When I first received my heart transplant in November of 2009, I had no idea who the donor was. It's important that the mind/body connection be favorable to the new heart since rejection is a major issue with all transplants. One doctor told me some of his patients were afraid of their new hearts, and that's a bad. I developed a new mantra then that went "I don't know whose heart it was, but it's my heart now." The heart itself was wonderful: strong steady beat, constantly in the 90s (which is just what the doctors wanted).
|Hair Dyed White (sigh) I Look 89|
I've explained in prior posts that the doctors have been routinely performing biopsies on my heart in which they run a tube through a vein into the heart (via my neck), and take four little snips of the heart, which are then tested for rejection. The scale runs from zero rejection—excellent—up to the number four—very bad. Originally after the transplant I was having a biopsy every week, but then I went to every two weeks, and for most of last year it was once a month. I've had around twenty of these and while there was one "2" in there and a couple of "1A"s, all the others have been zeros.
This past November was the one year anniversary of the transplant, and it called for major tests of all sorts to see how things were going, including a biopsy (zero). One of the tests involved flooding my circulatory system with dye to check for blockage, and a minor amount was found in two arteries. The doctor assured me that this could be handled with a change in medication, so she took down some of the rejection drugs when this new treatment started. I was told I would now be on a once-every-three-months biopsy schedule, so my next would be in February. Actually, that bothered me. They're changing my medication in a significant way, but not testing how it's going for three months? That didn't sound right, but I'm in law, not medicine, and I do what the doctors tell me.
|The Cast of "The Price"|
But I'd reached a point where I decided I had to stop thinking of my heart as Andrew's. It's my heart now, and I must fully embrace it and treasure it and care for it. As time passes, my body is replacing all of its cells with ones I've generated, though I'm fully aware that if I ever in my life stop taking rejection medication, the heart would fail. However, I also want to honor Andrew and his tragic sacrifice, and it would be wrong to strip his heart of his name. So I created a compromise.
After some thought, I settled on naming my heart "Dougdrew," two syllables that recognize its dual nature in a way my mind can comfortably accept. Andrew himself, I'm told by those who knew him, was a thoughtful man with whom I'd have gotten along splendidly. I like to think that if he had had a part in this decision, he'd approve.
"About That Heart Transplant," January 24, 2010
"My Heart Belonged to Andrew," February 17, 2010
"Another Letter to Andrew's Parents," March 10, 2010
"A Toast to Andrew," May 2, 2010
"Mama, Biopsies, and My iPad," May 19, 2010
"The First time I Nearly Died," August 3, 2010
"Rehabilitating Doug," June 12, 2010
"The Purring Heart," November 23, 2010
"1999-2001: A Dramatic Story, " December 15, 2010
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013