Go Get Your Kids, Now!

17 years ago.

I heard the scariest words ever.  Go get your kids, Now!  My Dad, a retired school administrator, always said one of the safest places for children was inside a school building.  But on September 11, 2001, those words scared me to death.

I was on the phone with my Dad before work when the reports came in about an airplane hitting a building in New York City.  What a tragedy, we thought.  But, on with our day we went. My three children were in two separate school buildings and I headed into work.

Soon after, both Towers and the Pentagon had been hit by airplanes.  When the airplane crashed into the field in Shanksville, that’s when my Dad called me for the second time that day.  Shanksville.  Less than one hour from us.  An open field.

Go get your kids, Now! 

I left work and headed to the two schools, crying as I drove. I didn’t know what to tell them, but I knew our lives had changed forever that day.  My children knew it too.

When we returned home, my oldest son grabbed the American flag that had been hanging on our porch for Labor Day and put it back up.  Down came the pretty flag of colorful leaves.  Up went USA.  His sharpened sense of patriotism was soon seen all over the nation.

This was also the day I discovered something unsettling about the news media.  The words used that day about our President was astounding to me. I had never imagined that journalists could use such derogatory words about our President. On this horrific day of tragedy.

We gathered at our church that evening to pray.  To pray for our nation.  For the families impacted so violently that day.  We prayed for a young Dad in our church who worked for the FBI and was sent immediately to Shanksville.  We prayed for the safety of all the volunteers in New York and Washington and the little town of Shanksville.  We prayed for the emergency workers and their families.  We prayed for the many victims of this horrible and senseless tragedy.  We prayed and cried.  Together as a Nation.

Together as One Nation Under God.

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Photo by Sharefaith on Pexels.com

 

 

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Purse Bash / Wine Pull FunRaiser

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Flo & the Freeloaders

Once upon a time. Nope. In a galaxy far, far away. Not it. You won’t believe this. Not quite. Adapted for TV. Not a chance. God’s timing is perfect …YES, that’s how this all started!

Only God knew how our kidney transplant story would go. Only God could have authored this story. Who knew? God did. When I married her brother in 1983, God knew.

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Palmer Wedding 1983

When we divorced 10 years later? God knew and all these years later, God was still writing our story together. Want to really freak out your new husband? Invite your ex’s family to your wedding. They were all so happy for us!

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Mr & Mrs FishGuy 2004

Ten years into our marriage, MyFishGuy’s kidneys were on the watch list. His doctors were preparing us for the inevitable. In 2015, MyFishGuy got so sick we weren’t sure he’d live. He started dialysis to replace the work his kidneys were no longer providing.

12 hour Nightly Routine

Beside our bed for over two years

Boxes

30 days of liquid Life

We had hoped that it would be short-lived as we had a living donor come forward. And then another one. And another. None could get through all the testing and cross that finish line to receive the approval of our Transplant Team. Two years later, we received a phone call that surprised us and made us laugh.

Could my ex-husband’s sister be a living donor for my new husband? That had to be the craziest and funniest thing we had ever heard. Who would ever believe it? As with anyone who asked, we gave her the phone number for our Living Donor Coordinator and said it’s up to you to call. We’ll be praying for you and your decision. Keep us in the loop or not, it’s up to you. That was October. Little did we know that the conversation later that night in Tennessee would have a similar tone.

OMA PALMER’s words: I cannot really explain it, but one day when I was driving home from work, it dawned on me: why couldn’t I be the donor for Bill? Shawn was floored. She was concerned and worried. I told her more as we talked about it. She asked me what made me decide to do this? I told her it just hit me on the way home that I could be the one to give Bill a kidney. She asked if I was sure about this. “What if something happens to your kidney or what if someone in your family needs a kidney?” Good questions but I said we can “what if” it to death. I really want to try to do this. Shawn said she would support whatever I wanted to do.

Fast forward to March. All Oma’s pre-approval tests have been completed and it was time for her to travel to Pittsburgh from Chattanooga for a stress test and personal interview with our AHN Transplant Team. But the catch was, she didn’t want either of our families to know yet. She would have been fine with them knowing the day AFTER the transplant happened! So, late in March, we flew her into Pittsburgh and hid her for 3 days while she and I ventured to AHN to meet with the Doctors and Team. This wouldn’t have been hard normally, but it was my Mom’s birthday weekend and we were gathering to celebrate.

Our Matriarch

Mom, Cinnamon and Jackie

One of the things offered to us from our friend at the National Kidney Foundation was a conversation with a couple that had been donor/recipient of a kidney donation. The wife donated her kidney to her husband. We met them at Applebee’s after our luncheon for the matriarch of our family. Lots of questions, lots of information, lots of laughs, lots of relief.

Monday was spent at the hospital completing the plethora of tests and appointments. Then back to Chattanooga she went! None of our families knew anything about this clandestine trip.

Test results, more tests, more results, more tests filled the weeks of April and early May. We were close. So close we could taste it over Mother’s Day weekend.

OMA: I found out in all the testing that I’m in pretty good health, but maybe I shouldn’t drink so much. I consider this a wakeup call. We all need to stay healthy to live long and make the best of our lives. I haven’t always taken the best care of myself. This is a second chance at life for Bill, but it’s also another chance for me to take better care of myself.

We sponsored a Blood Drive and Food Truck Event on Tuesday, May 15 that brought in enough blood donors to impact over 100 patients! We were blown away by the positive response. Later that evening as we unloaded the car, we received a message from Oma that she was approved and would be presented on Monday, May 21, to the Committee that gives final approval! Hallelujah! Our prayers were being answered. Not when we thought it was time, but when God said it would happen. trust.jpgOma hoped to do the surgery in May and since the living donor surgeries are scheduled on Fridays, we were left with one Friday – May 25. As the Team already had a surgery scheduled for that day, they chose to schedule us on Thursday May 31. The Transplant Team makes every possible accommodation for the living donor so that the recipient doesn’t lose the chance at a gift of life.

The only thing left to do was tell our families. She went first phoning her siblings. Since most of our family lives close by, we had them over for dessert Friday evening. We had told them we “had news.” The atmosphere was thick and somewhat scary. But, we blew them away with the info that we had a Living Donor! Everyone was so excited! Do you know her? Will you get to meet her before the surgery? All good questions and I wish we could have taken a picture of all their faces when we gave the facts. Yes, we know her and so do you! Aunt Oma would be arriving in five days, in time to start the pre-op testing obligations. Let the whirlwind begin! Both of our families were shocked and thrilled!

OMA: Would I do this again? Absolutely yes. I feel like this was God’s will all the way. As far as suggestions for others who may want to donate life, it is just something you know. I never had second thoughts, I was never nervous. Everything just felt right and that this was truly God leading everything.

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Oma & Bill

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Truthful Sign on her hotel room door

We are now at Day 48. Oma and Shawn have returned to Tennessee long ago. Slow and steady. Rest and patience. That was the prescription for Oma and her recovery. Normalcy returns as her healing progresses.

MyFishGuy? He just had his peritoneal dialysis catheter removed as outpatient surgery. The method of survival for over two and a half years has been removed. The side effects of the transplant medications are a balancing act for which there are no hard and fast rules. Adjust, change, add, subtract. Time is our ally.

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Good thing we have an island!

 

Weekly Blood Draws

How many hands does it take to stop a rolling vein?

His body is making Oma’s kidney feel right at home. He tells everyone that he’s still deciding whether to sit or stand when he goes. He also told the surgeon that he put it in upside down because he was up all night going. His laughter has returned. God knew. His timing was perfect. None of the other five potential donors could have given him this exact and perfect gift. You can’t help but hear the love and appreciation in his voice as he tells the recipient side of this story.

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Flag flying at Allegheny General Hospital the day of transplant!

In true fashion, we had to come up with a name for this sweet gift. It took weeks to settle on a name. One that fit her perfectly and reflected her goal in life. Did you know that when you get a new kidney, the surgeons leave the other two in you? Yes, indeed. MyFishGuy now has three kidneys. The two Freeloaders remain in place and Flo sits happily above his right leg. Flo and the Freeloaders. Not a band, but a beautiful sound in our lives and our home. We are forever grateful, thankful and amazed at the story God has written with our lives. He knew.Psalm27

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Truth or Myth?

As we close out April, let’s look at a few Truths or Myths. I had the privilege to share these words with our Church in honor of Organ Donor Awareness Month.

TRUTH or MYTH?

8,000 folks from PA are currently waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.

TRUTH!  And nationally, more than 120,000 people are waiting.

 

TRUTH or MYTH?

Wealth and connections gets your organ quicker.

MYTH!  While You can’t buy an organ.  What your money can do though, is enable you to travel and be listed on multiple registries which can improve your wait time.  Think – Steve Jobs – liver in TN, but also Walter Payton – who died waiting for a liver.

 

TRUTH or MYTH?

Doctors won’t work hard to save my life if they know I’m a registered organ donor.

MYTH!  Paramedics, nurses and doctors will do EVERYTHING possible to save your life.  Transplant Teams are only notified after all life-saving efforts have failed.

 

TRUTH or MYTH?

You can be too old or too sick to donate your organs.

MYTH!  Every potential donor is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

 

TRUTH or MYTH?

Most people believe in organ donation. 

TRUTH!  BUT, only half of these folks are registered to donate.  How can you help?  Be part of the long-term solution – agree to be a donor after you are done with your body. Organ donors can help up to eight people while tissue donors (bones, ligaments, tendons), can help 50.  Skin, corneas and heart valves can also be donated.

 

TRUTH or MYTH?

Not everyone is healed. 

MYTH!  We were created in God’s perfect image.  And we will return to this perfect image when we get to heaven. Jesus showed us many examples of healing in the Gospel.  Whether it was a blind man, a demon-possessed woman or even a man who had been dead for days, Jesus healed them.  “Lord, the one you love is sick.” It’s all for God’s glory – not ours.

As John 11 continues this story…Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  Well, I plop my name in there and read it as…Now Jesus loves Jackie and her dialy-sister Katie and their husbands Bill and Brandon.  This story is all about God’s glory.

In Max Lucado’s book Before Amen, he sums up my thoughts on how I know Bill (and Brandon and everyone of us) will be healed!  Jesus will heal us instantly, gradually or ultimately…upon our arrival in eternity!  “we shall be like Him” 1 John 3:2  I cling to this promise.  I’ll believe it until I see it!

What’s Next? 

Join us on Tuesday, May 15, in Penn Township-Butler, to raise awareness for the need for donors.  All types of donors – organ donors as well as blood donors.  We are hosting a Blood Drive with Food Trucks Event!  Register for the blood drive at Central Blood Bank using Group Code Z0021051.   Blood Drive runs from 1pm-6pm. 

Food Trucks (Donny B’s BBQ, Doce Taqueria, Healthalicious, Ash&Kris Kitchen and Bruster’s Ice Cream) will be from 4pm-7pm. 

Stop in for a chance to win one of the giveaways including a Gas Grill donated by Lowe’s. 

All activities take place at 601 Pittsburgh Road (Route 8 – just north of Dinnerbell Road) at  our GENEROUS SPONSORS:   FYZICAL THERAPY & BALANCE CENTERS / BUTLER YOGA WORKS

 

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5 am is for the Birds

Before my Mom retired, she started work at 6 am and I thought she was crazy.  For over 30 years, she got up way before the sun and drove into Pittsburgh.  Yes, she finished work and headed out of town long before rush hour, but 6 am?  Not for me. 

If you don’t know anything about me, let me give you some insight. I believe nothing good comes from being up at 5 am.  This time is reserved for a unique group of people such as coffee shop owners, donut makers, snow plow drivers, and insomniacs.  I’m not any of these.   At one point in my life, I worked the overnight 11-7 shift and lived to tell about it.  It’s one thing to end your day at daybreak, but something else to start it in the middle of the night.   But, for some bizarre reason, I signed up for a 5:00 am Prayer Boot Camp.  Five am, five days a week, for five weeks.

When I told MyFishGuy that I was going to get up at 5 am for Prayer Time, he looked at me like I had lost my mind.  I need two alarms and numerous snooze buttons to get up every day.  I mentioned this Boot Camp to two other dear prayer warriors and they both said, “oh that’s nice, not for me or YOU!”  I’m not sure what prompted me to sign up for this, but I just knew I needed to do it.   

As I waited for it to start, I kept thinking about how it was going to be difficult to get up at 5am.  It was going to be rough to stay awake for an hour at that time.  I could picture my head plopping into my coffee cup and dozing on the open pages of my Bible. I could imagine needing a nap before 8am.  And extra hazelnut coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee.  pexels-photo-64775.jpeg

The night before this group started, I set two alarms for 4:58 and 4:59.  When the first one went off, I hopped out of bed, shut the bedroom door, tip-toed out to the dining room and proceeded to turn on every light in the house so that I wouldn’t fall back asleep.  To my surprise, that next hour flew by and I only needed two cups of coffee.  Over the next few days, I realized that this was not really hard.  Did I like being up at 5:00 in the dark morning?  Not really, but it was wonderful looking out the backdoor window and seeing all the morning stars.  Did I like going to bed between 8:30 and 9:00 twice that first week?  Yes, because I certainly was tired early in the evening. 

Spending that early morning hour with God has been incredible.  I’ve written pages and pages in my journal.  I’ve prayed while walking through each room in our home.  I’ve talked, and I’ve listened.  I’ve giggled, and I’ve cried.  All at five o’clock in the dark morning.  Who knew something beautiful could come at this time of day? 

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Spending time with God

 I’ve spent quite a bit of time praying in our spare room. Boxes are everywhere.  Boxes filled with life-sustaining medicine for MyFishGuy.  Every 4 weeks, more than sixty boxes of liquid life are delivered.  Boxes that weigh over 40 pounds each.   That’s equal to six 2-liter bottles of pop.  It takes up one third of a room in our home.  He does the difficult thing.  I just come alongside him.  I support him and encourage him to continue knowing that a spare kidney is coming. 

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Liquid Life

 I’m more than three weeks into this five-week adventure.  I’ve found that spending time with God very early in my morning is a fabulous way to start my day.    Prayer is essential in my life.  Prayer can be an adventure no matter what time of day.  And today, on Valentine’s Day, my greatest gift to MyFishGuy is to pray for him.  Starting at 5am.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

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Doing the Hard Things

Waiting.  Waiting to receive that phone call from the Transplant Team can be overwhelming. We were on high alert last week.

There are multiple ways to receive an organ donation for transplant.  It usually starts with being placed on the Active List for donation.  You are immediately told it’s a 3-5 year wait for a cadaver kidney.   We’re 20 months into that List.

There is also the Living Donor process.  This is where someone donates one of their kidneys to you.  We’ve had two folks go through the process and not quite cross the finish line for donation.  We have another potential Living Donor beginning the process.  We’d appreciate you praying for her and for us during this time of waiting.  When a donor is approved, if they aren’t a match for you, it’s always possible for a ‘paired listing’ where your Living Donor donates to someone else and their Living Donor donates to you.   Allegheny Health Network was part of the longest chain of kidney transplants ever constructed – 34 kidneys donated and 34 received.

Another option is ‘direct donation’ where an organ is directed to a certain person.  I’m now sure this is the roughest/toughest, hardest/ugliest thing.  It’s when someone is going to be with Jesus very soon.  The family has made the decision to donate the organs.  Someone speaks up and says – I know you are grieving, and I know you’ve made the decision to donate, could we honor your loved one’s legacy and receive their kidney?

It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I made that phone call to a grieving relative of someone last week.  I’m hoping it didn’t come across as morbid.   I hope it came through as being done out of love and hopefulness.  I was a mess.  In the end, it was not to be.    So, we wait.  Each day is one day closer to a new kidney for MyFishGuy.

So, while we wait…

Year End donations?  Do you contribute to a charity at the end of each year?  We’d be honored to receive a donation from you.  Please consider helping MyFishGuy and others like him through a year-end donation to National Foundation for Transplants.

Keep Christ in Christmas magnets on sale now!  We are selling these sturdy magnets for your car or refrigerator.  These make great stocking stuffers and grab bag gifts. Only $5 each.  Buy 4, Get 1 Free.  Contact us now for Christmas delivery.

Got your 2018 Calendar handy?  We’ve booked the 2018 Purse Bash & Wine Raffle location.  Saturday, September 22…with seating for over 400! Mark your calendar now so that you don’t miss out on this fabulous Event!

Are you registered to be an organ donor?  Play It Forward Pittsburgh is conducting an organ donor awareness and registration drive.  Part of their mission is to get every eligible Pittsburgh resident registered as an organ donor.  You can sign up here.

Thanks for your financial support during 2017.  Your donations make a difference each and every day.  But most of all, thank you for your prayers.  We could not do the hard things without them.

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Living Donors

We need a Living Donor. Our options have narrowed this week and now we begin the search for a kidney via social media. Who would have ever thought such a thing?

Why be a Living Donor?  Your selfless gift means a renewed LIFE to someone else. A donated kidney can add 15 to 20 years to som0514161607c_resizedeone’s life. It means the end of someone being connected to a machine for 14 hours a day. That someone is the Love of my Life – MyFishGuy. We need your help!

Who can donate?  According to the National Kidney Foundation, to donate a kidney, you must be in good physical and mental health. As a general rule, you should be 18 years or older. You must also have normal kidney function. There are some medical conditions that could prevent you from being a living donor. These include having uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, HIV, hepatitis, or acute infections.

Our next steps?  MyFishGuy is on the active Transplant List for Allegheny Health Network.  We are now considering adding other lists.  He can only be on one list per region.   Look out Ohio – here we come! We are also calling a stranger in eastern PA that a dear friend met while traveling on Amtrak to New York.  He’s part of a philanthropic charity for matching organ donors with recipients.  Who knew about this?

Ready to find out more information?  Call or text or send me a message.  The phone interview happens first with our Transplant Coordinator.

Are you a registered as an organ donor Please take the time to do so.  It can save someone’s life when your time on earth is complete.

Your generous donation to our transplant medical expense fund via National Foundation for Transplants is always appreciated!

We will have a table set up at the Christian Community Church flea market on June 30/July 1.  Stop by for great bargains!  We’d love to chat with you.

Tickets foBashr the Purse Bash are on sale now!  We’d sure appreciate your help with ticket sales.  We know it’s 3 months away, but we want to make sure every gal gets a ticket and saves the date NOW!  This will not be like ANY other Purse Bash you have attended.  This is shaping up to be one wild & crazy event!

 

 

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