May 2, 2014

Even Tumbleweeds Have Roots

Post-transplant day 143, pulmonary rehab #69. Even tumbleweeds have roots.

Seven months to the day from when I arrived in Durham, I have received the last clearance I need to move home. I saw Hartwig's PA and it was determined that even though my Nissen recovery was far from normal (waking up in ICU, six nights in the hospital w/ complications), my recovery has returned to the normal track. The residual pain is normal. Tuesday's bronch came back with NO REJECTION. And after a pre and post total of 113 sessions of rehab, I have said my good-byes. It is time to go home.

Back in undergrad, I did the sound design for a children's musical called Conestoga Stories. I don't remember any of the songs but one - and the chorus only at that:

Packing up my Conestoga
What'll I take with me?
Packing up my Conestoga
taking my life's necessities..

It is a song of leaving, with a little loss and grief at what's being left behind, while hopeful for a better future down the trail.

And so the van is packed and tomorrow Mom and I will move me back to Brooklyn. It is with mixed feelings that I leave Durham. With my own health in hand, Piper back in Denver, and Denise at least out of the hospital and back in rehab, I have enough closure to this process to leave peacefully and gladly.

But had you asked me seven months ago if I would feel the little pains I do at leaving, ripping out the roots that have surprisingly grown here, I would have thought you silly. But now, with all that's transpired, I know I leave a significant part of my heart here in Durham and around the country, in the care of my transplant friends. I've not only made lifelong friends, but new love has sprouted, new favorite hangouts gained, new feelings of deep indebtedness to the team that saved my life, have all grown. I also take with me with the memory of Jeannette. And if I can be so honest, there is a new lady at rehab who looks almost exactly like her, save for a 15 pound difference. Every time I see her, it just kills me.

My life's necessities aren't all packed in that van. Some have tumbled on to their own homes, some remain behind in rehab, some in the hospital, one remains behind to finish her degree.
Going home to New York won't be the same; not just because I must relearn city life as an immunosuppressed patient, but because the dust and pollen and seeds of Durham will come with me. The smiles and sunshine and sweet-tea. The crack of a Bulls' bat, the sound of the fountains in the lake outside my window, the freshness of North Carolina air after a rainstorm, the pleasurable work on the American Tobacco Trail all sticks with me. And I'll gladly take it with me.

Today, I was reminded that no matter where we tumble, there comes a time of rest, when Spring comes and we are reborn and despite ourselves, we put down roots. It's time for me to pull up again and tumble on, but not unchanged - altered and affected in ways I didn't expect, but that I needed like a Spring rain.