The Challenge Part 2
Updated: Apr 13, 2021
Part 1 recap
The transplant journey is unique. While there may be times of great joy and celebration, the journey is also full of challenges. In part one I asked two questions (1)What is your challenge?... and (2)Who do you turn to? I believe that these questions must be asked throughout the transplant journey. Why? Because in order to overcome a challenge you must first identify what the challenge is and from there focus on who can help you overcome this challenge.
In this post, I will discuss some of my own challenges as a transplant recipient. Before I continue, I want to make one thing clear. That is, my experiences and challenges as a transplant recipient are uniquely my own. In no way do my experiences speak for all transplant recipients. Rather, my story is just part of a larger landscape of transplant stories that have been told or are waiting to be told.
My transplant journey has been full of challenges. One of the most notable challenges is my cardiac arrest. This event took place durring my first transplant attempt. This cardiac arrest caused significant oxygen loss to my brain. It was not until I was resuscitated that the full extent of neurological damage was understood. The damage was so severe that I ended up spending countless hours in physical therapy regaining the ability to preform basic tasks as well as fine motor related skills. A second challenge that came about from the cardiac arrest and oxygen loss to my brain was my ability to see. Given my decreased ability to see, my care team at the hospital recommended that I be evaluated for additional services. These services would include learning to read brale and walk with a cane. However, after being evaluated, it was discovered that I had miraculously regained my ability to see. I could see! This moment in time was a game changer. While I could see, I still needed intense therapy and support.
Of all the challenges I have faced in my transplant journey, my cardiac arrest is of significant importance because it reminds me of how far I have come. I have not come this far on my own. I am only where I am today because of the selflessness of others. The doctors, physical therapists, speech language pathologists, tutors or mentors are the real heroes.
After hours of rehabilitation services and a successful transplant, a new chapter of my life began. While my health was improving in leaps and bounds, the events of the past still had an effect on me. These effects were mostly seen in my challenge with fine motor skills. For instance, I remember working with a therapist to learn how to draw a circle and cut the circle This specific task took a year to learn. Over time, I slowly regained and improved my fine motor skills. Even after outpatient services, I needed to refine my newly learned sills. This would occur in school.
When I started school, I continued to receive services in the school setting. These services mainly focused on improving my ability to write. At the same time, I was overcoming the various challenges that had been brought about by my past medical trauma, I was also learning to navigate the social aspects of school. Learning to navigate the social aspects of school was not easy. I was smaller and had minute physical differences that seemed to stick out like a sore thumb. I was constantly asked about why I was different. What seemed like curious and authentic questions turned into extreme bullying. This experience was only mitigated when I started attending Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Camp Independence. It was only after I began attending this camp that I became comfortable in who I was.
I have experienced many challenges along my transplant journey. The two challenges highlighted in this post are only a small sample of the long list of challenges. While I believe it is important to name these challenges, I also think it is important to show that I have overcome these difficulties. In no way can I say that I overcame on by own strength. Instead, I overcame because of the selflessness of others who spoke life into me. What are your transplant challenges? Maybe some of the challenges in this post are similar to your challenges. If they are, know that you are not alone. The transplant journey is full of hard times and triumphs. If you are experiencing hard times, look to other people to help you. The transplant journey is easier in the company of others.