2nd Chance at Life: The Life Quest

Before an organ transplant, when you’re body is frail and you don’t know if you are going to live or die, your main goal is to stay alive long enough to get that transplant. Every moment it is about surviving long enough to witness the miracle of organ donation in your life and to come out the other side of the transplant alive. There is no way to prepare yourself for life after transplant, it just the transplant itself that matters.

Smile Enjoy Life

Whether you are the one having the organ transplant or a caregiver/family member, you are blinded to what exists on the other side of that surgery. I liken it to living the first half of your life, the ages before 40, and then having your midlife party to wonder “now what”. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a mid-life crisis but I guess that’s what it is, really. Even when we are healthy, we don’t see past the age of youth (or life) until we are on the other side wondering what to do with ourselves.

My husband and I are both approaching 40 (currently 38 at the time of this post) and we are also on the other side of a transplant (8 years at the time of this post) so we have unique perspective on both areas of life and death. Alas, we never prepared for what the second half of our lives would bring – or what life would be like after his double-lung transplant.

After his transplant, he was full of life and wanted to try everything new. That lasted for about 6 months and then he was back at work and being, what society thought of as, “responsible”. We both were excited at first and the visions of travel and life experiences soon faded away. Our little bubble of the world before transplant morphed into the mundane life of just existing.

Now, don’t get me wrong at all. This is not a depressing post at all. It is not “woe is me” or “what was I thinking”. It is more about understanding the different levels to life. And, as one reaches 40, one starts thinking about the different levels of experiences in this world – and which ones to partake.

Being that we are both introverts (Hey – Billy Crystal is an introvert too!), we like the quiet life experiences such as nature, seeing new things and enjoying time together. We aren’t looking to jump out of any airplanes or travel the world in 80 days – but rather, we are looking to enjoy the 2nd life God has given us to enjoy every moment that is in our path.

What does that mean? Well, being 40 doesn’t mean you have to grow up and it doesn’t mean you have to be society’s idea of “responsible”. I’ll let you in on a little secret – I ride shopping carts while grocery shopping with my husband. Yes, I am that childish adult you see, without kids, hopping along and making my husband laugh. Why? Because that is me and that is enjoyable.

So, for the 2nd half of your journey, just enjoy every moment. Don’t look at what you have in material items or how many passport stamps you have as a symbol of living a good life. Enjoy every single thing you do and, if you don’t enjoy, either stop doing it or find a way to enjoy it.

Heck, I hate grocery shopping but I love riding shopping carts! Now it’s your turn to hop on that cart and enjoy the ride!

After her husband received a double-lung (bilateral) transplant in 2004, Shannon founded the Angel Cove Organ Donation Awareness Shop, which provides awareness t-shirts and gifts products for transplant recipients, living organ donors and donor families - giving 100% of the profits to help heart and lung transplant recipients with medical costs. Shannon lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her wonderful husband and two chocolate Labrador Retrievers.

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