The Almost Not-Stabby Ides of March

Sorry about not blogging these past weeks. Things got tough for a while because of medicine side effects, which made it difficult to sit down and focus on writing. Nobody said getting a transplant would be easy, I guess! Here’s a quick catch-up:

Despite my side effect troubles, I still had a lot of fun times. I watched plenty of great movies, visited some of the best museums I’ve ever been to, had green tea and mochi at the gorgeous SF Japanese Tea Garden, ate loads of crab (the only meat I could stomach with all my nausea), got my first-ever professional massage to fix some back problems, caught up with Jay (my Ka Leo advisor/someone I consider to be a mentor), and hung out with fellow transplantee (heart AND lungs) Kathleen! San Francisco is truly a fantastic city. But, man, I was ready to go home—and it feels great that I’ve adjusted enough to California to consider San Jose “home.” The doctors finally released me this past Friday. Once I returned to San Jose, loads of my problems—leg cramps, foot/ankle swelling, nausea, anxiety, etc.—magically disappeared.

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Yesterday was my last doc appointment for the next three weeks. I had a bronchoscopy to check for any rejection/infection, and the results are in: all clear. My lung function wasn’t as high as I was hoping for (52%, a 1% increase from my last testing) and my weight was down 15 pounds, though. That freaked me out big time. But my doctor really wasn’t worried. He reminded us that I just shed a ton of water weight (from all the swelling/steroids) and that my lung function is still going up, not down. Plus, all the nausea/cramps/swelling/yaddayadda was keeping me from exercising my new lungs much. So, we expect the next tests to show much better improvement. Talking to Kristina tonight also helped—she reminded me that my lung function is still better than it was before I started my health spiral about two years ago.

Today, I celebrated the Ides of March by—ironically—not getting stabbed (by nurses). It was my first day of being truly independent. My parents both returned to work (I’m super happy for them), so I had to handle all my medications and whatnot. Day 1: Success! Woke up, had a shower and floral tea, played video games, read the news and some blogs, walked to a café for some mocha and Greek salad, read Raymond Carver poetry, walked home, then read some more in my backyard hammock. The warm weather is just, ugh, amazingamazingamazing, after all those cold SF days.

It’s fitting that I’m reading Carver’s works. A lot of his material is about finding beauty in what is usually thought of as ordinary/mundane. I don’t take the little things (like waking up in the morning without gasping for air, the flowers growing in the cracks of the sidewalks on my walk) for granted anymore. Everything was beautiful today.

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I spent about three hours cooking dinner from scratch—black-eyed pea jambalaya, smothered green beans with bacon, and cornbread—for my parents and my nausea-free-self, and dang! Cooking is quite the workout when all your arm/shoulder muscles have wasted away. But it was worth it. My mom said I cook like a Southern grandma, which is the best compliment you can give a cook, in my oh-so humble opinion. Kristina called me a “stay-at-home son.” I guess I’m fine with that until I’m strong enough to get a full-time job.

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Now I’m nursing my sore back on my acupressure mat. I guess the Ides of March is stabby after all… Dad just came in and stabbed me with a needle—blood thinner medication (oh yeah, I got blood clots in my left arm. Ouch.). “Et tu, Dad?” But he reminded me that today is exactly two months since I got rolled into surgery for the lung transplant, so I forgive him.*

Two months ago, I was getting sedated on an OR table, uncertain if I would even wake up. Tonight, I go to sleep with a full belly and a smile. Excited to wake up for another successful day.

*Totally joking, I’m so grateful he gives me the shot because I’m too much of a weenie to do it myself.