After last year’s Thanksgiving disaster, this year we opted to go to our favorite restaurant, Italianissimo, to enjoy a yummy feast. In addition to the standard Turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, we enjoyed Italian appetizers galore ( grilled Portabello mushrooms, baked clams, grilled shrimp, carozza, baby scallops, eggplant rollatine, and stuffed mushrooms), penne and porcini mushrooms in a white sauce (it doesn’t get better than that) and then some of the most delicious desserts.
Yes, I’m thankful for a great meal. But it pales in comparison to the more important things this Thanksgiving: family and friends.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Sometimes I just think too much. Not with worry..no. More about how I’ve never doubted for one minute that we would find a way through these difficult times.
Often people ask me how I’m coping and I tell them, “fine.” Yet they will ask me the same question repeatedly as if they expect me to be terribly depressed or something. I’m just not. See, all this hospital and transplant stuff is second nature to me. I started this journey 15 years ago when my daughter was diagnosed with liver disease at 10 weeks old and was told she’d never live to see her 1st birthday.
And even back then, I never doubted I would find a way. I’d sneak into the bio-medical library in Philadelphia in the early hours to read the latest liver transplant journals–learning everything I could to make the best decisions. Sometimes I’d read for hours a day. I connected with other people–both parents and medical professionals throughout the U.S. and abroad.
I even fought our insurance company to permit us to do a living-donor liver transplant. My daughter was the first child in the U.S. to be approved through an HMO–not an easy feat. Although we weren’t able to find a suitable donor back then, we opened the door for all those families who followed us giving them the option if they chose.
For 7 years, I headed a large pediatric liver foundation and volunteered my time to ensuring families received all necessary support and referrals to pediatric liver transplant centers. Heck, I even got a little girl a free liver transplant and medication.
But then it all came to a screeching halt–in one short year, I attended more funerals of children who died from liver disease and/or transplant than one should in their lifetime. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t tell another new parent that everything would be ok. I felt like I was lying to them. And it was at that point that I closed the door to that chapter of my life.
Those doors have swung back open again and I need to take my daughter through another type of transplant. Although kidney transplant is new to me, transplant is not. Yes, I’ve had to learn new things, but none of it do I fear. I use my head and not my heart as I make these difficult decisions. And hopefully, my choices will get my daughter through this.
What am I thankful for? I’m thankful I am ME even if I at times have false courage and unrealistic optimism. I forge ahead knowing I have the tenacity and determination to see this through. I am thankful that it’s 15 years later and many medical breakthroughs have occurred since then. But like I said, I’m most thankful I am surrounded by wonderful family and friends. Because without people, what would we have to live for?
Oh and I’m thankful we are home from the hospital and I can sneak out at 5am tomorrow morning to catch some of the Black Friday sales–especially at Joann’s Fabrics. And Best Buy. And Macy’s. Etc.
Wishing everyone a blessed Thanksgiving!
P.S. – sorry to the poor photos…someone had messed with my camera settings.