Jim asked me if I would serve as guest blogger today to share the details of our Great Adventure while he continues to try and sneak a peek at his incision. I'm honored, and happy to oblige.
I thought it might be interesting to offer you a timeline of our last 10 wild, wooly, dramatic days.
Tuesday, Nov. 8: My Mom leaves on a dream trip to China. Jim and I move in with Dad to help out with the Wonder Twins, Madison and Emma.
Wednesday: Jim drives to Deerfield, Ill., for three days to give one-man speaking presentations for the company that makes his dialysis supplies.
Saturday: Jim and I, Wonder Twins in tow, drive to Grand Haven, Mich., where we were blessed to attend the wedding of possibly the most beatific couple ever, Andrew & Kathryn Huhn. Ah, young love.
Sunday: I wake up with a sore throat. We drive home with the Wonder Twins, plus six brand-spankin’-new goldfish (originally the wedding reception table decorations, rescued by Jim at the twins’ pleading). I was swayed by the refrains of “Poor, poor Roddy, flushed down his own potty” from that unforgettable film Flushed Away.
Monday: My sore throat morphs into full-blown stomach flu. Five goldfish remain. (R.I.P., Winston.) Jim drives back home to receive the monthly delivery of dialysis supplies. (If only we could back up that truck now!)
Wednesday, Nov. 16: Mom returns from China. Aunt Marcia arrives for a holiday visit from Ketchikan, Alaska. I emerge from the sick bed. Four goldfish remain. (R.I.P., fish whose name changed too many times to recall.)
Thursday, November 17: Jim and I finally drive home to Champaign in separate cars after being on the road for nine straight days. Jim goes to Da Vita Dialysis for his monthly checkup with his nephrologist, Dr. Attia, who registers surprise that we haven’t received another kidney call. (This is called foreshadowing.) Exhausted and a bit grumpy, Jim returns to the apartment and ignores his phone when it flashes, “Unknown Caller.” When my phone rings moments later, I answer it. Trish, the kidney transplant coordinator from Barnes-Jewish Hospital, is on the other end. I rush into the living room and Jim is now parked in the bathroom. The call of the lifetime…nearly missed because of a bowel movement. Jim finishes his business – verrry slowly in my opinion – and returns Trish’s call at approximately 3 PM.
3 PM: Barnes has located a kidney for Jim, and he’s the primary recipient. How soon can we get to St. Louis? “Four hours,” we declare, totally guessing. We praise God that our bags are still packed and in the car from Decatur trip.
3:15: I frantically coordinate logistics with my office. I am scheduled to make two major presentations the next day in Kankakee, Ill., at an all-staff retreat. My brain is stuck in quicksand and cannot find words that I desperately need, such as table, keys and phone.
4:15 – 7:30: We leave Champaign and race to St. Louis. I am furiously making notes and tweaking my presentations to send to my boss. We finally see the Gateway Arch rising over the Mighty Mississippi. In my transplant-addled state, I blurt out, “Honey – the Golden Gate Arch!” and immediately realize that I have mashed up McDonald’s, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Gateway Arch. We laugh and burn off some tension.
7:30: Arrive at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Wait in Admissions.
8 PM: Admitted. Quickly become concerned that the wheelchair guy, who works here, can’t find the elevator to the 16th floor. I Impatiently show him to the elevator, which is a single turn from where we started. Wonder, fleetingly, if I really might have control issues.
8:05: No rooms at the inn. Miraculously, Barnes received SIX donor kidneys on Nov. 18! Primary and backup recipients for each kidney have filled all available rooms on the 16th (renal) floor. We spend the next 14 hours in a holding room designed for quick assessments with three beds and sliding curtains between them (stable and manger, anyone?). Frustrated that no one is telling us anything, but tempering the frustration with thankfulness. We discuss at length how this time feels different from the non-starter last June. We consider how so many details, great and minute, have worked out this week and conclude this is God’s handiwork at its finest. We start to allow ourselves to hope.
8:05 PM – 10:30 AM: Restless hours. Heavy Facebooking and texting. Little sleep. No food or drink for Jim. Purposely ask family not to drive to St. Louis until we have a surgery time.
10:30: Nurses come in and say we’re going. NOW. Panic begins. Alert parents to mobilize. I stash our worldly goods in a wheelchair and sprint after Jim’s gurney. We rush down to the surgical prep area. The joint is packed and jumpin’. We meet the transplant team together and learn for the first time that the cross-matching is good and Jim is getting a new kidney. We leave nothing unsaid between us and pray together. And then Jim was gone.
12 noon: In the surgical waiting room alone. Massive Facebooking and texting. Prayers pouring out on Jim’s behalf, literally from around the world. I remember that this vast family of faith will uphold us, that God is always faithful, and I relax a little.
12:30: Mandi calls from the operating room. Jim is under. Let the transplant begin! Finally eat lunch in the cafeteria.
1:30: Parents arrive.
2:30: Mandi calls from the operating room. Nearly finished. Smooth sailing, no transfusions needed. Flooded with relief. Reality starts to dawn.
3:00: Our pastor, Tony Caffey, his lovely wife, Sanja, and their ridiculously darling son, Alastair, join us from Arthur, Ill. Alastair and I play Angry Birds with a vengeance. This sweet boy distracts me as time passes slowly.
3:30: Dr. Wellen, the transplant surgeon, calls. Jim McFarlin has a perfect little kidney inside him. Going into post-op. Much rejoicing. Many tears. Prayers of thanksgiving. More Angry Birds.
4:30: BUZZ! McFarlin, party of two – Your husband is ready. Tony and I visit with Jim for five glorious minutes! Unbridled joy.
4:35: Return to surgery waiting room. Circle of prayer. Wrapped the donor’s family in prayer and cried for their loss.
5:45: BUZZ! Mom and I get five more minutes with Jim.
6:30: Quick dinner in cafeteria with Mom and Dad while we wait for Jim to arrive on the 16th floor.
7:45: HALLELUJAH! Jim is settled into his room and is groggy, but lucid. No pain! We spend the rest of the evening pretty much just looking at Jim. My parents eventually leave to enjoy the gracious hospitality of dear friends Eric and Cheryl Schweitzer. I spend the night with Jim, watching him and offering prayers of thanksgiving.
Conclusion: Our new day has dawned and we cannot wait to dash off to parts unknown at a moment’s notice, unfettered by a cycler, heavy solution bags and all the dialysis accoutrements. One day in the future, we hope to have contact with the family of our donor. But today, we want to thank all our friends and family – and many unknown, yet interested strangers – for the prayers, love and support. We could literally feel your arms around us. We love you all.
Psalm 27:13-14 says: I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!
P.S: Goldfish total unknown.