Do you know what today is?
It’s our – H2’s and mine – six-month anniversary!
We came together on October 11 last year, after four, maybe five hours of painstaking knitting and weaving and uniting of our separate selves.
I believe I was calmer on that morning than at many times before and afterwards. Certainly calmer when they wheeled me from my ward to the cardiac theatre at Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital, than I am now. Pre-op medication seemed to have settled a permanent smile on my face, kept me talking incessantly, released a deluge of optimism as I greeted fellow patients and waved to nursing staff in the corridors. Some flutters of uncertainty, yes, but a blessed assurance that I was a recipient of benevolence. As it turned out, the optimism and the blessed assurance were well-founded.
As I write this, H2 pumps in my chest; no, scratch that, H2 is pounding, racing, having just read again Prof Chris Barnard’s account of transplanting Denise Darvall’s heart into Louis Washkansky’s empty chest cavity.
I’ve never been able to get beyond my scary-cat instincts when confronted by the unfolding of a terrifying plot. And Barnard’s narrative is as spine-chilling as they get. H2 is now in tune with all the other aspects of my persona, knows that I would much rather be doing something else than confronting mortality and its counterpoint – hence the gut- and chest-wrenching pumping, pounding. My natural inclination is to avert my eyes, shut the book, get a cup of tea and relax in the warmth and bright light of a safe, new day which offers no threat, no fear.
But this story is one I have lived. It’s the story of my death and rebirth; the story of my continued living. It is a compelling story, worthy of being experienced again and again; even though the fear, the tension, undiluted by tranquilizer, sits in my throat, rushes through my mind, shakes my entire body, grasps my chest where H2, my heart, my new, re-purposed heart, pounds nineteen to the dozen.
It’s MY story.