Contributed by Jim Nelson, consultant to CAIRE Inc. ~
I opened Facebook this morning to this picture. It really jarred me! We all talk so much about attitude, about making the right choices, about looking forward. I have tried, since my COPD diagnosis some 24 years ago, to live those words.
The picture is me. Seven years ago. I was posing in front of our window in Tucson, looking out to our Saguaros and our beloved Tucson Mountains. Of the items in the photo, taken by a long-time friend, I was by far the least permanent. Note the oxygen cannula. I could have taken it off for the few seconds it took to preserve the image, but why bother? It was, had been a part of me. It enabled me to move around the house, to enjoy our quality of life, to enjoy Doug and Karen, our friends, to love my wife and caregiver Mary, our daughter Wendy.
Thing is, I was near death at the time of this photo. I retained about 18 percent of my normal lung capacity, and barring a miracle, I was likely good for another year. Maybe less. I was still doing an hour on the treadmill every morning, at nine to 10 liters of oxygen flow. I was in good shape, generally. My lungs, not so much.
Fast forward. A little less than a month after this picture was taken, a young man in Utah met an untimely end. Auto accident. Massive head injury. Not fair. He was only 32, a husband and a father and a son and generally a great guy. He represented a great loss to them, but due to the incredible generosity of his family, he represented new life for me.
David’s lungs were a perfect match for my body, my tissue type, all of the factors that determine the incredible intimacy of a lung transplant. David is keeping me alive, and I like to think that I am keeping a part of him alive.
Seven years. For Mary and me – seven years of travel, of educational and inspirational speaking and writing, of acting as advocates for the COPD community! I feel good about what we have been able to accomplish, what we look forward to accomplishing.
There are, and will continue to be other challenges, other health concerns and worries. However, I fully intend to meet those bumps in my path with the same attitude that brought me to that day seven years ago.
I remember a day, about the time of the picture, when I crawled off of the treadmill and hugged Mary. Almost in tears.
“Wouldn’t it be nice,” I said, “If someday, somehow, all of these hours, these miles, this effort would pay off?”
Believe me when I tell you that it has! Hopefully will continue to do so, will allow more advocacy, more opportunities, more fun!!
Got to see and hug on Karen and Doug last week, at her Mom’s funeral mass. Karen is as pretty as ever. Doug, well, let’s say ruggedly handsome. Yeah, that works!
I wish the best possible holidays to Cristina and the kids, to Bruce and Jimae and the rest of the family, to Wendy and especially to Mary for all of the years. Thanks to Doug and Karen for the picture that brought all of this back into focus.
Memories. Gratitude. Stubbornness. Determination. Most of all, love.
Jim Nelson is a double lung transplant recipient and a patient advocate for COPD patients throughout the U.S. and around the world. He and his wife, Mary, are well known patient advocates and brand ambassadors for those organizations who tirelessly endeavor to help those individuals who suffer from a variety of respiratory diseases and the caregivers who support them.
If you have been prescribed oxygen therapy, learn more about CAIRE wearable, portable and stationary oxygen concentrators by visiting www.cairemedical.com or calling 1-877-704-0878 to talk to an oxygen advisor.
When using any oxygen therapy device please consult the applicable product instructions for use for product indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, and detailed safety information.