Transplanting at 4


A few years back, a neighbor brought us a lady slipper from the nearby woods. Dave planted it but alas, it died very quickly. After researching the transplanting of these delicate flowers, botanists discovered that lady slippers rarely transplant well because they flourish in the exact bacteria that exists in the soil where they live. Knowing the location of several of these lady slipper pockets, we now take the ATV out and enjoy them where they are at home. Transplanting them doesn’t work well.

As a child, I experienced a very difficult transplant, one that, after a spinal tap in my doctor’s office, took me 43 miles away. My parents carefully wrapped me in a blanket that July day, and placed me in the backseat for the trip that would drastically change my life. When the ’39 Olds  stopped, we had arrived at Vassar Brothers Hospital in Poughkeepsie, New York, one of the few hospitals accepting polio patients. I don’t remember the goodbye that was said between my parents and me that day; I actually have only a few clear memories because I was so young. 

Twenty beds occupied one large room, 10 beds on each side with iron lungs out in the hall. The next youngest patient to me in our room was 20. My parents visited on Saturdays and Sundays. Hospital rules being what they were then, mom and dad had to go up to Hyde Park to spend time out of the hospital between the afternoon and evening visiting hours. I vaguely remember repeatedly pressing my call button one night, but the hot packs remained  on my back and the backs of my legs all night, resulting in blisters the next morning. My parents met with the administrator of the hospital, which in its defense, was terribly overworked and understaffed, but after one month at Vassar, the next transplant came.

An ambulance would take me 43 miles south to the the New York State Rehabilitation Hospital, now know as Helen Hayes Hospital. The second pot for the transplanted little redhead would teach her to swim and exercise weakened muscles. This hospital would allow her beloved cousins to visit, along with her parents, on Saturdays or Sundays. 

During her 5 months in residence at NYSRH, the 4-year-old sang “Jesus Loves Me” to all the staff and folded diapers for the infants on the children’s ward where she shared a room with other youngsters. She also picked up a lifelong dislike for poached eggs and canned asparagus. Thinking she was crafty, she hid these things under other bowls on the tray. She sang along to “Irene Goodnight, Irene,”  and repeatedly asked her parents if she could take one of the infants home with her!
But before this major transplant to two hospitals in six months’ time, the Lord had already planted the good seeds of faith. Her parents, Grandma Lundy, and her Otisville church had all shared truths about Jesus with her through songs and Bible verses. And by God’s grace alone, one of the lady slipper  transplants did survive those months, returning home on January 21.

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