New Years Message from John My "Heart to Heart" Journey Continues… On the last day of this year I will be celebrating the 8 month anniversary of my heart transplant, which has provided me another chance at life. While it may sound a bit cliché, this year has been and continues to be a journey physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have learned many things about myself that I should have known by now but didn’t or chose not to acknowledge.
I am grateful to say that to date I have had no physical rejection of my new heart and my medications slowly continue to be reduced. Other than a 10 day setback in July which required a hospitalization and home infusion through a PICC line for 6 weeks, I have had no other major complications. My scheduled follow up visits to U. Penn are moving to every 6 weeks and hopefully to 3 months soon. I am slowly regaining my strength with physical therapy which at my age doesn’t happen as quickly. I am back at work 3 days a week which seems to be about right for now. I am trying to figure out this “new norm” which seems to keep changing.
During these seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas I have had a chance to reflect on the gifts of life, family, friends, work and each new day. Each new sunrise or sunset, the smells of freshly cut grass, the breeze blowing across my face, snowflakes melting on my lips, I find myself reflecting in the surreal at times. If it weren’t for a gracious donor, the incredibly gifted staff at U. Penn, my family, especially my wife Debbie, my personal angel on earth, the prayers of many around the world and the miracles of a Gracious Loving God I would not be alive. I wouldn’t be here to hold my 2 new grandchildren, born within one week of each other in September, cook the Thanksgiving turkey, be in our Christmas family picture, watch my grandchildren play soccer and basketball and on and on.
At other times I confess that I forget the miracles and find myself complaining about this or that and feel guilty when I am not so grateful. I realize how quickly I can return to the “old norm” and then wonder, am I worthy of this new gift of life? There is this new or strange sense of responsibility and accountability that can seem a bit overwhelming at times as I steward this “new heart” that once belonged to someone else. Am I worthy, am I living up to the expectations of the donor family, who I don’t know at this point, or the expectations of my family, friends, others and foremost God who has extended new life to me? What do I do with that? I can find that overwhelming at times and wonder, "Why Me Lord?" Since my heart transplant I have had other friends who have died and not been given this second chance and again I wonder, "Why Me Lord?" I hope and try to be worthy.
Many thanks to you, some of whom I don’t know personally, for your faithful and ongoing prayers, thoughts, kind remembrances and love. It is my prayer that each of you on your journey will experience in a new way the love, life and light of God and others this Christmas Season. A Holy and Blessed New Year to all, John
Oct 01, 2017
September 30th FIve months post transplant
Today we celebrate another milestone - another month. September has been a month filled with blessings and love and laughter and inner peace that have all contributed to the healing process.
John continues to move forward one day at a time. He has resumed a fairly normal fall routine with the exception of working fewer hours and filling that time with physical therapy and cardiac rehab. Although he feels his progress is slow and that it is taking too long to get back to where he was physically, those of us closest to him see him gaining strength and stamina and recognize the need for him to find a healthy balance.
It has been an emotional month as two grandchildren were born within one week. Lydiana was born to Jeremiah and Kristine on September 8 and Jackson was born on September 15 to Julie and Tyler. Holding the newborns for the first time brought tears of joy and gratefulness to all of our eyes, as we remembered being told of their upcoming births just before Easter and then faced the uncertainty that they would meet their "pappy" in this life. We also celebrated three birthday and one anniversary this month ...Jon, Tyler & Jonalyn's birthdays and Julie & Tyler's anniversary. SO much joy!
We are also grateful for the excellent reports John had at U Penn this month. His biopsy showed no rejection, his CMV is in check and his other tests indicate his meds are properly dosed. He will continue his monthly trips to U Penn and weekly blood tests in Lancaster.
As a family we are grateful for each new day. Sometimes when we pause we realize all we have been through we wonder how we all kept going. We know God has been with us and sent many people to walk alongside us. The journey will continue but our pathway and story are forever changed.
Thank you so much to all of you who have supported us with prayers, gifts, cards, texts,visits and your friendship. It is the "little" things that mean so much - like going on a cycle ride with friends to the Border Cafe in Delaware, hiking in the woods, seeing friends and family at the fairs, church, birthday and wellness celebrations, watching the hummingbirds at our feeders or just walking in the meadow taking in the sights and sounds. We are so aware of all of our blessings!
We leave you with the words of one of John's favorite songs. This song was sung at our wedding and this song was also sung at our church one Sunday this month. It strikes a chord deep within each of us. May the words be a blessing and comfort to you as well.
My God and I walk through the fields together; We walk and talk as good friends should and do; We clasp our hands, our voices ring with laughter; My God and I walk through the meadow's hue. We clasp our hands, our voices ring with laughter; My God and I walk through the meadow's hue.
Aug 27, 2017
Today marks 17 weeks post transplant. As we conversed with several of our children today, we are amazed how some of us continue to wake almost automatically at 2:00 am on Sunday mornings - the hour...
Jul 20, 2017
July 20th Update Happy Birthday, John! On Saturday we came to the beach for our annual family vacation at Ocean City. As we approached the boardwalk and the ocean, tears rushed in like waves...
Jul 05, 2017
John is now nine weeks post transplant. We continue to experience many blessings but there are tough challenges as well. The biopsies and testing continue to yield good results and several...
May 22, 2017
Dear friends and family, I can hardly see through the tears as I write these words—my dad is home! After over a month of wild, scary, wonderful days, both before and after transplant, my dad is...
May 15, 2017
Dear family and friends, Today marks the 32nd day. Several days ago I optimistically packed my suitcases and moved out of my room at the Transplant House. As the day progressed I came to realize...
May 10, 2017
Day 25 of the journey ... from home to Lancaster General to U Penn. who could have known? As I pull John's clothes out of the suitcase stashed away for 25 days - the clothes he wore to the...
May 03, 2017
Easter Weekend April 2017 was the beginning of a life change and an unexpected journey for John and our family. On Good Friday evening, following a full day of preparation for the events of the...