I meant to write a post on 4/14/2020 to mark 50 active days on the transplant list, but I am writing this on day 51. What’s new? My faithful followers know I am not great at getting these posts out with any kind of regularity. Should I even try to post every 50 days? I’ll make it a goal, but who knows if it will happen.
I wrote to you last on March 12th, and boy, a lot has happened in the world since then. Currently, we are all still in our homes social distancing, helping the virus run out of people to infect, and flattening the curve to reduce a little bit of the stress on our medical system.
Spring break for Texas A&M was March 7th through the 15th. I got to go down to a family friend’s beach house in Galveston, TX with my roommates for a few days towards the end of the week. I got to see said family friends, see my brother, and relax with some of my best college friends. Over-all it was a great trip. We spent most of our time at the beach or on the porch of the house, but we did take extra cautions one night and went to Yaga’s on the strand because it is hard to go to Galveston and not visit the Strand district. While hanging out on the beach Friday with a group of my roommates, my brother and his crew (they came down because the rodeo got canceled on them), I got the email that A&M had extended their break and that all classes would be moved online. Around that same time, the governments started taking things seriously by encouraging social distancing and moving more and more schools and jobs to online platforms. It was all very surreal, being in a relaxing place, listening to waves crash while it looked like a microscopic virus was undoing the fabric of normalcy on an individual, societal, national, and global level.
We were planning to stay at the beach until Sunday, we decided to leave on Saturday since we were all slightly burnt and anxious to get back, to physically distance ourselves to keep us safe. That was March 14th, 32 days ago. Since then I have left my apartment complex about 7 times and have only gotten out of my car once, at a park.
For the love of humanity and your fellow citizens, I hope you all have similar stories to tell of staying home.
If you are young, healthy, and feel invincible and don’t know why you should be staying home. Stay home for me. Much of the rhetoric that came out of Asia and Italy said that just older people and people with underlying conditions are at a much higher risk of having complications if they contract the virus. In the U.S., and across the globe since then, we have seen that young adults DO get the virus and they CAN have complications. So, stay home for your parents, grandparents, friends like me, and for yourself.
Growing up, I went to my grandparent’s house every summer for a week or so. At some point during the week, I would run out of things to do and tell my grandmom that I was bored. She would often help me find something new to capture my attention, but each time she told me that intelligent people are never bored. That phrase has stuck with me to this day. Whether it is/has been real or perceived intelligence, I have rarely found myself being bored since then.
If you’ve been here for a while you might have picked up on the notions that I fight the fear of unknown and uncertainty with research, growth and gaining a deeper and multi-faceted understanding of the problems at hand. In other words, this global pandemic has sent me on a research frenzy, and I love it. I don’t love that this virus is infecting millions and killing hundreds of thousands, not to mention economies, ways of life, and societal norms. But, I mean, how cool is it to see the field you are devoting your life’s work to, that is normally humming along in the background unnoticed, to be suddenly thrust onto center stage around the world. It stinks that it takes a pandemic of the SARS-COV-2 virus to make the world more aware of hand hygiene, how crucial public health is, and how important epidemiologist are when it comes to predicting, tracking, modeling, mitigating risk, and helping drive recommendations and policies when they pertain to diseases, such as COVID-19.
Over the past weeks, I have filled my “boredom” time with research about the virus, and pandemic, as well as researching more about what I want to focus on and research in graduate school, which is chronic disease epi by the way. I have pieced together projects, papers, and internship site evaluations to put together an internship binder to turn in and complete my undergraduate career, next week. I have read, watched movies, gone on a daily walk around my apartment complex, started an easier 30-day yoga challenge, cooked a lot, and have watched quite a few movies. (if you are looking for some eclectic movie recommendations, hit me up! – from my roommate “I’ve never heard of most of these movies but they’re all really good.”) I have yet to find myself to be bored.
Health-wise things are going pretty steady. I think this slow-down has been good for my body. My body is still exhausted by the end of each day, but it has been nice to have a little more control over what I need to get done in a day and when I hit my “energy wall.” That being said, going to grad classes in the fall will be a welcomed event. I am ready to be back in a physical classroom and lab learning and studying.
Remember last time, when I said I would be seeing my transplant team every 4-8 weeks from there on out? Yeah, well… I was supposed to go see them on April 6th, but the Thursday before, we decided it would be safer for me to not come in for a while due to the virus. Thankfully, we have the leeway of stability to do that right now, so we rescheduled to see them and get some testing done on May 21st, about two weeks after I will have moved down there, so that’s convenient.
Before I sign off, for now, I want to let you know about one other thing I have been working on at home for the last few weeks. I have been editing automated transcripts for a podcast! I am a podcast junkie. You can ask my roomies, I bore them with the details of many of the podcasts I love to listen to. There’s a mom in the Congenital Heart Defect community named Anna, who started a podcast for the community years ago, to have guests on to share their experiences and talk about different topics and challenges that people in the community face. I have been a part of a few CHD community Facebook groups for a number of years because they are great resources for support. I met Anna in one of these groups and she asked me (a few times) if I would like to be on the pod because I have an interesting story to share that could heal others. I declined for a while, I was nervous to publicly share what I have been and am going through. Starting this blog two and a half years ago to give updates on my last surgery started to bring me “out of the closet” of my heart condition. Though this mainly just reaches family and close friends, it was an important first step. In September I started an Instagram account (@theheartofthejourney) to chronicle this journey to a heart transplant and invite those who wanted to follow along, on the journey. Earlier in March, I reached out to Anna and asked if I could help with the podcast at all and she said she had an automated transcription program, that needs someone to go in after and edit them to make sure they are accurate. I said, “teach me how, and I can do.” So far I have published transcriptions for 8 thirty-minute episodes, including my own!
Yep, you just read all of that to learn I said yes to being on a podcast and sharing my story of how my heart impacted my childhood and what lead me to be listed for a transplant. Anyway, if you want to check it out go look up “Heart to Heart with Anna,” on your favorite podcast app and look for the episode called “Waiting for a Heart.” Its a little cringy, but I think I told my story the way I wanted it told, aka, get ready for an anotomy lesson!
As always, don’t forget to become an organ donor and make your wishes known! (Especially since April is Donate Life Month!)
P.S. If you would like to receive a graduation announcement from me even though the physical graduation was canceled), please email your address to firstname.lastname@example.org
P.P.S. Here is the link to listen to my podcast episode if you do not know how podcast apps work. https://www.spreaker.com/user/heart2heartannaandfriends/waiting-for-a-heart