Saturday, June 26, 2010

La Vita e Bella

Okay, so in case you missed it (which is unlikely, since I've been practically shouting it from the rooftops for a while now), I came HOME with my brand new lungs on Thursday! I can't even describe the emotions that hit me as I stepped off the elevator and into my apartment hallway. The door was decorated with welcome home banners and a special sign from my beloved Godmother, and awaiting me on the other side were my puppy, a hot shower, and an amazing meal surrounded by loved ones.

I just don't think it gets any better than that.

Except that it does get better apparently. It gets better almost daily, and I feel it getting better as the pain issues and tense muscles subside, as I gradually gain strength to the point where short walks around the apartment or outside or even the hospital (yes, the hospital, more on that in a second) don't seem so daunting or draining, and as I recenter myself to the reality that I made it, am home, and have officially received my double-lung transplant. It gets better with each breath into my peak flow that shows an improvement, and with each night that I gradually come back to my normal resting schedule. It just keeps getting better, and after months where everything seemed to be getting worse and worse, I can't even begin to explain how amazing that feels.

Yesterday I actually ended up going back up to Col Pres for an outpatient bronch. This was the plan from the get-go, so please don't worry. My bronch from Wednesday showed just a small area of unresolved mucus, and we're monitoring it closely and even went ahead with a biopsy just to rule out every possibility, but the bottom line is that I feel good. I feel secure in the amazing hands of my lung transplant team, who so far has inspired nothing but confidence and a great deal of respect on my part for all the members. I feel secure in my new lungs, beautiful and healthy, as they continue to carry me through. I feel, as always, secure in my faith and in God. I feel secure in the capable hands of my parents and loved ones, who are helping to guide my still somewhat fuzzy head through this maze of new medications and protocols. To contrast this feeling of security with the fear and confusion I felt even a few weeks ago waiting for lungs seems totally mind-blowing. Not to mention spirit-saving.

I realized yesterday morning that I'm dreaming again. Not in the sleepy sense (although I will admit to having some pretty trippy transplant dreams -- pain meds, perhaps?), but rather in the futuristic one. I have spent more time in the past week thinking about where I'm going from here than I did probably all of last year. I have dared to allow myself the audacity of making some plans in my head, the madness of considering possibilities, and the joy of even believing that I might be able to make it all happen. It's an incredible feeling.

I once had a doctor compare new lungs to a butterfly's wings. The lungs take time, he explained, to fully reopen and inflate, much as a butterfly newly transformed takes time to dry out and stretch his wings before he can fly. It's a delicate and gentle and miraculous unfolding, and one I felt privileged to feel in my own chest when I later recalled his words.

But it's more than my chest, because I feel the unfolding in my entire self. My mind, spirit, and soul are also testing out their new wings, flexing them gently, stretching them out little by little to encompass all the hopes and dreams of the 28-year-old young woman who tentatively put many of them on ice a little over a year ago. Well, guess what, world? I'm baaaaaack.

I have had so many people -- from family members to the doormen at my apartment building -- stop me to marvel at the new way I look. Their comments are normally along the lines of 1 of 2 major observations: 1) my color is amazing (for some reason this is always the word of choice -- "amazing"), and 2) I look happy. I take both of these as major compliments, although I know that neither of them is about ME, per se. I am colorful because I am blessed, because a beautiful man and his family were generous enough to give an ultimate gift, and because there is life and breath, literally, in my veins. I am happy because I am blessed, because I am surrounded by love, because I have been given a gift so precious it seems unbelievable even as it seems completely meant to be.

I am colorful. I am happy. I am so. unbelievably. grateful.

Yesterday I wrote about remembering some of the harder aspects of CF. Today I reiterate that cry, but ask also that we each take a second, a few deep breaths, to recognize the sheer beauty of it all. And if Sarah, gorgeous soul that she is, can write this post about her precious son, well, I feel we can all take the lesson in that to be truly grateful for the life we have.

Life is not predictable. It is not always fair. It is not always perfect.

But it is always beautiful.


  1. Piper, It's wonderful to see you back! To hear that you're letting yourself dream and plan for the future and contemplating life again. :) I'm so glad to read of the gift of life, and see through your writing, just how miraculous a transformation it can be.

    Thank you for sharing your journey. Many {{{hugs}}}. ~Juliet

  2. Love love love to you, wearing your t-shirt with pride, love to read your words about the acceptance of your new lungs, your new life, your old dreams awakening. xxx ooo what more can be typed? Adore you, Beth

  3. Makes me so happy to read this! Much much love to you Piper! Dream away!!!

  4. Picture me with a big cheesy grin on my face - I'm so happy for you, Piper!

  5. What another wonderful post Piper! You really do have a gift for putting your experience into words in such a way that we all can feel a part of it.

    And you continue to share ALL parts of your journey, from the very good (going home) to the things we will never understand like the passing of Conner.

    I am so happy to read every post of your journey, it is truly inspiring, realistic and hopeful. Thank you for sharing so much :-)

  6. Welcome home to you and your new lungs...happy breathing!!! Your adventure has begun :)

  7. This is awesome, and I am so happy you are home and feeling better each day! I'm still sending thoughts and prayers you way. Welcome home!!

  8. I've been following you right along, and this is the best post ever. Thank you for sharing your experience with us all. I love the analogy of the new lungs being like a butterfly's wings unfolding...just beautiful.

  9. Just want to say that I've been following your journey for some time and aside from loving the way you write, I look forward to every one of your posts. I am so glad you are able to begin Life Part 2 now.

  10. So, so happy for you Piper! So much emotion when I read your posts. God is blessing us through you. Through God all things are possible and you are showing us the way! God continue to bless you!

  11. Hey do you know it was a "man"? Dr. Wilt won't privy me to that kind of info :)

  12. hey Tim, Lederer told my fam the age and gender, then Beth confirmed it later. oh, and I promised Sonett I would make you guys matching marathon jerseys as a token of still planning on running?