A year ago today, this man was in surgery. He had been diabetic for a long time, and his kidneys and worn out. His pancreas hadn’t worked properly, which is what made him diabetic. He was on dialysis, which helped him feel better for short periods of time. But a kidney and pancreas transplant was the only thing that would really help improve his quality of life.
Twice before we got “the call,” and twice before we were called back telling us it had been a false alarm. But not this time. This time it was time to go!
Keith’s kidney and pancreas transplant took place at University of Florida Shands Hosptial in Gainesville, Florida. The only things we know about his donor is that he or she was also a patient there, and that their family decided to allow their organs to be donated.
Before Keith’s transplants, he tired easily and didn’t feel well much of the time. Since his transplants, we have witnessed miracle upon miracle as his strength has been renewed!
With surgery in November, and a lengthy hospital stay due to complications, Keith was able to walk a 5K in April! We bought our house in June, and he felt well enough to get up on the roof to clean out the gutters.
We continue to thank God for Keith’s renewed strength and restored health, and we continue to pray for the family who said an unexpected good-bye to a loved one. We pray that they are comforted knowing their loved one’s organs live on, and help another person have a quality of life they could not have achieved without the help of organ donation.
The hospital gave us a bumper sticker after Keith’s transplants that we proudly stuck on our car. It says “Don’t take your organs to Heaven. Heaven knows we need them here!”
If you are not an organ donor, please consider becoming one.
Note: If you get a chance, visit wronghands1.wordpress.com. John Atkinson is exceptionally talented at illustrating difficult concepts.
I memorized a lot of quotes when I was growing up. Unfortunately, I did not memorize who said them! One major quote I lived by was “When a task is once begun, never leave it til it’s done. Be a labor great or small, do it well or not at all.”
That innocent-sounding quote took me to Procrasti-Nation, and I resided there for quite some time. If I couldn’t finish a project, I would just refuse to take it on. If I was uncertain that I could perform a job well, I just wouldn’t try.
During a time in my life when I was long on time and short on funds, and my sister Darcy was in the reverse position, she paid me to clean her house. She taught me a new thought, and it helped move me out of Procrasti-Nation to the little Isle get it done. The new thought? “Look for improvement, not perfection.”
Suddenly I was free! I was free to do my best, and let my best be enough. I was free to acknowledge that life is a messy business, and there are many times in life that improvement is all that can be hoped for.
One quote that HAS truly become an encouragement to me is this: “I’m not in competition with anyone else. My only competition is to be a better ME today than I was yesterday.”
I must admit that I still visit Procrasti-Nation. But I no longer have a permanent home there!
Thanks for setting me free, Darcy!
Mary and her friend Victoria, who also has Down Syndrome, took a small animal class at Camden County High School last year. As part of the class, they needed to do a project that involved small animals. They decided to volunteer at the Humane Society. They went through the volunteer training and spent time playing with cats and dogs.
Mary has done other volunteer work as well. She has volunteered as an usher at Theatre by the Trax in St. Marys. She has volunteered at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, explaining bones to visitors. Mary has also volunteered at a race on Jekyll Island, where she handed out water to the runners after the race.
While I was wearing this shirt, someone commented on my being a Georgia Tech fan. My response? “I’m really not a fan of sports, but I AM a fan of my husband, and he’s a Georgia Tech Fan!” I remain ambivalent about sports (except baseball, of course! I’m a huge Angel’s fan!)
Mary, on the other hand, is both a fan of her Dad AND Georgia Tech! She follows the games with her Dad. She cheers for goals made, and she gets bummed out when Georgia Tech doesn’t win. But she never stays bummed out for long. She’s very good at looking at the bright side of life, and drawing beautiful things to other’s attention. It has been my privilege to have a front-row seat to observe and take part in Mary’s world.
I’m getting a little tired of working so hard to be “Politically Correct.” I watched this commercial again today…and it makes an excellent point. People with Down Syndrome DO need “education, jobs, and opportunities, friends, and love just like everybody else.” But it was qualifying as a “Special Needs Kid” that allowed Mary to have a play therapist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, and speech therapist in our home from the time she was a year old until she started Pre-K at the ripe old age of 3. She was actually eligible for from birth, but since she was born in Florida we weren’t aware of services available in Georgia. Georgia’s Early Intervention Program paid to have those therapists come to the house.
It is Mary’s “special needs” classification that allows her to enjoy the annual Special Hearts Prom at Christ’s Church Camden. It is also her “special needs” classification that allows her to play baseball at Justin’s Miracle Field in Kingsland. As a matter of fact, one of the physical therapists who came to the house now volunteers at Justin’s Miracle Field, and is able to see for herself the good her groundwork has accomplished. This therapist has watched Mary take her first tentative steps, and now watches her run bases at breakneck speed!
The Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville is appreciative of the “Simply Amazing Special Needs Pageant” that is being promoted by Leann Purvis. All funds raised from this program will help the DSAJ keep coming up with programs to entertain and educate the Down Syndrome population, while creating opportunities for those who don’t have personal experience living with a person with Down Syndrome to get to know them and understand that every single one of us…”differently abled” or not…has a story to tell and a life to live.
Tell me my kid has “special needs?” Go ahead. I know she does. And I’m glad. She gets to hang onto her innocence longer than most. I still get to tuck her into bed at night, even though she is nearly 19 years old. She has a smile and a word of encouragement for everyone she meets. This world needs more people like my Mary!
Mary developed an eye infection shortly after she was born. As a result, when I was discharged, she was sent to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at University Hospital in Jacksonville (now UF Health). I agonized over the fact that she would be transported by ambulance, and neither her Dad nor I could not ride with her.
At the NICU we learned to wash carefully up to our elbows for two minutes, then don a hospital gown. We thought our daughter at 4 pounds, 12 ounces was small. But many babies in the NICU were so much smaller than she was!
We were able to stay at Ronald McDonald house while Mary was in NICU. It was tremendously helpful to be mere blocks away from her. We visited Mary as often as we could. She did not take to nursing, so she started on formula. We would rejoice when she finished a two-ounce bottle!
St. Marys, Georgia, where we live, has an annual Scarecrow Stroll. The Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville, Northern Stars, has had an entry in years past, and naturally decided to enter again.
The St. Marys waterfront is in disarray following hurricane Irma, but away from the waterfront the roads look fairly normal. The Scarecrow Stroll is a great way for people to hold onto a bit of normalcy while our neighborhoods are being repaired.
For information about the DSAJ, visit https://dsaj.org/.
For information about the Scarecrow stroll, visit http://www.visitstmarys.com/event-calendar2.html.