Wonder Woman, Vol. 6
Sunday May 28th, was a big day for Rima. Her remaining two chest tubes were going to be pulled out that afternoon! WOOOHOOO! That meant that she would be able to go home a couple days later! It had been two weeks since she had her double lung transplant, a new life with new lungs. She went for PT in the late morning one last time with her two chest tubes. She did some interval training with Jacob outside and afterwards did some steps and stairs in the PT room. At around 1:15pm the PA from the surgical came in to start the process of removing her last two chest tubes. He had her do some test breathing before he pulled one out at a time. Finally, she was chest tube free! He bandaged her up and said he would be by later to check on her to make sure everything was going okay. X-ray came in around 3pm to make sure her lungs had not collapsed from the tubes getting pulled, which is always a risk. All looked good!
She had her second walk of the day at around 5pm. We ventured up to the 7th floor where she had been held captive over the winter for three months. We wanted to pop by and say hi to the nursing staff. We ran into a few nurses we knew while haunting the familiar hallways. We even found the Air Catcher we had gifted them, hung in a glass display case in the hallway, so sweet! It was so cool to see Rima walking around without any chest tubes. I didn't have to wrangle them on the iv pole! The rest of the day we tried to re-watch the informative post transplant DVD's the hospital gave us. We knew a majority of the information they talked about in the clips but we wanted to make sure we were both on our A-game for when Rima got to go home in a couple days. It was looking like Tuesday would be it! That night when my mom and I got back to the house I cleaned the whole house. I had to prepare for Rima's return back to the house!
Monday May 29th, one of Rima's best friends from College was flying in to visit her that morning for a few days. She was so excited to see Alisha! That morning when I arrived to the hospital I found her in bed and in a lot of back pain. They were sending her down for a CT scan shortly to make sure it was not internal bleeding. We were told that it can happen after the last of the chest tubes are pulled. They also tested to make sure it was not a kidney infection or kidney stones. Thankfully everything came back negative. The doctors guessed that it was just her muscle pain and how she had been sleeping. Alisha arrived to the hospital from the airport in the early afternoon. Rima was napping so the two of us caught up outside her room for a bit.
Their reunion was so sweet. So much smiling and giggling! Alisha had packed us a picnic and brought it to us all the way from North Carolina! We had our own very own Northern Carolina picnic in Rima's hospital room. She even brought some local Kombucha from Asheville. Even with the back pain Rims still kicked butt at PT. She got to walk around without ANY tubes or wires for the first time in over two weeks! She was so excited! It was so amazing to see her walk down the hall and not be connected to anything. Nothing that was beeping or that needed to be pushed to pulled! Alisha spent the night at the hospital with Rima. Rima's last night before she would be going home the next day! Such a good way to spend it, with a sleepover! That night when I got home I cleaned every surface of Rima's room. She was going to come home to a dust free room! This is very important for post transplant patients to live in a clean and I mean CLEAN environment. You don't want them to breathe in dust or mold at home that could set them back! I'm a kind of a control freak, so If I could control the environment in the house then by golly I would do my very best!
Tuesday May 30th, was Rima's BIG day. She was going to discharged today! When I got to the hospital in the morning it began: the commotion and hustle and bustle of nurses and doctors coming in and out preparing us for her impending discharge. She had been in the hospital for 16 days! Two weeks and two days post double lung transplant and Wonder Woman was going home! I was bursting with excitement! Everything was going so well! She was kicking ass! The doctors told us she would be on home iv's for probably another few weeks or so. We went over her calorie needs at home and her nutritional goals. The more protein the better and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Her medical team came in for the last time to do their rounds on Rima. Everyone was so excited she was going home. They were so proud of her but also their team; they had done amazing, all of them. The teamwork and dedication that went into Rima's care was incredible. We're so lucky! They told us she would have a bronch in about two weeks to make sure her lungs were looking good. If that went well then she would have another bronch a month later and then two months after that. If the one in mid September went well and showed no signs of rejection then we would have the A-okay to go back to COLORADO! We would hopefully be back to the mountains by my Birthday! Wishes do come true!
In the afternoon I went down to the discharge pharmacy and picked up all of Rima's medications. I left with two very, very large bags packed with bottles and boxes. Back up in Rima's room I had spilt them out on her bed and started to organize them. A discharge nurse come in to go over all the medications with us to make sure we knew what was what and how often and when she had to take them. My head was spinning a little I'm not going to lie. It was quite over whelming. So much to remember! But, I kept reminding myself that in a week or two all of the new information would become normal and soon would just become a daily part of our life. Just like her iv's we would become accustom to them. We would soon not blink an eye at all these bottles, or so I hoped.
Once I felt organized and was sure what pills were what and when to give them to Rima we began to pack up Rima's room. Alisha and I got her whole room packed and ready in record time. Rima began saying her goodbyes to the nursing staff. Many nurses came by to say their goodbyes and send their luck and love Rima's way. We gathered all the bags and began our descent to the lobby of the hospital. This power house was coming home!!
I could not be more proud of Rima! After the last year and everything we had gone through together, she had gotten her new airbags and now she was leaving the hospital. The last two weeks had been the hardest two weeks of my life. I had been tested emotionally, mentally and physically. I now knew my capabilities more than ever. I know how far I could be pushed and know that I could endure even more. I hope I never have to go relive anything like that again, but if I do then I know I'll come out the other side stronger than ever. To say the last two weeks had changed our lives forever would be an understatement.
We had gone into this journey together on the quest for new lungs and had come out on the other side with new lungs but with so much more. Yes, it was a life changing surgery for Rima, physically but also mentally and emotionally and for me too! All the work that had gone into it from the whole medical staff. The doctors and surgeons who had spent years and years in school and training and then practicing had successfully given Rima a second chance. The donor and their family had been on our minds since we got the call. How could they not. This gift that Rima had received had come out of sadness and loss on the other side. There was a family out there, near or far that was mourning the life of a loved one. We're forever grateful to the donor for their selfless gift of registering to become an organ donor. Our thoughts are with the donors family and always will be.
Rima now has a second chance to live a life that so many of us take for granted. A second chance to live life to the fullest. A second chance to explore and adventure, but to also do the mundane. To binge Netflix, to deal with bills, to wait in store lines, to walk up stairs when the elevator is down. To do tasks that the majority of us including myself find annoying and at times ridiculous. Rima would be able to participate in the boring routines of adult life now but with a new sense of appreciation. The knowledge that even though some tasks may not be fun or worth-while would be made all the sweeter by breathing deep breaths. The hopefully not constant reminder that life is to be appreciated even at the duller moments.
I feel that many of us could use some sort of "event" or encounter with having to fight for life as a way to appreciate the life we live. I know that I'm not the same person I was two weeks ago, that's for sure. I still have to remind myself to enjoy the small "insignificant" moments. I'm sure I'll have to remind myself to stop and smell the roses at many points moving forward but with a new view of the world and it's possibilities. Knowing that it's the hard, uncomfortable, heart breaking moments in your life that can bring in the sweetest moments, if you allow it to. Take deep breaths and enjoy the air coming in and out. Think twice about saying no to something that could possibly be the start of a new adventure. Live life everyday with a purpose, whatever that maybe, live life with happiness and love. I know that Rima will be and I'll be right behind her, because now she can walk in front of me!