Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A forever unforgettable day.

I first want to start this blog with how I have been aching today.  I have had such a "down" day.  I know on April 17th for the rest of my life I will always think about my donor.  I am extremely grateful for her gift.  However, I am so saddened for the family that lost their dear loved one.  I ache knowing that I am here and she is not.  I constantly am reminded at how God has a plan for my life, but still I am wondering what that plan is?  I feel different when April comes around and no one really close to me understands.  I should be happy and jumping around, but I feel like it is an anniversary of someone I lost.  In a way it kind of is right?  I have a part of that person in me.  I can feel her heart beat in my chest.  It is a remarkable, yet difficult feeling knowing I am here because of someone else's life.  I ache for her.  My heart is sad for her and her family.  I truly hope one day her family will know how much I appreciate her/their special gift.  I can never repay.  I am forever grateful.  Thank you.  Please know I have been thinking about you ALL day long and am reminded of you every single day I look down at my scars.  I hope Jesus is holding you in his lap right now.




This is what was happening with me on her last day...

From my dad’s blog “4/17 7:50am Megan is again fighting for every breath. They are calling in the team of doctors to see what can be done. Pray for wisdom for the doctors, peace for Megan and us, and that God will put His arms around her right now.”
I was now on a temporary respirator.  I was in and out of consciousness.  I don’t remember a lot of the morning where Dr. Wang came in with what could have been interpreted as a death sentence.  He told my dad I had developed pneumonia.  If a heart even became available at this point there was NO way I could receive it.  I was too sick to undergo any surgery.  “Sorry, we waited to long” came out of his mouth in reference to giving me a more permanent version of the LVAD. “There is nothing else we can do”.  This news would come as detrimental to almost anyone’s family.  I am so thankful for a family and a body of believers who didn’t give up praying.  They believed God could still work in this situation.  My dad responded to Dr. Wang with saying, “There is something we can do.  We can pray”.  
Thankfully no one told me the horrible news.  Underneath it all I kept fighting.  I wanted to live and live better than ever before.  

“There is nothing else we can do”
Dad’s blog: “4/17 3:00 Had to do emergency procedures to stop infection and help her to breathe. Having a hard time stopping bleeding and is on a temporary respirator. Had trouble during procedure & Meg woke. They allowed Kathie & Mandi to sit under sanitary cloth and calm Meg. We are definitely calling for God's miraculous touch today.”
I remember part of this day so vividly.  Writing scribbly notes with my family because I was too weak to talk.  My family looked down on me with saddened eyes.  I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what.  It was almost like I was clueless as to how sick I was. God was working though...
Dad's blog: "4/17 6:50 pm Meg is starting to improve. Temp is coming down. White blood count is still high. Her breathing is easier, but only with an oxygen mask. Mandi (her sister) is combing Meg's hair and trying to make her feel better. We have walked numerous times around her bed today, claiming VICTORY in JESUS name. We believe a miracle is on its way."
I’ll never forget thinking “If I see my cardiologist right now, I know it will be good news.” He finally walked in the room....with a BIG grin on his face.  “Megan we have a heart for you if you choose to accept it!”  

  
The very embrace I needed.  At the beginning of the day there was no hope, but at the end I was offered life.  My favorite picture of all time.





Signing for the heart. Please notice Mandi in the pic on the right.  I love her smile!!




Dr. Ewald explaining what will happen next. Me on the left in a much better mood!


Proud and happy sisters.


Brother and sis-in-love getting ready to sleep in the waiting room.

A forever unforgettable day...


Waiting..

"Just wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin'..."  That was about all we could do once I woke up from the LVAD surgery.  I was obviously confined to the bed, so thankfully I had a lot of family and friends who visited.  Even some I didn't know.  


Uncle Charlie



Gramps doing what he did best.






A lady that worked at the hospital made me this really bright blanket.  She was very sweet. 


This is called the shuttle chair and boy was it painful!  Dr Wang wanted to try this out so I could somewhat sit up and get moving a little. There are pillows under each arm, under my butt, behind my back and one for my neck/head because I was so thin and weak it was very uncomfortable.  Dr. Wang wouldn't let anyone move me to this chair until he was in the room so he could could control the chair.  He would adjust it to where it was completely flat along side of my bed and all at once the four nurses would say "One, two, three, go".  Two would lift me up using the bed sheets and scoot me into the chair, one was making sure my neck ports were moving along with me and not getting caught in anything, and the last was adjusting the LVAD tubes and catheter as my body moved. Yikes. Can you say teamwork?  Then Dr. Wang would use a handheld controller to adjust the chair into a (somewhat) sitting position.  

Each day he would try and get me to sit longer and each day I did not look forward to this.  By the end of the hour or two of sitting in it I could not wait to see his face so everyone could get me comfortable in bed again.  Just leave me alone and let me lay in bed!!!


    

Some of the special cards and notes that were sent.


















David, my nurse, was incredible!  He usually gave me a bed bath each night and this time he asked if there was anything else he could do.  Wishing.. "Is there any way we could wash my hair?"  He came up with the most fabulous idea that worked perfectly with momma's help. And afterwards I. Felt. Amazing. 



Now this is the life.  People at your beck and call and rubbing your feet.  :)

















The view from my room.  I never did see it with my eyes.


Friday, April 16, 2010. 
We are watching the prayer vigil my friends held for me.  This day was difficult.  Breathing was extremely hard.  My oxygen cannula was replaced with this larger breathing mask.  So thankful for the prayers everyone was praying during those very moments.  Two years ago right now....

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sleeping through days...

The first few days of April were full of procedures, surgeries, and machines. I am at the very top (yes, number 1) on the transplant list in my three state region.   Basically at this point my heart was doing my body barely any good so my kidneys and liver started failing. The scariest part of this is that the top of heart transplant list is ONLY held for otherwise healthy individuals.  They don’t want to risk giving a heart to someone when there is a larger possibility the patient may not make it through surgery.  
Next thing my parents knew they were pulled into a conference room and being told I needed to have open heart surgery and there was a chance I may not be able to make it though.  There was nothing else the doctors could do to give me more time, so surgery it was.  I, however, was oblivious to what was going on around me.  I remember my parents, brother, and sister coming in my room with saddened eyes.  They were giving me hugs and kisses and wishing me good blessings.  I just thought I was headed for another procedure of sort.  I am honestly thankful I was unaware of what was going on around me.  If I had have been more alert I am sure I would have been scared.  When they were saying their “good byes” mom asked if I was scared.  I said “I have a calm all over me”.  Ahhhh.  What a feeling.  Not being scared at all.  Not one synch.  Just truly feeling a sense of calmness provided by my Heavenly Father in a time that could have been so different.  

Here are a few pictures of my machine and me “sleeping” after Saturday’s surgery.  I woke up a few days later on Tuesday.  First time I had never been to church on Easter Sunday.  Easters are so special to me now as I will always be reminded of how God spared my life.  











This is the beloved LVAD machine.  Mom loved it so much when she would walk by it, she would give it a quick "love tap".  The two dark red tubes you see connect me to the machine at the end of my bed.  The tubes are 1 inch in diameter and were entered in my chest cavity and came back out through my abdomen.  They are full of blood and the machine helped cycle the blood throughout my body because my heart couldn't.  This machine brought my kidneys and liver back to normal function and it was only a few years old!  Thankful for timing!  










Sleeping for days....















A look inside my room and the 56ICU hallway.  I never stepped foot in that hallway until well after my heart came :)


People have often asked me if I can remember anything when I was "sleeping", but I really don't.  There are a few things I see in my head, but I'm not sure if I remember them actually happening or if I have just formed those thoughts together.  I guess I'll never know :)  A lot of my friends actually came to visit me during this time and it makes me wonder what they were thinking seeing their friend just asleep...unable to wake up...tubes in mouth...machines and IV bags all over.  I've always hated people staring at me so knowing that people visited me when I couldn't even respond is an odd feeling.  They were just....staring.  eek.. 

xoxo


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April

April.  It was April 2 years ago that changed my life forever and I don't think I can ever face this month without reminscing.  I had been struggling as a heart failure patient for a few months now.  Waiting on the list was wearing on my soul.  I would cry to mom at night, “Mom, I’m ready. I’m ready to get that call”.  I was tired of being weak every day.  Tired of having my parents do everything for me...like I was a child again.  Sounds kind of nice to have someone tend to your every need (and maybe it was for a moment or two!), but it began to make me feel guilty.  I wanted all of our lives to go back to normal.  I was ready.  And I was finally emotionally ready to receive the call of a heart being available.  
It was Thursday, April 1st, and each Thursday my home nurse, Scott, would visit.  He was a very likable guy.  A talkative guy.  He took my vitals and changed my IV bandage over on the couch this time.  Usually I tried to sit at the table for him, but I just couldn’t manage today.  I was practically lifeless on the couch and his attitude completely changed.  He did his normal routine, but you could tell he was contemplating something in his head.  He left my side to pack up his bags and as he came walking back to the couch he witnessed me throwing up in my nearby bucket.  That was it for him and he immediately called the hospital.  I’m thinking ‘Oh great, I know this time I am not coming home...until I get that heart'. I knew it wasn’t going to be just another short lived stay again to get my nutrition back up and extra fluids drained.  I was okay with it.  I knew I would feel better once I was all plugged up to IV’s.  
Mom got me ready and dad carried me to the car.  I couldn’t walk anymore.  My weak legs just wouldn’t cooperate.  When I was admitted onto the cardiac floor I was soon after transferred to the CCU (Cardiac Care Unit).  I was finally catching up on sleep which mom was happy to see.  However, the doctor said sleeping is all my heart would allow me to do.  It was giving up.  Thankfully my doctors and prayer warriors weren’t.  Visitors came.  I don’t remember.  The day quickly slipped into late evening.  I remember my dad holding hands with me and mom.  He was praying.  Praying for healing.  Praying for God’s will to be done.  Praying mom would be comfortable staying overnight with me.  Praying for the future donor family....  My Aunt Sharon walked in the room and I waved for her to join us.  Dad left and Sharon and momma stayed at my bedside.  It was a beautiful evening.  We shared our feelings, scripture that have helped us, and songs.  I am thankful I was alert enough to share in those special memories when all day had been so horrible and forgetful.  
That was my April 1st two years ago.  I’ll never forget it.  I probably could have pulled a pretty epic April fools joke on this day, but (thankfully for my family!) I was not in the mindset or condition to do so!!

Several people have asked to see pics throughout my journey.  Well, here are some leading up to April 1st, 2010.....

Nov. 09: The evening before I was diagnosed.  Looking and feeling great okay.

Nov. 09: Day 2 in the hospital.  Feeling much better after losing 6lbs of fluid overnight. 

Dec. 09: Ambulance ride from St. Johns to Barnes...enjoying the ride next to the cute EMT ;)

Dec. 09: First heart catheterization. Heart beating at 8-10% of normal function.

Jan. 2010: Hangin' with sis

Jan 2010: Getting some Kinsley love

Jan 2010: Nana & Grandaddy

Jan 2010: Dani & Jas

Feb. 2010: Feeling better 


Feb. 2010: Home nurse changing my IV port

Feb. 2010: Family night. Check out my cool IV fanny pack.

Feb. 2010: Mom made me come outside to get some sun. And no that is not a snuggy!


March 2010: I could always count on Kyle to make me feel better.  This was Kinsley's 1st bday party.

March 2010: Can't believe I'm posting this!  Feeling horrible. Momma of course trying to make me eat.

March 2010: Dependent on mommy


We didn't take many pictures in March because the good days were very short lived.  I'll post more throughout April :)

Thanks for keeping me in your prayers throughout these times.  I can never repay you all.

xoxox



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A small company with a big heart.

Earlier this week I swiped my debit card for over $700 for some monthly meds.  Oh, and that was after discounts!  I also just received my new insurance bill for nearly $1200.  It’s all a long story, but at a time like this most people could be freaking out. I, however, am thankful.
I figure a lot of other people these days wouldn’t have that amount of money available just to drop on medicines or out-of-the-ordinary bills.  Because of family and friends I am in the position to pay for these things immediately.
When I was in the hospital several different people held fundraisers for me or donated money themselves.  I am still so incredibly thankful.  The largest fundraiser held for me was by a company known as VIVE.  I actually know the owners of VIVE.  They are my sister and my brother.  To be honest, it’s my brother-in-law but he’s always been more like a true brother.  Both are very creative individuals who have a huge heart to help others.  They dreamed of starting a clothing company together that would give them and others the opportunity to help people in need.
It quickly seemed like just a dream when I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.  They were there for me as much as anyone could be, so who had time to start a new business?  Mandi visited me as much as she could.  When she wasn’t with me she was either working, picking Kinsley (her daughter; my sweet niece) up from the sitters, or probably praying for me.  Kyle tried to have fun when I was in the hospital, but it seemed every time he tried to play a round of golf, or watch a basketball game something serious would happen with my health.  Immediately they would both appear at my side (even if he had to travel 5 hours back home to see me, after just arriving at his destination).  It was amazing the love I felt from my sister who would hold my hand, brush my hair, massage my feet, buy me new undies, paint my nails..... I could go on and on.  She helped me feel pretty during the most unflattering time of my life.  It is hard to feel pretty with bloody bandages, tubes, oxygen, new scars, no make up, unwashed hair, and not to mention a hospital gown.  Kyle wasn’t able to help with all that, but he did make me feel more loved than ever before.  The way he would come in the room and only focus on me was an incredible feeling.  There could be a lot going on around, but Kyle was either holding my hand, staring at me, or gently stroking my hair.  He didn’t always have things to say and that’s okay because a lot of the time I didn’t have anything to say either.  Silence is golden.  The way he would say, “Love you sis” and kiss my forehead on his way out is something I will cherish forever.  
Everyone could see I was growing ill very quickly while waiting for the perfect donor heart.  Already having had life saving open heart surgery, as well as other surgeries my bills were quickly adding up.  I was living every day in the ICU with several IV medicines, oxygen, respirators, therapy... I felt like every other day the doctors were inserting another breathing tube or experimenting with something new or replacing the bandages that held my broken chest bone together... Every day was something new.  Every day was more money.  Obviously I did not have time to worry or think about that, but I am glad my loved ones did.
Mandi and Kyle thought this was the perfect opportunity to jump start their dream.  They quickly got everything together, created a t-shirt, and told anyone and everyone to help support me.  The shirt was was not only designed to help pay for my medical bills, but it was to raise awareness for organ donation.  VIVE said “Organ donation isn’t something you typically think about until someone you love is depending on it, and we wanted to make sure more people were thinking about it now”.  


VIVE sold out of their inventory quickly and had to order more shirts.  They were successful in helping me tremendously and raising awareness for something so important.  They gave me $5000 to spend on my medical bills and I am truly grateful.  It is because of people like them I am able to continue to pay for medical bills.
I wouldn’t be able to live life the way I do without the help of VIVE.  Thank you so much for being there for me in the time of need.

Today VIVE is still going strong and has many fans and followers.  They have been able to donate money to several different causes such as, Rachel’s Challenge, iEmpathize, His Voice Global, and others.  On one shirt specifically designed for the effort they donated 100% of proceeds to tornado victims in Missouri.  Browse their website and be sure to read their blog too.  Like and  Follow VIVE   Oh, and for all you Cardinal fans, Matt Holiday has been seen wearing this which you can purchase on their site here:



Everyone should strive to be a little bit more like VIVE.  They have invested their time and their money, not to reap benefits, but to give to just causes and help those in need.  

"Fashioning just cause is our VIVE.  What's yours?"

Monday, January 9, 2012

Here's to 2012!

The last two years have been the best two of my life!!  I am thankful how God has guided me through it all.  I pray 2012 will be a great one, however I don’t think anything can top the ups and downs of the last two years.  I am so blessed.  As writing this I can't help but mention that most of these things have a ton to do with my parents.  They were there for me through everything. The last two years at home were the best and I am so glad I had those before I moved out.  
2010:
Went through the most amazing life experience and received a perfect heart 
A really good friend passed away
Started the journey of regaining muscle at cardiac rehab (91 pounds)
Blood clots are all gone.  No more daily shots.
Went to KC to visit a cousin and unknowingly met my future husband
Graduated rehab and reached my goal of “3 digits”! (100 pounds)
Dealing with emotional side effect of hair loss
Started dating a boy :)
Enjoyed the holidays with a new and healthy heart, but completely aching for my donor family. 

2011: 
Spokesperson for the 2011 Go Red for Women Luncheon
Hair finally started growing back 
Went back to work after a 15 month hiatus
Threw a party to celebrate my 1 year heart birthday!
Went to the ocean with mom, dad, and Nathan to celebrate life
Grandpa passed away after a long and wonderful journey
Engaged to the love of my life!
Grandaddy passed away after a beautiful and amazing life 
Moved to Nashville, TN
Married my very best friend on a beautiful October day
Enjoyed Thanksgiving and Christmas as a newlywed and even able to see both families for both holidays

Here's to 2012!!! (I pray):
A job I love and provides great health insurance
More work for Nathan
Send a letter to my donor family
Find a core group of friends like I had in St. Louis
Move into “our” first place
Be more dedicated to working out
Have all of my hair back to normal!
Hear back from my donor family




Wednesday, January 4, 2012

come what may..


Through this I demonstrate that Christ IS enough.  Come what may.


This has been my favorite quote for a while now; it’s also the title of my blog, yet I haven’t explained what it really means to me.  Well, let me explain…

I came across this quote somewhere, on some site, and some time ago.  As soon as I read it I fell in love.  I read it a few times and each time it meant more to me.  “Through this (whatever the situation may be) I demonstrate that Christ is enough.”  HE is enough to handle anything!  So, if He is then “Come what may”.  Whatever comes, He can handle.  He is worth more than any situation.

I found this quote sometime around October 2009.  I posted it on my Facebook, on my Twitter and I told a few friends about it.  I wanted to live my life by this quote.  I wanted to really rely on Christ through any and every situation life brought my way.  Then, the end of November 2009 came and I was diagnosed with severe Congestive Heart Failure. 

I had to choose the attitude I was going to take towards this situation.  I had to come to the realization that Christ is worth more than life itself.  This simple phrase stuck with me through my entire ordeal.  It helped me understand that Christ really is worth more than life, instead of focusing on why I am going through it. 
Through this…Through my life…Through everything… I demonstrate that Christ IS enough.  Thank you, Father, for giving me this quote when I needed it the most.  Help me to live by it every day.