During the evaluation process for a lung transplant, the patient’s attention is drawn to a number of conditions. Most of these refer to the things you cannot do; you don’t hear much about what you can do.
Being listed for a lung transplant is not a right, it’s a privilege. The evaluation process is dependent on a variety of factors, including medical evaluations and tests, a psychological review, financial considerations, and a patient’s support system.
Although the tests are not physically demanding, the emotional stress can take its toll on someone who is dealing with a terminal illness. My evaluation process took approximately six months, and when it was complete, I was approved for a single-lung transplant. Due to an esophageal motility problem, I was not cleared for a double-lung transplant. I am asymptomatic, but during the manometry test, I was found to have low-grade achalasia. My physician assured me that my recovery would be easier, and because of my relatively young age, my life expectancy would be the same as it would following a double-lung transplant.
I received the call after being on the lung transplant list for 2 ½ months. My operation was a success, and my recovery in the hospital went well. When I got home, the first meal that I requested was a fried bologna sandwich. It was all I could think about for days before my discharge. The sandwich was delicious and everything I could have hoped for. My wife thought I was crazy for enjoying my fried bologna sandwich as if it were a prime-grade, juicy, rib-eye steak.
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After transplant, I was banned forever from carrying out yardwork and eating raw fish, rare meat, and runny eggs. These rules are imposed by the transplant team who don’t want you to jeopardize your recovery. I understand this reasoning. I consider myself to be a compliant patient. Most of the restrictions are associated with food, and these are mentioned frequently during the evaluation process. None of these bothered me — I can easily forgo eating raw meat and fish, and I already had someone to do my yardwork.
I decided to live. I even named my column after my motto: “Gonna Live My Life.” A lung transplant recipient can accomplish many things. I take care of myself. I realize that it would be a waste to watch TV for 12 hours a day after receiving the gift of life. Exercising is the basis of how I approach the other facets of my life while maintaining normalcy. Keeping fit enables me to travel and participate in leisure activities.
Since my transplant, I have attended numerous sporting events and concerts, been on weekend getaways, and traveled across the world. I consider myself to be a foodie. I enjoy cooking for my wife, friends, and family. If I think that a dish I’ve made is worthy, I will take a photo of it to show off its magnificence. I want to lead a productive life. I now spend some of my time advocating for pulmonary fibrosis and lung transplantation by writing and moderating a forum for Pulmonary Fibrosis News.
I recently had a checkup with my transplant doctor. She asked me how I was feeling. I told her that on some days I feel invincible. The look that she gave me was priceless, she was delighted — and when she is happy, I am happy. My doctor appreciates that I am a compliant patient. I exercise daily, take medications at the prescribed time, and take precautionary measures to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
I am thankful for all of the assistance I received during the pre- and post-transplant phase. My support system consists of many people who are always there for me. I am incredibly grateful to my donor and his family for my second chance at life. Because of these people, I get to live my life, and I love every second of it.
Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.
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