Diary offers glimpse of Johnson's day-to-day challenge

By Louis Hoglund Publisher-editor If only the story of Nathan Johnsons new heart could have a happy ending. Pam Johnson wouldnt be honest if she didnt acknowledge an unfortunate, though entirely understandable, realty: Nathans new heart was a mir...

By Louis Hoglund


If only the story of Nathan Johnsons new heart could have a happy ending.

Pam Johnson wouldnt be honest if she didnt acknowledge an unfortunate, though entirely understandable, realty: Nathans new heart was a miracle from heaven above; but daily life--sometimes--feels like a curse from the opposite direction.

The ordeal has been a strain on the family, their marriage, and the extended family.


Faith in God has helped Eugene, Pam, Nathan and Kayla cope with the three year struggle through Nathans diagnosis with a bad heart to the January, 2005 transplant.

The Johnsons arent really asking God for much at all. Only that, some day, hopefully, life will get easier, said Pam, with a weary, downtrodden edge to her voice.

For the Johnsons, happy endings are measured by the day. Usually, it means the day ended somewhat better than it started.

As for the Nathans ordeal. There may never be a final, happy end to the story--only a continuous string of small victories over adversity and quiet celebrations as setbacks are overcome.

The load is heavy for the Johnsons: Constant fear of heart rejection: malfunctioning immune system; high susceptibility to viruses and bugs of all descriptions; back and forth trips to Minneapolis; emergency room visits; a complicated array of medications

Printed here are some recent excerpts from Pam Johnsons ongoing diary at Her messages offer a bittersweet insight into the familys struggles through the ups and downs; the moments of optimism--and the moments of anxiety.

Its May 16 as this newspaper goes to press.

Nathans body is trying to reject the foreign heart that enabled him to live. Radiation therapy is underway.


Everywhere, folks are praying.

Jan. 31, 2006 We have just returned from Nathans annual check-up...All went very well, but Nathan has a touch of a viral cold, so no biopsy this time. he will need to get rid of those bugs and then we can have that done. He has to be put under general anaesthesia and they did not want to risk any more problems so we made the decision to just wait until he is free of this cold and cough. But not easy to accomplish with ...all those bugs floating around. We try to be cautious as we can with Nathan but we cant put him in a bubble....

Feb. 12, 2006 Well, we have been to the ER (emergency room) once this week. Nathan started with an ear infection and then he was not keeping anything down and now he has pneumonia. So back on the antibiotics. He is on two different ones.... Pray that all gets back to normal--whatever that is....God bless, Happy Valentines Day, happy Heart Day....

Feb. 25, 2006 ...His magnesium level was very low so he had to go to the Perham hospital for an IV drip to get two grams of magnesium....He still seems to have a bit of a cough and i think he has sinus also as he had blood when he blew his nose this morning. When we go to the cities...(we) pray it will only be a one day trip. We are getting tired of winter and hope for warmer sunny days ahead...

March 5, 2006 We accomplished Nathans biopsy and arrived home again...Went well, no rejection and other tests come back very well. They did find some narrowing of the arteries. ....(Overall) We had very good results and we dont need to go back to the cities until July...Things are getting better and better each day...

April 3, 2006 Nathan is getting more and more anxious to go outside now that things look like spring is here...Still a bit on the cool side so we are being cautious and not letting him go out just yet. Eugene and I have had some difficulties that we have been working on, so say a prayer for us....This whole ordeal has been very hard on all of us and we need to just be thankful that we have two beautiful children that are very very active and challenging and at times but we just thank God for being by our side and helping us through our tough times.

April 9 After two trips to Fargo...we are now in the twin cities again....(Doctors) wanted us to go Friday night, but after getting up at 4 a.m. and then going to Fargo I could not drive another 5-6 hours to the cities so we made the trip early Saturday...It could mean signs of (heart) rejection so that means big doses of steroids. We pray that it is not the case.

April 10 News just arrived. Nathan has some rejection....Its a bummer. But what else can I do? I have already cried and that did not help so I guess some prayers is the next best thing and we need alot of them right now. ...His heart function is good, so we have caught this in time.


April 24 Well Nathan has been a bit under the weather with a runny nose and stuffy head....We have kept him home from preschool and daycare so as not to catch anything more.

Please keep us in your prayers and the other heart buddies that have been ill....

April 29 Well, we are back in the hospital again....Still show signs of rejection,,,(but) Nathan is still doing well with lots of energy and keeping the nurses on their toes....I really hoped this time we could do his biopsy and be on the way home again. I should know better. we never never do things easily. We always take the long way home.

Please pray that Nathan gets back on his feet again and that things get back to normal.....I would really like to know what (normal) is. Someone P-L-E-A-S-E tell me.

May 1, 2006 The news has come in. Nathan is in full blown rejection but is still functioning well so they are going to do lymph therapy radiation which will be twice a week for five weeks....

God, will you please carry us through this as you have in the past as life has never been so difficult with so many things to juggle around--a job, a family,and all the medications and all the doctor appointments. Please Lord...get us through these next weeks ahead.

May 2 ...Tomorrow he should get his first radiation therapy treatment.....With Gods love and blessing, we will get through this.....

May 4 Nathan had his first radiation therapy session (May 3) it went very very well. He needed no sedation and laid there just like a statue. I was so proud of him. ... He did fabulous.


May 7 Nathans treatment went well Friday, with the exception he did get sick...

May 8 We made it to the Cities and back again. Nathan had his third radiation treatment and he did a marvelous job again. Then Nathan had another heart echo. I did not hear the final results...but sounded like all was better.

May 12 We just left Nathan in the hans of the (medical staff) and they had to put him to sleep...That is the hardest part, leaving your child in the hands of a stranger. But a very competent one. He did very well this morning. We pray the biopsy goes we can be headed home in the direction that all the fishermen are going....We have been so blessed to have had such wonderful support...Keep praying because the power of prayer can be simply amazing. God bless.

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