My Double Lung Transplant

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lets snap back to reality, whoops there goes gravity

I had a scary moment in the shower tonight.

No, i didn't slip, or fall, or rip myself open by slipping and falling and flapping around in the tub like a baby seal. No, i wasn't emerged upon by some random pervert and almost kidnapped. And no, i wasn't stranded without the aid of my mum and had to helplessly re-teach myself the ins-and-outs of self bathing (which btw I know and remember...but with this little issue of not being able to turn my torso's very difficult. A wired sternum is very debilitating at the most vulnerable of times...especially when those times consist of you being completely naked and confined to plastic chair).


I was suffocating. And dying. And i felt the way i felt when I had my old lungs. And it completely freaked the fucking shit right out of me.

For those who know me, know me, you know that i used to loooooooove long, hot showers. Now? Not so much. I mean i love a hot shower, esp. when it relaxes my back muscles and allows me to stretch my chest a little more, but when i can't turn around to control the temp and need to rely on my mum, it's not so fun. So i sat my muscles relaxed, but the steam got to me and suddenly, i was thrown back into my old world and i could barely breathe. I threw part of the shower curtain open to let cool air in, and through 'pursed lip breathing' (which is a HUGE no no post tx apparently), i slowly calmed down. But the feeling like i couldn't inhale, and the heaviness in my chest from the steam, was unbearable, and i wonder how i ever lived like that.

I was only thrown back into my old life - which only ended a little over a month ago - for about 3 minutes, and i couldn't deal with it. Suddenly, i forgot how to breathe, and it terrified me.

I know this is normal. My doc told me most post lung tx people experience this, and it's not that you can't breathe, it's a psychological thing. I guess with me, since showering always exhausted me, the steam just triggered memories and suddenly, i fell back down the rabbit hole into Bronchiectasis-style breathing.

How did i ever live with just 21% lung function? How in hell did i manage? Have i forgotten? Am i that cocky??? I had my PFTs today and these beautiful lungs are already functioning at 53%. 53% compared to 21% a little over a month ago...that's a 30% increase...i can't wrap my head around it. I can't wrap my head around the fact that this has finally happened to me...And yet i can, b/c it feels so normal...But it's not.

But in happier news, i stared at myself naked in the mirror before my shower. Yes, yes i admit that i did, and i don't really give a shit who knows it. My bruises are going away, my incision scab has almost all fallen off. It was weird to stare at myself and what i've been through - knowing i was wrenched open, had a major organ replaced, and sewn back up with only a 'clamshell' leaving its mark. What really baffled me was watching my ribcage work. Pre-tx i breathed with my stomach and my ribs did not move. Now, my upper chest rises and falls; the bottom portions of my ribs expand, as does the front. I can take a deep breath in. It was strange to stand there and stare at myself, and know that everything is working. Just like that.

Lets snap back to reality. Whoops there goes gravity....for sure.


Anonymous said...

You are amazing... I am so happy for you to experience your new lungs & life!

Jessica said...

Bree, you never fail to amaze me. You are such an inspiration. Often when my days are long and I am tired of giving neb treatments, tired of dealing with doctors tired of pushing meds & fluids through a feeding tube I think of all that you have gone through to be where you are today. You have been a complete blessing to me and my role of caring for my Jonah.
Thank you. Keep writing you never know who you are inspiring.

Kira said...

I had a similar thing happen to me. When I had my trial for my pain pump I was waking up and feeling like I could get up and do stuff.

Then I had to wait a few months before I got the full version. During those few months I had to go back to what wasn't working.

Having to go from feeling pretty good and smashing back to what I was dealing with before I had to wonder how I survived up to that point. I am now happy with my pain pump and its my salvation.

I often look down at the lump and wonder how this little machine has given me my life back. So I can only imagine how it feels for you. I am glad that you are going so well after the TX!

Jess said...

I had similar thoughts staring in the mirror lately, except that it was more like WHOA i need to gain some weight because I could see ribs that I didn't want to see. So glad you're at 53%!