TELLING MY STORY IN HOPES OF INSPIRING JUST ONE PERSON!
TELLING MY STORY IN HOPES OF INSPIRING JUST ONE PERSON!
Let me tell you a bit about myself to start things off. I’m a lung transplant survivor that’s here to share my story. As you can imagine, it was quite devastating to hear I needed to replace one of my lungs. It was a scary thought, and it took a long time for me to face head-on. Now I’m here to say that it’s not as bad as you think! In fact, it could save your life, so it’s best to learn to live with it. Recovering was a long and hard process, but I got through it! Now I’m feeling better than ever and have fully recovered. I’d love nothing more than to put your mind at ease if you’re about to get a lung transplant. You can think of me as your personal guide through the whole process. If you’re about to get a transplant, subscribe to my blog! That way, you’ll never miss out on a new post. I’m always posting new content, and you don’t want to miss out! You can also reach out to me via email with any questions or comments. I’d love to hear your story and what you’re going through.
This is 100% my personal journey through 2 separate lung transplants. The first was in 2013 (single right lung) and my second (double lung) was just 6 months ago. When I was first introduced to the idea of needing new lungs when I was a young child from Upstate New York, I honestly didn’t know what to think. We were very quick to seek any alternatives as the surgery at the time was too risky. All my life I spent pretty much breathing through a coffee straw with any type of physical activity. Despite my struggles to keep up with my peers, I still tried to play 3 sports in middle school. I played golf in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the spring. Let us fast forward to my 12 years of care at Boston Children’s Hospital. Met a great group of pulmonologists who were able to maintain my health for the most part until I was 18. Throughout my care in Boston, I had a few surgeries to try and figure out what was causing my shortness of breath. I was originally given a diagnosis of Bilateral Interstitial Lung Fibrosis. I was able to maintain with high doses of steroids. Once I was 18 and went to college, I pretty much just slowly stopped going to the doctors because it was always the same thing. “Hey how are you doing? PFT’s are stable and you look good so we’re going to maintain the course”. Obviously, this is where things began to change for me and my family.
In December 2007, I made the move to Jacksonville, FL to go to college and get out of the cold winters and take on the brutal summers. Honestly, not sure which is harder on my breathing even being healthy now. I lived there for about 2 years before moving to Fort Myers, FL to finish out my degree at Florida Gulf Coast University. During my 2 years down there, I lived with some friends and lived the “normal” college life just like any other 21 year old. At that point in my life, I was so focused on school and my social life. If someone in the house was going out for drinks, I was riding shotgun or driving. I definitely enjoyed my time in Fort Myers. It’s truly PARADISE!
Fast forward to the day things came to fruition. It is now April of 2012. I was working at a local private golf course, and a coworker (now a dear friend) made a comment to me about me breathing heavy. I always breathe heavy! But this was different. Once I was made aware of it, I thought to myself, I have no idea what my lungs are doing. I should probably try to find a pulmonologists and start taking care of myself and stop being a dumb college kid. I made some calls and ended up going up to Tampa General to meet with a pulmonologist that I was referred to. THANK GOD! I went through the gauntlet as i like to call it. Those of you who are lung patients know what I’m talking about. PFT’s, blood gases, 6-minute walk, sleep study, chest x-rays, ECG, and whatever else they ordered at the time. Once that day was over, I drove 2 hours back to Fort Myers. I remember driving with all the windows down, and music blasting with every negative thought going through my mind. I wasn’t sure what that next appointment was going to entail.
Finally, the time came to get my results. I was actually pretty optimistic this day and remember thinking, maybe this is the day I get some answers. I was telling my mother, who was in NY, that she didn’t have to fly down for my appointment as I assumed they were going to do what all my new docs did, a lung biopsy. Well, I definitely was not prepared for what I was told at just 23 years old and in my last semester of college. Sitting in the waiting room, scrolling through my phone trying to distract myself as I waited to be called back. My name was called and I was brought back to a conference room. A doctor, a nurse practitioner, and a couple med students came in the room. The first thing my doctor said was, “how would you like to be able to play basketball, baseball, and golf without any trouble?”. I knew at that moment what he was talking about. Then when the words came out of his mouth “you need new lungs now!”. I took the news just like anyone would. I was excited, scared, nervous, confused, and extremely overwhelmed. This time on my 2 hour drive back to Fort Myers, it was very emotional. I remember smiling, crying, praying, and I’m sure I asked God “Why Me?” a few times. Just like anybody would, I took a few days to digest the news. I remember my phone was buzzing nonstop with texts about updates and what was going on. Thats when I knew I needed a way more efficient way of updating friends and loved ones. Lungs4Laughter was born! I knew back then that whatever I decided to call this journey had to represent what I stood for and defined me. Its clear as day I knocked it out of the park. “Laughter is the best medicine” as my tagline was only appropriate because if you know me, you know how humor has always been my way of deflecting my reality.