During my stay on 9D at Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh I went down to radiology almost every day for a chest x-ray. They could tell if the lungs were inflating properly and working.
After a couple weeks post-op those of us who have had lung transplants get to have a bronchcoscopy and a biopsy. These tests do a couple things; the Dr. is able to visualize the lung, they can see if there is any unusual bleeding. They also do what is called a lavage which sends sterile water into the lung and then they suction that fluid back out to do a culture so as to check for any infections or viruses. In my experience I was always put under so I wouldn’t have to “watch” them putting that tube down my throat. As I have mentioned before, I am a bit claustrophobic and afraid of suffocating, so this was a great blessing for me to be asleep while doing the tests. The Dr. also takes a very small sample of lung tissue to examine to look for any abnormalities.
I visited a new friend who had a double lung transplant 5 weeks ago. She is a co-worker of my daughter. They are both nurses at the local VA Hospital. She is going through pretty much the same kinds of things I and other lung transplant patients go through. There are differences because each of us are different and not all lung transplant recoveries are the same.
Michelle for example had her ventilator removed only hours after her transplant only to have it re-inserted after a couple weeks due to breathing problems from an infection. It does happen and it is dealt with.
This is a really interesting point, Michelle had her transplant on my birthday! How great is that? I am a firm believer in connections. Michelle and I found this connection and it is glorious. Other friends of mine, two actually, have many connections together. The 3 of us are connected is so many ways from living in the same area years ago, to working at the same place at different times, to working at a place where my husband worked, etc. These connections tell me that we were meant to be friends for whatever reason God desired. I love when that happens.
Michelle may get to leave the hospital in a couple weeks and I will be watching her progress.
During the course of my first month after transplant I did a lot of walking and healing. On one of those days when Physical Therapy came to “walk” me I just wanted to rest or sleep. . .but no, today I was going to walk steps. Great!!!
We walked to the stairs outside the exit door on my floor. That group of steps looked like Mt. Everest. Holy Cow! I had to walk up those steps! Whew. . .what a project. For anyone who has been sick for any length of time, just lifting your legs to go upstairs is quite a challenge. Didn’t know my legs could weigh so much! My legs felt like lead weights, but I managed to get up I think 6 of those steps while the therapist carried my oxygen tank. (Yes I was still on a small amount of oxygen for a few weeks post-transplant) I was happy because I knew my trip back down the steps would be much easier. That was enough for me for the afternoon. Makes a person tired.
The days went on and my strength got better. I was now walking the length of the floor and back. The first day I made it all the way down the hall to the nurse’s station was a major accomplishment. I thought I had run a marathon. In my world at that time, it was.
The day I went home for awhile. . .
To be continued. . .
Sandy Ozanich ~ Copyright 2012