Lessons from pain (and boiled chicken)

The following is a lesson on pain. It is my Facebook post from two weeks after Trenton’s second heart transplant in 2014.


I haven’t written the past couple of days, first because it is more of the same with Trenton, and second because my laptop is having motivational issues. In fact, I am typing this as the computer has all of its case screws removed so you will understnnnnnn of samethung gos wrunggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg


Trenton and Valerie are still in Baylor Dallas until the drainage slows more and/or his body absorbs it better. The best explanation I have heard to describe it is that, when you hurt yourself and there is swelling, it is lymph fluid that is going to that area, causing the swelling. Given the magnitude of Trenton’s injury/surgery, his body is still creating lymph fluid so one tube (there originally were four) is still in his chest to allow for drainage. Get to the point where he doesn’t need the tube and Trent can go home. It’s not a big deal, but it’s tiring physically and emotionally for Val and Trent to remain in that room day after day. This is a pic of the hospital food to give you an idea of why Trent wants out (yes, it’s chicken and, if it is any indication of what the bird was like when alive, it was probably glad to volunteer for this mission). When I showed this pic to the cardiologist he said it would be OK to occasionally smuggle in contraband.

A friend yesterday asked me to continue writing, so I will share a few thoughts on pain. This is for you, Nancy, not because you are the cause, but because you and everyone else are the cure.

Pain is good for you. When I was young (so, at least a month ago) someone told me that, if your body didn’t feel pain, you might not realize you were injured, and thus, wouldn’t treat the problem. The pain is not the true source of our problem; it is the symptom from the actual source. Treat the source and be thankful the pain gave you the warning.

When Trenton was in ICU as a baby, a teenager named Zack was next door awaiting, and finally receiving, a heart transplant. Zack survived for only a short time and I attended his funeral. Afterwards, I wrote in my kid diary “April 28, 1995 – I am going to my second funeral in just over one month. Both have been for children...I hope this doesn’t get easy.”

Not long ago, I was informed about a baby girl named London who, along with her young parents, experienced uncertainty over the outcome of her heart while staying at Children’s Medical Center. It hurt reading about their journey as I mentally relived ours from two decades earlier. In a prayer I said for their family, I included thanks that it still hurt, that I could feel what they are going through.

People sometimes say, “You don’t know how it feels.” When it comes to the worst pain you could feel, losing your child, you can’t use that line with Valerie and me. We have lost our child - twice. We can empathize with someone mourning the loss of their child. Our pain was possibly the worst that can be felt, but thankfully it only lasted minutes until Trenton was revived. What we can’t claim to feel, is the pain of recovering the rest of one’s life after a child is gone, and the memories that were made versus those that never will be. That lasts for years, forever I guess. Lest there be any chance of it fading, they are reminded by birthdays, holidays, graduations... The people who can survive and create good from their years of pain can not only be heroes to others who have fallen into the same hole, but can be the one rope to pull them out.

Finally, thoughts are fine, but actions accomplish more, so 1) thank you to everyone for the care you have given us, 2) feel free to share this with someone who could find it helpful and 3) contact me if Valerie and I can help someone you know.

Outlive yourself.