On July 2, 2016, I awoke from a nightmare with a wheeze. In the movies, people awaken from nightmares with a gasp. But gasping takes air. I’d been suffocating for days.
Days of tripping through a horrific hallucination that may sound funny, but only if you didn’t live it: plummeting backward into oil-slicked tide pools in an infinite loop, with a crab that had Maggie Smith’s face floating next to me, shrieking that I deserved to die. In the real world, I was dying while singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” over and over and over.
Septic shock shot CO2 into my brain, which instigated this absurdity. Fun.
My world eventually morphed from ludicrous to lucid and, classic Millennial, I updated my status on Facebook:
A better idea of what I needed to do with my life: living with gratitude, no matter what. Nothing fulfills like that. Truth. My world was suddenly technicolor.
In January 2017, I got a lung transplant, which birthed more gratitude. But life got hectic since my procedure. I began worrying about romance, thinning hair, how much people annoy me, prescription costs, money.
Oh, yeah. Worrying about money. We’ll return to that topic.
I sat in a coffee shop on June 27, 2018, and I felt conflicted about my shallow worrying. What happened to love being my priority? Why do arbitrary things pierce me? I thought about this verse in Matthew:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
Inspired, I wrote a Facebook post about things for which I’m grateful.
Twenty-seven minutes later, I got T-boned in an intersection. It was quite the dramatic spectacle; my purchased-two-weeks-ago car was totaled. I had goofed up my insurance paperwork, so no collision coverage. Buh-bye, money.
I climbed from the wreckage, nose gashed up, hugged the other driver, glanced at my car’s carcass, and answered firefighters’ worrying with a bloody smile: “I’m doing great!” I am. Being alive is what matters. My cousin said hours later: “Even when faced with mountains, we climb them because we are lucky enough to be able to.”
Later, I hopped on a flight to visit family I hadn’t seen since before my transplant. My relatives remarked, “It’s great to see you doing so well.” I don’t know if they meant they were relieved that I had survived the car crash or my transplant. Regardless, the sentiment honed my priorities. Worrying over car costs suddenly took a back seat in my mind.
I stood on a lazy lake’s dock. I deeply breathed pine-fresh air. Observed geese competing for supper. I rubbed my belly full of barbecued steak, potato, and banana pudding. Southern manna. No money thoughts.
Part of my refocus is to remember what being relieved of CF’s lung-clutch has done. The lessons learned in battle, the lessons carried into my new life. Lakeside, I wrote:
I loathe CF because it exposed me to horrific sights.
I am grateful because beauty now mesmerizes me.
I loathe CF because it forced me to compete.
I am grateful because it made me strong.
I loathe CF because it cornered me into a life of fear.
I am grateful because I am now courageous.
I loathe CF because it cost me friendships.
I am grateful because it revealed my true friends.
I loathe CF because it murdered my beautiful cysters and fibros.
I am grateful because it forged our poignant relationships.
I loathe CF because it complicated romance.
I am grateful because it raised my standards.
I loathe CF because it will end my life short.
I am grateful because I don’t take moments for granted.
I loathe CF because it made me question my identity.
I am grateful because I search relentlessly for my best self.
I loathe CF because it ripped me apart.
I am grateful because it molded me.
My relatives joined me on the dock for a dusk pontoon ride. Laughter carried across the water as the splendid sun tucked itself behind mighty pine trees, who never worried.
Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.
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