My brother is having his heart transplant!

I just wanted to let you all know my brother is having his heart transplant surgery tonight!! The doctors called at noon saying they thought they had a match for him. We all went to the hospital. At 3:30 p.m. they said it was a match and were flying the heart to him. His transplant surgery is tonight. The doctors were very positive and thought it would be successful! We brought his kids home with ours. I’ll go back to the hospital later tonight. Please pray for my brother and his family.

I think a good topic is how do you support your family (kids, parents, siblings) in medical crisis. My friend emailed me today that her mother had passed away in hospice. I know she will miss her mother terribly but being a caregiver is very stressful!

Have you had parents, siblings, children in medical crisis? How has your family handled the pressured and shared the responsibility?

I’ll keep you guys posted on my brother! We may not having a topic for Friday depending on how things go.

53 comments Add your comment

motherjanegoose

June 24th, 2009
8:03 pm

This is awesome and you are in my thoughts/ prayers….great news!

DB

June 24th, 2009
8:13 pm

How wonderful for your brother and family! Our prayers for a quick recovery are with him!

Denise

June 24th, 2009
8:17 pm

God’s blessings to you and your family, Theresa.

FCM

June 24th, 2009
8:20 pm

Praying for y’all. Lots of love!

Jesse's Girl

June 24th, 2009
8:41 pm

Girl….let the Friday topic slide….we’ll turn it over to JJ:) I am fervently praying for you and the family! Love you huge!

JATL

June 24th, 2009
9:04 pm

That’s great news! Hope everything turns out well for your brother and his family!

Joyce

June 24th, 2009
9:25 pm

We’re all praying for you and your family. Just try to keep everyone busy and as normal as possible!

new mom

June 24th, 2009
9:26 pm

Theresa, that is wonderful news! We will be praying for you and your family.

lakerat

June 24th, 2009
9:34 pm

Our prayers are with your family at this time.

Georgia Girl

June 24th, 2009
10:29 pm

Your family has my prayers. Hope everything goes smoothly!

nurse&mother

June 25th, 2009
1:52 am

That is wonderful. I hope that this will inspire others to consider organ donation. If no one donated, then others wouldn’t have a chance. I will be praying for your brother and your whole family. Take care, Theresa.

motherjanegoose

June 25th, 2009
6:48 am

nurse and mother…good comment about organ donors….it is gift we can all give…also donating blood.

Becky

June 25th, 2009
7:54 am

Thoughts and prayers to you and your family..

Theresa, please don’t worry about the blog family, as Jesses Girls said, JJ (or someone) will come up with a good topic..

Lots of hugs and kisses to all of yyour family..

JJ

June 25th, 2009
7:57 am

Theresa, this is fantastic. I hope all goes well. I’ll keep you and your family in my thoughts. And Jessie’s Girl, I’ll be happy to take over Friday…….:)

As for your question about support, just being there is comforting. That’s all you need to do and let your family know. “I’m here if anyone needs anything”. Most people won’t ask for help, but it’s nice to know it’s there if needed. The little things, like maybe running an errand, getting coffee, tending to the kids, etc. I usually take the kids so the adults can concentrate on the task at hand. Plus it’s hard for kids to be in a hospital all day long……

I rely on my girlfriends for help. And my family too. But the girlfriends are plenty and they are ALWAYS willing to do something for a friend. I’m the same way, example, going and getting my friend’s daughter from her drunk grandmother the other day.

I’ll do just about anything for my family and friends.

MA

June 25th, 2009
8:03 am

You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers Theresa!! God Bless!

Andrea

June 25th, 2009
8:24 am

What a blessing that a donor match was found for your brother! I will keep your entire family uplifted in prayer. I pray everything goes well.

I agree with the other posters – skip the Friday topic – take care of your family. We love you!

MomOf2Girls

June 25th, 2009
8:42 am

How exciting for you! I hope it went well, and your brother is recovering this morning.

Regarding your question, I can give first hand experience on the receiving end. My older daughter spent her first 9+ weeks at Egleston, and it was touch and go for a while. Anything that someone did was welcome, from preparing food to providing respite so we could leave the hospital. As far as asking, I know people mean well when they say “Let me know if you need anything” but to be honest, I often didn’t know what to say (how much is this person willing to do, will they feel put upon of I ask too much, what do they really mean, not sure what I need right now, etc), so I would thank them and say I didn’t need anything. (I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, it wasn’t my intent!!)

Finally, prayers are welcome, as are your thoughts and good wishes. The one thing I would rather not have heard was “G-d only gives you as much as you can handle”, or since our situation was about a child “You must be special parents because….”. Although this wasn’t the intent, it made me feel guilty for my daughter’s situation, because it implied that there was something about me or my husband that caused my daughter to suffer through this (Remember, I was post-partum and not always thinking logically). Granted, we are much stronger for it now, but at the time, I barely managed to stay sane!

Theresa – just let me know if you want a casserole or two :-)

jct

June 25th, 2009
8:51 am

Theresa, this is good news. I will pray for your family today. I will also send up a prayer to the donors family. Your gain is another family’s loss. Their sacrifice should also be honored.

I help friends by being the house cleaner. I will show up and clean bathrooms, vacuum floors and make meals. Also, if there are children involved, I will take the kids out so that the adults can have a moment of peace.

Stan

June 25th, 2009
8:53 am

Hope all works out well for your brother.

As to helping, don’t offer to help. Just help. Do something that needs to be done. Do the dishes, cook or buy food, cut the grass…just do something. When my wife had her kidney removed a lot of friends offered help and I felt kinda bad for for then asking them for something when I did need help.

nurse&mother

June 25th, 2009
8:56 am

Momof2girls, when I talk to a person whose family or loved one is sick, I usually ask them what I can do. I don’t know how to emphasize to them that I am willing to do ANYTHING that will be helpful. I do tell them that I can bring food, run errands, whatever. I have not had anyone take me up on the offer. I suspect for the very reason you stated. Do you have any suggestions on what I can say to convey that I really mean what I say?

motherjanegoose

June 25th, 2009
9:00 am

jct…thanks for mentioning the donor’s family.

JJ…remember the old saying, “to have a friend…you must be a friend…”
YOU have obviously been a good friend and thus you have lots of friends.

It is times like this when you DO find out who your true friends are. I once heard someone say,
“don’t ask what you can do…just go ahead and DO something…” I think this fits right into what
MomOf2Girls has said.

Since I do not know where Theresa lives ( to bring something by) , nor her address to send a card…I will pray for her family and also the organ donor’s family. That is something I can do.

Also, I can sign an organ donor card ( which I have already done) and regularly donate blood…which I do.

Have a good day everyone.

nurse&mother

June 25th, 2009
9:00 am

Stan, how do you just go into someone else’s home if you are not family? Do you just drop by without stating that you are coming??? I think that would be rude, in my eyes. Some of these folks are friends from church, but not extrememly close. None the less, I am sincere when I offer to help. I just don’t know how pushy to get? It seems to be a fine line. Do you just call and say, I have your supper waiting on the door step?

Stan

June 25th, 2009
9:03 am

nurse, I guess I didn’t write that very well.

I meant that you should visit them and if you see something that needs to be done then either do it or offer to do that task. It does depends on how well you them of course.

nurse&mother

June 25th, 2009
9:04 am

jct, do these folks agree to letting you come over and clean, or do you just show up? Are these close friends/family? I’m not sure how to get someone to take me up on my offers. There are some people who are very private and don’t want someone just showing up without being invited. I am open to suggestions, as I genuinely would like to help out folks when in need.

nurse&mother

June 25th, 2009
9:07 am

question…..What is the etiquette on visiting someone who is sick. I am so afraid of barging in on someone when they don’t feel their best. On the one hand, I would love to see them and help out. On the other hand, some people are very private and don’t want 20 million visitors just showing up. I haven’t figured out the appropriate thing. Does it just depend on how well you know them?

Michelle

June 25th, 2009
9:10 am

When my brother was sick, he did his hospice at my sisters house. I’m very thankful for her sake that it was only for 2 nights! She tried to do so much for him and his family, almost like a surrogate mom. It changed her entire personality into someone ugly, blaming and judgemental. She is a nurse and felt responsible for “leading” him into a treatment path! It’s amazing what people will take responsibility for when they have nothing to do with the problem!

Anyway, the family all pitched in and took turns taking care of the kids, making food, etc. over the 6 months of his treatments and care. We had a final “family” vacation about 2 weeks before he passed away. It was the last time that all of the brothers and sisters were together.

I think when someone is experiencing something like this, you have to be specific about what you are offering. “Would you like me to come and sit with you? Would you like me to take the kids for a couple of days? Would you like me to take your pets? Can I bring you something to eat?” Or maybe even make them more of a statement so that they don’t feel obligated to say no! Many people feel they need to be “strong” in the face of adversity, but it’s not true. You are showing strength by asking for help when you need it.

Theresa…I am SO happy they found a match for your brother! I will pray for quick healing and acceptance as well as for the donor family. This is just the first step for all of you! Praise God for the timing!

JJ

June 25th, 2009
9:18 am

Thank you JCT for mentioning the donor’s family. I too am an organ donor. Everyone should be. You may save numerous LIVES, not just one, but several. I have been an organ donor since I got my first driver’s license at 16.

I always have a “spare” lasange or casserole in my freezer, just in case a friend is in need.

MomOf2Girls

June 25th, 2009
9:21 am

I belong to a very close community, and there was actually someone who coordinated meals for us. I know most people don’t have this kind of network anymore, so I would suggest saying to the person something like “I’m making an extra lasagna for dinner tonight. I’ll drop it by (home / hospital / wherever) at 5:00 – will someone be there?” (be sure to bring paper goods too, or have a friend do it – save the cleanup!) “I know you don’t want to have to leave, I’ll pick your kids up from camp today”, “I have to run to the store. Do need for me to pick something up”, or whatever it is that you feel up to doing. If this is really not needed (already covered, maybe?), the person will likely say so, but I can almost guarantee the response will be something along the lines of “Oh wow, I hadn’t even thought about that yet. Thank you so much!!”

Looking for ideas of what to do? make a meal, get a sandwich, cup of coffee, books / toys for kids (both those in hosp and sibs need), carpool, check mail (A mail run for you could be walking from your mailbox 2 driveways down the road to mine, but for me it required leaving the hospital, paying for parking, driving home, getting the mail, and going back), mow lawn (we were cited for overgrown lawn once during our saga), laundry, shopping, watch kids, respite, get gas, etc. Just think about all the minutia that you do during a day, and offer to piggyback a chore or do something.

Whatever you do it will be very welcome – trust me!!

April

June 25th, 2009
9:26 am

Theresa, Your family is in my prayers.

Denise

June 25th, 2009
9:33 am

I think it depends on the closeness of the relationship. Some folks would not want others in the home doing laundry, dishes, etc. You have to know who you’re dealing with.

When one of my best friend’s mother died, she called me at 4:00 AM and I sped (as in could have gone to jail for speeding) all the way to her house. She was drained from crying so I put her back in the bed and washed all of her clothes so that she had something clean to pack when she left. I wasn’t using a wash board so it wasn’t much effort on my part but she greatly appreciated it because it really HELPED. She didn’t ask but I knew at least one thing that she needed so I did it.

I have also cooked meals for families and just brought them over. I knew their dietary restrictions and what they might like so I just showed up with food. Again these are VERY good friends so it was appropriate.

I say all that to say, do whatever is appropriate for your level of friendship with a good spirit and everything will be okay.

lynn

June 25th, 2009
9:42 am

Theresa, my little brother just fell dead from a heart attack a couple of years ago – just one day before his 40th birthday and no one (including him) knew he had a enlarged heart… so first I would like to say my prayers are with both families and have comfort knowing that they found his ailment and are able to treat it. Medicine has come so far these days.

JJ

June 25th, 2009
10:01 am

Lynn, I’m so sorry for your loss. Your brother was too young.

On another note, and not to take away from Theresa’s brother, I see another mom left her child in a hot car while she went shopping. This time up in Cumming. She said she forgot the child was in the car. HUH? Another infant strapped into a car seat, how do you forget that? The lady was shopping with her other child, and left the infant for 45 mintues in a HOT car!!! What is wrong with these people? I think their kids should be taked away from them and they should be sterilized.

DA

June 25th, 2009
10:47 am

Theresa that is wonderful news! We’ll keep your family in our prayers, please let us know we can help. Keep us posted.

lynn

June 25th, 2009
11:29 am

Thanks JJ, and these are not moms that leave their kids in cars, these are what I call strung out idiots.

HB

June 25th, 2009
11:43 am

Theresa, my thoughts and prayers are with your family.

Nurse&mother, you’re right to be concerned about just dropping by — sometimes it’s really not a good time. My mom was very sick a couple of years ago, and we were blessed to have a lot of help from a lot of people. For visiting, I would call the family and see what they prefer. If they would enjoy a daily visit, then you could see what time is best and maybe pull together a small group that will rotate visits. Be sure to see what caregivers need too. It could be that there are times when a spouse/parent just needs to get out for a while and would be grateful for someone who can just stay at the house for an hour or so in case the patient needs anything.

Financial assistance can also be a huge help for many families. My mom had to travel for treatment, and so many people bought plane tickets or used their flier miles for her and myself or her other caregivers. Others contributed to her hotel expenses. In the case of a family with children (especially in the summer), helping to pay for a sitter or for a day camp registration (and arrange for rides to and from) could be a big help. Major surgery is going to have a big impact on family life for weeks to come, so helping the kids to have some fun and maintain a bit of normalcy, especially a couple of weeks after the actual event, would probably be greatly appreciated.

Most importantly, keep checking in with the family. When someone becomes ill or has major surgery, people are eager to help, but weeks or even months later as the inital emergency passes, it’s easy to forget that someone may still need some help, or if they’re still largely homebound, visits from friends. In fact, as they feel better but still aren’t out and about, they may need visits even more than when they feel their worst. When you’re no longer sleeping and/or miserable most of the day, you’re more likely to get lonely.

Denise

June 25th, 2009
12:11 pm

Lynn, please accept my sympathy for the loss of your brother. I can’t even imagine.

HB, you are correct about how people forget that even if the crisis/emergency has passed, friends/family may still need help, even if just visits. I have found, especially after a death, that after a few weeks people quit asking how you are doing as if the grieving process has a time limit.

As for those who are being offered help, accept it. I would hope that no one would say “oh, well, I didn’t mean I’d do THAT”, but I guess you never know. The experience itself is hard enough to deal with without “life” getting in the way. So if someone offers to keep the kids while you rest, pack them an extra set of clothes and wish them a good day! Allow someone to be a blessing to you; the blessing is doubled as you both reap the benefits. My good friend told me that it is a blessing for someone when you allow them to be a good friend to you.

Again, Theresa, I pray for your brother’s complete and speedy recovery and for a long life to come.

Becky

June 25th, 2009
12:20 pm

nurse&mother,sometimes you can just go and sit in the waiting room with the family..I know 2 years ago when my sister had brain surgery, it was nice just to know that friends came by..

If the family is going to be staying at the hospital, take blankets(waiting rooms get cold), pillows..Also change for the drink and vending machines..Ink pens and paper for taking notes on anything that needs to be remembered..

Taking people back and forth to the airport if needed..When my sister was in the hospital, a family friend drove to Kentucky to pick up my other sister (her twin), that was a big help…As others have said. during these times, it can be something so small that means the world to you..

Jesse's Girl

June 25th, 2009
12:26 pm

What about the moms who allow their children to roam a store wihtout being fully clothed? The shoeless child with dirt all over them….diaper fully cocked and loaded….all the while mom looks to have all of her needs met. Its those moms I’d like to slap across the face. The moms who are clearly making friends with a tanning bed and someone who can highlight their hair….

lynn

June 25th, 2009
1:23 pm

Thank you Denise, and HB, your so right about keeping in touch after the fact. We had tons of family come from out of state and food from everywhere the first few days and then the suddenly, everything was silent. I went through this both my mom and brother and the sad part of it all is that it takes something terrible just to bring everyone together.

Nadia

June 25th, 2009
1:57 pm

I hope everything went well. I will be thinking of your brother, your family, and the donor’s family.

Update when you can…

motherjanegoose

June 25th, 2009
2:02 pm

Momof2Girls…good ideas. I remember, years ago, that our neighbors were having triplets and she was either in bed or they were at the Doctor’s. Their yard was neglected and then another neighbor’s husband fell ill. My husband mowed three lawns for several weeks but his kindness has been returned tenfold. I usually try to bring a new paper and magazines if I visit the family in the hospital and some snacks are nice too. Even volunteering to take care of pets would be helpful.

lynn…sorry for your loss!

jct

June 25th, 2009
2:22 pm

My friends and I are very close. Between us there is no rules about dropping by. However, the last time one of us was in need the rest of us coordinated who would cook on which days and which of us would watch the baby.

I usually will only go to peoples homes in which I have a relationship with. At church, people know that that I am a person who will clean. I will only do laundry if asked but running a vacuum, washing dishes, mopping floors is easy and you don’t need a lot of where is this/that to get it done.

My dad died almost 4 years ago waiting on a donor kidney. I could never forgot the sacrifice of the donor or the donors family. There gift is priceless.

catlady

June 25th, 2009
2:32 pm

Best wishes to both families, and God’s healing hand for both.

When my son was hurt (and died, but was restored to us) I was pretty numb but gave out ideas whenever asked. I had folks washing clothes, caring for pets, mowing, and all kinds of things while we were with him every moment. People were so good to us. If they asked, I told them what I would be taking care of if I could. Others, family members, thought of other wonderful things they could do. My aunt, a priest, made arrangements for us to tag-team sleep at the hospital in one of the rooms kept for ministers. My sister in law coordinated everything and was there at our disposal. Friends came to sit with us so we would eat, and brought us clean clothes. I still weep when I think of the outpouring of kindness from friends and strangers. And I weep in thankfulness for God’s mercy to us in all ways, through the ups and the downs.

May He be merciful to your family as well. Know that “underneath are the Everlasting Arms.”

Denise

June 25th, 2009
2:48 pm

Another thing to be mindful of with respect to vists…DON’T STAY TOO LONG! A visit is a wonderful thing but if you’re there too long you wear out the people you are trying to encourage and support. I will never forget how I found my grandfather in his bed with his shoes on when my grandmother died. So many people came over and stayed for hours on end and he was just too tired of “entertaining” people. He hid in his room most of the time. Concern is greatly appreciated but don’t impose. (When you see people looking at their watches or clocks and stop talking and making eye contact with you, it’s time to go.)

DB

June 25th, 2009
3:09 pm

At the hospital, I usually take something for the family to snack on in the waiting room — I’ve been known to pick up a small tray of sandwiches or nuggets from Chick-Fil-A or something, a gallon of lemonade and some cups — the hospital will usually let you grab some ice.

With friends, I usually tailor it to the family. For one family with a new baby, I gave them a month of yard care the first month home. For another, it was coming in early in the morning for a few days to feed the kids breakfast, take them to school and let the dad get to work and let the mom recoup from surgery.

SHORT visits, to anyone sick. 10-15 minutes, max, no matter how much they politely protest. You want them happy to see you, not dreading your visit – leave ‘em wanting more!

If a sick adult has kids, try to bring a small toy or DVD to provide the kids with some new, quiet distraction.

JCT, thank you for remembering the donor’s family — I was trying to think of a graceful way of saying it without sounding like a gloom-and-doom Cassandra, and you did it beautifully.

JATL

June 25th, 2009
3:16 pm

Continued good thoughts for Theresa and her family!

JJ -I’m with you -I wish we sterilized morons who can’t care for their children (but they’re the ones who seem to have sooooooo many of them)! That idiot you’re talking about -and what about that fool man the other day who was in court for non-payment of child support. I guess he had a valid point that on minimum wage he couldn’t pay support for something insane like 27 kids! I would personally pay for his vasectomy if I could drive him to the door of the clinic and make sure it was done…..

I think Stan meant to be specific in what you’re asking to do for a family going through a rough patch. If you see tall grass -tell them you would be happy to cut it (although since that doesn’t require anyone being around, it would probably be a blessing for a family to come home and find it done), or if you know their dietary habits, leave a meal in a cooler bag by their door, volunteer to babysit or chauffer their kids somewhere, etc.

Becky

June 25th, 2009
3:42 pm

Speaking from a donors side, sometimes just a card will make people feel better..

Tiffany

June 25th, 2009
3:44 pm

Blessings to your family. May God grant your brother the strenghth he needs to be up and around soon!

nurse&mother

June 25th, 2009
4:30 pm

Thanks for the tips, guys (especially Momof2girls-very eloquent)! What a clever way to ask if someone would like the food/errands, etc. I will try to remember this. Most of my experiences with these type situations involve not so close friends or church members.

fk

June 25th, 2009
6:30 pm

Thoughts and prayers are with you, your brother and family, Theresa.

My niece was ill several years with a malignant brain tumor. Diagnosis at 9 years of age was a shock, immediately followed by surgery. My sister-in-law was at the hospital for days, not only for the surgeries, but for the other treatments as well. People did not ask, they advised them of who would be picking up and driving my nephew to practice, etc. My sisters and another s-i-l & I went over and cleaned her house top to bottom and did every piece of laundry. She was very appreciative b/c once they got home, the phone started ringing and friends started dropping by. People were kind and brought food, but they were especially appreciative of gift cards to restaurants and take-out as they could at least make the decision as to what to have for dinner or where to stop. (So many people sent over pasta dishes and casseroles).

I don’t know how far the hospital is for your brother’s wife and family members. My brother and sister-in-law received anonymous cash donations that they used for gas and parking at the hospital. There are so many incidental expenses that quickly add up.

Valstake

June 25th, 2009
7:43 pm

Ours was a small family and parents, sister, brother, I all lived in different states. My husband was in a coma (he later died) and no one from my family came until the last day of funeral home visitation. My father died at home (hospice care) but work prevented my sister coming down until the funeral. My brother and I were with mother when his end came. My mother had surgery and was able to talk to me when I came to visit her in the hospital afterward, but she later died. Couldn’t keep and out-of-town vigil, so came back to Atlanta. Guess you could say we don’t give a great deal of moral support to other family members who are ill.

Becky

June 26th, 2009
8:39 am

Valstake, sorry that you had to go through that without a lot of support..My Mother was in the hospital for a month before she passed and my job was great for letting me off..

DB

June 26th, 2009
6:05 pm

Valstake, you do what you can, and don’t beat yourself up for what you can’t.