My journey to a new heart

Keith Benoist update

Long story short: His doctors still cannot offer a hard explanation on his situation. However, due to irregular heartbeats and occasional skipped beats, they decided to implant a pacemaker ASAP… It’s a Medtronic A2DR01 MRI-Safe, “Sure Scan” cardio pulse enhancing device. That’s Fancy!

When they were about to start the procedure, the anesthesiologist leans over, says, “Okay, so you’re here for a pacemaker, right?”   Keith says, “Pacemaker? I thought I was here for a ‘Peacemaker’. Colt .45, 1873 model?”  The nurses all laughed. All native Texans ;)

So anyway, Keith says he feels fine now. If a major electrical malfunction occurs in his heart, the pacemaker will handle it. However, blood clots are a separate issue. The doctors are totally stumped.

We certainly appreciate ANY & ALL prayers forward to our friend Keith. He is a true gentleman. 

By the way, Keith’s still out taking fabulous outdoor photographs. Nothing seems to stop him. Check-out some of his recent star-tracks below. You can see some others on his new’ish website at www.mississippigreetings.com… Look for the incredible series of shots of an osprey harassing a bald eagle that was eating a duck in a tree :-0 

Monday, March 10, 2014

This is a big catch-up post.. again!

Once Jeff and I returned from the Banner Elk getaway, it was serious GO TIME! My Mayo PT program was coming to an end and we had to figure out what our next step would be.

Fortunately, Jeff can work on his projects from anywhere so we’ve decided to keep this crew together a bit longer!  So, we have been house/apartment hunting in Savannah for a while and we finally nailed a good place down. I am so thrilled about this find because it’s literally two doors down from where I used to live! I have my same awesome neighbors, plus new ones, so it’s a true homecoming… And no awkward first meetings here! They are totally used to my 4:00AM phone calls asking if I can sit in their basement during a tornado watch while they go back to sleep.

Friday, February 21, 2014


Today was a happy and sad day. I have really grown accustomed to seeing all PT friends, therapists and other patients, three days a week. PT was really my first post-transplant independent responsibility, which gave me some feeling of normalcy again. However, after watching other patients graduate the program and getting back to their lives, I can’t deny that I was looking foreword to getting back to the real world and starting my new life. I love all of the PT ladies who got me through this time. Not only did they help me with physical recovery but also through emotional. It has been Jeff and I here, and when I needed “motherly advice,” or just girl chat, I turned to them.

No ordinary Graduation cap will do here. This is super serious so I had to bring the Antlers out! - Woo Hoo!


 Jeff likes this picture best :-\   He’s so Wes Anderson. 


Tuesday, February 25, 2014


The time leading up to this biopsy was sort-of nerve-racking for me, considering it was the first time I had to wait an entire month. For the past few weeks I have been a little tired, more so than usual, and the fact that it could be my body rejecting my new organ is hard to forget. 

Dr. Yip and Fellow Dr. Habib performed the procedure this time. Two of my all time favorite doctors!!


As mentioned before, I have a small vein so it’s quite difficult for the doctors and very painful for me.  

SOOO, the next day, I received word that I have “zero” signs of rejection!!! Not only that, but I also get to be taken off of 2 medications… AND the best part… a lower dosage of Steroids (Prednisone)! This stuff is the worst!  I am so thankful for the GREAT news that continues to come my way!


So we actually filled-up a small U-haul on the 24th and pulled it to the Mayo Clinic for my Biopsy… Okay so I guess we were ready to go. 

Needless to say, I did none of the heavy lifting :-D


So I got on my bike and just had to ride! (I think it’s okay for me to do that now..?) Whee!!!


I wonder if people think that is my picture and I am from Prince Edward Island?


Thank you Jacksonville! You will forever hold a special place in my heart :)



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Okay so I know it seems like I’ve become a huge slacker on my Tumblr but, like I was saying, we’ve just been so busy as of late. There is so much catching-up to do… for both of us. Essentially we are starting our lives over. But I say “WooHoo!” because that means I have a life to live!

So, after we learned that our apartment visits were postponed last week, we decided to tag along with Emerson to his place in Banner Elk, NC. - with doctors approval of course ;) Plus our good friend John Schoettle and his absolutely precious daughter Lauren decided to come up to get out of Savannah too. 

But apparently Jeff and I are the ONLY two people in the southeast who actually wanted to see snow this past weekend! We missed this splendid winter everyone has been talking about. So what better way to celebrate ”Heart Day!”

It was the most relaxing and enjoyable trip though. It was completely unanticipated and I felt so great the whole time! Em was a terrific host of course and we’re so thankful to him for insisting on our being there!  

Don’t worry, I did not go skiing or anything like that but I did get to observe. Plus there was an epic snowball fight that took place and I was going for some serious head-shots !  (Lauren started it.)

Anyway, we made it back to Savannah yesterday afternoon. We saw one apartment there this morning, we returned to Jacksonville today Hopefully this is a homestretch week or two of PT at the MAYO.

Here are some pictures from our little get-away: 

There was about a foot of snow when we arrived in BE!


The Elk river near the house.image

Sashaying up a trail and just loving life! Deep clean breaths! 


Wrestling a local bear. I’m telling you this heart really works! 


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hi everyone,

Yes I know… I’m extremely late on my posting… But, I have an excuse. (At least I think I do.) I’m all over the place! Jeff and I traveled to Savannah a couple of days ago with full intentions to see a few apartments to possibly rent. But, after being stood-up on a couple of visits, we decided to do something different!

can’t wait to tell - STAY TUNED!


Friday, February 7, 2014

Hello all – Long time no see!

Jeff and I have been busy as of late. I have been working hard to excel in my PT (Physical Therapy;) sessions and to have successful biopsy’s…hence living a healthy day-to-day lifestyle with all of my new medications.

A lot is about to change for me. Soon, I’ll have to put on my “big girl pants” and face the real world again. I will be moving back to Savannah in the near future but I have to find a place to live as well as a new job. Essentially I will be starting over with my life. I have to admit, I’m a little scared but I’m so thankful I have the option! I have been cooped-up here in Jacksonville for months… and even most of last year in Savannah hospitals. I’m not sure I have any social skills anymore!

One part of the post transplant rehabilitation program here at the MAYO is Phychology. This program helps people deal with being an organ recipient, which is not only a miracle and a indescribable gift, BUT it’s the dealing with an actual MIRACLE and INDESCRIBABLE gift…It’s hard to explain and impossible to take-in.

But the program also helps with coping with:

  • Physical and emotional changes (medicine that affects me)
  • Anxiety & Depression (worry of getting sick again, that I’m not taking my meds correctly, that my life expectancy isn’t as long, etc… )

All of this typically sets-in around the second month of post-transplant. I can honestly say if it weren’t for my support group and my faith in God, I would drive myself mad. I can’t understand how anyone without faith in God and a phenomenal support group could survive an ordeal like this.

I usually experience fears for about 1.5 seconds before they are shot down with positive (Aka: REALISTIC) thought. I’m just so excited about this new beautiful life I’ve been blessed with. I truly have no excuse to worry considering what I’ve just been through.

Who has time to worry? Not Me Baby!


 We think that former WHAM! tallent, George Michael, wrote this.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Today I had one of my last scheduled bi-weekly biopsies. We dealt with my small vein dilemma again but, clinically, all went well (via my neck and not the groin thankfully ;)  We shall learn the outcome tomorrow. 

I’ve had a pretty slow/yucky week. I’ve been plagued by allergies so I’ve been laying low in order to rule out a bacterial virus, which is the LAST thing I can handle right now due to my really low immune system. Thankfully, it seems to be coming to an end.

See how sick? I told you. Gross!  And yes, I’m wearing a faux fur scarf.


I did get to make my first big solo voyage to Savannah on Monday. It’s kind-of a hassle trying to organize my life in one state while I’m in another, so there is always El Camino (That’s Spanish for “The Road.” I don’t have an El Camino car or anything.)

But I was so seriously excited about driving. If you know me at all, you know I LOVE a road trip! All friends in high-school and college can attest to this.

I did check in with my brother at just about every other exit but it was a little nerve racking for both of us, considering we have been walking on egg-shells for months now. Anyway, it was a success! I made it to all necessary stops; Savannah, Fresh Market, and back to Jacksonville like a big girl!  


Excitement on the road! Eeeeek!!!!


This past weekend I had one of my long-time and very best friends came for a visit! (Also cousin…. counting how many removed)  Clayton! XOXOXO 


Oh and I had the privilege of being able to capture this beautiful East Coast sunrise last Thursday. No question about it, God is beyond amazing!


Keith decided to try some photo painting with a flashlight - Cool!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My apologies for my late post. Ever since I’ve been able to get around more independently, my calendar has been completely full! We’re trying to catch-up with so much that we had to suspend.

The Savannah Visit. Jeff and I were “allowed” to get out of town and go to Savannah last weekend. I finally got to go through boxes of things I’m behind on. But at least I got a fire! I’ve been wishing for a REAL fire this year!


Biopsy. They prepped me for a groin entry biopsy last time. This brought back memories… But thank the Lord they found a way to go through my neck again.

Also, I got to visit with one of my wonderful fellows that took care of me while I stayed at the Mayo, pre-biopsy!


Hair Appointment. For the first time since I became ill in early 2013, I finally had a chance to fulfill a hair appointment. This place is Great!!!image

Jeff and I had lunch with one of our great nurses…Better known as MD. We have made life long friends here.  


Thanks to a close family friend (again), my brother was able to lunch at TPC Sawgrass. He took this picture of a few of the PGA Champions lockers for me because he knows I LOVE Fred Couples. This is where I’m moving into after I leave the condo here in Jacksonville. It’s a little snug however I think Freddie will learn to live with me:) Of course I need to discuss this with Emerson first :)


Apparently these guys were pretty good too:



When my parents came down last we went to St. Augustine. My dad (a huge history buff) had to visit the Pirates Museum.

Dad scared to death by a skeleton!


Mom trying to light a canon fuse


Yes, we are adults.


The Gator bowl here in Jacksonville got rained out and the UGA fans didn’t like that. However, I think these fans need to take a few tips from my MAYO tailgate. Rookies! 


JENGA!       JENGA!        JENGA!       JENGA!


Back to some serious work… with antlers of course.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Hi everyone!

Keith’s star track picture of the Presbyterian Steeple exemplifys how I’m feeling today … I found out that my body is not rejecting my new heart!!! Thank you Lord!!!

Though I stress the biopsy procedure, I stress not knowing if I’m rejecting even more. I know several post-transplant patients that have had big setbacks because of rejection and I just pray I don’t have to go through that. There is still a long road to recovery and I certainly appreciate your continued love and support. I could not do this without you!