Friday, March 13, 2009

False Start...Five Yard Penalty...Repeat First Down

By now, most of you have heard about our day yesterday, but I thought perhaps you'd like more than just the bottom line -- perhaps a glimpse into what yesterday was like. And, besides, blogging is therapeutic for me!

Yesterday started (almost) like any other day. I had breakfast with a friend, which put me at work later than usual. I had a ton of stuff to do that day, starting with going over weekly project updates and finalizing a briefing for a couple of General Officers. I was working on the briefing with a colleague when Cristi called.

I saw the hospital number on the caller ID and figured something was up. It's not unusual to get a call at work, but not on my cell phone, and not since she's been in the hospital. Sure enough, she said, "We may have something." "Should I jump in the car?", I asked, but she told me to hold off for an hour while they ran some initial tests. I was excited, but not convinced; we had been warned about false starts. Two hours later, Cristi called back and reported she still didn't know anything, but she was having lunch with a couple of friends that had come up for the day and would try to find out something when she got back. By then, it was getting to be about 1:00, and I figured I needed to get on the road; the 4-hour time limit we'd ben told about was running out, and I didn't want to miss seeing my little girl before surgery. She told me to make train reservations for late afternoon, and we'd hope for the best.

By 2:00, we still didn't really know, but Cristi figured no news was good news (i.e., the longer we went without hearing something was longer they weren't finding a reason not to use it). Cristi advised me to go ahead and leave work and head to the train station in the hopes that we'd know something before I left. They were tentatively talking a 7:00 surgery. I told my boss, left work, came home, quickly finished packing my suitcase, and headed to the train station. As I got on the Metro, Cristi called and gave me the official word: It was a go! I made a few phone calls to family, boss, and close friends (those were interesting conversations to be sure! I think most were more emotional than I was!) By the time I got to Union Station, I had missed my train, so I had to trade it in for a later ticket. I traded for the 5:05 train and went to wait.

As I waited, I reflected back on the day and how "perfect" it had been. The timing was perfect: I was already scheduled for leave next week. My partner was already prepped to do the majority of the briefing, so I wouldn't be missed. Cristi had friends up there to keep her company to keep her from going crazy. The heart was a perfect match! I was even wearing my Mickey Mouse watch yesterday. How perfect is that? I thought, "Surely this day has been chosen. This is fantastic!" I took time to pray, but my mind was such a flurry of thoughts that all I could muster was, "Remember all those things I've been praying about? Do that!"

Finally, the time came for them to start taking tickets and letting folks on the platform. As I held my ticket and ID and gathered my stuff to move toward the door, my phone rang -- Cristi. Uh-oh. Why was she calling me? We already had a thumbs-up. As I said hello, ticket in hand, moving toward the ticket-taker, I could hear it in her voice: "Where are you?" "Just getting ready to go through the gate", I responded. Then the dreaded report came: "They called it off. Every member of the team agreed unanimously." I fought my way through the crowd to get out of the way so we could talk. How could this happen? We had gotten a thumbs-up! The whole hospital staff was absolutely ecstatic. They were certain, too! This was the perfect day! What happened?

They had run a battery of tests that are practically pro forma; they almost never come back with problems. Unfortunately, Lauren has always preferred to keep the bookies in business. Best we can determine, these tests look for, among other things, potential weird, wild infections that the donor may have had currently or previously, knowingly or unknowingly. It's probably something of that sort that called it off that late in the process, and so definitively.

So, I went back home. After a day of hope, promise, manic excitement, I was exhausted after the plunge from an amazing high to utter disappointment. Lauren was blissfully oblivious, but Cristi was definitely upset. I was okay, just tired. Today, though, was different. My boss gave me the option of staying home or heading to Philadelphia, but I chose to go in. I had work to do (and a briefing to give), and there really wasn't anything else to do. There was no point going to Philadelphia. But I realized my heart just wasn't in it.

The transplant team warned us about false starts, but we had been so close! Why does God allow false starts? Why when we were that far along? Maybe to offer hope after beginning to feel like it would never come? I don't know...At least we know what to expect now. And what of the donor's family? I can't imagine the roller coaster they went through yesterday. I don't know if this problem would have prevented other organs from being used, but if so...Wow! That would have been devastating on top of already losing their child...really tough on closure...I pray God's rich blessing on them. Wow!

Today is another day, though. Cristi and I are doing much better. Lauren's still blissfully oblivious. Another heart will time. We pray it will be sooner rather than later, but it will come on God's time. We will wait, and we will be patient.


  1. Thank you for the update. I was on pins and needles yesterday after your update on fb. (And Cristi's too...) I know yesterday was a tough day. I just know that there is a plan and it will be perfect when the time comes.

  2. Thanks so much for the update. Blessings.


  3. Thanks for blogging, Tim. It may be therapeutic for you, but it's also a great testament of faith for us, as well. We're still praying with you...

  4. Tim,
    As a couple who have gone through years and years of health related challenges with our children... here are a few things we have learned:

    "God grows our faith by taking us to the eleventh hour and fifty ninth minute!"

    "God really grows and stretches our faith by taking us to the twenty third hour and fifty ninth minute!"

    "Life is hard, but God is good!"

    "God is good all the time and all the time God is good!"


  5. Thanks, Patti. I think with our experiences, I'd have to agree!

  6. Wow, you continue to blow me away with your endurance, your faith, your perseverance. Praying you brother.

  7. Deep Breath.... Sigh. That's all I've got...