We made it to Pittsburgh and with the exception of one major hiccup involving our temporary living situation, the city has welcomed us warmly. We stayed at the Ace the first night and the valet guy remembered us from our last visit. We shared that we were back for my surgery and within minutes it seemed the entire hotel staff looked for ways to be especially nice to us. Everyone freaked over SalTak, of course, and apparently she felt pretty freaked herself. We spent a solid two hours trying to calm her down enough to do her business, leading her to every patch of grass within a mile radius of the hotel with zero luck. We didn’t know at the time but this would be a theme for our entire first week in Pittsburgh: waiting for SalTak to poop.
J and I used as much of the Ace’s good smelling products we could then ordered room service from the Whitfield- a perfectly good restaurant connected to the hotel serving grass fed beef and local everything. The weather was uncharacteristically warm and sunny. We slept soundly, even our nervous SalTak.
We met the surgeon the following day. I’ve had a lot of concerns about meeting him this late in the game. I felt in my heart of hearts that if I didn’t like him I would call the whole thing off, and how could I do that now? It was causing me a great deal of angst. I guess my patience has been worn a little thin, my faith in the system has been too tainted and prior to any encounter I now have with members of our healthcare system, I prepare myself for the worst. My willingness to fight the good fight and stand up for myself has reached an entirely new level and to put it frankly, I felt resolute in my being that I NEEDED to like this man. Surgeons are notorious for being pompous and arrogant- most of us know this and I knew this, so my fear going into this appointment felt solidly justified.
Dr. Hughes reminded me of a large, intelligent teddy bear. I fell in love with him immediately and trusted everything he said without a moment’s hesitation. A true miracle. Jordan said he teared up the second he walked into our room because he reminded him of a human version of Soup* – the ultimate compliment. Dr. Hughes was a near giant and had the kindest eyes. By the end of our meeting I felt complete confidence in putting my life in his hands. The weight this lifted from my shoulders was more tremendous that I even anticipated.
After xrays, bloodwork and other boring things, we ventured out for lunch. Noodlehead was highly recommended so we filled ourselves with MSG** before taking a stroll in the neighborhood. The vintage store I fell madly for last time happened to be nearby so naturally we went there. Jordan found and bought for me one of new favorite possessions- a handmade pair of leather travel slippers lined with silk that conveniently nest together in a lovely little zippered pouch. They’re made in England but were made exclusively for a famous and now defunct Pittsburgh department store called Joseph Horne Co., which is inscribed in small gold lettering outside of said case. They happened to be a size 8 and happen to be the most comfortable slippers of all time. I also got a tiny heart locket that reminds me of June, as all small and adorable things do. It was $15 so it’s not anything real and will definitely turn my neck green but it was too darling to pass up. Finally, I found some sweet cameo earrings. I’ve always thought I might want a pair but seemed to only ever stumble upon clip-ons and who can be bothered to wear clip-ons?! Strangely, we didn’t find Jordy anything. He tried on a cool brown Bahamas tee but found it to be too small. After a Millie’s homemade ice cream cone and circling the block five thousand forty seven times waiting for Sal to do her business, we left that neighborhood and made our way to what we thought would be our apartment for the next one to three months.
The pictures we’d seen online made the place look super nice. You probably know where this is going but I’ll continue to paint a picture for you anyway. We actually wondered if we’d been a little too extravagant in our selection when we decided on this place because it was not cheap and we paid for it up front (we wanted to walk into this situation with all our i’s dotted and t’s crossed). We justified the upgrade from the family housing provided by the hospital because environment is extremely important to me and if I was going to be housebound for 1-3 months we wanted desperately to be in a place with our own kitchen and one that didn’t feel like a depression chamber. We pulled up to the The Clark Building in downtown Pittsburgh to find no less than 45 homeless people camped out in and around the entrance. Most of them were men and most of them were smoking swisher sweets and all of them were shirtless. Most of them had 45s in brown bags that were undoubtedly almost empty. On the same block and in stark contrast was a choir of young Amish girls in bonnets and long skirts being directed to sing old world hymns and pass out tracks to passerbys. Jordy and I didn’t say much to each other, knowing good and well what each other was thinking. Still, he pulled up to the curb so he could run inside to grab our welcome packet, keys and parking instructions for the garage. Leaving the flashers on and strict instructions to keep the doors locked, I watched as my husband basically risked his life getting to the front door. I told myself the inside would have marble floors and a gilded elevator that would immediately make us forget that we were directly across the street from a sketchy bus station and a McDonalds. I looked around frantically for green space, my mind spinning with thoughts of leading my little traumatized SalTak through these hoards of people in an effort to get her to poop in a parcel of 4” x 4” grass filled with cigarette butts. I saw Jordy wheeling out a luggage cart so I rolled the window down and sheepishly asked, “so it’s really nice inside?” Upon receiving a simple and curt, “no”, I suggested we wait to unload the car until we saw our actual unit. In the days since that moment he has thanked me no less than 15 times for this suggestion.
We found our designated parking garage three blocks from the place, which for a normal urban couple would be totally fine. But given that I’ll be nursing my wounds from a vital organ transplant and might not be able to walk to the bathroom for a while, this seemed a bit problematic. The three of us made our way through the Amish singers and shirtless party boys camped on the sidewalk. We walked in, found our way to our unit and walked out within 30 seconds. Let’s just say the interior was no reprieve from the exterior. For a period of two frantic hours we were unsure where we’d be unpacking our car and temporary life. Thanks to a series of very fortunate encounters and angels sent down from heaven, we landed in a super boujie apartment with all manner of amenities, including a rooftop AstroTurf dog yard where SalTak can conveniently do her business. The best part is that all of this came at an even lesser price.
We unpacked, we settled in. That was five days ago. We’ve occupied our time looking for good restaurants (read: eating lots of pierogies and ice cream cones), doing countless loads of laundry, taking hundreds of trips to the gross Rite Aid connected to our building, walking on the treadmill downstairs, talking about the future, talking about our deepest fears and praying. We’ve actually been sleeping pretty well. About a year and a half ago Jordy developed the wonderful discipline/habit of reading scripture for the first 30 minutes of his day. He drinks his coffee and neither SalTak nor I are allowed to disturb him during this time. I just realized this is the only time in our entire marriage that Jordy has requested silence. If you know him, you know he loves nothing more than talking and entertaining and listening to music, and yes- even at 6:30am. Since he has been setting this time aside, I have literally watched him transform into such a different kind of man. He is growing in wisdom every day and I know it’s because of this ritual. I admire him more now than ever before and love his heart more than I love my own. I never thought my relationship with the Jordan Moore I met in 2013 would draw me closer to Jesus but anyway, here we are and that alone makes me believe in miracles and wonders. This week has been an alternate reality. We haven’t really known how to handle all this free time and as everyone knows, idleness is not a good companion for anxiety. In an effort to combat a perpetual feeling of the Sunday Scaries, we have been going up to the roof of our building together each morning with our coffee. J’s been looping me in on his quiet time by reading aloud what he typically reads in silence. What a privilege it has been to cozy up next to him and hear him read as the sun comes up. We have never felt so loved and held by God and I’m sure that’s confusing for many people to understand. What might also be hard for people to understand is that we are walking in tomorrow with our hope placed not in the surgeon’s hands (they might fail), nor in my body’s capabilities (it might fail), nor in karma’s desire to see good things come for us (karma is a lie), but in knowing the goodness of God and his plan (the only thing that will never fail us). So please know that while our hope in “the system” is minuscule and our hope for going through this without fear is non existent, we are not hopeless at all. We know that we’re being held. We’ve actually known that and felt it from the moment we lost June. We probably knew it before that too, but it became palpable that day, setting a precedent for our lives. We know that whatever happens is going to happen for the Glory of our Creator, even when it hurts and yes, even when death is involved. We have hope in eternity and life everlasting and that is how we are going to get through this tomorrow. Of course it doesn’t hurt that my surgeon is like Soup and that my donor is InVinceable, and that I have the best community and support group known to mankind. It’s never been lost on us that people are supporting us and holding us close, loving us, praying for us through all of this and even taking our financial burden out of the equation entirely. You will never know what you’ve done for us by providing for us in this way.
Jordy is going to pick up the thread from here. He will be posting updates as soon as he has anything to share. Vince, Mercedes (Vince’s wonderful girlfriend, commonly referred to as “M”) Jordy and I will head in tomorrow morning at 5:30am. Vince’s surgery will finish up before mine so J will update then and again when they finish my surgery around 6pm. We’ve got a slew of family and friends up here supporting us! Please use this site for updates so Jordy, Katie, and my parents don’t get bombarded. We LOVE YOU.
*Soup was Jordy’s Bluetick hound/Walker hound pup and best friend of 12 years.
**listen to the This American Life on MSG. Apparently, the whole MSG being bad for you thing was a farce!