After a monstrous letdown, we need a win. Those of us with chronic illness need reminders to keep on keeping on. The glimmer of hope for better days is necessary to move forward. Rarely do we have a whole day that is good, so when we do, we cling to it with bated breath.
Thursday was a perfect day. I met my new transplant team in person for the first time in Pittsburgh. It was a bit nerve-wracking. I had never been to this clinic before and didn’t know what to expect. My experience with them had been fantastic so far. My doctor is wonderful, the team gets back to me quickly, and everything has gone smoothly … from afar. The pre-clinic jitters are a real thing.
I was nervous to hop on a commercial flight with COVID-19 still lurking in the shadows. Driving 10 hours with my current health situation was out of the question. Anxious thoughts filled my mind: Where would I stay? What transportation would I use? Is it safe to be around groups of people? I took a chance and called Angel Flight NE. I had heard about this organization briefly in the past, but never looked into it. I had nothing to lose and hoped this would be a viable resource.
Graciously, my transplant team had an available time slot for me upon learning that my recent surgery to fix a vascular issue was unsuccessful. I called them immediately so I could have an in-person appointment. My team had called on a Monday to confirm they could see me that Thursday. I needed a thread of hope to cling to, anything that would bring light to my dark situation.
Timid but confident, I dialed Angel Flight’s number.
“Yes, hi,” I said. “I am a double-lung transplant recipient currently having complications. My transplant center is in Pittsburgh. I have an appointment there on Thursday. Is this something you can help me with, please?”
“Typically we need one week’s notice,” the kind lady stated, “but I will send a note out to all our pilots and see what we can do.”
Living on a prayer, I didn’t make any other travel arrangements. My full faith was in this working out for me. So I waited anxiously while this lady attempted to find me an available pilot.
By Wednesday, two kind gentlemen called to confirm that one would fly me to Pittsburgh and one would fly me back home. This was REALLY happening!
I arrived at a separate airport than the commercial one near me. It was smaller than I had ever seen. So was the plane. I felt like I was living in a movie. The pilot was waiting for me to arrive and helped me into the small airplane. Is this real life? I thought to myself.
Putting on the headset, I chatted with the pilot for the duration of the flight while taking in the sights from 8,000 feet in the air. He explained more about Angel Flight. Pilots volunteer their time, use their own airplanes, and cover the expenses themselves. This humbling realization brought me to tears. To know there are people in this world who help those in similar situations to mine in such a powerful way is one of the most beautiful examples of humanity at its finest.
I have a friend who lives in Pittsburgh. He had messaged me upon learning that my new transplant team was there. His kind heart offered to help in any way I needed while I was in the area for appointments. When I reached out to him, he said he would pick me up from the airport, take me to the hospital, and bring me back to fly out. I don’t believe in coincidences, but rather divine appointments. My friends are truly incredible individuals.
My doctor restored hope to my seemingly hopeless situation. A physician who has worked with cystic fibrosis and transplant patients for more years than he can count has seen my situation before. He has various interventions that will take place in the coming months. I’m grateful to have a reliable team I have confidence in. Finally.
As I reflected on my flight home, I realized the magnitude of my day. Without my health struggles, I wouldn’t have these magical experiences or meet amazing people in the same way. This is both enlightening and precious, and it affirms my stance: If given the choice, I would choose my life. Every time.
This is by far one of the coolest adventures I have ever had. By the end of the day, my face hurt from smiling. I needed a win. And by golly, did I get one.
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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