
On the drive to Patti’s house we talked a lot. We talked about the beautiful day, the coming week, her friends, my life, and then I asked Patti a question that I thought I would share with you all. I asked Patti if she felt different after the surgery. In my child-like mind, I was really asking if she physically felt like she only had one kidney. Patti answered me in the way she answers all of my questions. She told me that since the surgery, she felt more connected to the world. She’d been told about so many prayers lists she was on and that people she’d never met and may never meet were praying for both she and John. She also explained that this experience had brought many new friends in her life. Some of her nurses had actually served in Afghanistan and Iraq. She said... “They were calling me a hero when they are the real heroes! I realized that depending on the circumstance in life, that we play different roles. Sometimes we are the giver and sometimes the receiver but whichever role we’re in, we are always being blessed. The connection to the world is always there if we are open to it."
I’ve always felt connected to the people I’m closest to, but this experience helped me to feel connected to everyone, whether I knew them or not. Connected because we are children of God. I am a little bit wiser!!! :)
When we arrived at Patti’s house, her brother and sweet mother Rose were waiting on her. We got inside and then I snuck back out to the car to get the surprise for Rose that my Mama had sent to her. Mama had gone to Costco and bought her a big container of these little dessert treats. They were these little tiny (like Rose) strawberry & chocolate pastries. I walked into the house with those and you should’ve seen her face! SHE WAS SO EXCITED! You would’ve thought I’d given her a new car or some fancy new piece of jewelry. :) It made my day! We even got a picture of her big beautiful smile!!!
Patti has been doing GREAT since getting back home from the hospital. She’s enjoying her time with Rose and she’s even teaching herself how to use Facebook!! She looks great and even made it back to church yesterday.
When I was in the hospital cafeteria, I learned from Rose that she LOVES RED LOBSTER! Rose said “I told everyone to just give me Red Lobster gift cards for Christmas. I don’t need clothes or anything else but I LOVE those cheese biscuits!” So, yesterday after church we went to Red Lobster!! It sure was fun watching her eat those cheese biscuits! She gets so excited about those simple things in life! Sometimes, I wish I could see the world through the eyes of Rose. She is only in Nashville for one more week which makes me sad. I’ve tried to convince her to stay a little longer but she misses her husband. She said she was watching a Porter Wagoner taping the other night and it really made her miss him. Isn’t that sweet? Their 54th wedding anniversary was last week also!! When she gets back home they are going to Red Lobster to celebrate! Before she heads back home I get to have lunch with her again and she’s also coming to my show on Friday night! YAY! I’m probably going to sing a song especially for my sweet Rose!!! :) Here’s a picture of my new best friend Rose and me!!
|Rose & me! Notice her doughnuts? She loves her sweets!!!|
I’ve heard that John is also doing well and that he gets to go home soon! I know he is so excited about that. He mentioned getting to ride bikes with his wife when he got out! I hope that the weather is beautiful soon so that they can enjoy riding bikes with one another again! God is good!
My dear friend, Rev. Becca Stevens, dedicated part of her sermon the other Sunday to Patti and John. She said, “preach love and use words when you have to.” And from the beautiful Gospel of John she talked about... ‘how Jesus was willing to be a servant of God and bear the burdens of the world.’ And from Acts 20... ‘We should figure out ways to bear the burdens of those who are weak in this world. Remember the words of our Lord, It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
That’s what Patti did. She actually served God by giving her kidney to John. She didn’t just talk about doing it, she did it! She walked the walk!
I have learned so much from Patti. I believe my life is better for being a part of such a wonderful journey in her life. I am DEFINITELY A LITTLE BIT WISER!!!!!