Saturday morning I rolled over & woke up. I was about to take my morning medicines & head downstairs. All of a sudden, the phone rings.
It was from a line assigned “No caller ID”. I picked it up & said hello. I was told it was a organ coordinator from my transplant center saying that there were some lungs that did need work, but they thought they might be a good size, age & match for me as far as lungs. I knew that it might not happen, but it sounded encouraging.
I immediately woke up my bestie/caregiver and told her & put the coordinator on speakerphone so we could both hear the instructions. After she hung up & as we were both getting ready as it was sinking in, I wrote down her name in a notebook and where she told me to report in the hospital in case I forgot.
We got packed up & on the road after we called my other friends who were my backups just to let them know. We were both excited.
I started making calls to my researcher I was donating my old lungs to, making her aware of the possibility it could go either way once we had started the drive but figured it best to tell her so she could start making arrangements on her end for the tissue.
We took the turnpike, which it turns out there was a bad accident after we got on. After a few minutes of standstill traffic we decided to call 911 and ask for advice. They put us through to the turnpike commission that had cameras out that said that things should start moving again and that the resulted standstill was only about 5 miles ahead. They were afraid they weren’t going to be able to get an ambulance dispatched without making things worse, so I gave them our plate number and make and model of the car. We then decided to ride the shoulder/fire lane to see if we could ride out of it even though it was under construction. We did this.
But nicely enough about 10 minutes after that, the state police called my cell phone & said they were checking on us to see if we were moving again. We were & thanked them.
We got to the hospital, reported in. It was a while before we knew anything. Eventually, in the afternoon we were given an OR time of 10PM. So then, we started along the way telling close friends & family but still didn’t want to say anything publicly.
About 9:40, I started getting really nervous. I knew they were coming for me. My bestie and I had our moment & then we all went down to the PACU which is the holding/prep area for surgery. At midnight, a few hours after talking to some very cool & attentive staff, we were told that there was pneumonia in one of the lobes of the lung they couldn’t clear or resolve & with my history they thought it was too much of a risk to move forward. We thanked them & again told them because we were told at 9AM that there was work that needed to be done we weren’t disappointed because we knew this might happen.
(This is what’s called a dry run & it often happens. Some transplantees have several, others have a few, & some are lucky & have none. )
We went back upstairs to get discharged, get me a quick sandwich & ginger ale) – I had absolutely nothing by mouth the whole day & then we headed over to one of the transplant houses to rest.
We were exhausted but very happy.
Both of us knew this meant I’m on the radar & my score is now for sure within transplantable range not just in words, but in action.
I’ve had friends who also had dry runs in both kidneys & lungs so I felt prepared to handle it before it happened because they were open with me about their experiences.
I had some great support throughout this. I love how my bestie & I are always on the same page on this journey together.
We’re taking it day by day but we were both grateful for what happened, even if ultimately it didn’t work out.
I still like to think maybe someone out there who only needed a single lung transplant, might have had a chance of getting their call if the other lung (without the pneumonia) was usable. But I’m still thankful for that donor giving us this chance period by opting to donate her organs, even if it didn’t work out for me now.
I know that call is coming soon.
I can’t say I’ll ever look at an Independence Day holiday weekend the same way ever again either…it gives new meaning to me.