The First Mention of Lung Transplant…

By Christopher Green

I wake up tired. I go through the day tired. It’s a bone deep weariness that eats at you no matter how upbeat or optimistic you try to be. And yet, I still plod on. About fifteen years ago, after I think was my third or fourth hospitalization for pneumonia (some in ICU) or some other respiratory ailment, I first heard the phrase “a potential Lung Transplant may be in your future.”

I can vividly remember the cold shiver that ran up and down my spine when those words sunk in. 

Ever since that day, sometime back in the mid 90’s, I was determined to do everything possible to stave off what my doctor told me, what I thought was, the worse case scenario. I ate right, I exercised, I lost weight and yet I was still always tired, always short on the breath walking up a few flights.

The problem for me was that I was not being told the whole truth. My diagnosis was that catchall condition, Asthma, and I was treated with Theophylline (Slo-Bin) and an inhaler. I know a whole lot of people who have Asthma that were not struggling near as much as I was.

But being the thickheaded man I am, I kept right on plowing as if nothing was wrong other than an irritating condition that a few puffs of alburteral would magically cure.

At that time, I was serving as the treasurer for the county Democratic Party, doing taxes and writing a column for a local alternative magazine that was half opinion and half reporting. Remember this was before the internet so I actually had to go out and shake the trees, so to speak, to get my story.

As you might have guessed by now, it just got progressively worse.

So bad that my sister, the Nurse Practitioner, we are all so proud, suggested I change my GP and see what he had to say. Since I was still working at the time, right smack in the middle of the 2000 election here in Cuyahoga County, I had no shame using work as an excuse for breaking a couple of appointments. I knew I was having trouble. I knew something more than Asthma was making me so tired all the time.

As most men of a certain age would never admit, only after the discovery process was over, I was frightened, frightened about what this new Doctor would say, frightened that instead of Asthma he would discover Lung Cancer or Emphysema or some other disease I never knew existed.

He ordered a couple of tests, an X-ray, a CAT scan, a breathing evaluation and a culture of the crud I was coughing up.  Within a few days, he came back with the diagnosis my so-called expert lung doctor could not find or would not tell me.

I had the disease I never knew existed. What it was was a bad case of Bronchiectasis, an increasingly rare condition but, if caught early enough, treatable. More on that later.

Suffice it to say my GP strongly suggested I look into disability. I had heard how hard it was to qualify but with this diagnosis, I was declared fully disabled within three months. This all occurred from late 2000 to early 2002. Within the span of about 14 months, I went from a guy desperately struggling to keep all the balls up in the air at once to someone who suddenly had too much time on my hands.

I think understanding where you have been makes it easier to see where you are. I don’t think you can truly or fully understand a person until you flesh out all the stuff that life leaves stuck on that person. That’s why I am spilling my guts.

Right now, I am still getting over the shock that I am going to be going through the process to be listed for a transplant. Sounds like a renovation show on HGTV doesn’t it?

I think that’s enough back-story for today.

Today was a good air day. My Pulse Oximeter was coming in at 97/97 while resting on three liters of Oxygen. For those who do not know, the Pulse Oximeter, or Pulse Ox, measures the saturation of O2 in your blood by shooting light rays through your finger and then measures how much light the hemoglobin in your blood absorbs. The higher the number, the more O2 is coursing through your body.

Let me tell you, it sure beats sticking a big jagged needle into you artery to get arterial blood to measure. That hurts like the dickens since there are a whole lot of active nerves surrounding your artery  so you can react when threatened. That is how they measured the O2 saturation back in the good old days.

By the way, the affordable ones you can get on Amazon and other places use only two light pulses whereas the ones used by professionals use more. I use it only as another gauge of where I am at a certain point. It is a useful tool and I am a gadget guy who likes to measure things so it fits me fine. It’s like a thermometer, nothing more and nothing less.

There. That’s it for today.

More about  Bronchiectasis here:


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