The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 23, 2013

For Alyssa Sandeen, waiting is the heart of the matter



She can leave the floor she’s on if accompanied by a nurse, such as on Sundays, when a nurse accompanies her to church services. (Sandeen says her faith means a lot to her, which is evidenced by the picture of Jesus on the wall behind her, close to her bed. It stays even when coloring book pictures given to her by well-wishing kids are taken down to make room for the flood of new pictures, cards and posters that come in regularly.)

Clearly, the living situation is frustrating. But she understands it all has a purpose.

“It was so tough at the beginning,” she said. “I think I’m starting to cope with it a little better. I have a lot of family and friends, and Facebook lets me get a little taste of reality. If I didn’t have any family support, I would definitely not be here. ”

It would seem logical that Sandeen is at least slightly miserable. But Sandeen is a puzzle, a ham, and a performer. She’s crafty, fun loving, unafraid to use obscene finger gestures to make sure photographers can’t publish a picture of her. She kills time by gazing out the window at the “hot construction guys” and entertaining friends on weekends. She giddily opens cards from people she’s never met. One recent day, she opened one from a woman in Brooklyn Park. The inspirational message printed on the card came with a hand-written note from the woman, encouraging Sandeen to keep her head up, keep hope alive, have faith that a new heart will arrive soon.

And sometimes, she just needs to be silly.

Late one recent weekday morning, she put on her slippers and headed down the hall with mom following, pushing her IV pole, the one she’d decorated with colorful tape. In one hand, she held a cane. In the other, a syringe filled with water.

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