by Andy Weddington
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 - Christmas Eve
"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on." Robert Frost
What do they mean?
Last evening I, as did many, received a brief email from Bonnie who said her husband, Bob (retired Marine who publishes a daily blog under the moniker "tartanmarine"), was out of surgery for a lung transplant (pulmonary fibrosis was steadily destroying his lungs and taking his life).
Surgery went smooth.
Today the doctors are going to awaken Bob. And there will be no delay starting rehab. There is hope for new life.
A couple of days earlier, at the same hospital, a Marine friend of Bob's, John, received a new lung. His surgery went smooth, too. Again, hope for new life.
Not so long ago I was only vaguely familiar with pulmonary fibrosis - cystic fibrosis was more familiar. The diseases differ but both destroy lungs and are, obviously, life-ending without a transplant.
I have also learned that a lung transplant is not a 'plug and play' operation. There is a tough road after surgery.
How will the body react to the invader that is implanted to restore life?
Rejection is inevitable - for the immune system does not discriminate between good and bad 'foreign' bodies. All are threats no matter the intent and purpose.
What will be post-op complications?
There are too many to address in this short commentary. But know there are indeed many and they are complicated.
Walking is critical. And as soon after surgery as possible - to exercise the lung and to strengthen the body. It is work! Tough work. But walking helps to minimize complications.
I learned patients are assigned a number - typically it's the number of that particular type of transplant (in this case, lung) performed at that hospital.
I do not know the numbers assigned to Bob and John.
What I do know is that they have a tough road ahead of them. Recovery and rehabilitation is not a smooth road. They will have good days. And they will have bad days - so bad only another lung transplant patient can understand.
But these two men are Marines - Vietnam veterans, combat Marines. They have been through tough times. The Marine spirit seared into them, they'll persevere.
Pray for them.
How is it that I've come to know a little something about lung transplants?
It just so happens I know 1361.
1361 had a lung transplant on 31 August 2013.
The recovery and rehabilitation road for 1361 has not been smooth. In fact, 1361 described the road as made of cobblestones.
That's a fair description. Understated, really.
Shortly, I am off to sit and visit with 1361. To reassure. To encourage. Our time will pass too quickly.
This Christmas Eve I say and ask, from each and all, for a prayer for 1361. A short prayer that God watch over and heal so 1361 can breathe easier and walk and return home.
Like Bob and John, 1361 is a veteran. No, 1361 is not a Marine. But he is the father of two Marines. And the grandfather of a Marine.
1361 is Harry. Harry, though in a different hospital, knows of Bob and John. And he knows of others, too.
That others may live, lives ended but not in vain - for one, the lives of Bob, John, and Harry et al., go on.
I don't know what goals are driving Bob and John onward. But know they have goals, in Marinespeak 'objectives,' for they are in a battle.
I know Harry's goal, objective, is to again go fly fishing with his sons.
And Harry, though not a Marine is a warrior - waging war unlike anything I've ever seen.
Not just a number...
1361, Harry, is my Dad.
And Mom is right beside him.
"Merry Christmas!, Mom and Dad."
The number 1361 will ever have new meaning.
My prayers to each of you, and yours, going through tough times.
There are no words praiseworthy enough for the medical and support team.