Tuesday, March 16, 2010

152 Days and Counting

Well, it's been a long time since I wrote last. Honestly, I kept waiting, thinking that the next time there was a blog update would be when Jake wrote to tell you all I'd gotten new lungs. Since that hasn't happened yet, though, I figured I should give a little update. A lot has happened since the beginning of November, but I'll give you just a few of the highlights.
We've been blessed beyond belief in these past 4 months. In November, we were contacted by a local family that gives an amazing gift to another family each Christmas. Each member of their family chips in to get things that the other family needs. This year, they chose us. We were blessed with new coats, clothes, boots, and a much needed eye exam and new pair of glasses for Jake. We felt incredibly humbled and grateful for the gifts this family gave and think of them each time we use them. God used these people to provide for us when our situation would not allow us to provide them for ourselves. It's a shining example of how the church works together. We hope to follow their example in the future.
In December, my sister and her husband and daughter came to Illinois for Christmas. We had a great time with them and even had pictures taken of our entire family. My brother and sister and their families gave me a ring that has "HOPE" engraved on it. It was an incredibly special gift, and I wear it every day. Whenever I look at it, I think of them and know that they are thinking of me and praying for me and hoping with me.
I also received an incredible gift from a friend. My best friend, Kati, has a brother that we've prayed for for a very long time. About a year or so ago he gave his life to Christ and has been changing in amazing ways...and in ways only a relationship with Jesus Christ could make happen. He's always been a good guy, but seeing the change in him has been awe inspiring. He spent New Year's Eve with Kati and her family and Jake and me. We also celebrated Christmas together that night, and his gift to me was amazing. He told me he'd been praying for a long time about how and when to stop smoking. He said that after praying he had decided that when I get new lungs he would stop. To me, this was the most amazing gift I could have received. To know that he prays for me and cares about me is special in itself, but to know that he will be breathing fresh air when I do is a priceless gift.
I had a "dry run" in December. While I was in the hospital, they called me to tell me they MIGHT have new lungs. It was a long shot because of some complications they foresaw, but we all went on high alert. It ended up being a comedy of errors. I got a hold of Jake but we couldn't decide if he should come up or not since they were pretty certain the lungs wouldn't work. Then I called my dad and he was in the middle of getting his tires rotated at Wal-Mart and couldn't do anything. Almost everyone else I called didn't answer their phone. And I'd left my papers at home with the list of people I should call so I was going by memory...NOT a good thing! Everyone was finally contacted and told to wait until we knew for sure, and Jake went ahead and made the 3 hour trip. About 5 minutes after he got here, my nurse came in and said "No go". And that was it. So basically Jake drove 3 hours to watch me eat dinner!
It really was a good thing to happen, though. It gave all of us a chance to see what would happen...and most of us found out we were not ready. It was also a good chance to see that they really were looking for lungs for me and there really are lungs out there with my name on them.
Probably the biggest excitement of the last 4 months, though, has been Jake's work. On the first of January, a lot of new medicare laws came into play. Because of this (making a very long story short) we no longer have an income limit in order for me to continue having affordable healthcare! Jake started working 30 hours per week at church and once the transplant happens will be able to start working there full-time! We are thrilled! Jake loves his work which is a huge answer to prayer to begin with, but to be able to do it full-time will be amazing! This will also allow us to move out of my parents house and FINALLY have a place of our own again!

So many exciting things are just around the corner for us. I ask that you continue to pray for the transplant and for the donor and their family. Also, please pray for our emotional health. I continue to be in the hospital for 2 weeks with usually only 4 weeks in between stays. This is incredibly draining for both of us. Since the end of October I've been in the hospital 5 times. We're really ready for this trend to be done, but also realize that it's all in His timing. I am thankful for every day I have with the lungs I have. Just please pray against discouragement for both of us.

Thanks again for your prayers for us and I hope the next time there is an update it will be Jake doing the typing. We'll keep hoping!

"My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever." Psalm 73:26

Monday, November 2, 2009

On THE List

On October 15, 2009 I was officially put on the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinic's double lung transplant list. As of today I have a lung allocation score of 32.77. (You can Google lung allocation score to learn more about what all that entails.) For my blood type group (type A) I have the highest score at this transplant center. So, essentially I'm at the top of the list!

Being on the list has brought on a myriad of emotions. Most of the time I'm excited at all the possibilities. However, I'm also going through everything from depression to nervousness to fear. Knowing the call can come at any moment is kind of like having your senses on high alert all the time. It's stressful and anxiety inducing. The times I'm not thinking about it are far and few between and inevitably I suddenly worry about not being worried.

I'm also in the hospital right now and somehow being here has intensified all the anxious and sad feelings I was feeling at home. Honestly, I don't know how people do this for one and two years. I know that my wait is going to be relatively short and continually experience these things. What do those people do who wait for such a long time?

Something Jake and I have been talking about lately is all the changes that will occur in our relationship. Jake has always been my caretaker, especially these last couple of years. Besides the stress of surgery and recovery, we are going to be facing a significant shift in roles. Suddenly the things I haven't been able to do I'll be able to do. The things I depended so much on Jake for will be greatly decreased. This is bound to change things between us which is both exciting and scary at the same time. I see it almost like getting married again.

Before we got married we talked a lot about who would do what and what we expected out of each other. Now, we're having those same conversations. The difference is, we're not completely sure what to expect. We don't know how a "normal" couple does things. It's all going to take a lot of adjustment. Thankfully, we've been seeing a great counselor who's been helping us to see where things will change and will be there for us when we feel lost in our new relationship roles.

It's not just our relationship either. Almost every relationship I have will change in some fashion. Most notably with my parents. For nearly 28 years my mom and dad have worried and cared for and kept a close eye on me. Though I still will never be perfectly healthy after transplant everyone around me will have less to worry about. It seems like this would be a huge relief and welcome respite, but again, after 28 years of certain roles it will be a huge adjustment.

It will be a big adjustment for me too. Though I've always been very independent and hated being in any kind of spotlight, I'm sure to some degree it's something I've become accustomed to. I just pray I will handle this with grace the way God wants me to. Certainly going through counseling this last year+ has helped me separate myself from my disease.

Until a few months ago I wouldn't have thought I had that problem. However, with my counselor's help I realized I really thought CF was a huge part of who I was. Now though I realize I am just me and I happen to have the challenge of CF. I've even made a concerted effort to separate myself from the disease. Where I used to say I was a CFer, now I say I'm a person/patient with CF. I know it's a little thing, but I figure if I start with little things it will eventually make a big difference.

Anyway, I got off on a little tangent there. I continue to pray and ask that you pray that this will all happen in God's perfect timing and that He'll give me His peace that surpasses all understanding. I also ask that you will join me in praying for the donor and his or her family. Please pray that they are believers in Christ Jesus and that God is right now preparing them for what will come. Please pray that they are right now having special moments with each other and making memories that will carry them through their grief.

What is kind of neat is that each time I have an anxious feeling it drives me to pray. I pray for myself and my family, but I pray more for the donor and their family. I am already feeling a special connection with them and pray that one day we will meet each other in heaven.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Almost Ready

Just a quick update:

We had the family meeting today and it went really well. We got a LOT of information in 3 1/2 hours! Some new information, some clarifications and a lot of answered questions.

I need just a couple more things in order to be listed. I'll get a DEXA scan tomorrow (a bone scan). I'll also make appointments tomorrow to see my dermatologist and ob/gyn when I get home. Basically they need to check everything to make sure there is no cancer anywhere. After that, I'm ready!

On a side note...
We all went to dinner tonight at one of the local restaurants in town, Bob's Your Uncle. We really had a great dinner and great conversation. Definitely a day to remember.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Speeeeeed It Up A Little!

Oh what things can change in such a short amount of time. Since I wrote last things have been put on the fast track. I suppose they've been there all along, but I was oblivious, so I guess I just noticed things were on the fast track.

About a week after the last post, I got a call from Jana asking about my vaccinations and where I was on getting them started. A not-so-long-story short, she informed me that I only need to have started the vaccinations in order to be eligible to be listed for transplant. Before, I incorrectly thought that they needed to be completed which would mean about 6 more months. With this new information things dramatically changed.

Tomorrow afternoon my family will be here in person or via phone call (Oh ya, and I'm in the hospital again) for a family transplant meeting. We'll all get the same info at the same time so everyone is fully informed and in the loop. Then if everything is in order I will be presented to the transplant board next Monday morning. If everyone agrees that I'm a good candidate then I will be immediately listed. Wow, right? Ya, it came pretty fast.

I've been through one big freak out and enough little ones to know I'm still being realistic with my expectations. I'm sure I'll be having another large one on Monday when it becomes all too real again. Thankfully, most days I spend my thought time thinking of all the things I'll be able to do when I have new, healthy lungs. The list continues to grow exponentially everyday.

The average wait time here is only 2 months, so there's a really good possibility that I'll be celebrating my 28th birthday with new lungs! This wait time is going to be somewhat torturous I'm sure, but I know I have a lot of people praying for us and I am so very grateful that we are not alone in this.

Some good friends of our family are putting together a fundraiser for us to help with all the costs that insurance won't cover after transplant. Again, so many answers to prayer so many times in our lives it's almost unbelievable. We are blessed beyond words and far more than what we deserve.

Thank you for being part of our lives.

(And for those who don't know, the title of today's blog comes from the episode "Job Switching" from I Love Lucy. My favorite show of all time :) )

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hospital, Heart-Cath, and Transplant Surgeon

I just got home from my 2 week retreat in my favorite vacation spot - University of Iowa Hospital. Thankfully, this trip was fairly uneventful. Other than being tired a lot, things seemed to go well and my PFT's even went up a bit.
My first set of PFT's were 39%, to which my doctor replied "Your PFT's have always been a little hard to explain". This just goes with my freak-of-nature theory :) I think more likely, though, is that somehow, and some way, this is part of God's plan - to continually surprise even my doctors! My second set was 37%, and I think that is probably more accurate and that I just had a particularly good day the first time.
I've mentioned before that the transplant team wants me to lose some weight. Well, instead I gained about another 10lbs. I talked to my endocrine docs and we agreed that it was due to my hypothyroidism so they increased the dosage of my meds. Hopefully, in the next couple of months I'll see an improvement in my energy level and these extra pounds will come off. It will certainly help me breathe better.
This past Wednesday I had the right-heart cath done for the transplant work-up. It was an interesting experience to say the least. Dr. Hornick stopped by antibiotics on Tuesday and that night and Wednesday morning I had to drink Mucomyst in order to prepare my kidneys for the contrast dye used in the procedure. I think I've talked about that stuff before, but for a refresher, the stuff tastes and smells overwhelmingly like rotten eggs. It is the WORST stuff I've ever had to take.
Anyways, I had been told that they would go in through the artery in my groin so I was REALLY not looking forward to this procedure. That day, though, the doc came in and informed me that for a right-heart catch they go in through a vein in the neck. I was incredibly relieved to say the least. About an hour later my nurse came in and said she had to "prep my groin" for the procedure. I said "uhm, WHY?". The doctor came back and explained to me that they have to get certain pressure readings and if they can't get a proper reading through the vein in the neck then they have to do the artery in the groin also. So already I was having a roller-coaster of emotions. It turned out they needed me down there right away, though, so my nurse didn't end up doing the prep.
Once down there I had to change into a hospital gown since I always wear my own clothes when I'm in the hospital and then lay on the table. They prepped me (not one of the shining moments in my life!) and after about half an hour got the actual procedure started. They gave me 2 shots of a local anesthetic and started to put in the IV catheter. Even with the 2 shots I was still feeling the cath go in, which was somewhat painful, so they gave me another shot. With each one I felt a prick and then a burn as the anesthetic went in.
The whole thing was fairly uncomfortable. I had to lay on my back with my head turned all the way to the left so by the end of the procedure my shoulders and neck were stiff. They also made my heart beat extra beats 3 different time which kind of feels like a sudden rapid heart rate. I got an apology after each one since it did feel really strange. While the cath was in I also did a 2 minute breathing test into a computer. After about 30 minutes of pushing and pulling the catheter the whole thing was done.
All the people involved were incredibly nice. One nurse had me hold on to her hand for most of the time and squeeze when it was painful. She kept asking me how I was doing and telling me not to be so brave. Which I really wasn't. I cried a little at one point and concentrated on breathing the whole time to keep myself from completely breaking down. It's not that it was a horrible experience, but it was new and I didn't know exactly what to expect so I was nervous. I knew if I started crying a lot I would start shaking and didn't figure that would be too good while a wire and catheter were near my heart. :)
I was nauseous and had a big lump on my neck as a result of the test, but was really glad it was over. After a couple hours, Jake had all my stuff packed up and I was discharged from the hospital. We spent the night at a hotel in town, ate pizza, and played a new Monopoly game. It was good to relax together for the night.
On Thursday morning I had an appointment with one of the transplant surgeons, Dr. Parekh. He explained more of the risks involved with the surgery, and answered our questions. He is a really nice man and I know I'm going to be in good hands. After the appointment we went out for lunch, did a little shopping and headed home.
As far as I know all I need to do now is finish my vaccinations and start Pulmonary Rehab to gain as much strength before surgery as possible. I'll do that for 12 weeks and then my plan is to use a personal trainer here in town until the surgery. He will send regular reports to Dr. Klesney-Tait. She requires this so that she knows I'm keeping up with the program.
I need to talk to Jana Beaver again to find out if that's all I have left. If it is, then when all the vaccinations and rehab are done, my case will be presented to the transplant panel at a Monday morning meeting and all the members have to agree that I'm a good candidate for transplant. If they all agree then I am immediately put onto the list and then it's a waiting game.

Thank you all, once again, for your support and prayers throughout my life and this process. This is not a burden I can carry on my own, and I am very thankful that I have so many of you helping me walk this path.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Crazy Weeks

The last few weeks have just been crazy for us. I'll try to sum it all up.

At the end of May I turned in my resignation after nearly 9 years at Franmar Chemical. It was quite bittersweet. I loved the people I worked with and really enjoyed my job, but working was becoming too hard on me. So after a lot of thought and consideration, we decided it was best for me to retire. Strange to do at 27. I asked my mom and dad if they felt old since their youngest daughter had now retired. They just laughed. We've had an ongoing joke that my body thinks it's twice as old as it is. So, at 54, I guess I just took an early retirement package. :)

Due to the significance of the appointment with Dr. Tait, Jake and I decided we were in desperate need of some alone time in a far off place...preferably with a beach. So, on May 28th we flew to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. We made an agreement before we left that there would be no discussion of the trials we were facing at home. We were leaving it all behind for 6 days and just enjoying our time together. It was exactly what we needed. After six days of beach, relaxation, and a really cool car, we came home relaxed for the first time in long time.

As soon as we got home Jake started his new part-time position as Associate Director of Technical Ministries at our church. We'd prayed about this job for almost 2 years and God brought it to us in His perfect timing. Jake is now really enjoying every minute he spends working. Another answer to a long prayed prayer.

Along with that new job, Jake also took over my former duties at Franmar and continues to work part-time in the warehouse. Of course, in addition to starting a new job, accepting new responsibilities with his old job, and continuing to work his old hours...he also got selected for jury duty! A two-week long mesothelioma civil trial, where he was elected foreman. (Had to brag on him :) ) Could there have been any more? Well, actually, yes! During those two weeks he was on the jury, I was also in the hospital again in Iowa. Did I mention things have been crazy?

Those were the hardest 2 weeks in recent history for us. Normally, he and my parents come up each weekend I'm in the hospital. Now, however, he works every Sunday so he needs to come up during the week. But with all the craziness he had for those 2 weeks, that just wasn't possible. Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, he was at the courthouse. Wednesday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays he was at church. Thursday night he did payroll. There was no time for him to come up to see me. On top of that, we couldn't even talk all that much. Generally, we text back and forth several times a day, and we talk every night. He was so tired at the end of every day, though, that our conversations had to be cut short.

The second Thursday I was there, I got a text from him around 5pm, when he normally would contact me. We chatted for a little bit then asked me if I wanted to go out to eat. I thought he'd gotten his days confused and thought my mom and dad would be up early. So, I said I didn't want to go out by myself. His next text said "What if I picked you up?". I read it and immediately started bawling. Happy tears, of course. I'd missed him so much and had been having a pretty rough time at the hospital (a lot of crying and a meeting with the nurse manager if that tells you anything). I called him right away and he said he'd be there in about 10 minutes. He purposely waited until 5pm to get a hold of me so I wouldn't know anything was up. I later found out that around noon the lawyers decided they were going to take a recess for the afternoon and the next day. Jake immediately went to Franmar, did payroll in a record hour and a half (pretty good for his second week on the job!), grabbed what he needed at home and started the drive to Iowa City. That is my man.

He stayed for the night and spent almost the entire next day with me...almost exactly 24 hours. He was told by several people that "she really needed you". And they were right. They know me and knew what I needed, but more importantly God did. I'd been begging God for just a little bit of time with Jake, however that had to happen. Though he could have gotten out of jury duty because of me, I wanted him and he wanted to have that experience. I knew it was only going to happen by God making it happen, and He did. I'm always amazed at the way He works.

Since I've been home, we have been on the search for a home of our own. This past Tuesday we found it. Yet another answer to a long prayed prayer. We'll be moving sometime at the end of August and are absolutely thrilled that we'll be on our own again.

This is a theme has popped up repeatedly in our lives lately. In His time, in His way, for His purposes, and His glory. I pray that I won't soon forget the lessons of these past weeks, months, and even years. God is faithful even when we are not and for that I am so very grateful.

Things are moving with the transplant process. I completed a few more tests while in the hospital and will go back in August to meet with Dr. Tait again. I also will have a date soon when I will meet the surgeon. I think I have just one more test before I am eligible to be listed. I will find out more about when that will be when I see the doctors.

As always, thank you for your continued prayers for me, Jake, and my family.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Read the Stats and Then Throw Them Away

After some prodding (Hi, Lynn! ;-) ) I decided I should probably add to my blog.  I started this 4 days ago, but it took me awhile to get it written.

When Dr. Klesney-Tait began talking to us she said "for some people this day is very traumatic".  That's exactly what it was.  With every statistic she gave and every complication she said I could have, the more the weight of the decision I'd made became clear.  This is not an easy life and anything but an easy fix to the difficulties of CF.  This is trading one life-altering challenge for another life-altering challenge.  We didn't know to what extent until that day.

Some of the main points and statistics (accurate only to the point that I took accurate notes and can still decipher them):

  • Once the transplant is performed I will remain in the hospital for 2-3 weeks depending on how post-surgery recovery goes.  After that I'll be released and stay in town for 4 weeks at a hotel while continuing to do tests and being monitored multiple times a week. (I can't remember exactly how often...it may be everyday.)  After that I'll be allowed to come home, but will have to come back every month for a few months, and then gradually the visits will be farther and farther apart.
  • The average age of a person receiving a lung transplant is 55 years old.  CFers are almost always significantly younger than that, so that is a positive thing.  However, they also have a much greater risk of post-surgery infection because the CF still attacks the sinuses and trachea.  (It will not attack new lungs because, CF being a genetic illness, they are different DNA.)  That's why they plan on a 2-3 week stay after transplant.
  • Bronchoscopies are performed every day for the first couple of weeks and then on a regular basis during the 4 weeks and at each check up following for at least the first year.  They basically stick a tube down the trachea into the lungs to look for any possible complications before they become a problem.
  • There is a 5-10% chance of mortality during the initial 2-3 weeks.
  • The 1 year survival rate is 87%.  5 years is 52%, 10 years is 35%, and 15 years is 20-25%.
  • The majority of those who die in the first year die in the first 3 months due to major complications.
  • 50% of patients will have acute rejection episodes in the first year.  If the episode is recognized and dealt with quickly, they can be reversed.
  • Normally only one anti-rejection drug is needed for transplants.  However, we are constantly breathing in bacteria and foreign matter (think dust).   So, for lungs, 3 different drugs are needed to suppress the immune system to lessen the chance of a rejection episode.
  • At the 5 year mark, statistically, out of the 52% of those still alive, 3 of those patients will experience renal (kidney) failure.  For that reason, many people who get a lung transplant will then also need a kidney transplant.  This is especially true with CF, because we've had a lifetime of strong antibiotics that greatly affect the kidneys.
  • Because of the drugs used to suppress the immune system, those with transplants are at much higher risk of skin cancer and become extremely light sensitive.  Transplant candidates are required to see a dermatologist every year and need to have a full body check-up prior to transplant to check for anything that could possibly present a problem.  (i.e. suspicious moles will need to be removed).  After transplant it will be much more difficult and possibly life-threatening to take care of these things.
  • Eyes and teeth will also need to be checked regularly before transplant and any potential problems dealt with.  Things like cataracts and abscesses can also be dramatic problems after transplant.
  • A different diet will be prescribed (while still maintaining a CF diet) after transplant.  Things like grapefruit juice will no longer be allowed because of drug interactions.  Also, no homeopathic or "natural" drugs can be taken because they are not required to have their ingredients listed and are not regulated.

Complications and challenges specific to me (not that they're really rare or anything...):
  • I have sensitivities (drug effectiveness against infection) to only a few antibiotics that fight the bacterias that grow due to CF.  Because these are the only ones I can use before transplant, these will be the only ones effective after transplant as well.  So, if an infection develops in the sinuses or trachea it will be much harder to fight (especially since I will have no immune system).  Dr. Klesney-Tait said she would talk to Dr. Hornick about holding back at least one of the drugs during admissions before transplant in the hopes that it will be more effective after.
  • Since I've had kidney issues already (stones and nephropathy) the drugs for anti-rejection may have a greater affect on them and cause more damage.
  • There is a big question of when to get me on the transplant list.  If I can get 6 or more months out of the lungs I have, then I need to do that, and want to do that.  But you can never really know when is the perfect time...if there is a perfect time.  This is especially difficult because I learned that there is also a chance of sudden death in women with CF.  For this reason, where normally they would list when lung function is around the mid-20% range, they list women at more around the 30% range.  I have remained fairly steady around the mid-30's for a few years, which in all reality, is not that far from 30%.  To put it in raw numbers, at 34% I have a lung function of 0.97 liters.  30% would be about 0.86 liters.  Not a big difference.

The news about sudden death in women was probably the hardest part to hear.  All this time I kept thinking that I had another year or two before transplant as long as I stayed in fairly good shape.  Hearing this news hit too close to home.

For several years CFers were not allowed to come anywhere near each other.  They thought that we would pass certain bugs back and forth.  This is still true, but the bad thing is that it cut us off from each other, and really the only people who could really understand what we were going through - our support system.  A couple of years ago, this "rule" was relaxed so that we are now allowed to be within 3 feet of each other, or arms length.  So after several years of CFer relational famine, I started talking to one of the older CFers, Lori (or rather she came to talk to me - I am way to shy to start a conversation with someone else!).  Because she was older, was often in when I was, and we shared a love of Nintendo DS's, we became friends.  She really helped me feel like I wasn't so crazy for a lot of the things I was experiencing.  

Not too long after that I got a phone call that she had died.  It wasn't a "normal" CF death, though.  She had been in the hospital, went home, and a blood vessel burst in her lungs and she died in her husband's arms.  Her PFT's had been in the mid-30% range for a few years and she seemed very stable.  Much like I've been for the last couple of years.  Needless to say, hearing from the doctor that sudden death is much more common in women shook me and Jake.
  • The last, and kind of weirdest thing, is that I need to lose weight.  "What?!? A CFer needs to LOSE weight?"  Ya...go figure, huh?  About 6 years ago or so, after 20 some years of constantly struggling to keep my weight up, something happened (insert God here) and I haven't had any trouble with keeping my weight up.  Actually, the majority of the time I'm about 10lbs. over what is considered my "ideal" weight (and really where I feel most comfortable).  So, Dr. Klesney-Tait wants me to lose 5-10lbs.  Honestly, that doesn't sounds too bad to me.  I breathe better without that extra poundage.
Those are the statistics and possibilities of everything that can go wrong.  It's extremely overwhelming at first glance.  We got some great advice from a good friend of ours, though.  He told us something like: "Yeah, those are the stats and they look pretty scary.  But we serve a God who doesn't care about statistics.  Throw them out.  If you know this is what God wants you to do, then do it with confidence.".  And you know what?  He's right.  Our God is bigger than all of this.  We may have been surprised by what the doctor said, but God wasn't.  He didn't say "Oh, my, I didn't know that!" and then change His mind about what He was going to do with me.  

The Bible says our days are numbered and He knows when our last day is.  Our responsibility is to follow His lead and go where He says to go even when it's scary.  I'm sure Noah was a little scared when God told him to build an ark when there was no sign of a flood and everyone around him was laughing at him.  Gideon was scared when God told Him to face the Midianites with only 300 men to fight the battle.  And Jesus himself was so scared of the cross that he actually sweat blood.  But the thing all these people have in common is that regardless of the fear, they did what the Father asked them to do.  They did it because they knew who was in charge and that no matter how it looked from their point of view, they knew that if He asked them to go then there was a reason for it and the battle was already won.

I am scared.  I'm scared of what doing this means for me, my husband, my family, and my friends.  I'm scared to the point that I almost can't talk about it without crying.  But more than the fear, I know this is what I've been asked to do.  I said awhile ago that when I made the initial decision to not get a transplant I never really had peace.  I was scared of the surgery and fear took me over.  Now I'm scared, but I have complete peace.  I'm not doing mental flip-flops on the decision.  Finally, I have no doubts that this is what I want to do and that I'm following God's call for my life.  I'm choosing life.

I don't know where this choice to follow will lead, and honestly, I don't know if I'll even make it through the surgery.  I do know that when I wake up I'll be breathing like I never have...breathing in His blessing of having more time here with the ones I love or breathing in the sweet sight of my Savior.  Either way, I can't lose.