Monday, November 17, 2014

Room Service Please

Today I'm back in my Hospital Time Share for a little R & R - Restlessness and Racket - and an overnight stay to continue treatment for the rejection I've been going through for the last couple of months. In fact, I'm back in my original suite from pre and post-transplant - Room 1021! I spent about a month and a half in this room back in April and May and you know the place hasn't changed a bit! Home sweet home! I may sound sarcastic (and I am being sarcastic...slightly) but many positive life changes went down in this room. 
Lots of good memories here. Lots of tough memories as well, but I spent a lot of time looking out this room's window, as I'm doing now, and found a lot of peace amidst a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. 
So my stay here should be brief, and hopefully these treatments/infusions/not big deals side effects-wise will be effective and I can get back to life. A life that lately has seemed like that little fake rabbit they put on the rail at the Track, you know? And I'm that grey hound, the one that wins, of course, but constantly chasing that goal that seems just out of reach. Sorry to go deep on you there...I think I need some food. 
Anyway, speaking of life, our's has been pretty uneventful lately. But here's a quick recap. 
Miles and Bode sat in a big Digger's Scoop thing on a walk recently. 

We were all New York Yankees for Halloween in honor of Derek Jeter and his retirement - Farewell Captain. 
Miles and Megan had an amazing trip down to Newport with Grandma Diane and got some much-needed beach time in. Miles also got to see his cousins and still talks about his best friends naming all of his cousins by name. Then he asks if we're going to the hotel, meaning the hotel in Califonia (not THE Hotel California, hashtag Eagles) to which I always have to say No, just going home. Maybe we need a guy in our bathroom that hands out towels or a concierge by the front door so Miles' obsession with hotels can be somewhat appeased. 
Grandma Janice and Papa Vince were able to witness the talent of tomorrow in Miles' preschool class' Halloween program. Epic is the only way to describe it really. 
Above all, we have just been enjoying our time as a family. Watching shows, taking walks, playing trains and Legos, snacking and drinking Hot Chocolate (which Miles pronounces with a thick accent that I can't decide whether it's from New England, New York or Chicago: Hwat-Chwak-o-leht), family chases with Bode in the house, eating pasta or helping Megan build bookcases and bake muffins. We keep busy being happy, and life is treating us well. 
I'm just waiting to have a line placed down a vein in my neck so for now I'll just say, Laters. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Prayer Works

There are so many people who have blessed our lives in so many different ways as we have been fighting my health problems, and it's definitely been a fight. The other night we were complimented by one of our neighbors while Trick-Or-Treating (or as Cosby put it, begging) with Miles - pictured below in his costume. This neighbor is retired but worked in the medical field with countless patients in our shoes or similar situations. He told us, "You've been through so much and been such a fighter." I thanked him and let him know I haven't done anything alone, to which he replied, "Well you epitomize what I always tried to teach my patients in recovery: If the fat lady shows up she better have her fists raised ready for a fight!" 
Lately I've thought a lot about how all of us have our battles. Mine is pretty much common knowledge and that has been such a blessing because you're able to rally support for your needs, and as has been our goal as a family, hopefully help someone else who may have a more private battle to fight.  But not everyone's struggles are so public, and it's important for us to mindful of that everyday.

I have loved the #RamptonStrong motto. It started as our cause and the Standard we used (and continue to use) to get over every hump and hiccup we've encountered, and have found that it also stands for more than that. As we have been able to overcome obstacles with the help of others, #RamptonStrong has kind of become that same Standard for others to fight and continue fighting personal, or maybe not so personal, trials. I talk about this not to boast of anything we've done, because as I said, alone we have done nothing, but more to say Thank You, and hopefully everyone knows they can also come to us for any help they may need...except heavy lifting. Not because I'm lazy (though I am that) but still recovering from that one crazy surgery I had. 
With all that, I want to talk about someone whom we still haven't even met, but has given us so much strength through so many difficulties. One of our nurses from the tenth floor at IMC (shout out T-10!) has a son. Her name is Ashley and her son is Aiden. Shortly before I received my transplant in May, Ashley had begun showing Aiden our blog and letting him know about our story. He read of our difficulties in getting a liver and how sick I had been while waiting for so long. 
You know, there's just something about kids that helps everything make sense. Maybe it's that innocence thing, or that their minds have yet to be cluttered with all of the nonsense in the world. Maybe it's because they entered the world being raised by a heart beat, so that's where they first go for answers to their questions. Whatever it is, Aiden is no exception, and follows his heart, and his is a super tender heart.  
While we struggled in the hospital, Aiden wondered what he could do to help us. The night I finally received word that I would get that new liver (and that it would be viable and actually be transplanted) Aiden did the greatest thing that his heart could tell him, and that was to turn to God. Something inside him spoke loud and clear to his heart, and that was to ask his Heavenly Father to bless our life and grant us this life saving organ. And as God would have it, the organ came that night.  
Now many of you, if not all of you within the sound of this blog's voice, have prayed for us and continue to do so. We have been sent videos and voicemails of young children praying for us by name, and it has brought tears of joy to our eyes and gratitude for a Heavenly Father that knows us and blesses us through prayer.  We are eternally grateful for this, and as each of you have assured me that you are praying for us, I know that it's true and I know that it works. 
Aiden's mom Ashley is an amazing soul. She has raised two wonderful boys (the other is named Rory) through several difficulties in her life. As far as religion goes, she has allowed Aiden to make his own decisions of whether or not he should go to church each Sunday or how often he should pray. She has allowed him to follow that heart of his and it's not only been a blessing for her, but now for us and will be for so many others who read about his selflessness and spirit. I talk about Aiden's upbringing to point out that prayer hasn't always a major part of his life, and yet despite that, he chose to follow the Lord's prompting and pray for us. 
Aiden, I'm talking to you when I say that

God hears us.  He wants to hear more from us, and He will bless us and answer us in the way He knows it will benefit us most.  Sometimes it takes a child's simple, innocent prayer to remind us of that.
I love prayer, any prayer, but don't we all get a little smile when a child is blessing our home for safety at night? I love it when Miles can finish an uninterrupted blessing on a meal without wanting to devour his plate before he's arrived at amen. And most of all, I love hearing a child put their own feelings aside and ask God that another's life be blessed and comforted during hard times. 
After the good news of my successful transplant, Megan wrote about our experiences through the surgery, ICU, recovery and so on. Aiden followed along with Ashley and then, as anybody who follows this blog knows, we just dropped off the face of the earth. In the meantime, Aiden has received updates from his mom as I have gone through various hospitalizations and recovery hiccups. Wanting to be of more help, Aiden kicked his game up a notch. He read about the fundraiser that was held for us last year, and the funds we've been able to raise to help cover our many medical bills. This inspired Aiden to start his own fundraiser for us. Aiden plays hockey, and he's a regular Alexander Ovechkin, he scores so many goals. So Aiden figured he'd get a collection going with family members and teammates' parents and anybody else who wants to contribute, and ask for a dollar donation for every goal he scores this season, and then he'd donate all the money to us for our medical bills! Then we'd be able to meet up as well so he could meet us and give us the money person! Not only has he been doing this, but he had his mom help him put #RAMPTONSTRONG on his hockey helmet so that people knew or could find out what his goal was. 
During one of my more recent trips to the hospital, Ashley gave me a letter from Aiden where he talked about his plan. I could feel his enthusiasm and the spirit from his words. At first I thought, what kid under the age of ten thinks of something like this? I know I never would have, and don't know that I would now despite all of the good that has been paid forward to us. Then I just started to cry as I read this letter over and over again, thinking of Aiden's selflessness and desire to do good. Then I couldn't help but feel overwhelmingly blessed for everything we have been given, not only through these last few difficult years, but for everything we have been given, both good and bad, that has shaped us and made us better in the end. And it all started with an innocent prayer. 
I'll reiterate that we have been blessed by so many and in so many ways. Aiden is not alone in blessing our lives, but I felt like his was a story that needed be told. It highlights for me the need the admonition of Christ:

 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
     -Matthew 18:3-4

Life can get hectic and clutter things. Every now and then we need to stop and simply talk with our Father in Heaven. 
It works! We are a testament to that. 
Thanks Aiden.