DECEMBER 7–Second Hearts

Last night, Caitlin was stable but at 4am we woke to the news that her left leg, site of the new arterial cannula, was swollen. They couldn’t detect any pulses in the foot. Her leg would soon be in danger if they didn’t act. At 5am she went back into the OR to receive a fasciotomy–they would make cuts to the fascia on either side of her calf to release the pressure.

It was successful, but two hours later, they weren’t detecting pulses again and they had to do an adjustment. They’ve been checking the leg every 30 minutes. So far, so good.

She’s mostly sedated, but sometimes she swims up and when she does, she gets agitated. It’s clear that she’s alert. She pointed to the breathing tube in her mouth. Then made the writing motion. We gave her the white board and she clearly wrote, Transplanted?


It broke my heart to say no, not yet.

(They tell her what they are doing before each procedure, but of course, with the anesthesia, she forgets.)

She began to write more, faster and faster. It was hard to make out the words, but we saw a couple of angry ones: “mistake, fucked-up.” Her oxygen saturation levels started to go down with her agitation so we had to take the white board away. She’s been asleep since.

Here’s a thing that gave me some chills, though. When they first wheeled her to the OR to do the fasciotomy on her calf, I decorated her ICU area a bit. I hung some Christmas lights above the bed area.


I hung personal photos on the wall.


Jess, above, on the left, is one of Caitlin’s most beloved friends. They share a close, close bond. That “I Love You” card is from her. Inside is the kind of letter you save forever.

Jess recently went through a year of dealing with a complicated case of breast cancer. ( Right now, she is in India, on a long-planned trip. She wasn’t going to go, but Caitlin said, “You got through your cancer, and now you’re free. You can travel. Go!” Jess decided to go but said that she would carry Caitlin with her. She’s been texting me the entire time she is there. She’s been wearing a bindi (red dot) on her third eye, for Caitlin.

When I opened my Whatsapp to send the above photo to Jess, I saw that a couple of hours earlier, Jess had sent me this text.


I did.

—-Maryanne, with Nick

Author: kittenupdates

I am the author of CASCADE and LITTLE MATCHES: A Memoir of Grief and Light

14 thoughts on “DECEMBER 7–Second Hearts”

  1. The healing power of touch. Such a compassionate note from Caitlin’s dear friend and wanting to help from afar. Very touching.

    Caitlin certainly has the fire to fight hard. She is a fighter and we’re, all, behind her with prayer. So sorry she is going through so many invasive procedures, Maryanne, while she waits for her lungs. Is this common? How wonderful you have cheered her room with Christmas lights and photos of loved ones. Beautiful!

    Sending light and love with prayer~ Judy

  2. Maryanne, We are so sorry to hear of Caitlin’s recent condition. Please know she being prayed for by the St. Mark’s community in Chapel and in personal prayers. Ginny Umiker

    Ginny Umiker

    Bookstore Manager St. Mark’s School 25 Marlborough Rd. Southborough, MA 01772

  3. I believe in signs!! That is one! Stay strong…prayers are coming your way💕💕👍🏻

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Holiday of obligation. I already have Caitlin in the prayer in our College Chapel. But…. there will be lots of students and faculty and Staff praying during Mass and during the day. Caitlin will have lots of prayers to heaven. Sending you love and strength. Lorraine

  5. Wishing Caitlin immeasurable amounts of endless strength. She is clearly a fighter with super powers but I pray that she can wait in peace until she gets her new lungs. Her gift is coming. Peace, love and prayers to all of you.


  6. When the light around you lessens
    And your thoughts darken until
    Your body feels fear turn
    Cold as a stone inside,

    When you find yourself bereft
    Of any belief in yourself
    And all you unknowingly
    Leaned on has fallen,
    When one voice commands
    Your whole heart,
    And it is raven dark,
    Steady yourself and see
    That it is your own thinking
    That darkens your world,
    Search and you will find
    A diamond-thought of light
    Know that you are not alone
    And this darkness has purpose
    Gradually it will school your eyes
    To find the one gift your life requires
    Hidden within this night-corner.
    Invoke the learning
    Of every suffering
    you have suffered.
    Close your eyes
    Gather all the kindling
    About your heart
    To create one spark
    That is all you need
    To nourish the flame
    That will cleanse the dark
    Of its weight of festered fear.
    A new confidence will come alive
    To urge you towards higher ground
    Where your imagination
    Will learn to engage with difficulty
    As its most rewarding threshold !

    “For Courage ” by John O’Donohue

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