Maybe it was Bates from Downton Abbey or an interview with a Syrian refugee or a comment by a destitute organic dairy farmer from Vermont, but one of these persons spoke about the power of hope. Dictionary.com lists five examples of hope:
1. The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best: to give up hope.
2. A particular instance of this feeling: the hope of winning.
3. Grounds for this feeling in a particular instance: There is little or no hope of his recovery.
4. A person or thing in which expectations are centered: The medicine was her last hope.
5. Something that is hoped for: Her forgiveness is my constant hope.
After reading these, perhaps it was all three of the characters above that commented about the power of hope. It is hope that makes people achieve unfathomable things. It is absence of hope that saps the will from body and soul.
My heart transplant experience has for the most part been hopeful. I hoped I would get a heart; hoped I would live to know the three grandchildren that I would not have met otherwise, hoped for time to enjoy things, do things, say things, fix things.
Some of that has happened.
But, I must confess that there have been less hopeful times. When on the wait list, there were times that hope diminished. During this endless recovery, there have been many challenges, sometimes overwhelming challenges.
My persona calls for me to be active. It always has.
For me, when active, hope runs high. When inactive, hope is hard to find. There seems a correlation between hopeful and thankful, but thankful seems to be a derivate of hope. When your hopes come true, you are thankful. When your hopes are dashed, you become less thankful.
The challenge for us all is to be hopeful at every turn. In this process of waiting, recovering and moving on to the next challenge, it is hope that must drive the engine.
So, what to do when hope is low?
For me, being part of the Tampa General Transplant community was a hopeful experience. Now, that I am a bit removed from it, my struggles to be hopeful have been much more inconsistent.
I think I am a hopeful person. But, one of the benefits of being in a real transplant community is that you have contact with people who have or are experiencing hope or lack of hope and many of the same challenges you face.
For me, one of the biggest benefits of being in the transplant community was the access to psychological counseling for the specific cause of doubt or frustration. In Tampa, my doubts were met head-on by Dr. Kransnoble on many occasions. I may not have left our sessions in the best shape, but when contemplating the conversations later, she picked me up off the deck and put me back on course… hopefully.
To date, this has not worked for me in Albany. I had two unproductive sessions in Albany with a person who is surely a good counselor for many matters but who is unfamiliar with the challenges of traumatic health issues.
Perhaps it is the weather. Perhaps it has been the many repercussions of two cases of flu this winter. Or, the lack of sun after being in Florida for so long, or the number of various surgeries and pending procedures or the withdrawal from coming off a medicine I have taken for two years, but at this moment, my hope level seems at a low point.
I hate to think that I need medicine to escape this point, but I shall know tomorrow. Even that possible remedy is cause for less hope.
Until yesterday, I had not exercised since December 26. I had only left the house for three doctor’s appointments. My neuropathy and myopathy are running rampant. When I exercised yesterday, it was cause for less hope, not more.
For me, weakening of hope is eased by a few things. Seeing a good counselor, exercise, opening up to loved ones, seeing children and grandchildren and conversations with really special friends are the things that ring my hope chimes.
I have wondered if I should post this draft. I might.
As you forge ahead with your transplant experience, you must do whatever is necessary to keep hope at optimal levels. Some call that being positive, but for me it is more. For me, building hope and staying hopeful is a process, the evolution of determination.
This article may not help you. I hope it does. If it doesn’t ring true, I apologize. You cannot imagine what it has done for me. I will be at the gym tomorrow struggling to improve and increase my level of hope. Thank you for your indulgence.