This time four months ago I was in surgery. I had said goodbye to my husband, sister and mum in person and my dad on the phone. I had been scrubbed clean and had my hair plaited in the hope that it wouldn’t get too knotted in the bedridden days after surgery. I had been wheeled down to the operating theatre, chatting to the anaesthetist, and trying to make light of having various IV lines placed (one of my greatest fears). I met my surgeon, Fabio, and was told off for reminding them all that if this didn’t quite go to plan then I was on the organ donor register myself. Looking back, that might not have been the most trusting remark! The drugs flowed into my veins, I breathed into the face mask I was given as deeply as my old, tired lungs could, and I drifted off to sleep.
During that 10 hour surgery, various skilful medics worked busily away. My dying lungs were removed and replaced with healthy, vibrant, wonderfully ALIVE lungs. And underneath, as always, were the everlasting arms of God keeping me safe.
After the surgery, as some of you know, there were many ups and downs. I swung from doing excellently to probable sepsis related psychosis to healthy and almost going home to very unwell and palliative
care to astonishing recovery and fast discharge. I hope to write about this in greater detail but for now suffice to say that, underneath, as always, were the everlasting arms of God keeping me safe.
Today I celebrated my new lungs by living what most might call a mundane day. I have gone for a walk, emptied and filled the dishwasher, washed and dried a rather large pile of clothes, played with our dog, prepared and eaten meals, done a craft project, read a book, and, my favourite, just sat down and breathed deeply. But, God be praised, there is no such thing as a mundane day.
I still don’t have the words to do justice to the feeling of air rushing into my lungs, the breath growing deeper and deeper until there is no more space, then out it comes in a long, faintly audible sigh. I sit quietly with a smile on my lips, trying to comprehend the blessing I am experiencing.
I don’t know what the future holds. In one sense, the future feels more uncertain than the future I thought I had with end stage CF lungs. The coming years might hold superb health and all that entails or fast organ rejection and all that entails.
These past four months have been like no others in my life and my expectations of what life is have been challenged. I have experienced my lowest lows and my highest highs. I have been the closest I have ever been to death and the most alive that I remember feeling. And I have known the most deeply I have ever known that underneath, as always, are the everlasting arms of God keeping me safe.
Thank you to my donor and family.
Thank you, God.