30 Days of PF: My Faith Sustains Me
Day 18 of 30
This is Diana Schmitz’s story:
In January 2019, I was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Throughout my experience with IPF, people have used certain words to describe me: grace, bravery, strength, and inspiration. But for me, the key words are calm and peaceful. Both come from my faith, which has carried me through this disabling condition.
My loved ones had a hard time watching me grow weaker each day. My lungs were filled with mucus. The coughing fits depleted me of air. Still, I challenged my disease by getting out of bed every day to do chores and exercise even as my stamina decreased and the cough attacks became more incapacitating.
My body always thirsted for more air. As I started needing more oxygen and as my liters per minute continued to increase, we all became aware that my time on earth was falling short of my desire to stay here longer. Smoke from the California fires compounded year after year, and my condition was worsening much faster than my doctors, my family, and I could comprehend. I realized that I was dying when my doctors began the hunt for a lung donor match.
In my seventh month on the transplant waitlist, my lung allocation score placed me third in line for new lungs. Then, the two patients ahead of me on the list declined to have a transplant at that time due to possible exposure to COVID-19. I was supposed to receive a bilateral lung transplant, but only one healthy lung was available. The doctor asked if I was interested. After a moment’s hesitation on my part, my doctor advised that I may not have time to find another opportunity. I accepted the offer.
Now, almost 16 months later, I breathe better because of that precious gift of one lung. I’m still very sick with pulmonary fibrosis in my native lung and that sets me back some, but I live life to the fullest of my current ability. I am immensely grateful for an extension of life because of the lung my donor gave to me in uncertain pandemic times. I am truly blessed.
Note: Diana Schmitz’s daughter, Emma, writes a column, “The Emotional Support Daughter,” for Pulmonary Fibrosis News.
Pulmonary Fibrosis News’ 30 Days of PF campaign will publish one story per day for PF Awareness Month in September. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #30DaysofPF, or read the full series.