The Same Old Bugger I Ever Was

IMG_20161106_161007People ask me all the time: What does it feel like? I know immediately what they’re referring to, but feign uncertainty and send a question back: What do you mean?

They say: Having someone else’s heart in your chest.

No different, I say, There are no psychological or spiritual ideas that are different. I’ve not taken on philosophies, gender markers or lifestyle preferences of another, as some may have presumed I would, without any evidentiary basis. The machines confirm what the rest of my body tells me each day as I breathe, move, eat, pray: H2 physically pumps very differently than my original, birth heart.  But there is no difference in the way I “feel” on the outside or under my skin.

Many donor heart recipients do go through difficult post-transplant experiences, including survivor guilt, depression and sudden changes in outlook, attitudes and behaviour. Some male recipients wonder if the feminine traits of their donor have been carried over in the transplant. Others question a new aggressive mindset. Yet others seek an escape into the world from the humdrum existence they led through cardiac failure – and which those around them expect to still hold onto.

There is ample evidence of people who, after skirting death for example during heart failure, have lived the rest of their lives dangerously on the edge, as if inviting death to return (although as many fully embrace their new lives and the opportunities held therein).

One must continue to live with the fact that someone’s life had ended and that their moment of death provided an opportunity for one to continue living. Those meditations are always present, never far below the surface of one’s consciousness. And necessary. They contribute to an appreciation of the kind of lifestyle that must be led now in honour of the life that has ended. Please God, ensure that they never go away.

Outside of thoughts for the donor and his or her family, the sheer miraculous nature of how this solution came together and appreciating the rich legacy of research, experimentation, success and failure over many decades which gave me the 216th rebirth on the heart transplant  programme at CBMH, and a stringent daily regime, I haven’t over-thought the psycho-spiritual stuff. Perhaps I’m influenced too easily by the hard-nosed doctors who insist “the heart is just a pump”, it’s a very important pump, they say, but it’s just that. Mine is just one response.

Sadly, for many of you, I’m mostly still the same bugger I was before October 11, 2016, when my donor heart was transplanted into me. Of course much has changed, most of it good for the new, whole me and which I’ve taken to with relish, some of it takes some getting used to, like managing the medicines which keep this heart beating strongly.

But the feelings inside my being are no different.

(See Laurence Gonzales’ Surviving Survival: The Art And Science of Resilience.)

The Same Old Bugger I Ever Was
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5 thoughts on “The Same Old Bugger I Ever Was

  • 30th November 2016 at 7:43 am
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    Profound words indeed. Clearly best evidence that you are still you!

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  • 30th November 2016 at 9:41 am
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    Thank you for sharing! Glad to hear that you are your old self. Get stronger every day. We have a yellow tail on ice and wood for the fire. Just waiting for you.

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  • 30th November 2016 at 3:27 pm
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    the heart is a pump. i would find it much more difficult to wear somebodies else face – the visible, by which we are recognized and known. many lives die so we can live – animal and vegetable and sometime human, and each one should lead to the question “how?” especially in these times, with the immense loss of value given to all life and the flowering of the “culture” of acquisition we need to consider the “how “of our lives, and the fact that we can all, if we choose, contribute very deeply to the possibility of a good life of somebody else, somebody di.fferent from us but just as worthy of life. live well and enjoy it. all the very best

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  • 30th November 2016 at 8:16 pm
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    A very interesting read, thank you

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    • 6th December 2016 at 10:31 am
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      You write serious stuff. Heart business is serious stuff and it is funny stuff too. I am sorry that you are not doing the feminine thing. I am always on the lookout or another sister 😂! And now you say you have the same old buggerness of your yesteryears! However, you sound so well and your insights give me much good for thought, as did Ora’s. What a journey, for you tarry only where you have to….

      Reply

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