We all wore matching hoodies because we're cool like that. ;-)
Well, God made it very clear to me that I had made the right choice and I was no longer wondering about what things would have been like if I had gone a different route. I fell in love with my little college, it was perfect for me, and I was perfectly content to spend the next 2-4 (or more!) years of my life there. The environment was safe and fun, the people were so kind, helpful and Godly, many of them wanting to go into ministry full time, the staff/faculty were great teachers and preachers and made such a good influence on my life... you get the picture, I couldn't have been happier to be in such a wonderful place.
Then I came home for Spring Break. I was so excited to have a break from school, I had planned to try to catch up on some schoolwork but that never happened, I was too busy spending time with my family. Then, the day before I went back to school, I had a doctor's appointment and the routine tests came back abnormal. Very abnormal.
I made it back to school, though and tried to shove my worries into the back of my head. I was fine! I was so happy! I had a plan for my life that I was excited about! Besides, God wanted me at college, surely He wasn't going to take that away.
About a month after the doctor appointment, and after a new bottle of pills was added to my collection, I began to have some serious complications. Of course, I didn't think they were serious. There was some pretty major swelling in my legs, so bad that a lot of my shoes wouldn't fit but I just popped my diuretic pill regularly throughout the day and wore compression hose, no biggie. Then I started to feel like my heart was popping out of my chest and I couldn't catch my breath just walking to and from my classes and that was new, seeing as how I had been walking to and from classes for months by that time and hadn't had any problems before. Oh well, it's probably just a side effect from the meds, I'll call my mom, she'll call the doctor, we'll change things around a little bit and I'll just leave earlier for my classes so I can walk slower. Aside from that, I'm fine!
Banquet night with all my friends and then we went bowling afterwards. It was perfect!
Most of you know the story. I was not fine. So far from fine that I was actually at serious risk of... something more serious and there really isn't any explanation for why I was even walking around at that point except that ignorance is bliss. I didn't know anything was wrong (well, really wrong anyway) and I wanted to go to the mall with my friends, or hang out in the game room and play some pool, or sit in the snack shop playing board games.
I got called out of class one day by the Dean of Women and was told that I had to go to the ER and that my mom was already on her way up. When you're in serious condition, the ER moves you to a room quick and the 30 minute wait time in the OKC ER waiting room should have been a big clue to the fact that I was not ok. It slowly dawned on me later, especially when I was told that I didn't just have swelling in my legs, I had swelling in my entire body, including my lungs (explaining the shortness of breath) and was basically drowning from the inside out. Gross, I know, it's even more gross when you realize you've been living like that for months. Another day or two and I would have been in congestive heart failure.
That was the week we found out that my kidneys were failing and I only had so much time before they completely shut down. I needed a transplant and possibly dialysis. Fun. And the rest is all history, you all know how I got so sick and the transplant process was moving so. slow. that I ended up needing dialysis for a few months before my dad was cleared to give me his, we had the surgery, and then it took me the better part of the year to get well again.
My volleyball team, the Amazing Anywho's. :-)
All the while, Heartland was in the back of mind. You see, they made sure me and my mom were taken care of while we were there. They came to visit me as often as they could, always praying with me before they left and seeing if there was anything they could do. I got the transplant during the following semester and they let me know that they were praying for me during chapel service that day and that they were continuing to pray for me during the faculty prayer meetings. Again, they came to visit me and make sure we had everything we needed and always prayed with me before they left.
Yesterday, I just dropped my sister off at Heartland for her first semester. It was great to see the school again and great to visit with so many friends. I realized this morning that if I hadn't gotten sick and I would have been able to come then this semester would have been my second to last semester before finishing up my Secretarial degree. I came in the middle of the school year and so I had to do 5 semesters but I didn't mind. I was even considering adding an education minor that would have meant more semesters. I would have been a sophomore and more than halfway done with my major. I might have been asked to be an RA like several of my friends were or I might have been able to get a job on-campus working in the library (which is where I wanted to work but the jobs were already filled).
I don't know if being a student at Heartland again is in my future. But whatever path God decides to lead me down, Heartland will always be a special place for me. It will always be my favorite little Bible college and I will take every opportunity I can to visit, to sit in on chapel or church services, to see my friends and to remember how God used the people there in big, powerful ways during my illness and I will be forever grateful for the support system I have there.
We went to the zoo one day just because we wanted to. It was sooo fun!