A few weeks ago I celebrated a major accomplishment: I drove our car to the grocery store. It was the first time in over a year that I felt well enough to get behind the wheel of a vehicle and the few minutes on the road between our house and Dillon’s were freeing. A wonderful reminder that I can still function in ways I used to.
This has been a strange season. (Understatement of the century?) As we continue to navigate the COVID pandemic and confront the systemic ills of our world, I recognize we as a global community have a lot to process and progress in. The same is true of my own life.
Last week Ben and I met with my heart team to talk about my overall health.
[PSA: Our medical teams–doctors, pharmacists, receptionists, valets, everyone in our medical facilities–are incredible and worth our respect and admiration. God bless them and the work they continue to do in such a hard season!]
After my check-up, Dr. K pulled his chair a little closer to us and asked, “Where do you want to start?” He explained the good news first: my heart is stable. The past six months we have not seen any further digression of my heart functionality. Praise God! We took that news well and I was thrilled that I don’t have to schedule a right heart cath in the next few months.
His smile softened a little as he continued. He explained that many patients my age get angry with this news. I was a little confused, “But this sounds like a good thing to me…” Dr. K went on to tell us that from a medical standpoint it IS good news because it means I get to use my own heart longer. But from the personal experience of many patients, this becomes a prolonged season of feeling and functioning poorly. I am not sick enough for immediate intervention but I am not well enough to work, to get out of the house easily, to have much energy day-to-day. This is what is often referred to as being “in limbo”. And for me, this season of limbo could last for years.
. . .
Ben and I have been processing this neutral news, holding the tension of both sides of my new reality. We are relieved that I don’t have to start thinking about a heart transplant right now (especially since I am more than halfway through my master’s program! Shoutout to MLC4!). But we are also disappointed that my immediate future does not look more promising. In the world of CHF it requires a miracle to see true improvement. And while we pray for God’s miraculous intervention, we also choose to live into each day as it is.
In a moment of wisdom, I decided to reach out to the heart transplant Facebook group that I am a part of and ask if other people have found themselves in this place. I heard back from over a dozen people–some who have been transplanted and others who are anticipating intervention in the future. They shared their stories, their advice, and their prayers. One lady mentioned that her husband has been waiting over a decade to be listed. While she shared the pain of ten years of him living with little energy and ability, she also shared her hope. She mentioned that they call this time of limbo “cruisin” as the two of them keep on.
Cruisin’. Moving slowly but moving forward. It is not the most exciting way to travel and it does not have a defined destination with a predicted ETA. But it allows you to notice what is around you and call out to friends and play music really loud. (Soundtrack can include Smokey Robinson’s classic hit and–my personal favorite–“Shotgun” by George Ezra.)
So we are cruisin’. We pray and anticipate there will be more times when I feel well enough to be in the driver’s seat. You are welcome to join us.