Monday, March 12, 2012

Hill? What Hill? Did You See a Hill?

Here's me in 2005. Jumping for joy with my Granddaughter Lily. In mid-life. Living the good life.

Who knew that In June of 2006 the autoimmune liver disease which had been surreptitiously attacking my body for fifty years would have achieved its evil advantage. By August of that year, when my son Chuck came to visit his ailing step-mom, this was what had become of me.
I was down to 80 pounds...
and clearly did not have long to live.
Through the power of self-help and the support of friends and family I was able to get on the liver transplant waiting list at NY Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia Medical Center (that's a story, by itself, for another time). With the strength of prayer circles far and wide and what I believe to be a series of miracles, I was able to reach the top of the list and on November 20, 2006, the liver of an anonymous donor (deceased) was transplanted into my near-dead body. If you've ever had any doubts about the value of organ donation, take a look at this. This is me two days after the operation.

Happily able to eat again.
After three months of challenging but gratifying post-op recuperation, On March 11, 2007, I celebrated my 60th birthday in New York with a new short hairdo and a new lease on life.

The following day my unimaginably wonderful husband, caretaker, soul mate, and best friend helped me back into our Subaru for a return journey to our real home in the mountains. Here's us at the Welcome Center at the border between Tennessee and North Carolina.

Needless to say, turning the big 6-0 in 2007 was a happy milestone.

While I'm amazed and immensely grateful for the five years of borrowed time that has passed since then, enabling me to reach 65 in 2012, I must admit I'm finding this a most difficult rite of passage. Honestly, 40 was a no brainer and at 50 I felt in my prime, but receiving that Medicare card in the mail? That was a smack in the face. There's a point in life where you have to admit that you are officially a Senior; and now I've reached it. Shopping in the junior department is long ago. Googly-eyed stares from men on the street is a thing of the past. There's quite a gap between me and even the forty-somethings.

I know, I know, "You're only as old as you think you are." But my slowly aging friends who are still comfortable saying, "She's only 65" with a straight face? I think they're in a state of denial. There's no "only" conceivable to appropriately place before that number. Almost all of the generation before us is gone. We're now the senior citizens of our time and getting older by the minute. 

The old adage goes, "Fake it till you make it," so I'm adjusting my thoughts in line with Mark Twain's philosophy. He said, "Age is mind over matter. I don't mind, so it don't matter." Age 65 and getting older by the minute. All righty then. You'll see crows feet proudly crinkling the corners of my wise old eyes and delicious smile lines framing my sassy-old-broad grin as I say, "Hoo-rah! I made it!"

April is National Organ Donation Month: Currently more than 110,000 men, women and children are awaiting organ transplants to save their lives. Thousands more are in need of tissue and cornea transplants to restore their mobility and sight. Register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor today and provide hope to those who wait.

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