I can hardly believe we’re entering the second week in December. I think I’m going to blink and realize that Christmas has come and gone. Last week we went out and bought a real tree (which we had approved by the transplant team). Pre-transplant, the cold weather was very bothersome for Jody. As soon as he breathed that cold air into his failing lungs it caused his chest to tighten and elicited lots of intense coughing. So much so that sometimes it even caused bleeding in his lungs. Last winter I dreaded every time he stepped outside. Few things scared me like the site of him coughing up bright red blood, standing helpless, waiting and wondering if and when it would stop. People with CF have died from this alone; it can be very serious. I used to tell Jody to wrap a scarf around his mouth and nose, I’d tell him to go straight to his seat (I’d buckle the girls into their car seats), and sometimes we’d even use his handicapped sign to park close to an entrance so he had less exposure to that cold air. Often he needed to do an Albuterol nebulizer treatment after being outside to help open up his airways, relieving some of the chest tightness. There are so many things we take for granted in life, like being able to go outside and breathe comfortably and effortlessly. This winter is going to be different. While I’m scared of the fact that it’s cold and flu season (and I’ve been warned that Jody could be admitted 10 times this year for various bugs and infections), I feel such peace knowing that he can walk out the door and breathe well. No longer do I fear him coughing, no longer do I dread the site of blood spilling from his mouth. It’s odd to not hear his cough anymore… but it’s wonderful too! All that to say, aside from being cold, our hunt for the perfect Christmas tree went well; no oxygen, no shortness of breath, no coughing, no blood, and one perfectly green, perfectly fragrant six-foot Fraser fur.
Jody continues to make great progress, and his PFT’s are still climbing. Last week at clinic he was up to 85.4% lung function. Oddly, just two weeks after being lectured for driving and told that he wouldn’t be allowed to drive for six months, he was given the okay to drive again. We don’t pretend to understand what changed their minds, nor do we question the decision since Jody feels ready and it will make our lives easier to have two drivers in the family again.
I have been back to work for about 2-3 weeks now and it has not been easy. People ask me all the time how Jody is doing, and I appreciate that, he’s been through a lot and deserves to know that people care about him. Unfortunately, that’s normally where the conversation ends. Very few people ever think to ask how I am doing, really doing. These past three months (nearly) have been anything but stress-free. We’re finding that Jody has very little memory of his five weeks spent in the hospital which, for him, is probably for the best. I on the other hand have full recollection of it all, including things that I have chosen not to share on my blog. I’ve had very little time to process all of this as I have lived on survival mode. The weight of ‘single’ parenting, care giving, working to provide for my family, housekeeping, chauffeuring, arranging babysitters and doctors appointment after appointment are heavy upon my shoulders. Nearly every day off work is spent at some kind of appointment. I have adjusted my work schedule when I can, working all kinds of shifts to lessen the need for sitters, at the expense of sleep. Work in and of itself has been stressful lately with census surges and less than ideal staffing. Jody and I have had very little quality time together since transplant and I’ve spent little time with friends and doing the things I enjoy. All of this has taken its toll on me. This entire experience, including the two years leading up to transplant, has certainly changed me. I’m overjoyed with how well Jody is doing with his new lungs and words can’t describe how thankful I am for this gift, but just as it’s been hard on him it’s been hard on me too. I’m dreaming of a relaxing vacation, just he and I, where the ocean is clear, the sand is white, and his scar is faded. It will be a long time until this dream comes to fruition but I trust that one day it will, after all, isn’t that the point of this transplant, to enjoy life, to make dreams come true? We may not be reaping the full benefits of Jody’s new lungs yet, but I know we will. I know that my stress level will decrease, and one day (hopefully soon), life will be ‘normal’ again. Until then, I continue to put one foot in front of the other and press-on. Just like Jody, I’m a survivor!