March 4, 2014

Saying goodbye to a friend

12 weeks post-transplant today; pulmonary rehab #42.

At 84 days post, I've reached many new milestones in my recovery, including being able to pick up the pace on the treadmill to a full 6 mph for 4 repeats of 60-75 seconds. Weights and resistance bands are increasing, reps going up. Etc.

But my happiness over this progress is right now thrown into stunning negative by another kind of progression, the one Steve Bell recently wrote about. Downward progression is claiming a friend.

One of my transplant group, Jeannette Keefer, #1398, is not going to make it. As I write this, she lays in ICU dying. Everything that can be done has been and the decision was made over the weekend to discontinue life-saving measures and let nature take its course. At 73, she had the disadvantage of age, but she was a spirited fighter. She is much like a grandmother to me, and all of us in our transplant group - the last dozen transplants or so of 2013 - love her very much. She and I started rehab about the same time, got listed within a couple weeks of each other, and she was transplanted just four days before me. She's been in ICU for 88 days, battling one complication after another. And now, perhaps mercifully, it is coming to an end.

I'm distressed for her husband Jim, her children and grandchildren. I'm distressed for our transplant group. Losing someone like this is not common. And it's hard to look at someone still breathing yet knowing her life is slipping away and there's nothing to be done about it. But I took her hand and I told her how proud I am of her, for being brave enough to reach for life and for fighting the good fight. She did a good job.

Tonight, I am reminded that it is a horrible fucking thing to have to say your final goodbyes. But I am also reminded how wonderful it is to get the chance to say them, before it is too late.

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