Monday, June 7, 2010

Sam, I Am

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.

Yes, really.

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!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. Happy Birthday to Sammy Bear! Would love to take him and Pooh to the dog park, while you and I sit on a bench, soak in the sunshine, and chat. Hugs to you and Sam.

  2. Happy Birthday Sampson-Bear!!! I can't even imagine how much your support, and your unconditional love mean to your Mom... And how much YOU mean to her...

    You just wait, Sampson... You just wait until your Mommy gets what she needs -- you just wait until she gets her beautiful, new lungs! There will be times she'll have you running to keep up with her!!! Times when she'll be able to take a long, deep, satisfying breath -- and she'll hug you with tears in her eyes remembering all you've seen her through, and how much better life is... Because puppy dogs are pure love, and so is the gift that someone will give her...

    I hope she gets that gift soon -- and I hope I get to hear about the two of you celebrating! HBDTY Sampson...

    Love, Steve

  3. OMG I was drinking out of a water bottle when I was reading the first paragraph and the part about you "clutching the home PFT machine and mumbling you don't need a tx" almost had the water coming out my nose!! You crack me up!! My Brodie just turned 2 in January and I too have had many chewed up nasal cannula and neb cups. :)

  4. Aren't animals amazing support systems? My two pooches, Oscar and Henry, are always there to entertain me and make me smile even in the worst of situations. Happy Birthday, Sammy! Piper is lucky to have you around and vice versa.

    On a not-so-related note: I can't believe you wrote this whole post from your iPhone! That would have taken me a week! You are awesome!

  5. Happy Birthday Sammy Bear! Piper I remember that blog post about the Xopenex rocket... that was absolutely hysterical and had me in tears (along with a coughing fit from laughing so hard of course...)

  6. What a great post about Sammybear. He is such a cutie! I hope he enjoyed an extra treat for his birthday!