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Thanks, Gratitude and Remembrance!

Today, September 30th is a wonderful day for me!  It was 9 years ago today that I received my double lung transplant.  I am joyful and so very grateful for the chance I was given to live on.  It is a day of deep gratitude for the family of my lung donor and my lung donor himself!  It is also a day of thought and sadness that a family lost their loved one.  How do you thank someone who has given you the chance to live???

It reminds me of a Psalm:  How can I make a return to the Lord, for all the good he has done for me?

I think of my donor ~ what did he look like, what did he love and not love, did he have a wife or children???  Did he laugh lots and love more? Who were his favorite sports teams and what did he do for fun???  These are all questions that perhaps one day I will find the answer to.  But, if I don’t I can be sure that when I pass from this world I will meet him and give him my great thanks!

All I know about my donor is that he was a 29 year old male.  I received the lungs from the Charleston West Virginia Hospital.  I will be sending another letter to the donor family after a bit time has passed since the date of his death to let them know that the lungs I breathe with were his lungs and that I share a love for him.

I will be thinking and praying for him in a very special way today.

May his soul and the souls of the faithful departed rest in Peace!!!

 

Transplant Date:  September 30, 2005

Sandy Ozanich (c) September 30, 2014

 

 

Some Days Or Weeks Are Worse Than Others. . .

This past week has been a jumble of pain, tiredness, feeling sick being really sick.  Mix in some depression and not really wanting to talk to or see anyone and there you have it. . . I feel like telling everyone to just bugg off!!!

For the past few weeks I have been having terrible pain in my right foot, that wonderful thing called Plantar Fasciitis.  Walking was not always successful, if you consider walking “on” your foot a plus.  For several days I was walking on the side of my foot.  Still the pain continued.

I woke up on Sunday, October 20th and tried to stand up straight when I got out of bed.  Surprise!!!  No can do!  My back went “out” as we who suffer back pain say.  So, picture this, I couldn’t stand up straight or walk on my foot. . .it was a sight to see.   So on the Friday before, I left work an hour early because I just couldn’t stand to stand anymore or walk.  Hahaha

I went to see a podiatrist about my foot and he was very nice, very helpful and put a shot into my foot that literally wanted to send me through the ceiling!!!  Oh my gosh!!!  I have had pain from many different sources, but I have got to tell you that I have never experienced anything like this.  I had a cortisone shot in my frozen shoulder years ago, not a problem.  I had cortisone shot into my knee, alrighty then!!!  Put one of those shots in my foot below my ankle bone and I was ready to run, scream and hop quickly away.  BUT, it really did help.

Fast forward to this past week.  Had a clinic visit with my transplant team for a follow up, told I need to lose weight (I already know that, geez), so I made several appointments that are way overdue, you know fun ones like a gyne appointment, a colonoscopy, a mammogram, a full body scan at the dermatologist and biopsy to rule out basal cell skin cancer (because I have had this annoying skin condition), AND another podiatrist appointment.

Now, if that isn’t bad enough, my emotions have not been at their best either.  You know how it is when you let things build up for so long and then you explode???  Ok then, you’ve got the picture.  That was my crowning event yesterday.  I let loose on my husband yesterday about things that were on my mind since before the time of Christ. . .about certain things that were rightly or wrongly attributable to him and our son, and I just let him have it.  I have since told him that my only excuse was “out of my minditis”.

So, there you have it, except for this one thing. . .I forgot once again to put my anti-depressant in my medicine container for the past week.  For those of you who know about my double lung transplant 8 years ago, you know that I have to take about 30 pills a day, one of those pills is an anti-depressant.  I cannot believe that this is the second time I have done this recently.  I finally realized that it happened after I updated my med list and used the generic name of the drugs instead of the name brands.  Might not mean much, but it really did.  By re-doing my med list the pill in question moved from the top of the list to the bottom.  I won’t make that mistake again. . .I never knew how much of a difference one week’s worth of anti-depressants could make on my mood.

Oh, and one more thing, I found out about a long lost family member I haven’t seen since he was 2 years old, he is now 43. . .much to catch up on, much to heal. . .

So, what is the point of all this rambling. . .I have no idea!!!  It just feels better getting it off my chest and maybe that is the message.  If something is bothering you so much that it is causing a change in how you behave, get it off your chest!  Talk to someone you trust, someone you love, someone. . .AND take your meds if you need em’.

Sandy Ozanich © November 4, 2013

I’d Like To Tell You “The Rest of My Story”

Many of you know that I had a double lung transplant on Sept. 30, 2005, almost 8 years now.  I had emphysema and asthma and in the year or two prior to my transplant, I was dying.  My lung function was dwindling and by February of 2005 I was placed on oxygen 24/7.  Just walking across the first floor of my home which was the length of 2 rooms was very difficult without the oxygen.

My lung function when I was placed on the transplant list was only 20%. I was on the transplant list for only 2 weeks to the day.  What a surprise to me.  I was expecting to wait months or years.

In the early morning hour of 12:15am on September 30, 2005 I received my call.  My pre-transplant coordinator, Paul called and asked me “So San, whatcha doin’?” I said, “Getting ready for bed.”  He said, “No you’re not.  We have a set of lungs that we believe are just for you.  So, I need you to make your phone calls and get your ass in here asap.”

Well, wow, I didn’t know what to think because I was kind of numb.  I knew I had to call my daughters and let them know and I had to reach our son, who happened to be out at the time.  This was before he had a cell phone.  We couldn’t wait any longer so I had to leave him a note on the kitchen table.  I hated to leave such a message on a note, but I had no choice.

I distinctly remember walking out to our car and turning around to look at the house that we had lived in and raised our 3 children in and wondered if I would be coming back to that home of our love and life.  It was a very strange feeling, I wasn’t panicky or terrified but I was feeling a bit uneasy, wondering if this whole thing was real and yes, it was very real.

So here we were, me and my husband, sitting in the lobby of University of Pittsburgh Presbyterian Hospital waiting to be taken up for the transplant.  It was 1:30in the morning.  As I looked to the left I saw a man walking through the shadows toward us.  As he got closer I recognized him to be the priest I had worked for years previously.  He had in the last couple years moved from Pittsburgh to California.  Now here he was in Pittsburgh at 1:30 in the morning!!!

He walked past us, I imagine he didn’t recognize me because I had gained some weight and was wearing oxygen.  I told my husband to go out and get him, Fr. Eugene was walking toward the parking lot.  As he brought him inside, he came over to me and I said, “Eugene?”  and he answered, “yessss???”   I looked at him and said, “you don’t know who I am, do you?”  Fr. Eugene answered, “Honey, I don’t know anyone at 1:30 in the morning”.  After I explained who I was, he then remembered me.  He said, “Sandy, what are you doing here”?  I told him that I was waiting to up to surgery for a double lung transplant.  His eyes got so big and then his face softened as he looked at me.  Fr. Eugene took my hands in his and said a prayer for me.  He said, “I just wish you all the best.”  With that he left and flew back to California.

After he left, I knew I was going to be just fine.  I felt such a feeling of peace, I can’t describe it, but I had no fear.  I went forward with the surgery and I am sitting here today, nearly 8 years later doing well.

I saw Fr. Eugene 3 years later back in Pittsburgh, giving a conference at the Monastery where I work and where I worked for him when he was Rector back in the 80’s.  When he saw me he asked me how I was feeling.  I told him I was doing very well.

Fr. Eugene went on to tell me why he was in Pittsburgh that night.  He said he had just left the bedside of a friend who had died.  I said, “Eugene, do you realize that you walked from death to life that night?”  He said, I guess I did.

Now, this is where this story gets even better.  Many years ago, when Fr. Eugene had become the Rector of a Retreat House in Riverdale, New York, my 2 friends, Dee and Shirley and I went to Riverdale, New York to attend a weekend retreat with Fr. Eugene and many others who had come to experience the retreat.

When the time came for Holy Communion, Fr. Eugene said to all of us, “Instead of saying ‘Amen’ when I offer Communion, perhaps you could say something that has meaning for you. . .perhaps you could say, I love you Jesus, or Thank you Lord, or My Lord and My God, something like that.

While I was walking up to receive Communion I had no idea what I was going to say.  Even when it became my turn, I was at a loss. . .that is until he offered Communion by saying, “The Body of Christ” and out of the blue I said, “I want to live”. . .What???  I had no idea why I would say that, and beyond that when I got back to my seat, I just began to sob and sob and sob. . .I was in a happy mood, why was I sobbing in this pew.  Everything in my life felt so good.  But there it was.

This memory came to me in the last couple weeks and it just blew me away. . .Here is the same priest who years before suggested saying something to receive Communion. . .and I say that I want to live. . .and years later here comes this same priest from across the country to pray with me while my life hung in the balance.

No one can convince me that God and his angels aren’t working on our behalf all the time. . .

May you all be blessed!!!

Sandy Ozanich (c) Sept. 1, 2013