I never thought that I would be one to get hung up on anniversary dates but as my one year mark approaches, I find that I'm noticing the days and celebrating as each one passes. It was a year ago today I was in the hospital with a pulmonary embolism, rapidly declining lung function, and barely had energy to walk to the bathroom, 5 feet from the bed. I was told, a year ago today, that I was getting my lung transplant in the morning. It didn't happen for another two days but this was the day when the news was broken.
I was at St. Micheal's hospital when two nurses came into my room while I was using the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), the only thing keeping me breathing comfortably, to tell me that they just received a call from the Toronto General Hospital (TGH) that after waiting for 13 months, there were lungs for me and that I was to be moved over to TGH for my double lung transplant the next morning. The nurses excitedly dumped this information on me and then stared, waiting for a reaction.
I kept waiting for myself to feel relief or excitement but instead I just felt tired and doubt that it would actually happen. I was so mentally prepared for it to be a false call (as so many people get at least one false call) that I figured it couldn't actually be happening. The nurses seemed to be waiting for a more external reaction than my 'that's great, yay.'
They kept staring at me as thought they were waiting to comfort me when I broke into tears of joy or started screaming or something. Then they kept asking if I was going to call my family. As though I had been waiting for hours before breaking the news to them. I replied that I was going to wait until I felt energetic enough to be disconnect from the CPAP long enough to chat (it's really hard to talk while connected) and once I processed my shock. After realizing they weren't going to get the reaction they wanted and that I wasn't going to call people with them standing there, they left. It was all very strange.
Yes, I called my family after that. And yes, I was pleased/in shock with the news. But I didn't have the energy for a big emotional outburst. I was struggling to breathe and my body was shutting down. It's not exactly like I could do cartwheels of celebration in the hallway.
To be honest, it's best that I didn't get super pumped about the process because the next day was a very long, scary wait for me and the family. Mostly for the family as I was out of it for the majority of the day.
And here I am, one year later sitting in the hospital. I didn't know what to imagine of my life one year post-transplant but I never pictured that this would be this. Waiting for my PET scan tomorrow to see how much the cancer has spread. I pictured being finally given the okay to return to work or having succeeded in running 5K or prepping everything for winter.
And yet, would I do it all again if given the choice? Yes. I would be dead if I hadn't had the transplant last year and while I may complain (a lot) about being stuck here in the hospital, I prefer this to death. There is nothing that really puts your complaints in perspective than 'well, you could be dead.'
I can't say that my entire post-transplant year was wonderful. There were some hard weeks/months but there were some wonderful moments inside those hard weeks/months.
I'm sure I'll have more to say as I reflect on the past year and how much things have changed from two years ago. Even though I'm in the hospital, I'm not on oxygen, don't require physiotherapy, and only have two aerosol masks. It's a huge change. One that would be even better if they let me go home in the next few days.