That’s right! Mia is OUT of the C.I.C.U.!! ……….. with mixed feelings, on my behalf.
Sorry, I have to tell you….. it is a scary thing to leave the ICU. In the ICU/CICU, you have a nurse….. who won’t let you out of her sight. You have at least one doctor within 10 feet, at all times. You have all the equipment you need to ensure the life and safety of your most precious cargo. You KNOW everyone there after 2 months…… AND….. there is the slushie machine, coffee, cold cereal, and ice cream. Not to mention free and unfettered access to the saltines and club crackers!! What More can a man ask for?? Frankly, I was in I.C.U. Heaven! Hard to believe, I’m sure. But,….. true, I think.
I had built wonderful relationships with the staff….. from the Tech’s (who are ALL amazing people!), to the Nurses (who I can’t even imagine a world without?!), to the list of amazing doctors…….. The doctors are hard to describe. 😉 There are many of them. Maybe not as many as the number of nurses, but there are many from different departments. And they all came to help care for, and guide the recovery of our MiaBella. The Attendings! All of them, each in their own unique way of treating patients and their family members. The Fellow’s…… oh, they are ALWAYS THERE!!! WE LOVE THEM!! The Residents, and the Students……. They are all so fun and amazing! I loved listening to them. I loved asking them questions, and was sincerely Amazed! at their patience with my incessant picking and neurotic dribbling on. They answered my questions with sincere respect and honesty. They allowed much, and helped me to come to grips with what was happening to my one and only daughter. They were there, no matter what time of night or day, to listen, and to explain. They were so kind to me and Heidi. And they did their job. They…… with the tender loving care, watchful eye, and strict adherence to protocol from the mortal Angels we call Nurses and Tech’s (and RT’s, and OT’s, and ST’s!!!) and they helped Mia to get out. Mia did much. I think she did what was innate to her character. She fought to survive. She struggled to live and to heal. And she is battling the tug of the emotional anchor. It pulls you down like being caught in a whirlpool going down a drain. At least, that’s how I sometimes feel. Spun around and around, an out of control type feeling. But!…….. she’s OUT!
They sent her to the 3rd floor. And she is quickly growing used to her new room, and the increased ‘freedom’. She was across the hall from Maya, and around the corner from Abby, the two other young ladies who also had heart transplants recently. Mia is happy for Maya, and for Abby, who have both been released already. Maya was sent home last Wednesday! And Abbey (who actually lives in St. George, and so must stay in Salt Lake City for the next 6 weeks or so before she can go all the way back to St. George) was released yesterday or today? I’m not sure? But what a way to celebrate Pioneer Day? For all of these girls, and their families…… this is truly a new adventure. A NEW Life. One of possibility, of fear and obstacle and trial. And the knowledge that it will be difficult. But the Hope that it will be Fulfilling, Rewarding, and hopefully even FuN! But, much like the pioneers who left their homes in the East, they knew their new life would not be the same. They knew it would be hard and likely they would go without the conveniences of their previous life. I don’t know exactly what Mia, or Abby and Maya think? But this is frequently on my mind.
One thing that I’ve noticed about our Mia….. and it really doesn’t surprise me,….. but she is expressing Gratitude and recognizing the Simple things in life already. The eternal saying of “Take time to smell the roses” is simply a call to our awareness. That we should savor the small, the sweet, and the simple things in life. The things we often walk right by! We all get so caught up in the daily routine and the responsibilities of this modern lifestyle. Yet, when you break it all down,…. if you are stripped of the very simple act of self-determination as you are when confined to a bed, or a wheel-chair,…. and you are fighting every day for air and for life,….. you are given a gift. A blessing in disguise. And many of us would not recognize it, even then. But Mia has. I will try to give you a couple of examples.
These are things that has brought my daughter to tears……. tears of joy and gratitude. How do I know? I was there for all of them that I describe, and I asked her why she was crying. For some instances, asking was not necessary. But, no matter what the situation, it has been humbling, inspirational, and heart wrenching all at the same time to witness…. and I just wanted to share some of these moments with you.
On her third night out of the ICU, I was tucking Mia into bed for sleep after a long day…… and I was telling her about a funny thing she did when she was still intubated in the ICU. A memory she can not share because of the medication. There is much that happened in the ICU that she can not remember.
She asked me to tell her another story…… and for some reason, I picked the memory of one of the many times that I would place one ear-bud into her left ear, and I would put the other in mine, and I would play many of the same songs over and over, and sing them with/to her. In a way, I was hesitant to tell her about this, because one of the songs I played over and over was One of the songs was Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never”, and before May 28th, she didn’t really enjoy listening to Bieber’s music. But I couldn’t help it. Eli had adopted two different songs as his ‘pre-climbing psych-up’ songs: “Never Say Never”, by Justin Bieber, and Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”. And if you’ve ever really listened to the words for “Never”, you might see why it spoke to me and I hoped it would speak to Mia. I played that song in her ear, held her hand, squeezing and rocking to the beat and emphasizing the message:
“Never say Never…….
I never thought that I could walk through fire
I never thought that I could take the burn
I never had the strength to take it higher
Until I reached the point of no return
And there’s just no turning back
When your heart’s under attack
Gonna give everything I have
‘Cause it’s my destiny
I will never say never
(I will fight)
I will fight till forever
(Make it right)
Whenever you knock me down
I will not stay on the ground
Pick it up, pick it up
Pick it up, pick it up
Up, up, up, up, up and never say never
I admit, I shed a few tears holding my daughter’s hand, praying that she too believed it to be her destiny…… as her heart was truly under attack, to fight, to never give up, and never say never and to give it all she had.
Then, one night I was trying to play music that I KNEW Mia liked, and we found Katy Perry (Thanks Mindy for clueing me in), and I heard her “Firework” song. Wow! Not only are the words amazing, but boy! can that girl sing?! Nice. And so, here are those lyrics:
Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?
Do you ever feel already buried deep?
Six feet under screams but no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there’s still a chance for you
‘Cause there’s a spark in you?
You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July
‘Cause baby, you’re a firework
Come on, show ’em what you’re worth
Make ’em go, oh
As you shoot across the sky
Baby, you’re a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make ’em go, oh
You’re gonna leave ’em falling down
You don’t have to feel like a waste of space
You’re original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow
Maybe you’re reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will blow
And when it’s time, you’ll know
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It’s always been inside of you, you, you
And now it’s time to let it through
So…… Remember when you were young? and you’d sit around picking through your albums making “Custom Tapes” with all your Favorite, most inspiring songs?? You’d have tapes all with inspirational songs? or tapes for working out? or those dreaded “Love Song” tapes that we ALL made for our girlfriends??!!…… c’mon!! admit it! well…… I did. So, I can’t help it. Old habit die slow, painful deaths. If ever. Anyway,…..
So I played these song with Mia, singing them into her ear, hoping that my desire to see her through combined with the inspired lyrics in these songs, would ‘see her through’ or help her to find the Courage and Strength to Believe in Herself and aid her in the struggle to define her own future and destiny. I did so with the intensity I’ve become known for,….. for good and bad,…. and when I would get done with a song, I’d have to excuse myself from her room so I could blow my nose and wipe all the tears and snot that would be streaming down my face and inside my mask! Ha! Those poor nurses have become numb to ‘gross’ things, but my emotional displays were probably a step up,…….. or down. I don’t know?.
So, back to the story……….. I told her of this, and how I would sing into her hear, and how when the song was done I would whisper into her silent ear, hoping she could hear me, hoping she could feel me, and I would tell her, “Don’t you give up! Don’t you dare give up! We Love you! We’re here!!”…….. and when I told her I had done this she began to cry. I leaned down and tried to give her a hug, and as we were having a pretty good time talking about snot and my dramatic and possibly poor choice of songs, and Mia was just moments earlier smiling, I thought maybe she was in pain? So I asked her, “What’s the matter, Mia?? Are you in pain?” And she just slowly shook her head , “No.”
“So, what’s the matter?” And in her quiet, soft little voice, one word per breath…..
“I’m,……. so,……. lucky.”
Yes. And so Blessed. And so am I. So are we all.
Story Number 2: Grass
In the wise words of the Italian P.T., “This girl’s got to get OUT of this place! She’s got to get some LIFE in her!!” so,……. we busted out again! Mia and I hummed the Mission Impossible tune as we made our way out the south doors! Telescan en-t0w, hoping the monitor wouldn’t flat line again, like it did the night before when we ‘Busted Out’ across the street to watch the sunset! (That’s another story………. but I’ll try to load a photo of that excursion too!)
Immediately after her last PT session in which she actually stood upright for more than 10 seconds with the ‘walker’ (see video on Facebook), we decided to visit the area east of the Maran Eye Center, south of PCMC. While we were there, I looked over and thought to myself….. “I wonder if she’d like to feel grass between her toes?…. I know I used to LOVe to lay on the grass in the summer and just stare into the sky…..” So, I asked Mia, “Do you want to feel the grass?”, “Sure.”, “Well, hold on……. I’ve got an even better idea.”…….
So I positioned the chair, made sure I had enough tubing for the oxygen, and I lifted my 12 year old daughter from the wheelchair and placed her on her back in the grass……… and stepped away. When I stepped back up, she was crying. I asked her how it felt? And she said, “Incredible!”………to be so inspired by the feeling of grass on your skin….. this re-birth that Mia is experiencing is proving to be the Blessing of a Lifetime. One I intend and hope to experience with her, as much as I can.
So we lay there for over 30 minutes, just staring into the blue sky, and Dad eating the soft, sweet, white ends of the grass. (Something I’ve done since a kid…….. may explain some things, who knows?) And Mia just enjoyed the sensation of cool summer grass on her skin. ……… until, that is, we were BUSTED by our Nurse!! Mary found us when some friends came to say “Hi” and they couldn’t find us in the hospital! ugh! Dad is going to lose his privileges!!! (I hope Dr. Everett isn’t reading this?!) But she had her mask on!……….. most of the time!! 🙂 Thanks Jazmin, Jason, Sage, and Ev, for saying hi and laying a little love on Mia as she soaked up the sensation. Let’s hope it’s not the last time we spend a little time together sitting around on grass.
May you all take a moment to Smell the Roses…… take time to stop. Just STOP! ……. and look around. Begin your OWN Awakening. Begin seeing the Divine in your Life. And all around you. And take time to love……. After all,… isn’t that all we really want?