In my now 8+ months of navigating the ins and outs of transplant, I've learned a couple of important lessons. Some of these lessons, like the obvious "cherish each breath," or the slightly less obvious (but equally important) "never let your dad go out bike riding by himself in the middle of Manhattan after the dry run from hell," have proved invaluable and will no doubt have a long-lasting impact on my life (not to mention my father's).
Others, well...let's just say that not all lessons are created equal.
I'm not really sure what the value was in learning, for example, that "shoes and pillows will randomly go missing in the hospital." True, this is a fact of life that all chronic patients will eventually have to deal with: stuff does indeed sometimes get lost in the craziness that is a hospital admission. On the other hand, did I really need to sacrifice a perfectly good pair of Pumas and my sister's favorite bed pillow for that lesson? I doubt it.
Still, though, lessons are lessons, and I've been trying to take the good from all of them, no matter how ridiculous they might seem at the time. So when I found myself recently at my center's mandatory lung transplant seminar series, I honestly tried hard to listen and catch whatever little life lessons might be gleaned from the day's lecture. After all, I'm nothing at this point if not a dedicated transplant patient. So I listened, and I learned, and I was right there with the speaker until suddenly, out of the blue, she imparted these words of wisdom: "Your lungs may be sick, but you still have your arms, right? So reach out and give someone a hug!"
To be honest, I didn't hear too much after that.
Now before anyone jumps to conclusions, I would like to state for the record that I am in no way anti-hug. I have nothing against hugs as a show of affection, gratitude, or consolation. Truth be told, in fact, I rather enjoy a well-timed hug from someone I like -- it shows me that the person cares, or at the very least that s/he is willing to fake it. And that sort of gesture can go a long way when you're dealing with declining health and a seemingly endless parade of dry runs, trust me.
But still, hugs? Seriously? I just wasn't buying it. Granted I don't have a masters in social work to back me up on this, but the importance of hugs seems like a lesson better suited to a room full of nap-deprived kindergarten children than a room full of oxygen-deprived transplant patients. Not that there weren't other, better points made in the seminar (to be fair, some of the lecture was actually pretty useful), but somehow I found it hard to get past this one piece of lukewarm advice. Because telling a transplant patient that a hug might be the answer seems to me kind of like offering a gunshot victim a band-aid. Sure, it's helpful insofar as it shows that you at least noticed the guy was bleeding, but it also seriously underestimates the scope of the original injury.
Nonetheless, I came home that evening determined to try out my newfound life lesson. Well, okay, not really. I actually came home just as cynical and disbelieving as I was during the lecture. That is, until I saw Sampson sitting on the couch, minding his own business and seemingly attempting to nap in all his cuddly cuteness. And this, I decided, was the perfect time to try out that "hug lesson" that I had so recklessly ignored. After all, my arms weren't sick, right?
As I reached out to wrap my arms around my cuddly little shorkie puppy, I couldn't help but notice how right the speaker's advice had actually been. I hadn't even completed my hug yet, and already I was feeling better, lighter, happier, and...slimier?
Um, yeah, you read that correctly.
Turns out that when shorkies appear to be napping they might actually be chewing a small rawhide bone into a disgusting, mushy mess inside their sneaky little mouths. And when innocent humans reach out to pet or hug these shorkies, they may find themselves suddenly and without warning covered in the gooey remains of said bone, which the shorkie has either offered to them as a gesture of returned affection or (more likely) spit at them in a defensive attempt to avoid the unasked-for hug. Either way, I'd say the moral of the story is probably "never try to test out bad transplant advice on an unsuspecting puppy."
- I am a 33-year-old wife, sister, daughter, friend, law school graduate, CFer, lifelong student of public service, blog writer, patient, Sagittarius, reader, Top chef fan, double-lung transplant recipient (twice!), and dog owner living in Colorado's beautiful Mile High City. I love all things colorful, funny, inspiring, or needlessly sarcastic. I share my city with about 2,500,000 other remarkable people, share my disease with 70,000 other beautiful souls, share my life with some unbelievable family and friends, and share my apartment with one very handsome guy and one really fat mutt with a kick-butt personality. We make it work.
About This Blog:
This blog is about me, my life, my sometimes craziness, my disease, and my current journey as a double-lung transplant recipient. It's also a celebration of everyone out there with CF (and other chronic illnesses). It's for you, inspired by you, and dedicated to you -- the community that keeps me writing, living, and breathing.
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