Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Oh Yeah, THAT Thing

Recently my hospital has been featured in a wonderful series on ABC, a real-life medical drama called NY Med. In fact, my own amazing friend Lyndsey is set to appear in an upcoming episode on August 14, featuring her journey with CF to lung transplant. Lynds is a fabulous woman who pretty much embodied strength during the waiting process, so needless to say I'm super excited to watch her strut her stuff and help raise awareness of CF and organ donation.

All of which means, of course, that I've been watching this show despite my dislike of medical shows in general. Basically I feel like I get enough of this stuff in real life, thank you very much.

But this show I watch, and tonight's episode I was particularly excited about because it featured a heart transplant. Different than lungs, for sure, but still amazing and beautiful and, well, life-saving. So I grabbed my pup and some tea and I curled up to watch this wonderful miracle happen. I watched as he got the call, watched as he was prepped for surgery, watched as he was intubated and put to sleep, and watched as the doctor took a call from the organ procurement team telling him that something went wrong with the donor organ.

And then MY heart stopped.

Every so often on this blog or in my life, I make casual reference to an event I've come to call my "bad dry run." Some of you long-time readers might actually remember that day right around Easter, 2010, when I was called in for lungs, told everything was a "go", prepped for surgery, put to sleep, and intubated. And some of you might remember the post about how I woke up a little while later in the ICU -- without new lungs. It was a terrible experience for my family, a tragedy I can only imagine for the donor's family, and a deeply sad moment for my doctors as well. It was also probably one of maybe two or three times during the entire transplant process that I thought I might not make it. The intubation further damaged my lungs, and my need for oxygen greatly increased. It was, suffice it to say, not cool.

When my surgeon walked into my ICU room that day, I looked at him and whispered "thank you for not giving me bad lungs." I still stand by that statement. I had a team that refused to accept unsafe lungs for me, even when the alternative meant waking me up and facing the effects of anesthesia and sorrow and general chaos. I am beyond grateful to them for making that terrible but wonderful decision. That day was the first (but not the last!) time that team saved my life.

Right as the episode aired tonight I received a series of texts, all asking "is that what happened to you?" and "wow, you never told us all of THAT!" It's true that I didn't (and don't) talk about it all that much. At the time I knew one other CF woman who had gone through something similar, and I looked to her for strength and support. I didn't say much else about it, largely because I was still processing it myself.

I want to stress that this kind if stuff, while real, is much more the exception than the rule. At the time I remember wondering if I had missed my chance for lungs forever. Looking back, all I can think is how grateful I am things worked out as they did. I still pray for my would-be donor often, and I'm thankful for his gift just as much as I am for the one that came two months later, on June 12. Donor Bob saved my life, but ultimately it was that first donor who, through his imperfect gift, ended up saving my faith. And when you're waiting for lungs, that means everything.

Congratulations to John on receiving his transplant and to both our donors for their amazing gifts -- all four of them.

**Update: for those who wish to read my original post from April of 2010 (written directly after the "bad dry run"), you can do so by copying and pasting the link below, or by looking in the archive sidebar to the left.


1 comment:

  1. I've only watched on episode of that show, but plan on watching it more. I will look at it from a new perspective after reading about your experience.