Realities

Time is slipping away,

Time is money,

Time flies,

No time left,

perhaps,

Maybe.

Love is in bloom,

Love is eternal,

Love heals,

I give love,

not always,

Selfishness.

Laughter is good medicine,

Laughter is contagious,

Laughter rings,

I laugh,

at times,

Smile.

Pain, a constant companion.

Pain is healing

Pain reminds;

I’m human

I know,

Peace.

Remebering When…a Day In the Life

I was admitted to the hospital last Friday due to yet another pneumothorax, or in layman’s terms, a collapsed lung, ugh.  After more than four of these, you’d think I’d be used it!  So, after a chest tube and two days in the hospital it has re-inflated, and I’m good to go, with one exception, I was also diagnosed with RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) AND still tested positive for Type-A Influenza.

I started treatments which have prolonged my stay in the hospital for 5 more days! Yippee!  I’m thankful though, had I not been admitted last Friday chances are I would have turned right around and driven four hours back to be re-admitted on Sunday.  So, it was very providential that I had a collapsed lung!

While in the hospital in the Pulmonary Unit, you are encouraged to walk as much as you can.  Today I walked a mile and I’m going for more tomorrow.  As a lung transplant patient, you are VERY grateful that you can!  However, this unit has pulmonary patients that are in various stages of health.  Some are waiting on a lung transplant, some are post-transplant and others are freshly out of ICU following transplant, and have been moved to this unit, which also serves as a step-down unit.  Then there are those of us dealing with rejection issues, and other issues, that need treatment, like me.

As I walked the halls today I saw folks struggling just to take a few steps.  Some were old, some were really young.  Most were on oxygen to some degree.  Everyone I saw caused my mind to flash back to my days before and immediately after my double-lung transplant in July 2008.

If you’ve never struggled to breathe you probably can’t relate to what someone whose lung function is severely compromised is going through.  Let me just say, you feel like you are suffocating.  Or perhaps drowning.  It robs you of energy, stamina and strength.  You constantly feel like you might die from whatever is going on.  You gasp for breath with every step.

I remember fighting to take a walk around the hallway right after transplant.  You use a walker, or a rolling walker, you might be on oxygen. You have multiple chest tubes hanging out of you.  You feel very fragile with each step.  You have to make your body press on.  Everything in your mind is screaming, “I can’t do this!”  Everything in your heart desperately wants to keep going.

What I took away from seeing these patients in various stages of their journey is this; I will NEVER take for granted how far the Lord has allowed me to come in the past 5 plus years. It brought back SO many memories, and here are just a few.

I can remember struggling just to get dressed.

I can remember thinking, “There is no way I can even walk today.”

I remember the hot summer, and how it robbed you of even more oxygen.

I remember struggling for air just to eat a meal.

I remember the only comfort came when I was lying in bed, being still.

I remember constantly being on oxygen.

I remember dreaming that I was running, or hiking, or doing normal daily activities.  Then I would wake up to reality.

I remember wondering if the pager was EVER going to go off with the news that it was my turn!

But the best part is, I remember the day we received “the call” that there were, as the hospital put it, “A pair of beautiful lungs for me,” and that it was time to come in for surgery.

Every now and then, different parts of the journey flash across my mind.  Today was one of those days.

Today, I remembered, and was humbled yet again.

Take Your Breath Away

There are many times you hear the expression, “That took my breath away.”  For lung transplant patients there is one thing that will do just that, rejection.  Statistics say that within five years of a lung transplant, almost half of all recipients develop BOS, which is a debilitating and irreversible type of rejection.  This is called chronic rejection, because it is irreversible.  The five-year survival rate of lung transplantation is among the worst of all commonly transplanted solid organs.

As a lung transplant patient, I was well informed of what the “chances” were when I decided to opt for a double-lung transplant in 2oo8.  I knew full well that this wasn’t a “cure” but rather, it was kind of like swapping one disease for another.  Most all lung transplant patients constantly have the thought of rejection in the back of their mind, even while living our lives to the fullest extent possible.  It’s just a fact we live with day to day.
What is rejection?

An organ recipient’s immune response in which cells in the body recognize a transplanted organ as different from the rest of the body and attempt to destroy it.

Not a pleasant thought to live with, but reality nonetheless.

Because lung transplantation is still a relatively rare procedure, research funding for this area is significantly insufficient.  There are NO effective treatments for chronic rejection and doctors have only theories as to what leads to the high rate of rejection incidences in patients.

Enter organizations like the Lung Transplant Foundation.  They are leading the charge to raise awareness and funds to counter the lack of support from the National Institutes of Health.  While research continues at ever-increasing rates, there is still a GREAT need for additional funding in this area.

Please consider joining their cause and help raise support as well as awareness!

Together, we can help breath new life into lung transplant research and return the breath of life to many!

Visit their website for more information and find how you can get involved.

http://lungtransplantfoundation.org/main/