Life is Good!

Living each day for the miracle it is...

by Jim Gleason, Dateline: Hospital of the Univ of PA, Thursday, October 27, 1994

Each and every day we are each granted the miracle of life for that day - and most of us never notice it. So very precious a gift from God above - so overlooked. But Jake, my nephew who came down with leukemia a year ago and is still fighting for his own life at this moment), and I have been given some special attention and with each day possibly being our very last, we have come to recognize this miracle for what it is. Right now I sit here with a new heart that shows all the promise of offering a second chance at life for another 50 years (at least). As I humbly try to share this experience with you, I don't know where Jake will be reading this same article from - here on earth or from up in heaven, its that iffy right now. He is beyond the scope of medical science - they are all out of ideas - so I pray that God will show us His power and grant yet another miracle and by the time you read this you will know the outcome. Right now, I don't, so please understand this special sharing from that perspective in time. I know Jake would not want it any other way. (We have plans to go white water rafting next summer together...) With a prayer of acceptance in my heart (my NEW heart...), I will try to share this very special experience with our family of Gleason Gazette readers . .

This not a chronology of events leading up to my personal experience of receiving a heart transplant after two years of a loosing fight with cardiomyopothy (a virus attacked the pumping muscle of the heart - it was not congenital i.e.,inherited). I did not have any heart attacks. The weakened heart muscle just couldn't keep up with its job of relieving fluids (i.e., congestion) and thus I faced congestive heart failure, a condition that found us facing the modern day miracle option of getting a new heart to replace this damaged one! Sounds like a big decision - but it really turned out to be no decision at all. The alternative was an unacceptable quality of life for just a short time more. In today's modern science, the transplant of a heart is one of the simplest things they do with rejections a thing of the past - still very dangerous, but a viable option that thousands are taking every year - limited only by the availability of donor hearts. (PS: are you committed to donating your organs to those in need yet? Its such a simple thing to designate, mainly telling your family that that is your wish. You can pass on the gift of life to so many others with the alternative a wasteful burying of those beautiful organs into the ground. Consider doing it now if you haven't already. I personally can attest to its benefits!!!)

What I really wanted to share was this feeling of having a new life to live. Just 8 days ago I received my "new" heart in an operation that was so painless and simple that I still can't really believe it yet. But here I am - feeling so inadequate in words to describe this feeling - this new me! It really does feel like a totally new life - my shortness of breath is gone! I breathe like someone just opened the window wide on a stuffy room in the cool autumn air. My energy level is scary - feeling like I could "fly" but having to remain cautious, remembering that this was major surgery and it will take 12 months to fully recover. If I ignore that knowledge - if I don't follow the doctor's orders carefully - I can be dead very fast (others around here have proven that). That is sobering and I have to continually remind myself not to get carried away with this "great feeling." Meanwhile, every moment of every day I find myself thanking God for this miracle of new life. Life is sooo.. good! Just Tuesday of this week, I was sitting in this Philadelphia hospital room reflecting on that miracle, and who comes wheel-chairing in the door but Jake (and his loving support team of Maria, Betsy and Bill). WOW!! This young man, facing every day as possibly his last, had said he would be down Tuesday to see me - and here he was! I know he was here - I felt him, I talked with him, I saw him eat his first meal in two weeks, and after he was gone an hour later I still didn't trust my senses that he had actually been here! What an inspiration - and yet another miracle had occurred in my life - "Thank you, God!" Jake gave me a special gift of self - a gift of what might be something he had only too little left of - his life. Jake and I both would ask that you take this moment right now to reflect on the "miracle of life" He is granting you this very minute. To stop reading this and just say "Thank you, God!" to acknowledge that gift - and to take a moment out of each and every day to repeat that short prayer. Believe us when we say - no matter what challenges you face daily, "Life is Good!" Take our word for it - the alternative is far worse. Accept the gift for what it is and join us in recognizing this very next breath for the "miracle of life" that it is - even if it is our very last. We have come to accept that too, in prayerful thanksgiving, saying "Thy will be done!"

(Ed. note: This makes very interesting reading in light of the fact that as this paper is going to press, a full month and a half since its writing, , Jake and family are now in South Carolina, hoping for another medical miracle, living today for what it has to offer. See the article "WITH HEARTFELT THANKS" for the next installment . . .)

>>Return to the Table of Contents