“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
I had this tattooed on my foot a few years ago and I can definitely say that it has never been truer. If I ever needed evidence that God existed, the proof is that I’m still alive after everything I just went through.
For those of you who know me in person, you know that my blog is months out of date because I actually had my lung transplant!! And for those of you who don’t know me, but follow me, well, now you know! I’m still alive and kickin’.
The Night God and the Surgeon Chose Me
As with all transplants, it was completely last minute.
I had been extremely sick for a few months and finally ended up with a collapsed lung, which I have this really cool picture of for you.
I was scheduled for a bronchoscopy the next day to see if there was any way to repair the collapse, but instead I had a nurse wake me up casually in the middle of the night telling me that I was second in line for a pair of lungs!
Ummm what!?! Is this really happening? Why are you being so nonchalant?!
Basically, the lungs were meant to go to someone ahead of me, but if something were the slightest bit off then they would go to me. It was up to the surgeon.
It came down to two things, really. 1) I had the larger chest cavity and this happened to be a large pair of lungs and 2) I was really, reaaaally sick (the proof is in the pics at the bottom of the page). Through the grace of God, the surgeon chose me.
I got the lungs!
The transplant turned out to be the easy part. Everything has been perfect with my new lungs and my scars are beautiful and so, so small. Thank you Dr. Shigemura!
Everything else, on the other hand, did not go so well.
After surgery, my kidneys almost immediately shut down, pouring all kinds of toxins into my brain. I was having seizures and ended up in a medically induced coma for 3 days and they began kidney dialysis.
Luckily, my best friends sent me these awesome balloons to make everyone in the ICU jealous.
I woke up on a ventilator, knowing something had gone terribly wrong, but I couldn’t talk and I couldn’t write so I had no way to ask anyone what was happening. All i knew is that I felt like I couldn’t breathe because no one explained the ventilator was breathing for me and I was scared to death. This is a warning to anyone who may be waiting on a transplant, if you wake up on a ventilator, I promise you will be ok.
Eventually, I was able to write and ask my mom on paper what had happened and if I was going to be ok. She explained everything to me and told me the doctors had every hope that I would be fine.
And Then There was More
From there I had a few weeks of kidney dialysis and was finally able to go home….for one night…
On Mother’s Day something started to go wrong. We were having dinner and I started to get confused. There was a fork on my plate yet I couldn’t see it. My parents cut up chicken for me, but I kept thinking more needed cut. Later that night I began getting tremors, my stomach felt like I was on a roller coaster, my head was throbbing and then I started vomiting.
I had a stroke.
The left side of my body couldn’t function properly and I lost my peripheral vision in my left eye. I also ran into a lot of things lol.
Thank God it was a very minor stroke and I fully gained all function back after a few weeks…until…
I ended up going home again only to be life flighted back to Pittsburgh for congestive heart failure. (But, hey, flying in a helicopter was on my bucket list!)
You just can’t make this stuff up.
Don’t worry, the life flight people sent me a nice card and a fuzzy blanky a few weeks later to make it all better.
I also had tons of friends send me all these great stuffies throughout my stay!
I would say “long story short bla bla bla” but that was a very long story already. I’m okay now. Better than ok. I’m finally doing great. I’m 2 months out from surgery and I walk about a mile a day and I’m gaining strength and weight every day. I’m also gaining more and more faith every day. Every night I pray and thank God for my new lungs and I thank whoever gave their life for me to keep on living.
A few people have asked me if I’m going to contact the family of my donor and my answer for now is simply, “not yet.” I’m not ready. There are tons of unexpected emotions that come along with something so life altering. I’m truly thankful for what I’ve been given and would love to thank the family, and I will, one day, when I’m ready.
Just for a little recap and to help you remember never to take a day for granted, I just went through:
- a collapsed lung
- double lung transplant
- kidney failure
- a stroke
- congestive heart failure
- and finally a happy ending 🙂
Here’s what healthy lungs look like:
Here’s what my lungs looked like: All those little holes are from each time I had an infection. I have NO IDEA how I was still alive.