As I boarded the charter jet that the Cleveland Clinic sent to pick me up in the late-night hours of May 22, I thought I knew what lay ahead for me. “Let’s get this lung transplant going,” I remembered thinking. The day before my oxygen supply company had delivered a second concentrator to our home. My need for supplemental oxygen was more than one concentrator could provide, so they hooked up this new machine and connected them with “Y” tubing. I was now able to set the flow rate as high as 20L per minute. It was a very sobering Saturday that I spent in my recliner, until dinner preparations were interrupted with “the call” from area code 216. A lung match was available for me. With little hesitation I accepted and said I was ready. Looking back now, I knew so very little.
Since my diagnosis with IPF about two years earlier I had been reading a lot of material that informed me of what was about to take place. I mentally reviewed the basic facts that led me to needing this surgery. “Approximately 50% of all IPF patients die within the first three years of diagnosis.” “I had passed all the regimen of tests leading up to my acceptance as a lung transplant candidate.” “The only cure for IPF at this time is to have a lung transplant.” “The Cleveland Clinic is one of the leading transplant centers in the United States.” I rested, dozing off and on during the flight to Cleveland.
The average time for a double lung transplant surgery is about 12 hours. Mine was completed in less than ten. The average time spent in ICU after surgery is up to two weeks. I was being prepared to move out of ICU in 10 days. I remember thinking, “a couple weeks, max, is all I will be in the step-down unit. Then I will be discharged from the hospital and have to stay in the Cleveland area for a couple months.” I was planning to be back home in Charlotte before fall at the very latest. Today, March 5, 2017, I write this first blog since the transplant from Apartment #502, just three blocks from the Cleveland Clinic.
In preparation for transporting me to my new room an air bubble had released and traveled to my brain. All I can remember from the resulting stroke last June is hearing my doctor yelling in my left ear and my wife screaming in my right ear, pleading with me to respond. I did respond,… four days later. I was told the good news first: during the CT scan to discover why the stroke had happened, the doctors inspected my new lungs and noticed a dangerous separation occurring. They were able to repair it before “a catastrophic event” had occurred. The bad news: the stroke had paralyzed my right side. I had no movement in my arm and only could kick my leg a little. Even the “good news” had many troubling aspects to it. I felt helpless and hopeless.
Some of the many ups and downs of my health these past nine months have been recorded by my family and can be reviewed at the link provided below. As difficult as my physical journey has been, the mental aspect is far more challenging. That is what leads me to begin blogging again. Our struggles in life are profoundly affected by what we believe. The details of what is currently causing you frustration, pain, and worry are different than mine but the antidote is exactly the same. You will need a patient perseverance in doing what is right if you are going to be successful in facing your challenges. There is always hope. However, hope takes faith. Faith is what you believe, and will be the daily fuel you need to persevere through your troubles. I want to be an encouragement in your walk of faith.
The theme connecting these different blog entries in the days ahead will be the same. God amazingly shows Himself faithful in every situation of life. We just need to take the next step in faith with God, or just towards Him, and He will reveal more of Himself in the circumstances you are facing. With God all things are possible. You have to believe.
(If interested, the link to my health history is here: https://www.youcaring.com/tim-cox-574785.)