I’ll start off with the swimming. I quit swimming when I was eight. I didn’t see the point in it since it only made me exhausted, and there were no results. I was swimming for 3 years, and I only managed to build up from 10 laps, 250 yards, to 12 laps, 300 yards. Swimming for me was exhausting. I wouldn’t even be halfway through a lap until my heart started pounding, my breathing would become desperate, my ears started ringing, and my vision would be blurry. That was my life.
It makes me sad that I couldn’t play sports like my classmates. If it wasn’t for my heart I would’ve advanced in swimming, maybe be on a team. Maybe I could’ve gotten a scholarship to college if it wasn’t for my heart. I could’ve played other sports too, like soccer or basketball.
After seven years of not swimming, I felt so much better in the water. The water soothed my joints and massaged my muscles. Immediately after transplant I was so sore that I couldn’t even stand.
I plan to start swimming as a sport. As I mentioned above, with my damaged heart I didn’t have the ability to play sports and therefore I was sad. After transplant I have a chance, and I’ll take it.
Today is my 16th birthday! My friend, Lydia, and I went to the Oakland Zoo to celebrate my birthday.
I specifically asked Lydia to celebrate my 16th birthday with me because I needed to tell her about my heart transplant. Lydia and I have been friends since 3rd grade, but we don’t go to the same school, so she really didn’t know what was going on.
She was pretty shocked. I guess it’s kinda weird for her to talk about it, since it is a heavy topic.
Last year October my grandma prayed for me. I remember she cried when my heart was failing. She believed that transplant would be my cure. She asked God “Please heal Justin before his 16th birthday.” After my 15th birthday I was evaluated for the transplant list. My grandma kept asking me whether or not the doctors accepted me onto the transplant list. A month later they called my Mom and told her I was denied.
Today is my 16th birthday. I’m grateful for my new heart.
Today is 6 months since my heart transplant. To celebrate this, I bought a Christmas ornament with Ray. Ray was at a conference on my birthday, so this is our make up “celebration”. I had “Justin’s Heart Transplant April 27, 2018” personalized on my Christmas ornament.
The 6 month mark is important because that’s when I was predicted to be able to start exercising (I already did). After 6 months, I can start training for running.
I released my cookbook today (and it was AMAZING).
Yesterday I was so excited that I stayed up late jamming to Hannah Montana.
Today at 2 PM I left school and met Sammie, Kina, and Ray at the quad. Sammie drove us to my house, and at 2:30 there was a limo in front of my house.
I mean, a LIMO!
The driver drove us to the Ronald McDonald House at Palo Alto. My mom and grandma already left before us, so they were already there.
When we arrived we were greated by a photographer sent by Stanford. He took pictures of us, and my mom came outside.
Oh, and Kayano came! In case you don’t know, Kayano was my neighbor at the Ronald McDonald House. We spent the summer of 2018 together.
Kayano got his kidney transplant! It occurred on April 6, 2019. If you remember the joy of January 3, 2019 and the disappointment of January 4, 2019, Kayano’s kidney was long overdue.
I’m so glad that I saw Kayano. It was nice touching up with old friends, especially seeing how well he was doing.
Another person that came was Jacob. I met Jacob at Camp Taylor, a camp just for patients with heart defects.
We grew up together, and he visited me at the hospital.
The inside of the Ronald McDonald House was incredible. Beth really outdid herself.
There was a table with a Make-A-Wish table cloth covering the surface, a custom poster with ‘Justin’s Just Recipes’ and my pictures on there, and the kitchen was fully ready for the presentation.
The cookbooks were beautiful. I know I saw them before on Shutterfly, but they looked better in person.
Are you ready for the most exciting part?
THE WATER BOTTLES HAD MY PICTURE ON IT!
I mean, you know you made it when the water bottles have your picture on it!
Along with that, the napkins had my name on it, and there were even bookmarks with my name on it!
As we approached five, it became more and more hectic. Reporters and people showed up.
It was AMAZING.
I met the CEO of Make-A-Wish, the CEO of the Ronald McDonald Houses, the board of directors of Make-A-Wish, the director of nutritional sciences at Lucile Packard, the director of marketing at Lucile Packard, and the East Bay representative of Donate Life.
I also met reporters from KTVU Fox 2 News, NBC Bay Area, KTSF Channel 26, Lucile Packard, The Palo Alto Weekly, and Make-A-Wish.
Get them contacts! Make those connections!
When it became five, I made my speech while mom and Victoria cooked the Pancit.
Click Here for my speech.
Afterwards, I signed a couple cookbooks and got interviewed by all the news stations.
It was special. Today was special.
A Lucile Packard representative asked if I was tired, but I told her no. Are you kidding?
I’ve never been the one who’s been noticed, or the person people would swoon over.
It was nice winning.
Bring on the reporters!
The driver drove Sammie, Alexa, Ray, and me back to my house in a black SUV (still pretty cool).
At home, Sammie sent Ray and Alexa back to their houses.
Reflecting back, I think today is more important than just a cookbook release. It’s a symbol of my heart transplant coming to an end.
I know that April 27, 2019 was technically the one year mark, but today feels more like the end of an era. I think today’s special event is really a sign to “move on”.
Today was the last day of school, and it couldn’t have gone better. I officially survived my sophomore year (10th grade) of High School!
I did fine academically this year, which is unexpected. Another thing surprising is how well I adjusted back into life.
This school year was different from all the other school years because of my heart transplant. A year ago, I was picking brochures for my online High School. I was preparing to start my sophomore year online.
I think my most significant accomplishment of this year was my success. I not only survived, but I also thrived.
In a year, I started a blog, released a cookbook, and developed healthy habits that’ll guide me for the rest of my life.
If I can do all of that within a year, who knows what will occur during the next year?
I have dreams, but for the first time, my dreams seem attainable. I’m so close to my goals that I can feel my fingertips barely grazing them.
As my English teacher said, “I’m expecting great things from you.”
This is only the beginning. The beginning of what? I don’t know. Whatever IT is, it’s going to be great.
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