Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Plan B

Leaving the hospital in November, Plan A involved waiting patiently for my heart to make a full recovery. But there comes a time when you have to fish or cut bait. Being someone with a bias for action in general, the waiting game has not been my idea of a good time. It has now been six months since I was first hospitalized, which is said to be the magic time period during which my heart would either recover or not. It seems the latter is my new reality. Since my stubborn heart has not even shown marginal improvement, it’s time to cut bait and pursue Plan B, a heart transplant.

Back in November, when the doctors first recommended I be listed for transplant, I believed it was unlikely I’d end up needing one, partly because I still didn’t truly appreciate the magnitude of my illness and partly out of sheer hope. So I listened half-heartedly as everyone from the transplant coordinator and the nutritionist to the social worker, pharmacist and even a dentist visited my room to arm me with all the information one could ever want about a heart transplant. I accepted the literature and signed the papers, knowing that with each stroke of the pen, my discharge from the hospital and the prospect of sleeping in my own bed became closer to a reality.

Flash forward five months, and here we are. On April 30, my doctors will relax the restrictions under which I’m currently listed in order to find a match for me as soon as possible thereafter. The bad news is I’m terrified, the wait continues and the next year of my life will likely be less than ideal. The good news is abundant. I have amazing parents who are incredibly supportive. The prognosis for someone of my age and in otherwise good health is excellent. Before long, I will be able to run, ski, swim, travel and otherwise enjoy myself again. I will be able to work again, without the burden of IV medication and fatigue. I have fantastic doctors and nurses whom I trust completely. I’ll have the transplant surgery less than a mile from my apartment. And best of all for my anxious mind, we have a real plan.

While Plan B still involves a wait of indeterminate length, there is a beautiful reward at the end. And though the reward will take some time to be fully realized, since recovery from heart transplantation is not immediate, I know it will be so worthwhile. So, I accept Plan B with open arms and cautious optimism and request two things from you: 1 – please think positive thoughts as my surgery draws nearer every day and 2 – please consider becoming an organ donor. Today, there are over 106,000 people awaiting life-saving organ transplants.


  1. You are truly amazing. I am in awe of your ability to face this surgery with such grace and spirit. While my "heart" goes out to you as you make this journey, my "heart" also goes out to the person (and family) who will give you this gift of a life to be enjoyed and lived to the fullest. I know that you will treasure this gift and care for it in the spirit that it is given. I am so proud of you and love you so much. Mom

  2. Things I am looking forward to after you receive your new lease on life: trading gossip between intense parts of our elliptical workouts after work, jumping out of the way of the wild turkeys while walking on Grandview, the return of Eminem karaoke, you having a few too many and dancing like a maniac at my wedding, you having a few too many and dancing like a maniac at your wedding, you returning to work and calling everyone out when they mispronounce words/ misuse phrases/ say something silly, going back to Darden for our 5 year reunion and living it up for Foxfields at the same time, hearing about the girls soccer team you will resume coaching/ tricking into telling their SSNs, returning to our luxurious ski chalet for a hearty New Year's Eve Celebration, surprising you with another unexpected birthday celebration from the Challen kiddos, reintroducing Bella & Piper for Pups Gone Wild Round 2, tailgating for another Kenny Chesney concert, celebrating another chapter with a return to OBX... and many, many more.

  3. Fuller,
    Things I am looking forward to when you have a new ticker: Pterodactyl attacks, SVU drinking game, return of your strong upper cut to my gut, and continuing to hide my face when you say/do inappropriate things in public.

  4. :) I now, completely understand why you make so much fun of people when they gets words wrong in a sentence. The way you use words is amazing. To share your story with truth and humor balnced in sweet harmony is quite a gift. Thank you for sharing with us.
    PS I am def. becoming a donor

  5. There will most definitely be more surprise birthday parties from the Challen kids, even if they don't happen on your birthday. Maybe we will have to give you heart parties too! We love you and support you, and both Nate and I are organ donors. We will be here to support you in any way that you need (although until you have a stronger heart I don't recommend coming to my house when all 6 kids are here!! - you scared me last time! LOL). Love ya!

  6. Andrea, keep writing! You are not alone in this journey, there are more people than you know, who are thinking about you and praying for you. I have to admit, though kiddo, that after reading the post about the commode-chair, I will never sit in a chair in a hospital without checking it out! Thanks for letting all of us be part of your journey.

  7. I'm amazed at how you've handled all of this, stay strong, I'm definately in awe of your composure and spirit.
    Plus I think your plug for becoming an organ donor can spark some people to consider it - I had never really thought to become one until my father's heart attack made me contemplate it and sparked me to take action and become one.