Monday, October 28, 2013

Rock Wall, Waterfront, Target Sports, High Ropes

Day 2 

I love how the counselors wake you up in the morning at camp. It doesn't even feel like someone just disturbed my slumber because their sweet tap on the shoulder is like a reminder of where you are. Instead of being at home, I'm sleeping in a sleeping bag in a cabin at Camp Del Corazon!

Every year I usually wake up early to participate in Wake N' Wind or the Morning Hike but this year I decided to sleep in on the first morning of camp. Usually I'm like, "WOO! TIME TO HAVE THE BEST DAY EVER! I'M TOTES READY FOR THE BEST DAY EVA!" but this morning I was more like, "Mmmm it's still sleepy time..."

Once it was time to actually wake up I was told it was crazy hair breakfast. I decided I looked crazy enough with my robot onsie and Yoshi slippers so I don't think I tried super hard to achieve maximum craziness.

The first morning at camp means the first Sunshine Dance. I told myself I would film this entire years experience but I must say; filming while doing the Sunshine Dance was harder than I thought it would be. But, I tried my best to dance full out. I don't care what anybody says, the Sunshine Dance is awesome and magical. Do you know how many rainy days I've endured at camp?


It's magic.

There's no argument.

Breakfast on the first day is always the same; waffles and sausage. I don't know what the kitchen staff does to those waffles to make them so fluffy and delicious but this meal has always been a particular favorite of mine.

For those of you who actually know me, know I am obsessed with Disney. I remember listening and belting out Disney songs during not just this meal but EVERY MEAL. Listening to Disney music was not anything out of the ordinary for me and I particularly enjoyed creepily serenading everybody to A Whole New World.

By the end of breakfast, we went back to our cabins to attempt our win at Clean Cabin Queens. The time between breakfast and our first activity always seems to fly by so we never seem to actually finish cleaning. We tidied up for the clean cabin judges, the med nurses, and quickly began out descent to our first activity; rock wall. This year we shared almost all our activities with the oldest boy cabin; Senior III. I wonder why...!?

Since year one, rock wall has always been one of my favorite activities. When I was about 12 or 13 years old, I was nicknamed Spider Monkey(no Twilight references please!) because I could climb to the top of the wall within 30 or 45 seconds. This year, whether it was the rock wall or high ropes, the counselor Boomer was always my belayer.

Best worst miswording ever: Andale!= On Belay

We gave a camp appreciation to the wall staff, bid our farewells, and continued to our next activity. Our next activity was at the waterfront so our cabin was smart enough to put on our bathing suits before we left for the rock wall so we wouldn't have to stop at the cabin.

We set up our towels and I chilled on the beach for awhile before I decided to life jacket up and slowly make my way into the water. Going into the ocean is like slowly taking off a band aid and feeling every little tug on each little individual hair. Eventually, you just have to rip the band aid off. By that metaphor, I mean GO FOR IT and just dive underwater and start swimming. Sooner or later, the freezing temperature isn't nearly as bothersome.

After introducing the game Crack the Egg to the little kids on the trampoline and trying out the new Slip N' Slide I couldn't feel any of my extremities. It was a sign for me to warm up in the sun and chill out on the beach with my cabin and my ukulele, Charlie (Yes. I named my ukulele Charlie. My cabin counselor, Jellybean, also brought her ukulele AND named her ukulele Charlie... Coincidence? I THINK NOT.).

We had enough time to go back to the cabin, change out of our soaking wet bathing suits, and freshen up before lunch.

 After every lunch is another camp tradition; the squirrel dance. Counselors will dress up in everything and anything from the costume box and prance around the dining hall to Mambo Number Five holding and showing off all the lost items found in the squirrel box (including your dirty underwear). If you happen to see one of your items than you must go up to the front of the Dining Hall to squirrel for it in front of everyone. The Squirrel Dance was originally made to be embarrassing but it has the adverse affect on a lot of us. Most of the campers, myself included, voluntarily squirrel danced just because it was a priceless camp tradition!

We went straight from lunch to Quiet Hour to our third activity; target sports. Some of you may already know this but target sports used to be my weakest skill. After my transplant, I saw a significant difference in myself during this activity. I hit the bullseye almost every time I slowly pushed down on the trigger! I give the credit to my donor and his mad shooting skills! Thanks to him, this has become one of my new favorite activities.

(P.S. The above picture is one of my favorite pictures. Gotta have at least one favorite bad ass, narcissistic photo right?)

After giving another camp appreciation to the target sports counselor, Raybat, we headed to our last and final activity of the day; High Ropes. One of my goals for this year was to stand on top of Eagles Perch. For those of you who don't know what that means... basically:

One has to climb up a pole [enter stripper joke here] and balance both feet on the very top with an addition of gusty wind trying to blow you off balance. Majority of the time, I stayed in one position contemplating to myself whether to move my other leg, like so:

Obviously I made it up there.

Goal= Accomplished!

However, my favorite part is coming down...

Attractive. I know.

Out of the three available high rope courses, one was good enough for me. It may not look very exhausting but when I came down I was completely out of breath.

Only the coolest cats can make it to the top of the Eagles Perch... strike that.

Only the coolest cats can attempt the Eagles Perch... strike that!

Only the coolest cats can look at the Eagles Perch and be like, "I like sitting. Sitting is great."

Near the end of any day involving a water activity, Shower Hour is almost as equal to some of the best feelings in the world. Such as:

Waking up in the middle of the night and realizing you still have hours to sleep.
Getting a good grade on a test that you didn't study for.
The combination of shaved legs and fresh bed sheets (you manly men will never understand!)
Perfectly peeling off the price sticker.
Personally, I love it when people can't stop laughing at my jokes.
I also love it when people tell me I smell nice. Cause I know when I don't smell nice... and it's not nice.
Removing makeup after a long day (or when your eyes are just irritated).
Steaming hot showers after an even longer day.

I'm sorry why were we on this topic again...?

...OH YEAH, Shower Hour.

Our cabin raced back to Girl's Camp to have first picks of the showers. After seeing no one there we knew we were in for a nice, hot shower. Guess what? ALL THE SHOWERS WERE FREEZING. I got in and got out as soon as I could cause cold showers are the least relaxing, at least to me. Better luck finding a warmish shower tomorrow...

We got ready for dinner that lead to our own personalized evening activities. During the scavenger hunt the day prior, we were given the options of participating in the regular evening activities, setting up our own camping out experience exclusive to the graduating campers, or hosting Skit Night. Of course we decided to camp out! That's like a one in a CDC lifetime experience! We also double loaded and decided to also host Skit Night to make it one memorable night for everyone!

Skipping right through dinner...

We grabbed our sleeping bags and things for the morning and walked towards the back of the camp ground. First test, each cabin had to set up their own tent for the night. We started in the daylight and ended by needing out flashlights. Not saying that we're slow or anything.... but the guy's finished before us.

We headed into the darkness of the camp forest looking area and participated in a couple team building activities similar to the ones in Adventure. Actually, the same activities used in Adventure just... dark outside.

The first activity was like a memory game. We had to configure and remember a path out of each square and have everyone walk safely across the path avoiding the imaginary lava. It makes more sense if I just show you...

The second activity was a bit more challenging. We had to choose a leader to lead us across a log while all holding hands without anyone falling. If anyone did fall we all had to start over. This activity took us probably an hour(or so it seemed) before we figured out a strategy.

The third activity consisted of smores.

Lovely, lovely smores.

After eating smores with the rest of the camp, the graduates and our counselors gathered by the fire in the
Amphitheater. I don't think the next activity can really be described as an "activity"... more like one of those deep conversations you have at 2 A.M. with one of your best friends. Each one of us had to write down a fear on a slip of paper. You could write down anything you wanted but the majority of us stayed on the mature, deep side of life pondering things. You had the option of sharing your fear and throwing the slip of paper into the fire or not sharing and simply throwing the slip of paper into the fire metaphorically burning your fear. I'm like an open book so I shared the fear I wrote down which correlates with my heart problems.
One of my deepest fears is having my health downfall again to the point of needing a third transplant. I've researched third retransplantations and I've yet to find one case, successful or not. I don't know what scares me more... Not surviving the surgery or having to once again change every aspect of my life and taking it one gruesome day at a time.

Burn that fear....

The night didn't end there.

We grouped together in the dining hall to talk about our possible futures at Camp Del Corazon. All of us, of course, want to become camp counselors someday(more like as soon as possible). But facing the facts, not all of us will become counselors but we all still have equal opportunities to be apart of the Corazon family. I would say another one of my fears is not being able to return to Catalina Island as a counselor. I realize factors in life, like college, can get in the way but Camp Del Corazon isn't just a summer camp to me; it's my childhood and countless other meanings to me. I don't want to return just to relive my childhood memories but to create new memories for myself and more importantly, the campers. Because that's what camp is all about; doing whatever it takes to give kids with heart disease one of the best experiences despite your condition.

We all had this mutual feeling but one things for sure: I'm going to take every effort to increase my chances of becoming a counselor. Such as, participating in the PACE program and applying for a counselor position as early as applications are available.

I think we had enough pillow talk for the night. We walked back to the tents and changed up the topic of conversation to scary stories. After listening to a couple stories I decided I'd give it a shot. I guess I made my story pretty believable since everyone seemed creeped out by the end and totally believed it!

Shelby ghost stories for the win!

It was freezing outside, it was a long day, and it was time to finally go to bed. The thought of sleeping in a tent was a lot more comfortable than actually sleeping in a tent... and a lot warmer.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Day One of the Best Day Ever

Day 1

The night before, I set three alarms to ensure I wake up earlier than expected to beat the lines at the airport. On a regular basis, I already take a long time to fall asleep so you can imagine how long it took me to sleep with all the excitement building inside me. With approximately four hours of sleep, it was time wake up and head to the airport! Once we arrived, I COULDN'T CONTAIN MYSELF. The minute we parked I quickly jumped out of the car, ran through the parking lot and the airline check ins until I could see the cluster of red shirts. I didn't even care to notice how many weird stares I got until it was pointed out to me... probably because I'm lugging a bag that probably weighs more than me!

I checked myself in and for a firsty and was put in a traveling group lead by one of my favorite dude counselors, Woody! It didn't take me very long to make friends with the other campers in my traveling group. I particularly met this one girl, Sierra, who is a freshman in high school and a first year camper. I don't know what it is about first year campers but every time I meet one I think back to when I was seven years old, extraordinarily shy, and a first time camper. Thinking back to how overwhelming it was to attend camp for the first time, how everybody knows everybody, and how you don't know anyone just overpowers me with this feeling to be friends with ALL of these first year campers.

I was so dazed with being reunited with all my friends that I forgot to say goodbye to my parents! It didn't even affect me cause I knew I wasn't going to miss them in the slightest(sorry parental's) and I just continued through security and the terminals. We quickly boarded the plane and as time flew by (Get it...? Flew?... plane... hehe, punny!) we landed in California! Each travel group loaded on their designated tour bus to take us to the boat dock. I sat with one of my best friends, Dj, and we pretty much were freaking out the closer we got to the boat dock.

After a long morning of traveling we finally arrived at the boat dock to be united with our cabin. I was expecting to be put in cabin Cutter (which is usually the eldest girl cabin) but surprisingly this year my cabin was Brigantine! The traveling didn't stop there, after waiting for our luggage to be loaded we began our decent on boat to the wonderful Catalina Island. Traveling is almost just as fun as actually being on the island because we really get to know one another the entire time.

We finally arrived to the Camp Del Corazon grounds after approximately a two hour boat ride! I high fived all the counselors waiting for the first batch of campers and spirited it up with my cabin in the meantime. First things first, we went over all the camp rules. All the 9+ year campers, myself included, were even brought up to the front to answer some "extreme" questions about composting.

Enough with rules and onward with lunch!

The day continued as we headed from the dining hall to the dock to find our luggage. I'm usually one of the few campers freaking out because I can't seem to find my bag until everyone else finds their's first. However, I surprisingly enough spotted my bunny rabbit tags on my suitcase pretty quickly this year (Yes, I identify myself with bunny's). We headed to our lovely Brigantine cabin to settle in and decorate to impress. Strangely enough, Brigantine is usually used as the cabin held for the med nurses so when I heard I was in this cabin I thought it was a mistake because clearly I am not a med nurse (yet!). Our cabin is the first cabin you come across when you enter Girl's Camp. When I first entered the cabin, my friend Sammy and I chose bunks directly next to each other so we could talk at night and take selfies together during Quiet Hour!

Every year, a scavenger hunt is set up to familiarize yourself with the camp grounds (even though it would take brain damage for me to forget where everything is). During this scavenger hunt we're given our water bottles and for the first year ever(at least over my camp years) NOT given animal print sunglasses donated from the early 2000's. We headed back to our cabins to kill some time before dinner leading to our first night of activities.

Tonight's festivities? DISCO BINGO.

I was hoping to win my first bingo this year but... maybe when I'm a counselor! I didn't really care about winning anyway but it was difficult to enjoy myself when I was enduring one of those massive, random headaches all throughout Disco Bingo. Despite my headache, I still managed to party and have fun with my groovy cabin and all the kids!

Gotta give me some props on those Marvel leggings!
It was a long day of airplanes, boat rides, "Face Waves", "Wax on, Wax Offs" and "Jolly Jaywalkers. By the time it was time to go to bed I was ready to pass out! I was surprised I even made it through cabin closing awake. I guess the excitement of a brand new day at Camp Del Corazon kept my dopamine running a little longer.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Home Sweet Home

After I returned from my last year attending Camp Del Corazon I was overwhelmed with make up work and current work. One of the first major assignments was to write a Narrative Essay in English class. We had to pick from twelve different writing options taken directly from college essay prompts. The prompt I chose is; 'Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?'

... It's like you're asking me to write about camp especially since it's the only thing I can think about recently! 

I'm haven't received a grade yet but of course, I'm hoping for an A! So without a further ado, here is my final narrative essay:

Home Sweet Home
            According to the Merriam Webster Learner’s Dictionary, the word “content” means: “pleased and satisfied.” Personally, I think those words are understatements to describe how I feel at the place I feel ‘most content’. Camp Del Corazon is my childhood wonderland and my home sweet home; it is a world of acceptance, joy and the only place I feel normal or in other words ‘content’. Camp Del Corazon is a non-profit organization which provides an annual summer camp on Catalina Island for kids living with heart disease.
            When I was born in 1996, I was born with the slightest heart murmur. Six months later, I was hospitalized and diagnosed with a severe case of dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart is weakened and enlarged resulting in a lack of blood flow. Shortly after being listed for a heart transplant, a heart became available to me and I was transplanted on January 29, 1997. From that point on, aside from taking a dozen medications, living with noticeable scars all over my body, looking forward to quarterly cardiology appointments and annual heart biopsies, I was like any other normal kid.
            Once I enrolled in grade school I realized my everyday lifestyle was different when I was excluded and titled as the stereotypical weird kid in my class. Ten years ago, before my cardiologist introduced Camp Del Corazon to my family and I, I lost all confidence in myself. I didn’t have one friend at school and quite honestly, even though it saved my life, I was ashamed of my scars and medical history. Suddenly, I was going to camp; nervous yet excited, and ready to meet many kids just like me. By the end, I made a cabin full of friends, I experienced many new things, and most of all, I created memories that I still remember to this day. From that point on, Camp Del Corazon became the catalyst to the silver lining of my obscure life.
            In fifth grade, I developed Post Transplant Coronary Artery Disease. By seventh grade my condition destabilized, leaving me with one option: re-transplantation. After four months of waiting, I received the call for a heart and was re-transplanted on July 6, 2009. I credit my constant optimism throughout that entire time period to Camp Del Corazon. Despite my illness and restrictions, Camp Del Corazon kept me motivated to return home and grow healthy so I could once again step foot on the pacific camp grounds.
            During middle school, I met my two best friends outside of camp. They were supportive, unlike the rest of my so-called peers in the student body, but they still did not understand my condition. If the public noticed my scar or witnessed me taking medications, I felt judged by the looks of strangers. At Camp Del Corazon, I could talk in medical terms and everyone would still understand me and my health condition. Most importantly, I’m able to be myself and feel accepted because I’m not seen any differently since we have all undergone similar experiences.

            Since then, I have had zero complications and I honestly believe my current circumstances wouldn't be so substantially absolute without Camp Del Corazon. It has positively impacted my perspective, changed my outlook on life and has metamorphosized my confidence and self-esteem. I have every ounce of pride put into my heart condition and I’m devoted to raising awareness for organ donation, Congenital Heart Disease and the organization I owe my life to: Camp Del Corazon. Everybody should have a place where they can feel accepted, can be themselves, and can create memories. Fortunately enough for me, I have a place where I can feel such contentment.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Vacations Don't Count

This past week I have been a complete tourist around Washington D.C. I would have quickly updated while I was there but I didn't have access to a computer. So to make up for a lack of updates in a week, here is a Week of Updates in one post.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Day 1
Instead of flying straight to Washington D.C. we made two pit stops. One layover stop in Dallas onward to Fort Lauderdale in Florida to visit my grandparents whom I haven't seen in seven years. I tried to mingle with my family but seeing as I'm going off of absolutely no sleep I decided to sleep the majority of the time I was there.

We finally flew into Baltimore and immediately crashed at the hotel to get optimum sleep for a long day of tourism around the National Mall.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 2
Waking up at around noon we took the Metro toward McPherson for a bite to eat at Cosi's. It's pretty much the pita version of Subway. We later took the Metro to the National Mall beginning at the Air and Space Smithsonian Museum and ending with a movie in Chinatown pretty much summarizes the day.

Red 2: Three Stars. I'm not very impressed Bruce Willis, tisk tisk.

The Washington Monument was under construction while
 we were there so that explains why it looks a tad different.

I love how my scar is bit more noticeable in this particular photo :)

Chinese looking arc at Chinatown
After a long day of walking it was delightful to finally plop down on my bed and finally fall asleep in the hotel.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 3
Waking up once again at noon, we set sail for the Metro to go back to the National Mall. Instead of walking, we rented bikes! I personally loved riding a bike around D.C. It saved us so much time compared to walking everywhere and even though we still walked a ton, my feet weren't screaming by the end of the day.

Unfortunately, my progesterone hormones decided to slap me across the uterus so a big gap of time was wasted feeling like crap. During which time I was also super forgetful; forgetful enough to leave my phone near my bike, nearly have a heart attack when I thought I lost it but eventually finding it and feeling even more like crap.

No worries, we found a drug store (the oldest drug store established I may add) and Super Pamprin kicked my progesterone out the window (because all pain relievers are superheroes). After lunch at an Irish pub it started to rain. Luckily the bus tour we were about to aboard offered all of us super sexy rain ponchos.

I don't know how many times you have the chance to sit on a double decker bus so despite the rain, we sat on the upper level.

Nothing says I'm clearly a tourist like a double decker tour bus!
After visiting the White House...

The Lincoln Memorial...

The Franklin Roosevelt Memorial...

I love the raindrops!

And various other memorials it was time to go back to the hotel and pass out from yet another long day.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Day 4
By this time I started to feel a little homesick. I missed sleeping in my own bed, showering in my own bathroom, snacking on food that didn't cost me $5 and most importantly, I missed my dad and my boyfriend.

We explored the Native American Museum as well as had lunch in their fabulous cafeteria which by the has the best Mexican hot chocolate. We spent the rest of our time at the National Gallery of Art until closing. Some people were overwhelmed but honestly looking at all these masterpieces just made me think, "What am I doing with my life?!" It's the same feeling I get when I watch 16 year old's on the Olympics...

See what I mean? And these weren't just your average size canvas' purchased at Michaels; these painting practically took up an entire wall! We returned to Chinatown for a movie, Pacific Rim (which I highly recommend because it was bad ass including elbow rockets and swords!), and authentic Chinese food at Wok & Roll. I don't know why but I was seriously craving Chow Mein so it's no surprise what I ordered...

Getting back to the hotel pretty late, I still wasn't ready to go to bed so what do I do when I can't sleep? I watch Doctor Who reruns hoping to fall asleep. Surely enough, my plan worked.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Day 5
We slept in kinda late so we went to the Natural History Smithsonian Museum and the Archives. Other people were once again overwhelmed gazing upon the Declaration of Independence but if anything I felt more like Nicolas Cage...

After the museums closed we went on a bike tour around the memorials. I don't have to repeat how much I loved riding bikes instead of walking!... even though I just did.

Our last dinner at a local restaurant was delicious but I was so happy to be going home the next day! What I wasn't looking forward to was the amount of traveling in order to get home. But I can't do anything about that... maybe I could invent a teleporter! Then again, someone somewhere is probably already working on that.
My brother does not approve of my photogenic social networking :(
I could no longer find the will to stand.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Day 5
Airplanes and sleeping. 

Although, throughout all the traveling I did configure the perfect stratosphere playlist! 

Shell Suite- Chad Valley
What A Wonderful World- Louis Armstrong
Come Fly With Me- Michael Buble (it's a cliche, I know)
Young and Beautiful- Lana Del Ray 
Evil Woman- Electric Light Orchestra
Cough Syrup- Young the Giant

Cmon, tell me those songs aren't perfect for flying through cumulus clouds like these!

I was so sleepy I wasn't sure if we were flying over the ocean or Antarctica...

It is now past my bed time and my LAST first day of high school is tomorrow! Geez, that feels so good to say! The sleep I loose over my blog... hopefully its appreciated by someone!  

Anyway, good night! Hopefully tomorrow will be a great day!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Transplant Chronicles

This past Saturday marked my FOUR year Heartiversary. Get it? Anniversary... for my heart? Eeh? Basically, exactly four years ago, I received my second heart transplant. Oddly enough, I was busy that day (I say oddly because this summer has consisted of nothing else but staying at homes with loads of spare time) so I didn't blog but I did write something to share with my friends and specifically the donor family on Facebook.

Today, as a tribute, I thought it would be cool to re-post what my parents posted four years ago at the time of my transplant. Once my health started spiraling out of control, I had acquired a Caringbridge website that my parents and myself regularly posted on. The following posts recorded their feelings, point of views, and thoughts during my transplant (finally a point of view that isn't mine!). It's a little bit of a read; my mom likes to write a lot but personally, I find it interesting since I was unconscious throughout it all.

July 6, 2009 3:03 AM

We received the call tonight that they found a heart for Shelby.  We are at Denver Children's Hospital in the CICU waiting to hear from the transplant team that everything is a go. If so, Shelby will probably be going to surgery around 7am Monday morning. Shelby is hanging in there. She is obviously really nervous. We are watching Harry Potter and trying to get some sleep before morning. We appreciate everyone's prayers at this time. We will keep you posted throughout the day.

July 6, 2009 11:08 AM

Shelby is in surgery now.  The transplant surgeon said the new heart is on its way.  As we pray for Shelby please say a prayer for the donor family as well.

July 6 2009 1:05 PM

Her nurse said they just opened Shelby's chest and that her new heart is in transit, but they don't know when it will get here yet.  We don't even know where it's coming from.  As we're updated by her surgical team we'll update Shelby's journal.  Brad (my dad) and I (I as in my mom) are anxious... nervous... excited... scared... hopeful... worried.  There are better words, but I can't think what they are right now.

Trying to calm our nervous, Shelby's surgeon assured us that the surgery itself has become more and more routine over the years and actually the hard part is after transplant.  Ok, whatever.  It's still major open heart surgery to us.  I don't know... I'm thinking a heart transplant would probably be the majorist of all open heart surgeries????  Daddy and I remain pretty nervous.  Brad's squeezing a squishy stress ball while watching Get Smart over and over again.  I'm typing.  Sorry guys... get ready for nervous rambling.

However, our Miss Shelby was actually pretty calm about the whole thing.  After getting to the hospital late last night, she curled up in her hospital bed here in the cardiac ICU and watched "Get Smart" until she fell asleep.  Then early this morning she was woken up around 5 am for a body scrub.  Shelby tried to do it herself but she finally had to let the nurse help her.  Afterwards she just settled down and went right back to sleep.  Daddy snuggled up to her until the anesthesiologist came to start the sleepy drugs about an hour and half later.  In her slowly increasing brain fog she started to cry.  "Don't forget to give me ice chips afterwards... and swish my mouth out with the mouth sponge so it doesn't get dry...", she tells daddy.  She snuggled into her giant white Valentine bear and held on to Uncle Bills stuffed doggie, Teddy.  She wanted Daddy to come into the surgery room with her, but he wasn't allowed.  However, the sedation took away any frantic feelings she would have had if she were fully awake, and left a sleeping sort of quiet weeping.

Next post will be when Shelby's heart is on it's way from the airport.  :-)

July 6, 2009 2:51 PM

Her nurse has been periodically assuring us that Shelby is doing really really good and the OR room was mellow with 60's music (Elvis is IN the building).  We just got an update that her donor heart has arrived and they are starting to put Shelby on heart by-pass in preparation to take out her old heart.

Shelby's nurse just came in again.  She's doing well.  Her old heart has been removed and her new heart is being stitched in....  I imagine her monitors beeping, the team working around her, the ecmo machine humming.  I don't think I could be a heart surgeon.  I have a hard time sewing in buttons... zippers... collars with points...  

July 6, 2009 4:00 PM

Her new heart is in and started beating on its own.  She is already off by-pass.  To prevent any irregular heartbeats her heart will be temporarily paced with a pace maker.  Shelby is doing really, really well from all accounts.  Yay!!!!!!  Right now, they are working to get her bleeding under control.  Once that is stabilized  they'll be able to close her up.  When they finally bring her back to her room, Brad and I will have to step out for about an hour while they clean her up, draw blood for labs, take some x-rays, etc., etc.  The surgical nurse that has been updating us thinks that her new heart is slightly larger than her old one.  Again, we are thinking about the donor family - so very, very thankful.

Brad had been slowly walking a groove in the floor, but is finally sitting down sipping a soda.  I know my stomach has been queesy, but then we haven't really eaten today.  I can't believe my watch... can it really be 4pm?!!!  With her new heart came all new coronaries.  No more post transplant coronary artery disease!  All her prior stents are gone.  What an amazing blessing.  It's like she gets to start over, almost.

We've been warned about 2nd transplants and how they have more issues than 1st heart transplants.  I guess we'll just have to jump off that bridge when we come to it.  I'm hoping that she'll have a long, long while of normal.. just totally routine post transplant care, with boring and uneventful health concerns. 
 I know we wanted to be at UCLA, but this new children's hospital here in Denver has been slowly winning us over.  Maybe this was meant to be. 

July 7, 2009 2:09 PM

Last night Shelby’s vital signs were up and down and up and down while her heart adjusted to its new surroundings.  First it had the difficult task of waking up from a cold and silent slumber, and then it had to adjust to the changed demands from a completely different host.  But little by little this new heart began to find its rhythm again in our Shelby.  Whoever you are dear donor, your heart is taking on a whole new adventure.  Thank you.

As the result of a prior transplant surgery and resulting scar tissue, Shelby’s wounds bled more profusely, so she required quite a lot of blood products to get her through the night.  But she continued to hang in there.  One side of her chest has slowed down a lot in terms of the bleeding.  The other side is still quite oozy.

Her induction immunosuppressant therapy began immediately after surgery.  At first, they let her body see the new heart, just to get an imprint.  Then they load her up with meds that suppress her body’s natural response to attack foreign invaders.  It basically knocks the memory out of Shelby’s immune system so that when it sees her new heart again, it takes the attitude, of “oh, you again, we know you… move on”.  I think of her T cells as starship storm troopers – good fighters, but can be influenced by the Jedi mind trick.  Hopefully, this Jedi medical trick works its magic.

This morning, Shelby remained pretty sleepy, but little by little she started waking up.  With multiple tubes down her throat, she wasn’t able to speak, but she clearly wanted to say something.  In an effort to communicate, her nurse offered to give her a pen to write on the back of a gauze sponge wrapper, but looking at her weakened condition wasn’t expecting much.  Clear as a bell she wrote out, “can I haa chasstik”.  She can have all the lip balm she wants!!!!!

Things happened pretty quickly after that.  They decided to take her off the respirator.  Just before they were ready to take her tubes out, she put up three fingers signaling to us to count to three before yanking them out.  After it was all over with, in halting whispered words, her first request was for something to drink.  But even with the anti-nausea meds, her tummy is bothering her big time.  I don’t think a method has been invented yet that eradicates the ensuing vomiting from being put under general anesthesia.  So, we started off with a few swishes of a mouth sponge, then ice chips, and now finally tiny sips of water.

The biggest response we got from Shelby was just prior to rinsing her mouth out with a liquid drug called Nystatin.  It’s a preventative measure to keep her from getting mouth sores considering her suppressed immune system.  She emphatically declined the yucky tasting med, but unfortunately it wasn’t her choice to make.  But the promise of some Sprite later coaxed her into opening her mouth. Her nurse liked seeing some fiesty reaction from her.  It shows she's a fighter.

Brad has been dubbed the "cutest" dad by the nurses here because he's so attentive to Shelby.  But he has always been a very involved, supportive daddy throughout her life.


That's all of the Transplant Chronicles for now. I think I'll do more of these types of posts again. Not just because it feels like a blast from the past but I  find it interesting to go beyond my memory. Part 2 of the Transplant Chronicles will consist of a more healthy Shelby. I don't know, let me know what you think? Too much reading? Worth it? 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Junior Year Reflection

I'm not gonna lie, this past school year has been tough. And for once, it hasn't been hard due to heart failure or because I caught some weird, rare virus thanks to my suppressed immune system or any hospital visits for that matter, other than my quarterly cardiology appointments.

Last summer, I thought out of all the years of high school junior year was the most important. Academically, I guess that's true since it's the last year to improve your GPA before beginning to hunt for colleges. I started off the year excited, determined to increase my GPA and overall just content with my life after one of the best summers.

But everything changed...

One of the first changes of this new year was attending EVIT (East Valley Institute of Technology). I've never been to a technical school before and since I already know what I plan to do in the future; this seemed like the ideal plan for me. I'm glad I went to the EVIT orientation sophomore year because I ended up liking EVIT more than MPHS. Everyone in my Anatomy & Physiology class had at least one thing in common with me, we were all interested in the medical field and I also appreciated the fact that all the students actually cared towards their future unlike the pot heads at my high school. I think these reasons factored to why I met friends so easily there. And needless to say, we created some pretty amazing and hilarious memories.

Whether it was in the classroom,

During the dissection labs, 
(Yes, those are ventricles in my portraying heart of love)
Or competing to win the bad ass title of "Medical Terminology Winners",

And field trips to the Cadaver Lab at Grand Canyon University,

Needless to say I enjoyed EVIT much more than I enjoyed being at my regular high school. But it's not like life at Mountain Pointe wasn't bad either... well at least when I decided I was actually going to go to school. I would say my favorited days were the spirit days.

Nerd Day!
"What the Heck" Day
Western Day!
Hawaiian Day!
I won't even mention my horrid attendance for this year, besides stating that this year is my personal record for most consecutive absences and unexcused/ excused tardies. It's not something I'm proud of but  considering I ended off with good grades, I say that's more of an accomplishment.

And then there was everything in between.

An obviously very productive golf season...

The awesome parties.

Homecoming with my best buds!

Another memorable year at Camp Del Corazon...

Being crowned Miss. EVIT for the PM session!

Fangirling over the cast of Harry Potter during Spring Break...

And ending off the year with Prom!

I won't say this has been my favorite year because honestly, this year has been particularly hard on me. There is so much more that happened this year than what I can actually blog about but, I think there's less gained when just focusing on the negatives of every year that passes by. Even though the negatives are so much more easier to focus on, my goal for my next and final year of high school is to A.)

And B.)

Summer is now half way over and pretty much all I've done is focus on online school. I guess that's a good thing but it just get's so boring and after awhile, unproductive. That one word just describes how my summer has been. Boring. So next week, I believe is the last week of online summer school. As of next week is the first day of summer and I intend on making it kick ass before it ends.