So, the most common question I’ve been getting these days is, “How does it feel to breathe with different lungs?” It’s a common misconception that a transplant patient will feel like super person directly after surgery. For example, in lung transplant patients, the airways of their new lungs have to be reopened through breathing exercises and treatments, as well as the secretions removed through a series of several bronchoscopies.
“Wait a minute, Strike that. Reverse it.” – Willy Wonka
If you haven’t already heard, I had my double lung transplant on March 6, 2015 at 4PM. It was completed by 8PM, after which I spent 7 days in CVICU. Now, I’m on the transplant floor, working hard to be able to go back to our rented Houston apartment.
Did I forget to mention to you that I have my new lungs?
Now, back to your question, “How does it feel to breathe with different lungs?.”
like a privilege
When I first had the ventilator removed, it was pretty disconcerting. I wasn’t used to breathing in that manner. The respiratory therapist explained that transplanted lungs need to be opened up; the airways forced open through breathing exercises and walking. Also, coughing is a must. The post-surgical secretions, known by me and mine as “lung butter,” need to get out of my precious new breathing machines! It’s all very painful, but you do it anyway, because you know it’ll be worth it in the end, and because you want to honor The Gift.
Breathing without supplemental oxygen is awesome! My nose is finally clearing up. At first, I would mildly panic when there wasn’t something on my face because I was so used to a cannula or mask. But now, I’m loving it. Yesterday, I was sitting with my mom in our quiet, end-of-the-hall, room with a big window, (thanks Tracy and Erin!!! ) when suddenly I burst, “I can carry a purse now!” It’s the small things in life I want, like a Michael Kors bag. Simple.
They took out the final chest tube three days ago. Those things are HUGE! I was finally able to take really good, deep breaths. It was amazing. I’ll have these lungs opened up in no time.
Yesterday was the first day someone asked me, “How do you feel?” and I thought about it for a minute, and I a cut all you replied, “I feel good.” Now, as for tomorrow, that may be another story, but I feel that everyday feel good will increase as time goes on.
Unless you’ve had a transplant, there’s no way to fully explain it. But, I’d like to share my experiences with you.
Until then, take a deep breath. The O2 is fine out here!