By Christopher Green
Backward, in this instance, is stepping back further and further from the day I will need to go under the knife, to take into my body the lungs from some unfortunate, but healthy person, who may have checked off that box on the back of their Driver’s License to become an organ donor with just a shrug.
Last fall, when I was in the hospital with that very nasty cocktail of infections, my regular pulmonary doc, Dr. Haddad, told me in the follow up visit that it could very well take a year to bounce back from the damage that the infection had wreaked upon my lungs.
He was off in his prediction. It has taken just under ten months.
I was literally coughing up destroyed lung tissue and believe me when I tell you, that is not something you want to find in your sink. It was scary. I think I was more scared at that time than at any other time of my life. And I have been in some very scary situations over the years.
When the pics from my bronchoscopy came back, I literally shuddered. In the old days, people would say someone was walking on my grave. Here is one pic from that. You can see why I was a little taken aback.
This particular picture is a look at how an infection actually presents itself.
Here is what I looked like back then, pensive and deeply concerned about my state of health.
The fact that this was the view out of my window made it a little easier to cope.
It was in the early stages of recovering from those infections that I schlepped over to the Cleveland Clinic to reacquaint myself with the good Dr. Budev.
That’s enough background; if you have been keeping up, this is all old news.
So today was this years’ third quarterly visit with Dr. Sharma, the first doctor to really pin down what was wrong with me. We talk about a lot of stuff including but not limited to the lung transplant issue. We went over the pain medications I take and how they affect me; just normal stuff that a guy shares with his doctor.
He also explained to me about why certain pain meds are verboten for me. Nothing narcotic because they will, of course, have an effect on my breathing. He cleared that up for me. I have settled into a regime of painkillers and muscle relaxers that take the edge off and also minimize the pain when things get, as they did last week, acute.
Since the last time I talked with him, back in June, I have lost 10 lbs and have dropped almost 4” off my waistline. He was glad about that, happy to see that I was still focused on my overall health and not preoccupied by The Lung Transplant.
Come to think about it, I just mentioned to him about how my back spasm caused me to push back my 6-minute walk until next week and that was it. Oh, I also got this years’ flu shot. It’s all the rage, you see, for us pulmonary-challenged.
It’s funny how something that preoccupied me almost to distraction just a few months ago is now something that is still with me at all times, but has taken a back seat as the problems and challenges of day to day living crowd out thoughts of the transplant.
We left it at that. Next Tuesday is the big day, the day when I take that 6-minute walk. This is very important, but feeling the way I am feeling now and given the fact I can now regularly do 20-minutes on the stationary bike, I am less nervous this time around.
Who knows what the walk will find. Perhaps my optimism is unfounded. I really won’t know until the walk is over. By the way, I am also going to have that battery of other lung function tests that I had last time. They will know for sure how well I am doing.
I think they will want to keep an eye on me, but not as close as they have been.
If in the post Clinic visit post I start off with having to get a colonoscopy, you will know things did not go all that well.
Whatever happens on Tuesday, I will let you know.
I do know that sometime in my future I will have to get a lung transplant. There is just too much damage to the tissue to think otherwise. But now, with a rejuvenated biotech industry once again given access to stem cells for research, who knows what can happen over the next few years.
I am not holding my breath, but I have more hope for the future, at least in this area, than I had when I first heard the words “Lung Transplant” way back in 2004. To tell you the truth, I seriously thought I would have already gone under the knife by now, that I would be either thriving or dead.
No one can predict the future. But one can take some matters into their own hands and try and at least have an impact on how things will turn out.
I never gave up, even though there were several times I felt like all the meds and daily grind of staving off the disease was taking over my life. Many times, especially after that last stay in the hospital, I felt like just giving up. But something sparked me, something deep inside of me was telling me to push on, keep going.
I am determined to wring as much life as I can out from this much-damaged body I that I have. At least I have my mind, my will and a hunger for knowledge that keeps me engrossed and I guess distracted. In the long run, that is what has saved me from slipping into wallowing in self-pity.
Well, enough of all this.
I will see you all again next Tuesday night. Thank you all for coming along on this journey with me. There really is safety in numbers.