january 9, 2013 will be 5 years since my double-lung transplant. i remember waking up in what i thought was a little closet. i thought my surgery had gone badly and i was put there to die. i was intubated and couldn’t talk. pete came in alone, there was just one small light in the corner and the rest was dark. although i couldn’t talk i wanted to know if i was dying, all i could do is grunt at him and grab him by the shirt. somehow he must have known what i was trying to say, because all he said was “estas bien” meaning “you’re fine.” my children and grandchildren came in, turned on the lights and then i saw i wasn’t in a closet left to die, but in a regular hospital room in the transplant icu!!! they were all so tired, surgery had taken 9 hours and it was now sometime in the middle of the night. while i was sleeping during surgery, they had been agonizing all those hours. they looked terrible. the hospital let them stay in the visitors’ lounge til the next morning. i remember being “rudely” awakened by a nurse insisting i get up for a walk. i refused, advising her that a broken nail was cause for a bed rest, this would require at least 4 or 5 days!!! 30 minutes later, not even twelve hours after my surgery, i was up and walking. i had all the usual ivs and medical hook-ups associated with a hospital stay, but there was something extra and strange. i had 6 tubes coming out from around my midsection all the way around. they were drainage tubes which made me look like an octopus. i couldn’t believe they were making me walk around the halls and started to cry. my son saw me and looked confused. my family isn’t in the habit of seeing me cry, it’s a rare occurrence, very rare. i composed myself immediately.
i was kept in the hospital only 3 weeks. when it was time to leave i asked where my oxygen tank was and was told i no longer needed it. i left the hospital breathing on my own for the first time in over 5 years. i was so afraid and insecure without back up oxygen i didn’t want to leave.