September 10, 2014, was the one year anniversary of my husband Randy’s shocking double lung transplant. Randy had been having some breathing issues, but his respiratory failures in August 2013 were events that rocked our family and friends, and almost cost him his life.
He was critical for 3 months, on life support for 12 days. Our gratitude to the donor and his family is boundless. This donor saved many lives, not just Randy’s. His heart and liver were also used as donor organs. To read about the ordeal, visit the category, An Unexpected Journey, lung transplant, on HAPPY REBIRTH DAY TO RANDY!
One year! How much can be packed into a single year? Since my mother’s illness and passing in June 2013, the whirlwind has not stopped. As stated above, Randy went into respiratory distress in August 2013, and we came close to losing him. A caring donor and donor family, and fabulous doctors at UT Southwestern Lung and Heart Transplant Center, saved his life. Friends and family supported my children and I through the entire event. How can anyone be so fortunate? As Rosemary Clooney would say, “I count my blessings instead of sheep.” And they are so numerous.
The ways of fate are strange.
I lost my father to lung disease when I was 25, and my mother also passed from the same lung disease. My children were 22 and 26 when Randy became critically ill from a lung disease that was later diagnosed as Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. His last words to me as he was put on life support were, “I’m so sorry I am doing to you what your dad did.”
I told him this was different, that HE would live. I never felt like he was going to actually die, though of course the possibility was there and actually, it was strongly probable.
I don’t like to tempt fate. I sometimes see “fate” as a mischievous fairy, flitting about, causing havoc here and there. I am constantly superstitious about “fate”, as she seems to follow me around a little too much for my comfort. I knock on wood, throw salt over my shoulder, and try to placate her at all times. I never say “this is the worst that could happen”, because she (“fate”) has taught me that there is always something worse.
In some ways I feared more for my children than for myself.
What on earth were the odds that they would lose their father like I did, at a similar age? I don’t know. But there is always the possibility lurking as lung transplant patients have the lowest survival rate of any transplant patients. One of the reasons is the fact that the lungs are the only organs open to the air (except the skin, of course), so the danger of bacteria, germs, and illness is always present. Randy wears a mask to protect himself in large crowds or when near those who are coughing or sniffling.
I am very hopeful and confident that Randy will live a long life, but as I said, the fear always lurks in the background. The trick is not to let the fear overtake you…to remain positive and hopeful and enjoy every minute. Don’t wait to do the things you want to do….time is not guaranteed to any of us.
How could I possibly thank our family and dear friends who supported us through the worst experience of our lives? They visited Randy, from Dallas and from around the country. They sent meals, they sat with me, with our family, they prayed, they hoped, they sent their best and most optimistic thoughts. They sent cheerful emails, and loving messages. They came to the hospital with food and friendship and hope. ( I don’t hold my weight gain against them!). I could never, never express my gratitude adequately. I hope they know how much I love and treasure them, and every act of kindness they performed.
One Year After Double Lung Transplant
Randy continues to gain in strength every day. From not being able to walk or lift an arm 11 months ago he is now lifting weights, walking, and traveling once again. We took an amazing trip up the Pacific Coast Highway and to Lake Tahoe. He has now been cleared for international travel (within reason) and for easy, relaxing scuba diving!
2015 looks to be a year of joy.
Both of my children are engaged to be married, and within four months of each other! It will be a busy, but very happy, time in our lives. We move forward with optimism, love, and joy into a bright, promising future.
Thank you all for your love and support. I am in love with the world, and hope that you are all blessed with good health and happiness! Today, life is good!