As far as Brad Stokes is concerned, liver transplants are like potato chips—he can’t have just one. I wrote in an earlier post about Brad’s first liver transplant back in August 1994 as well as his courageous wife, Heidi, who has lupus, and their mature-beyond-his-years son, Christian, who has type 1 diabetes.
Brad’s liver disease returned with a vengeance a few years ago and, barely hanging on to life, Brad received a second liver transplant on August 14, 2009. Today, more than a month later, his recovery is going well and he is grateful to be back among the living.
You can read all about Brad’s amazing journey in his CaringBridge journal, which began on August 8, six days before his life-saving transplant.
Here is an August 30 excerpt from that jornal written by Heidi:
I am sitting on the floor in Brad’s room with a mask on—I might be coming down with something—and I don’t want to risk exposing Brad to anything. Brad seems to be more worried about me than he is about himself. I worry about him, and Christian is concerned about both of us, and Brad and I worry about Chris and his (sometimes) volatile night blood sugars when he goes to college. Ha Ha . . . That is what happens with love and illness. We will do the best we can do and then we have to trust.
Today Brad was laying in bed and said, “I love my life—isn’t that crazy?” No, it’s not, our lives are precious. The Stokes love a good challenge. Do you know the best thing about rising above a challenge? You get to celebrate all sorts of small and large accomplishments and milestones. We have been celebrating all along the way! Woo hoo!
Quite the amazing family! I wish you all the best, Brad, Heidi and Christian!
It’s been a full year since Brad’s second liver transplant and life is good in the Stokes household. Check that—life is miraculous for the Stokes! Heidi wrote this grateful, poignant post on August 17, 2010:
For Brad – The Pleasure of Ordinary Days
In awe, and grateful that you are here with me, now, right across from me reading today’s paper, barefoot, legs crossed, so normal, so natural, your face smooth, your cheeks pink, the white of your eyes pristinely white, no writhing, no jaundice, no pain, no angst, just taking in the pleasure of an ordinary day. This is grace. This is a gift. This is a miracle.
A year ago it was not ordinary. Nothing felt ordinary, for you, for me, for Christian. For several years, we felt your crippling discomfort and longed for relief for you. Your poor body dwindling down to barely nothing, your spirit dimmed, but you held on when all the counts were against you. We were called twice to your bedside for goodbyes. Now, here you are, Brad 3.0, sitting across from me. It’s so hard to comprehend. I am grateful and humbled by your fight and all the people that came together to bring you back to life. A gift of life from a stranger, a family reaching out selflessly while in the depths of despair. The numerous doctors and ICU nurses that kept on top of your vast complications. I remember the ambulance drivers in their royal blue jumpsuits coming in— looking so official, taking over like a swat team. It all happened so fast—-The one in charge stopped and looked me in the eye and promised they would take good care of you, I believed him and hope soared for a moment. You would get better, and then you would crash……..liver, kidneys, brain, lungs, failing, and I was told you were no longer a viable candidate for a transplant. Our hopes plummeted. I wondered which minister would preside at your funeral and what songs we would sing, or maybe you wouldn’t want us to sing, maybe we should just have instrumental music. Who would be the musicians, and, and, and….busy thoughts screaming through the rooms in my mind. I had tried to prepare for this moment for months—but nothing can prepare you. I went home to my hotel room in the middle of the night. I was woken up by the phone. The same doctor who told me earlier you were too ill for a transplant called and said, we have a high risk liver for Brad if you would like him to have it. I said, Yes! Yes! Yes!
The kindness of our friends and family, the countless prayers that were uttered on your behalf, the medical staff at Abbott and then at Mayo—and above all the precious gift given to you by a stranger—-we surely are among the most blessed people on this earth. I love you Brad 3.0 and I bask in the glow of this ordinary day. Oh, and by the way Brad, don’t forget to load the dishwasher! :)
Click here to view all my posts about Heidi and Brad Stokes.
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