Please Pray Tomorrow!

I wanted to ask all of you who prayed and supported me so beautifully to pray for another surgery that is taking place tomorrow at Northwestern. A woman contacted me shortly after our surgery in February. She had googled liver donation and my little blog somehow came up! Her father needed a liver and the children were all being screened. Well, one of them is donating to her father tomorrow. She emailed to let me know and ask for advice. Thinking about those first few days post surgery and what I wish I would have known and done brought those memories flooding back.

I remember the nausea, pain, fear, and utter and complete exhaustion. But mostly I remember peace. And such gratitude.

Pray with me that this father and daughter would feel peace and gratitude tomorrow. And that the surgery would go beautifully for both of them.

Love to you all, Sonya

Twenty-one Weeks?

Gay and me 3 1/2 months after transplant.

So.  I meant to do a few more updates throughout the weeks. I really did. But things got busy. And I often don’t feel that I have much to say. But people keep asking me how I’m doing and seem surprised when I tell them I am pretty much normal, so I guess it’s time to just announce it to the world.

I’m pretty much normal.

For those of you who want a little more detail read on.

My recovery progressed just like they said it would. Exhausting the first month. Tiring the second. Better the third. For awhile there whenever I sat down I would doze off. I napped alot. But every day was a little better. My incision still smarts a bit, especially if I move suddenly, sneeze, or do crunches. But I CAN do crunches, so that is progress indeed.

I’m in Colorado for our biennial Institute of Biblical Studies and Staff Conference. Every day I see someone I haven’t seen in two years and every day someone expresses complete dismay that I am up and walking around. And that I look normal. Apparently I am expected to look sick or be using a walker or wheelchair or something! But I am fine. I feel good. I’m exercising. My three month check up showed perfect liver function and an MRI showed that my liver was 83% of its original volume. And that was six weeks ago!

Gay continues to have challenges but her liver function is good and the doctors are pleased. Recipients have a hard road, especially for the first year. Click on the link on the right for her updates.

I honestly haven’t processed all of this yet. Emotionally that is. It’s overwhelming sometimes. I am truly, truly, grateful for all the prayer, care, and love that I have received. My sweet friends cleaned my house, brought meals, gave me generous gifts, and just loved me. Suzanne served me so intently and so selflessly in Chicago. Rick took incredible care of me once I got home. And you all prayed. And God answered.

On a humorous note I keep getting various versions of my story told back to me that are a bit skewed. Shows how the rumor mill can bend the facts; sort of like the game of telephone where you whisper something down a line and see how vastly different it is than its original. Anyway, so far I have been attributed with giving a kidney, a spleen, a pancreas, and a lung. Sorry to disappoint, but it was only a liver. And only part of one at that. A friend did ask if he could have half of Rick’s brain though and I completely understand that request. Rick is not willing however.

Thank you sweet friends!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead I Peter 1:3, ESV

Colorado, June 2011

5 Weeks and $93,426.75 Later

Hard to believe it’s been five weeks since my (our!) surgery! One more week and I can exercise strenuously and lift over ten pounds! Healing continues. Still tired and somewhat sore but improving.

Meanwhile I received a bill from Northwestern Memorial Hospital for $93,426.75. Now, don’t worry. I am not responsible for this bill. The “insurance carrier” listed is literally, “LIVER TRANSPLANT PROGRAM” which will in turn, bill the Scott’s insurance company. But I had to laugh at a couple of things on the bill.

The operating-recovery room charge was $57,828.00 Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely grateful that they make it all nice and sterile and they have good equipment and personnel in there and all. But seriously? That is just a whole lot of money.

The best one though was “Room and Board”. Take a guess. Three nights in the hospital is $8330.00. What I really want to see though is how much of that is “room” and how much is “board.” Because there’s no way in the world I ate more than $3.50 worth of food the entire time I was in that place.

But on a more serious note seeing this bill made me incredibly thankful for the healthcare that we have, the technology available today, the skill of the doctors, and the fact that Gay is covered by good health insurance. And it did give me pause (after the shock wore off) when I thought about how much must go on in that place that I do not understand or even know about. People doing things for my benefit (like sterilizing instruments or washing linens or monitoring my blood pressure, and manufacturing equipment) that I never saw. And it made me thankful once again for how well the surgery went both for me and for Gay. We had no complications or infections. We are both doing well. Her new liver is working and growing!!!

What a miracle!

Northwestern Hospital may have done $93,426.75 worth of work to make this miracle happen on my behalf. And who knows how much more on Gay’s behalf. But I know who guided their hands and is healing our bodies.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  Colossions 1:15-17, ESV

Love you, Sonya


Pictures Worth A Thousand Words

We love pictures. We love pictures of our babies, our great events, and every day life. As mothers we sometimes want to freeze time and yet we are excited for the next steps in our childrens’ lives. But pictures help us remember.

When it came time to have Meagan’s senior pictures done I wanted to do it right. See, we never really got senior pictures for Andrew. And we haven’t had a decent family picture taken since Mark has been out of diapers. It’s pitiful. I know. We snap a Christmas pic every year, but they’re not stunning. They rarely really capture the kids’ characteristic expressions. I wanted to do this right.

A couple of years ago we saw amazing pictures of a friend and neighbor’s children. OK, not just any old friend and neighbor. It was JD Greear of Summit Church. We asked him who the photographer was and he told us about Kimberly Naranjo.

Embarrassingly, it took us two years to actually schedule a session. But we did and included family pics, some belated pictures of Andrew, and a nice shoot, complete with wardrobe changes, for Meagan. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the pictures. Here are some of our favorites. I could go on and on. And yes, our Christmas Card pic and the banner pic for this blog is one of hers too.

Check out Kimberly’s site here. I highly highly recommend her for any of you that live in North Carolina! The photo session was relaxed and even the boys survived it with minimal grumbling!  Indulge me while I show you my sweet family. I am thankful to God for these incredible people that God has given me to love and take care of. And I am thankful to Kimberly for capturing them in all their preciousness.


Wow. I can’t believe it’s been almost a week since I’ve posted! Well, no news is good news, in this instance anyway. I am fine. Every day I feel a little more like myself. I am taking it easy, napping a bit most days, and working very hard not to lift anything over 10 pounds. The kids are all home for spring break so it’s been really great spending time with them and the week has flown by. Someone asked me what percentage I’m feeling recently and it was hard to answer. I came up with 70% in terms of tiredness and energy and 80% in terms of physically feeling like I just had surgery (awareness of my incision, other little strange feelings, comfort level, etc) But like I said, that gets better every day. And they have told me to expect the fatigue to diminish every month.

Gay also continues to improve. She got her staples out on Wednesday and got a great report from the doctors. You can read all about it here.

Rick has also posted recently. Check his posts out here and here.

Thank you for praying and for those of you who are local that have provided the best meals ever!! My family may be sorely disappointed when I start to cook again!!

Love, Sonya

On Empathy

As Rick wrote here, the doctors at Northwestern wanted to make it very clear that this surgery had absolutely no benefit for me. Dr. Baker stressed that they each had to struggle with the ethics of this surgery and the hippocratic oath. They vow to “first do no harm” and yet they are cutting into a perfectly healthy patient for not benefit to that patient.

As we went through the decision making process and Rick and I talked through all of this Rick was way more focused on the risk than I was. I’m not a big risk taker normally. I don’t drive fast or rock climb or jump out of airplanes. I lead a fairly boring life in the adventure/risk-taking category. But it occurred to me that when most people face a decision about surgery the risk usually fades away because the benefit is so great. Either something inside you is making you very very ill (an appendix or a gall bladder for instance) and must be removed or there’s an inappropriate growth, a cancer, that will kill you if it’s not removed. Or sometimes there is just a high level of pain and a loss of function, like with my daughter Meagan who had shoulder surgery in December. In these circumstances you  make a decision that the surgery is worth the risk because you really can’t go on living with the problem.

It reminds me of when I was in labor with my first child, Andrew and they handed me a clipboard with forms to sign that I acknowledge the risks of delivery and the risks of a C-section should I need one. Rick quipped, “Well what’s the risk of leaving it in there?” There’s a risk to childbirth but that’s not what you’re focused on at that moment!

For this surgery the benefit was to someone else. To Gay. And to me that benefit to her felt pretty much the same as a benefit to me. It took Rick a little longer to get there than me. And that’s okay. I don’t think everyone should just jump blindly into a surgery like this. But seeing someone else’s need (or benefit) as your own is empathy.

Now before you give me all sorts of humanitarian, spiritual credit for being empathetic I should disclose that on the Strengthsfinder test empathy is one of my top five strengths. I’m just wired that way. Or rather God just wired me that way. Yes, I think everyone can grow in their empathy and yes, I think everyone should have some. (Those that have no empathy are called sociopaths!)

So some of us naturally are more empathetic than others. At the same time God calls us to empathy when He commands us to bear one another’s burdens and restore a brother caught in a transgression. So I encourage all of you to think about how you can feel another’s pain and consider their benefit your benefit. You certainly don’t have to undergo an invasive surgical procedure to do that.

All reports are that Gay is doing well. She’s looking forward to getting her staples out next Wednesday. She has 68, which makes my wimpy little incision look quite small. Continue to pray for her healing.

And Rick posted here yesterday.

Thanks! ~Sonya

Come See Me

It is so very good to be home. And I want to see all of you! My sweet husband (who wrote this somewhat embarrassing post) seems to believe that the throngs of well-wishers will overpower me and exhaust me. He conspired with our friend and neighbor Desiree and they hatched a plan to have a little drop in reception this Sunday for us. We will tell the story if you really want to hear it again and give updates and just visit with any of you who wish to come. And it’s a chance for us to say thank you for your love, support, and prayers.

So Sunday night, 7-9 pm at the Dentons. If you don’t know where they live you can shoot me an email and I will let you know. (Hint: it’s across the street from us!) If you have a hankering to bring something feel free but don’t feel compelled.

Today was great. I saw the kids off to school and then went back to bed! See, I really am resting!  Love you! ~Sonya

Home Again, Home Again

Yesterday flew by fast. We had our last breakfast at the Residence Inn, did our final packing up, watched our last episode of The West Wing, (A friend of Suzanne’s loaned us the complete 7 season DVD set) spent time with Gay and Roger, and went to the airport. Scott and Suzanne handled my bags. We tried to get a pass for Suzanne to walk me to the gate but they wouldn’t give us one. They called a wheelchair for me instead. I felt a little silly. I mean. I can walk! But when he wheeled me to the front of the security line, took my shoes and coat and bag and put it all through for me, had me simply walk through the detector and then sit on a bench until he was finished, and then handed me back all my stuff I was sold. And of course my gate was the absolute furthest possible so I was thankful for the ride.

The flight was uneventful and Rick, Meagan, and Mark were waiting for me at the gate. Apparently RDU is more accommodating than O’Hare!

It was so wonderful to be with my family! And I even came home to a clipped and groomed dog, a clean house, beautiful flowers and cards and the most beautiful enormous basket full of gourmet snacks, lotions, notecards, restaurant gift cards, candles, etc from our wonderful Crossroads Sunday School Class. Seriously, you’ve got to see this thing! Each thing was wrapped individually. The picture won’t do it justice!

Today I slept clean through my alarm. the kids managed to get to school without my help. (Sadly I guess they are used to it by now!) I went to Chapel at Trinity where the wonderful Sam Jackson told our story through our blogs and made the gospel come alive for the Upper School students. Then some friends came over for lunch and a visit. We had yet another wonderful meal delivered and now we are about to watch the Duke game. I’m tired but fine. And so very thankful for my wonderful friends and all the love and support you have given me and my family!

Gay continues to improve daily. Here are our latest pictures from yesterday. She looks magnificent!

Rick posted here, and he now has a button where you can subscribe to his blog.

Love you All!


Camp Recovery

Scott sent Suzanne the following text this morning:

Good morning Camp Recovery. Conditions are green for evac in t-minus 6 hours. We value your missions success!

Scott will pick us up this afternoon to take me to the airport. They will make sure my bags are checked and I get to my gate ok. I can’t lift anything more than 10 pounds so lifting suitcases are out of the question.

Camp Recovery has been good. I will be sad to leave Suzanne and Gay and Roger. The Residence Inn has been an great place to recover because I have absolutely no responsibilities except to eat, sleep, and well…recover. I admit I will miss a deluxe breakfast laid out every morning, maid service every day, and Suzanne anticipating my every need. The nurse warned me yesterday about that. She said mothers especially tend to start feeling a little better and then the next thing they know they are hauling laundry baskets around and they develop a hernia. Or they do a little too much and end up exhausted and sore in bed the next day.  I would like to say that I would never do such a thing but I admit that sounds like something I would do.

Pray I can continue to recover well, follow doctor’s orders, and take it easy when I get home. I am so so excited to see Rick and the kids. It will be marvelous to sleep in my own bed and eat in my own kitchen.

Gay continues to get good reports. Her ultrasounds all show good blood flow to the liver which is great news. Her bloodwork continues to improve and she looks better every day. Here are some pics we took yesterday.

rick has some “shout outs” here

Love you All!