I know I’ve been quiet since transplant. I have been focussing on my book. I thought you might like to read a little excerpt from my first draft, enjoy.
Getting To First Base
“Remove your top and bra, opening in the front,” the nurse says, handing me a hospital gown. I turn my back as I hear the door click shut. I do as I am told, wrapping my bra in my shirt to hide it. I stare at the gown. Its baby puke green with Mickey Mouse faces all over it. Who would make such a thing? I quickly slip it over my shoulders. Climbing onto the table, I wiggle around trying to get comfortable and avoid sticking to the paper. I hate waiting. I decide to look around the room. Big mistake, more Disney crap. The minutes tick by, I am freezing. My nipples start to poke against the flimsy gown. The door finally opens and a young guy comes in with a machine. I fold my arms over my chest.
“Hi, I’m _____.” I really don’t remember what his name was, but for the sake of this writing I will call him Greg.
“I’m here to do your EKG.” Oh God, no. You’re way too cute.
“Wow, you’re kind of old to be in here, aren’t you?” he asks me.
“Well, ya, it’s because I was born with a heart defect, Transposition of the Great Arteries,” I tell him.
“Yes, I saw that on your chart,” Then why’d you ask?
“And you’re fourteen? That’s cool, I just turned twenty-two.” he says to me. “Let me just plug in the machine and we’ll get started.” Greg started to bring out the electrodes and other things. “They’re a little tangled, hang on I’ll get it. Sorry, I am new at this. You are my first older person; I have only performed this test on toddlers till you.” Great.
While Greg was fiddling with the wires, I took the opportunity to look him over. He had short blonde hair and blue eyes. He had the body of someone who played sports or lifted weights.
He laid the wires over my belly, he then squeezed slimy liquid out of a tube onto my ankles and wrists, and then reached for my gown. Oh crap. I am still cold, oh God, just kill me now. “I need to lift your gown a little, sorry,” he said. His cheeks are turning red, oh God. “I need to place the gel under your breast. So, what kind of music do you listen to?”
“Seriously? Um, Madonna,” I answered. He grazed my left boob as he placed the suction cup bulbs over the gel. Wow, his hands are warm. “She has a few good songs. Okay, here we go, hold still,” he said as he pushed a button and printed out a slip of paper. Of course I’m going to stay still, I’m wearing a Mickey Mouse hospital gown and my boobs are hanging out, where am I going to go?” “We’re done, let me just get these electrodes off and you can cover up.” Handing me a towel he says,” nice to meet you, the doctor will be in shortly”.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Where was my mother or wasn’t there a nurse present? Well, I have no idea. I don’t recall anyone else being there, maybe there was, but it was the 1980’s, so there was a good possibility we were alone. I have had more tests done in my life than I care to remember. However, I will never forget this test and the first time I got to second base with a boy.
You see, I was born a smurf in 1974. Not a real smurf but close, I was what they called a blue baby. I was cyanotic; I wasn’t getting the oxygen I needed due to a heart defect called Transposition of the Great Arteries. This is a rare and complex defect where my two main arteries, the pulmonary artery and aorta, were reversed. Because of this, my blood was flowing through my body in a different way than it would have in a normal healthy heart, in turn leaving a deficiency of oxygen in my blood running from the heart to the rest of the body. Without sufficient supply of oxygen in the blood my body couldn’t function properly, resulting in my need for immediate surgery. I was immediately whisked away from my mother, my father and I were driven by ambulance to a nearby hospital where a procedure was performed creating a septal defect where the blood could mix, this is known as the Hanlon-Blaylock procedure. This left me less smurf-like and would buy me some time until I grew big enough to have open heart surgery.
This surgery took place in 1977, two months shy of my third birthday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota by Dr. Gordon Back then when they performed this type of surgery, it was not a cure, just more or less a bandaid to help me survive. My generation of children who underwent this surgery were guinea pigs for the next generation. The doctors had no way of knowing how long we would live or what type of life we would have. In spite of this, they performed these surgeries any way, and I am so grateful that they did.