It doesn’t really matter that I invested in really ace woolens, down jacket and shearling lined “super boots” this winter. It doesn’t *really* matter because now the cold temps don’t destroy me like they did before the surgery. I bought these things to be warm taking my sixteen year old dog on his slow shuffles to the park and back. There was a time once when he went slowly for me. The tables are turned now and it is my honour to ferry him to and from the park at a crawl. I have long underwear!
And here’s what else I’ve got: I’ve got lungs that work. !!! Lungs that don’t recoil into spasm at the first inhalation of cold air. Lungs that don’t crack and spill blood all winter. Lungs that are clear from the CF mucous that would turn to rock in my dry home and suffocate me. I’ve got exercise tolerance. I can RUN. I can RUN IN THE SNOW. UP a hill! This ability to exercise gives me an appetite, which gives me strength, which gives me mass, which protects me from the cold. Bring on the cold temps!
Okay, so the transplant medications have compromised my knee (remember the torn ACL/meniscus of 2009?). This makes me scared to return to skiing (something I realllly wanted to get back to). But, I will toboggan instead. I will ride a horse bareback through the woods. There are options. THERE IS JOY FOR ME AGAIN IN THE SNOW! Honestly, now it’s a fun adventure. Before the surgery it was so frightening and SO scary just knowing the winters were long, dry, germ-filled and freezing presented giant obstacles and challenges at every turn. I would have to maintain my physiotherapy schedule at the hospital gym while I waited for surgery, 2 to 3 times a week in fact. The mere act arriving to the gym and leaning over to undo my winter boots and take off my coat seemed to wind me then. I had to maintain, also, my riding schedule all winter because no other physio was more gently successful in releasing that C.F. Mucous from my lungs than the movement of a horse. Struggling in below zero temps to blow my nose and re-insert my oxygen tubing continually, spasming, sometimes bleeding, & suffering just to get a small amount of relief from the diseased secretions scarring and destroying my lungs? Well, my donor took all that suffering away. I can deal with not skiing!
Flash forward to 2011. Here’s a verbal snapshot of what I did today: As the school-board called an official SNOW DAY, I had Tom with me. Tom, being raised in Owen Sound found nothing wrong with the drive today in snow tires. We went riding. In the woods the snow was falling down. The horses were lifting their legs quite high going through the almost knee-deep snow. The woods were quiet, except for the sound of a few birds, snorting horses, and crunching snow. After a time Tom and I separated and went different directions on our respective mounts. I took a short cut on mine, and Gypsy broke into a canter up a hill. At the top of the hill we stopped so that the wind was to our backs. In the snow she stood stock still, ears pricked forward listening for Tom and Beaumont, watching with an eagle eye for them up the next pathway. She knew she’d see them soon. As we stood there, for maybe two minutes with the wind whistling past us from behind, standing in the snow, held with expectation I could feel her sides moving in and out, as she breathed slowly catching her breath at the top of the hill. In and Out. Out and in. It was a cool moment, followed by the feeling of her heart beating faster as Beaumont’s ear tips came into view up the pathway. As their figures came fully into view, the snow spraying this way and that as they trotted up the hill towards us, Gypsy chewed her bit in happy excitement of seeing her friends again. The group of us turned to face the wind and made the cold ride back to the stable with bright smiles on our faces.
This is now my winter. And I am SO GRATEFUL and thankful for the blessings that come to me by way of my kind donor, the support of my family, and a great medical team. As my fellow post-transplant friend Hattie wrote in her blog, “I am in love with breathing.” I couldn’t put it better myself.
BRING ON THE SNOW!!!!