A little over a year ago, I had a guest post from a former patient of mine with end-stage cystic fibrosis lung disease. Renu Linberg wrote movingly:
I’m trying to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, with the stressful days, with the breathless, can’t-get-off-the-couch days. I am learning to sit through those moments, and acknowledge the anxiety, or fear, or stress. For once those emotions get acknowledged, they seem to have less of a hold on my mind, as though that’s all they wanted in the first place. However, as my body has slowed down, my ability to cope has changed. Where I was once able to go for a swim or a hike, I can now only walk very slowly with a lot of oxygen pumping into my nose
About one year ago, she received a double lung transplant. And now she has written about this for an online magazine called Hello Giggles. She describes waiting in the hospital immediately before her transplant:
I saw my hand, with the slightly curved nails, and the pale fingertips, signing my name, and I knew that it was a hand connected to my arm, connected to my body, yet the whole situation was too surreal to fully, in the moment, process.
With that signature, essentially, I was saying, “Permission to perform a double lung transplant, granted. Proceed forth with the utmost caution and delicacy, as I am rather fond of living, despite my own lungs inability to keep doing so.”
Fortunately, the surgery was a success, and things have gone well for Renu:
I am almost one year post transplant. I can now take the stairs again, and walk up hills. I have returned my supplemental oxygen and no longer have an IV pole as a dance partner. I can laugh and sing without wheezing and stopping to catch my breath. I am finally embracing my slightly different life, and realizing that while it may be an odd life, and wildly unpredictable, the best ones always are.
Honestly, this brought a smile to my face, and (I confess) a tear to my eye. Renu is a success story, and there are many others like her. However, not everyone is so lucky, because there is a shortage of organ donors. According to Organdonor.gov, almost 120,000 people are waiting for organ transplantation, and eight die every day. One donor can save eight lives. If you aren’t already registered, please do so.