I've spent some time (but not nearly enough) on this blog telling you all about how awesome my family is. In case you haven't quite caught on yet, I'm fairly certain that without their unflagging support I would be off living in a ditch in some highly desolate area, clutching my (evil) home PFT monitor in one hand and mumbling "I don't need no stinkin' lung transplant" over and over under my breath while attempting to borrow IV supplies from the friendly junkie down the way. An exciting career choice, sure, but not one that I feel would be particularly productive for me at this point in my life. Suffice it to say, then, that support systems are key when it comes to preparing for a double-lung transplant, and I'm happy to report that I have been blessed beyond measure in that department.
There is, however, one critical member of my team who really never receives (or asks for) much recognition. This is a guy who goes by many names (or, rather, many nicknames) and wears many hats in our household. He's on full-time cuddle and distraction duty, pulls his shift as personal exercise trainer, and makes it his personal mission to make sure I replace my Pari cups on time by periodically chewing the old ones into a slobbery mess of unrecognizable plastic -- purely for my benefit, of course. He's also the guy who officially reached adulthood this Sunday by celebrating his landmark second birthday. Congratulations, Sammybear. You've come a long way, baby.
Yep, it's beyond doubt that Sampson forms a key part of Team Piper, and I guess that's hardly surprising given his sweetness, loyalty, and, well, really, really soft fur. As a friend told me the other day, "happiness is a warm puppy." Agreed.
What is slightly surprising, though, is how this little man came to join my squad in the first place. In august of 2008, I had just recently completed the vast majority of my evaluation for transplant. Told by the tx team that I was too healthy to be immediately listed but would need to be followed closely, I returned home, started this blog, and began the long (and ongoing) process of teaching myself how to wait (or, as was the case at that point, how to wait to wait). I entered the transplant odyssey cautiously optimistic, but also very much aware that it was the start of a new stage in my disease and in my life. And it was most likely this awareness that caused my to put my plan to get a puppy on the back burner for the time being. Because surely, I reasoned, it's far better to wait until after the major surgery that can't be scheduled in advance (and the waiting for the major surgery that can't be scheduled in advance) to make a major life decision like adopting a dog. After all, timing is everything in this game, right?
Fast forward two months to October 2008. I spent a beautiful day tooling around the Museum of Modern Art with a close friend and, upon leaving, we happened to see a small shih-tzu and his owner hanging around on the sidewalk. This led to a conversation about my decision not to get a dog right away, and also to my emphatic declaration that, if I were to get a dog, it "would definitely not be a shih-tzu!" (As an aside, I don't mind admitting that I suffered for years from PSTSD (Post Shih-Tzu Stress Disorder) thanks to a very aggressive and deceptively named little terror called "Puppy.") I figured that my authoritative tone and mature stance on timing settled the issue pretty conclusively: no dog right now, and no shih-tzu ever.
I adopted Sampson, the shih-tzu mix, the next day.
Turn out that while I was boldly daring to set the course for my own life (or at least insofar as furry companions were concerned), God and my sister had other plans. And these plans apparently involved waking me up from my Sunday afternoon nap to rush up to the West Village, where my sister had already found and fallen in love with the puppy she pre-emptively took to calling her "nephew." My role in this play, it seemed, was simple: show up, adopt the dog, and welcome into my life a new era of chaos, housebreaking, chewed up medical equipment, and unconditional love.
In the slightly over one and a half years since Sampson joined my family and my support squad, I've finished my transplant evaluation, battled a blood infection and a seriously ridiculous port-removal saga, been actively listed for transplant, waited nine months on the list (and counting!), had over 15 rounds of IV antibiotics, and survived several dry runs and one crazy "damp run" for new lungs -- all with my amazing doctors, my incredible family, my awesome friends, and my wonderful puppy by my side.
It's been a long journey so far, and I have every reason to believe that will get even more intense before it's over, but it has also been worth every mangled neb cup, chewed through power cord, xopenex rocket inhalers, and every moment of life and breath in between.
Happy birthday Sampson-bear!
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- 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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