Friday, June 25, 2010

Astelles-Ride of a Lifetime

I entered the contest for the Astelles "Ride of a Lifetime" essay contest. I don't really know why, I haven't watched the parade since I was little, but all the other people with heart, liver, and kidney transplants were doing it, so I did it. It is so hard to cut your story into 500 words, but here is my story-or the 500 word jist of it.

Since I got my transplant in November of 2009, my life, and my whole families lives have changed-all for the better. I had been sick since I was little with heart problems, but things started to go downhill when I was 15 years old and I got a pacemaker. At the time I was having a lot of doctors appointments, I was constantly tired, and could not physically or mentally keep up with the other students. My parents and I felt my best options was to attend a special independent study program, the program allowed me to work school around my health and my schedule.
In 2009, my health really started to deteriorate again. I was getting to the point where I could barely walk to class (I was now attending Holy Names University) or do anything on my own. I was even getting too tired to drive. In October my Cardiologists listed me for a heart transplant as a status 1b and I stayed in the hospital, an hour away from my home for almost 3 weeks on IV medications. The IV medications made me feel better, but I still could not do very much. Finally the doctors decided I could go home and 3 days after being home I was called for a transplant.
Immediately when I woke up, only a few hours after surgery, I felt better-my heart function felt better than since I was a little kid. I felt like I could run a marathon, then and there. When I moved to the step-down unit, the nurses were joking that I could go down to the cafeteria and get my own food since I was walking so much, and so fast.
While I was still in the hospital a nurse told me about volunteering with the local OPO and signed up while I was still in the hospital. Since I have gotten out of the hospital I have volunteered for the CTDN, talking to nursing students, hospital staff, and such about organ donation and the impact it has had on my life. I have been accepted into a nursing program at Samuel Merritt University, and hope to one day be a transplant nurse. I know I will make an excellent transplant nurse because I have been in the position of the patient, not only do I know the odd medications well, but I know side effects, and all the other things that go along with having a transplant and taking all this medication. I also have a 3.8 gpa. Before transplant I was a hair stylist and carried around a my business card, now I carry around information for people to sign up to be an organ donor.
I was worried that I was making the wrong decision to get a transplant, I though my quality of life would be not as good, but it is so much better-I feel better than when I was 5 years old. When people see me, they can’t believe I had a transplant. I think I am showing people that you can thrive after having a transplant.

Good luck to everyone who entered!

1 comment:

  1. Wow Lennie! That is so awesome! I can't believe how fast you got your transplant! How many days total were you on the list?Thank you for sharing this! That is so awesome! :D