It Started with a Cough

Five years ago I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis which ‘scars’ my lungs and reduces the oxygen to my blood stream. The cause of this progressive lung disease is unknown and there is no cure. The normal course is 3-5 years with <50% surviving three years. Thanks to good medical care and God’s grace here I STILL am short-listed for lung transplant at UCLA five years later.

It started as a cough. I thought it was just my seasonal allergies acting up. So I increased my typical allergy meds but it didn’t go away. After griping at home for more than a month, I went to the doctor expecting him to prescribe something new for those annoying allergy symptoms. Instead he sent me for a chest X-ray that revealed what was really causing my cough.

Fast forward five years. As I write this, I just receive my “official notice” from UCLA of placement on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) national waiting list for a single lung transplant.

The expected waiting time for transplant varies depending upon blood type, medical status, your height and weight, and the availability and location of suitable organ donors. As a result UCLA must be able to reach me by phone 24/7 and when that call happens I have about five years to get to Ronald Reagan UCLA Hospital for the surgery prep.

The choreography of all of this is a marvel of science, technology and logistics that UCLA has honed from performing 170 transplants during the last 12-month period: 103 adult lung transplants, 58 adult heart transplants and nine pediatric heart transplants, according to UNOS. More than every other major medical center.

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After my listing for transplant was approved that I decided I would tell this story and share my experience. As I wait for that call I talk more about what has lead us from that cough to this point of waiting for the call.

I decided after the freak out stage of my diagnosis that the only thing I could really control about this hand dealt for me is how much control over each of my tomorrows I would give it. So I put it in God’s hands and by giving away the worry and fear I live each day fully.

Our God is a wonderful God. He gave Carolyn and I a precious gift in the birth of our first grandson. Talk about life changing events! I have many blessings in my life.

Perhaps, part of God’s unfinished plan for me was also the work done in St. Timothy’s search process for a new Rector which I co-chaired. We assembled a great search team and our appreciative inquiry ‘breathed new life’ in a congregation eager for a fresh start. We finished our task in an astonishingly short 9 months with God’s help.

It may be just coincidence that UCLA just approved my lung transplant listing on July 26, 2017 just as the new Rector starts his family’s move from Houston to the Bay Area. It may be just good medical care that gives me this opportunity for ‘new life’ more than two years past my ‘expiration date’.

I am at peace about whatever God plans for me. Stay tuned. You can follow my journey here as I reflect on preparing for this life altering event.

 

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