Grateful for a Good Hospital Visit

In Thanksgiving spirit today, the first thing that popped into my mind was that I was grateful that the kindness and skill of the Stanford Interventional Radiology staff. It made today one of my best hospital experiences yet.

I’m dozing after spending the day at the hospital for another procedure to replace the jejunal feeding tube. It was a quick, out-patient surgery that was necessary because the little balloon of the feeding tube inside my body bursted, letting the tube pull out too far.

In the pre-op room, I had three friendly nurses, including one of them who remembered me from 2 months ago. It is nice to go places where “everybody knows your name,” even if it is the pre-op room instead of a climbing gym.

I told them the reason I knew to come in [to the hospital] when the feeding tube started coming out was that I had a very painful experience a year ago. “I think the [original} feeding tube got displaced when I was rock climbing.” Apparently, that is not a very common reason, and they had a good laugh!

Both of the Asian nurses had tried climbing and told me about the their experiences. “You inspire me to try it again…it’s so… meditative..” Knowing that she was talking about her first time, I was confused. “Most people are scared to death the first time, and hang on for dear life as they near the top!” She said she was calm because trusted her belayer [friend holding the rope for her] completely. We continued chatting about climbing and how wonderful the sport is, because you get stronger and it’s also so fun.

After that, she said she (unfortunately) has the honor of putting in the IV needle. “Honor?” How sweet and respectful is that! She found a vein on my arm (IV’s on the hand hurt more.) She then succeeded in inserting the needle on the first poke, and it hardly even hurt…it felt like a little blood draw.

The nurse on the other side of me was also a gym climber. She said she should get out her harness and start climbing again, but she was worried that she was out of shape. So, I said it’s best to start out again on the slab climbs. That way, she won’t even notice a difference in a recent weight gain, because almost all her weight will be over her feet.

Back to business: after explaining to her that there is no way I could be pregnant right now, I was spared the pregnancy test. She went on to review my long medical history, and over 20 drugs and vitamins I take daily.

A young surgeon popped in with a smile, and assured me that the balloon on these feeding tubes burst at random, and I was not at fault. In fact, he said he was amazed that my previous tube had lasted a whole year. However, I did not have time to ask if he liked rock climbing, too.

A new nurse rolled me into the cold operating room. I only had mild sedation, so I was curious if I could watch…Remembering how listening to the Indigo Girls made me cry, ( since it reminded me of a transplant friend who had recently died) I chose to fall asleep to 80’s pop music…

In the recovery room, I awoke very groggy and feeling nauseated, but satisfied that I have a new “button” tube that stays inside now.

My 11-year Lungaversary today: November 22, 2015

Today is my lungaversary… I have survived 11 years!

Alyssa and Stacey on Stacey’s 11-year lungaversary.

There have been some dark times in the past 2 years, but knowing there is a chance for a better life through a second transplant lifted my hope! It is the light at the end of the tunnel. To focus on the light is the only way to gather strength and move forward. I have been on the Stanford lung transplant list for almost 11 months.

I am very thankful to my donor. It is a sobering thought to know that my first transplant would not have happened if my donor had not died suddenly, and passed her lungs to me, allowing me to live.

Thank you to my mother, Laura, my sister, Denise Wirth, and my friends near and far. You have nursed me through weak times, listened to me at stressful times, cheered for me during stronger years, and even collectively paid for the majority of my rent! (I need the bigger, 1-bedroom apartment in order for my caregivers to live with me, before or after the impending re-transplant.)

My transplant mentors, Mari Matsumura, the late Ana Stenzel, and Isabel Stenzel Byrnes gave me inspiration and hope and as they conquered huge health challenges, and guided me as a transplant candidate (and later as a recipient.) Isa brought delicious Japanese food over on Friday. This is her twelfth year, too. We are grateful to still be around!

I wish Ana were also here to grow older together, and see what a fine, loving, smart dog Timony has become! Timony must be guided by Rupie’s spirit. (Rupie was previous Stenzel dog.)

Tonight, Alyssa and Bryan came over and we celebrated this day by making bruschetta, attempting yoga, getting used to the selfie stick, and trying to fit into the chair together. (She said to sit on top of her, but I didn’t want to squish her!)