Nissen update and some inspiration
Nothing is ever easy with Paul. The Nissen did go well and we are currently in the process of making sure it is working. We do this by working up on feedings slowly and steadily and venting his belly with a large syringe around the clock. We are currently trying to get his fluid balance under control and worrying about heart function post- surgery. Tonight we are checking his digoxin levels as his heart rate has been a little low since the procedure. I am also asking for an echo to check heart function today, so I hope they will comply. His lungs are ‘wet’ which just means that there is fluid in them and swelling of them. I am hoping that this is what he needed to turn the corner to get better. We are praying that he recovers and that all of his organs, especially heart and lungs, are not harmed in the process. We are humbled by your support and hope each of you have a wonderful mother’s day. I feel so lucky and privileged to be a mother, and especially to be Paul’s mother.
This was shared with me some time ago by my dear friend Esther. I think this passage is so apropos for our journey. I read it often and am happy to share it with you.
Hearts Grown Bigger
Some days ago I had the privilege to attend a ceremony marking a significant milestone in our health ministry. Members of our staff paused to acknowledge the passing of our heart transplant program. For more than 26 years hundreds of members of our regional community were able to extend their lives through the incredibly generous gift of the heart of another and the incredibly proficient skill and ingenuity of our medical professionals.
This event is yet again another in what sometimes feels like an ever increasing (and sometimes ever unwanted) series of changes that we have not asked for and about which we are dubious at best. But In this ceremony we acknowledged our conscious choice to manage these endings with appreciation for all that has been, and to view the beginnings of the next new technical frontiers in cardiology with an expectancy of good unfolding. In this celebration we released our propensity to perceive that change must be a struggle. We reaffirmed our trust that God will provide all we need in each moment. The resilience that comes from faith allows us to welcome change with open arms and to move forward with ease and grace.
During the ceremony one of our staff commented that her own heart had “grown bigger” in 26 years of taking care of cardiac patients. What a beautiful articulation of one of the most basic benefits and rewards that accrues to the lives of those who care for others! We are enriched by the experiences and relationships we have every day, even though they may be difficult and demanding. Most occasions and interactions require us to sit reflectively with them for some time before they can be seen and understood in their full potential. Over time we come to a pervasive awareness that our hearts have indeed grown bigger and that we have received far more than we have given.
One of the characteristics of faith-based (read “faith-filled”) healthcare is that people of faith view the events of their experienced reality through the lens of their faith. We understand that there is a symbolic and meaning-defining dimension to the events of daily life. The privilege that has been ours to have been instruments and agents of facilitating the amazing technology of heart transplantation encourages us to reflect on the fact that we really can and do share our hearts with others. I can take your heart into mine and vice-versa, and those things that are most treasured in the deepest recesses of our hearts are shared. Thus, my hopes and fears are no longer just mine, but inextricably and ultimately inseparably, ours. We are thus never alone in our joys or in our sorrows because we have opened the cavities of our innermost selves and allowed others not only to look inside, but to have become implanted within us.
I write this reflection on the feast of Saint Louise de Marillac, the foundress with Saint Vincent de Paul of the Daughters of Charity, who chose the heart of Jesus for the symbol of their congregation. Genuine concern and care of the poor, which is the organizing principle of the followers of Louise and Vincent and one of our essential values, is made possible and sustained only by virtue of our ability to open our hearts to the essential presence of others. In one of her instructions to the early Daughters, Louise reminded them that “God wants only [their] hearts.”
Each day we awaken with the expectation that we are given the opportunity to open our hearts to others and in so doing we invite others to open their hearts to us. This is dangerous work because exposing ourselves to vulnerability involves potential for huge risk as well as for the incredible richness that fills hearts “grown bigger.” But the presence of danger is not sufficient excuse for avoiding hope and promise.