Following My Doctor’s Advice, I Didn’t Abandon My Life Goals
I was only 59 when I was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. I still had so many things to do, and many life experiences were waiting for me. I hadn’t yet walked my daughter, Heather, down the aisle. I didn’t have grandchildren. There were places my wife, Susan, and I hadn’t visited.
Reason to fight
These life experiences were among my reasons to fight. I had to prevail. It was up to me to listen to my care team. I had to take their best advice, work hard to improve my physical strength, complete all of the testing, and maintain a positive attitude.
In an earlier column, I shared the numbing effect of hearing Dr. Steven Nathan tell Susan and me that I should get my affairs in order. But he also told us to keep living our lives, which is what we did. We continued to travel, even when I was on supplemental oxygen.
Susan and I recently reflected on all the places we had been fortunate enough to visit together. By early 2017, Susan had visited five continents, and I had visited six. In deference to the unknown timeline presented by my diagnosis, we decided to visit Antarctica, which allowed me travel to all seven continents. Imagine seeing the largest snowflakes you’ve ever witnessed.
Subsequently, we also visited Asia, spending time in both Korea and Japan. Like many of our shared travel adventures, that trip was on our bucket list.
Just three weeks before the one-year anniversary of my diagnosis, our granddaughter Abigail Rose was born. Susan and I arrived shortly after she was born, and I was able to hold her in my arms. A little less than a year earlier, I wasn’t sure I’d ever see a grandchild. Today, Abby calls me Pop. One of my favorite images is captured in a memory of my son, Christopher, Abby, and me — three generations of family.
In the fall of that same year, my daughter, Heather, was set to marry her fiancé, Adam, a young man whom Susan and I had also fallen in love with. On a blue-sky afternoon, I walked Heather across a field of green to place her hand in Adam’s. The father-daughter dance that day is what I remember most.
I carry all of these memories with me. They represent life events and milestones that have occurred since my diagnosis. I had worried that I wouldn’t be able to experience such life events again. Yet even with an idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis, I didn’t have to stop living. I didn’t surrender my desire for these events to happen.
Yes, I may have had to adjust how I participated or be more deliberate in my preparations. But even now, in the post-transplant phase of my journey, there are still things I want to see and do.
And then there were two
Why am I telling you all of this? Because last week, our granddaughter Charlotte Marie arrived at 10:28 on a Saturday morning. All 22 inches, 9 pounds, and 14 ounces of her entered this world with a smile. I can’t get enough of pictures of her with her two sisters, also both named Abigail.
It is healthy to look forward to life events. I try to live each day with a thankful heart, in part to honor my donor. There are so many more things I want to do. I want to make time.
Even before my transplant, I refused to surrender. Today, I have been given a gift that allows me to make every breath count.
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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.