Thursday, June 13, 2013

Special Edition: My Lung Transplant Journey June 13, 2013 - A Sign from Above

My blooming red roses
The power of prayer. It's amazing!

Since my roller coaster ride of chronic illness began, my friends, family, and even strangers have offered prayers to God on my behalf. As I became sicker and sicker, the prayer warriors kept pushing on, sending more and more prayers to our Heavenly Father.   Prayer is comforting. It helps ease the stress of a difficult situation by giving it up to a higher power. While in the hospital this past week for the treatment of pneumonia, the faithful kept the prayer chain going stronger than ever. People around the country, maybe even around the world, were praying for me. Wow!

But I will admit, sometimes prayer is frustrating to me.  Is God listening?  Everyone is praying but I'm not getting any better, I'm getting worse. During those times of doubt, I try to remember, "Sometimes God says wait."

Then, out of the blue, a small glimmer of hope appears. Early Tuesday morning, my first morning home from the hospital, I peeked out my patio doors to see some flower pots my sister planted for me as a surprise for my homecoming.  Then, the sign hit me - a big blooming bush of red roses right outside my door in a place where other plants, including a rosebush that only blooms creamy peach flowers, grow.  Now, you may wonder what is the significance of red roses? Roses, or the scent of roses, are often a sign sent by St. Therese of Lisieux, a French Carmelite nun known as the Little Flower.  There were even small red blooms on a weary rosebush that merely was a few scraggly branches before my medical emergency. Wow!

Skeptics may say the blooming rosebush is merely a coincidence and not a sign from God, but I need to believe that through the intercession of St. Therese, God is telling me that he is listening. That there is hope.

This is not the first time I have seen a sign from St. Therese. Before our beautiful daughter O was born, my husband and I experienced difficulties with fertility. Over a course of two years or so, there were doctor visits, tests, medicines, procedures and more, but still no baby to hold in our arms. At that time, we turned to the power of prayer to get us through this first big challenge of our marriage.  Cue St. Therese.  We attended a special Mass in her honor where they presented relics from her life to the audience. Afterwards, we prayed a novena to St. Therese for nine days asking her to intercede on our behalf in our desire for a family.  We waited. During this time, we continued medical intervention to conceive, and we also started the adoption process.

Then lo and behold, a sign from above appeared to me. I had been teaching third grade at this time, and often children in my class gave me special notes or drawings.  One day, a little boy named Domingo came to me and offered me a picture. "I made this for you, Mrs. B" It was a drawing of a rose! A short time afterwards, we learned we were pregnant, and our daughter was born later that year. Our prayers were answered! Praise God!

Domingo's rose drawing and St. Therese keepsakes

Today, my journey is far from over. Prayers are needed more than ever, not only for me, but for my family, friends, doctors and other medical professionals, the potential donor and their family, and for others awaiting a life-saving transplant like me. So keep them coming prayer warriors! Thank you!
If you would like to say a prayer to St. Therese, here is one you can use:

O Little Therese of the Child Jesus, please pick for me a rose from the heavenly gardens and send it to me as a message of love.
O Little Flower of Jesus, ask God today to grant the favors I now place with confidence in your hands .... (Mention specific requests).
St. Therese, help me to always believe as you did, in God's great love for me, so that I might imitate your "Little Way" each day.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Special Edition: My Lung Transplant Journey June 11, 2013

Insert dramatic world news music here . . .  Ya know, because it's a "Special Edition!"

Once again it's been quite some time since I posted on leMOMade - busy, busy, busy and sick, sick, sick!
After battling the worst pain ever aka the Shingles for more than 2 months, then completing some required testing for the lung transplant evaluation, I am finally listed for a double lung transplant at the Cleveland Clinic! My apologies to those in the know about this already - it's a re-run. But no matter, because life as we know it around here is never dull!


I just returned home from a lovely 6-day visit to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago for the treatment of pneumonia. For a person with underlying lung disease, pneumonia can be very dangerous, or even fatal!  Luckily, my quick-acting pulmonologist, Dr. C, was on top of everything after I was rushed to the ER of Rush Copley in Aurora in the wee hours of June 5 due to difficulty breathing and very low oxygen levels. Hats off to the Bristol-Kendall emergency responders who arrived in my bedroom within minutes of calling 911! Seriously, these guys and one gal were speedy-quick!
After an evaluation at the ER and a consultation between Dr. C and Rush docs, I was transferred within a few hours to the ICU at Northwestern. Two ambulance rides, cool, huh? But let's not remind my mom about this as she rode in the front of the ambulance on the way to the city! Just a little bit scary, but what a way to clear rush hour traffic, especially at the infamous Hillside strangler of Chicago-area expressways.

After arrival at the hospital, next came poking, prodding, monitoring and all that to determine that yes indeed I had pneumonia! Cue the antibiotics, more monitoring, and rest (Ha, that there is a misnomer while staying in the hospital!). Again, hats off to all medical professionals - it takes special people to take care of others!

So, now I'm home for rest and recuperation while I wait for a double lung transplant. How does that work you ask? Well, in a nutshell, more waiting. As a candidate on the nationwide lung transplant list,  we wait for a match from a generous donor (who has died). Of course, it's a bit more complicated than that, there is a lung allocation score which determines your place on the list, etc. and there is ongoing evaluation by the transplant clinic to determine if your condition is worsening, or perhaps getting better. In fact, we have a return visit at the Cleveland Clinic next week as a required part of the whole process.

When a match is found, I will be rushed to Cleveland via the clinic's own medical jet! Now that's really cool! However, the first call might be a what they call a "dry run" where after careful determination, docs decide that the lungs might not be viable for a successful transplant. In that case, I would return home (not by jet, but by car), then wait some more.

Phew, that's a lot of info! I hope y'all stuck with me so far!

With all of this going on, my family and friends are rallying around to help out me and the family. My sis J has set up a support planner site so volunteers can sign up for household tasks like making a meal, lawn mowing, things like that. My parents and my other sis D are going to assist with the kids and me around the house during my current recuperation period. If you are interested in helping out, you can email J at swfslovenian at yahoo dot com for more info, or you can locate the planner at  and search for U4Sue New Lungs New Life. You will need to complete a short registration process to access the planner.

Also, be on the lookout on this blog for updates about me, and for info about fundraising activities and events that are in the works. Thank you!