When a person has developed an incurable lung disease they will face many challenges from drugs, therapy, doctors, family, friends and do-gooders. These are challenges they can face and deal with on a daily basis and still live a relatively normal life.
There is one challenge they must face though that is very hard to deal with, a double lung transplant. All of a sudden there is this space in front of them full of fearsome dragons.
This is best explained be a 14 year old boy from Italy who came to Canada on a student exchange. He did a slide presentation showing his small town and all his friends and family. He then showed the plane, the flight attendant (many times, must have been something in his blood). The boy then showed a blank slide, paused for a bit then went on with the rest of the presentation.
After, someone asked, why the blank. He then explained that all of a sudden he got scared. He let all the other passengers get off and just sat there. A flight attendant came and asked what the problem was and he explained that all of a sudden he got scared. She said, "Scared of what" and he explained that all his teachers, family and friends had told him about Canada but they have never been there, so how could they really know what Canada was really like. So all of a sudden there was a big space full of fearsome dragons.
The flight attendant then said "I am Canadian what would you like to know?". Then she took him by the hand and led him off the plane to his host family and new found friends.
When a person faces a double lung transplant they face the same dragons. They hear from doctors, nurses and all kinds of specialists what it's all about. But they don't really know because they have never experienced the transplant.
This is where a special group of people comes to help, like the flight attendant. They are the transplant support group.
Why are they so special? They have experienced the transplant and can answer the questions the person might have that the doctors can not. With this knowledge they can help fight off most of these fearsome dragons.
Just what are the dragons?
With the Italian boy they were, Did Canadian`s still live in tepees and igloos? Did anyone speak his language? These are silly to us yet a very real fear to him.
Transplant patients dragons are also very real to them. The operation room is the dragons den. The over head light is the dragon's mouth breathing fire. The operating tools are the dragon's claws ready to rip and tear you apart. With the doctors in there scrubs and masks all you can see is the eyes of the dragon staring at you.
Silly to you? Perhaps, but to a transplant patient, very real.
You can help fight these dragons by trying to see it the way a patient does, especially the way a child might see things. Don't say you're just being silly, try to understand their fears.
You can also help by registering as a donor and telling a family member or a friend what you have requested.
By Kin Garry McNamee