Dear All, Again, I’d like to apologize to those who have reached out and may not have received a response from me. It has been a bit of a physical and mental rollercoaster ride since I got transplanted. But I wanted to provide an update on my status as so many of you have been in my corner urging me to keeping fighting and cheering me on. As a matter of fact, let me stop right there and give an emphatic “THANK YOU” to everyone. In my time of need, the prayers, thoughts, donations, tears and emotional support have come from everywhere. And there is no way I would have made it without that. My total hospital stay was 124 days. It could have been worse as I know many people are suffering more than I did, but it was my 124 days. And what you have done and continue to do to help me through is equally important as any medicine they could have given me. For that, I remain eternally and sincerely grateful. To see people rally for you when your life is on the line….it carried me through more dark days than I can count.
So, I received my lung transplant on 9/22. My normal weight is 220lbs. When I went into surgery, I weighed 165lbs. I woke up 5 days later with tubes in my neck and chest, drugged up and weighing 135lbs. I couldn’t walk and could barely move. I could barely breath because there was so much fluid in my new lungs. I had a trach in my neck to help me with that. But I was in bad shape. There are videos of me that I still can’t watch. They are far too devastating for me, to be honest. I spent about 1-2 weeks in the ICU. After I woke up, I didn’t sleep for 3 days. There is a condition called ICU Psychosis. Let’s just say I remember doing everything from staring at people blankly to complaining of parasites living in my chest. Anyway, rehab started in the ICU. I have such a high level of respect for soldiers and others who have to learn to walk again. All I had to do was wake my atrophied muscle up and get them stronger…and that is still a work in progress. I can’t walk far. And it will be some time before I can. And my sense of taste is impaired. And I have a feeding tube down my nose still. Apparently, the pulmonary hypertension led me down this road and the transplant did the rest. Now I have to build myself back up physically and mentally.
So fast forward…After being moved to the hospital floor for about a week, I finally got discharged. I can’t tell you how good it feels to be out of that hospital. For one, it feels good because the hospital food had gotten old and I hadn’t been outside since like the first week of June. Secondly, and most importantly, it’s good because I was only about a month or so from dying, if that. And I knew it. I’d be lying to say that it has all sunken in because it definitely hasn’t. I always joke with my grandmother and say that she’ll live to be 120 years old (and I still think she will). And she’d say to me with that sweet laugh…”If I do, well that is alright. But when the Lord calls me home, I’ll be ready”…or something like that. I can honestly say that before the lungs came, I’d calmed myself and accepted that the Lord may call me home. I was no longer saying “I hope”, but rather I was saying “I’m optimistic that lungs will come”. It just made it less painful. And then I accepted that I probably wouldn’t make it to November. The doctors would later on tell mom something to this effect after I did receive the lungs but I didn’t have the heart to tell her yet a second time that I was dying soon (I had to do that in May when the doctors initially thought my heart had failed).
Now mom and I are in a hotel near the hospital. Doctors say I live to far from the hospital to go home right now. Again, I must thank you all because the money being donated to Helphopelive for me is the money that is paying for my post-op care. It’s paying for this hotel for 6 weeks. And its paying for my medication (30+ meds), food and home health. These are things I could not have done on my own. Getting me this far, again, has been the product of God’s blessing and your kindness. And “Thank you” doesn’t quite cover the magnitude of that. So now I’m taking time to heal, rehab physically and mentally, and go back and forth to follow-up appointments at the hospital.
It is weird though. After nearly 3 years of dying slowly from, it hasn’t sunken in that now I’m not. Even my body reacts to certain situations like I still have pulmonary hypertension….but that was removed with my old lungs. Lots of healing to do. But I’m blessed to have these lungs. I’m blessed to have friends like you who have kept me in the fight, and provided me the mental and financial resources to fight on. From Thailand to right here in Cali, people came, called, emailed and texted to lift me up. You all helped save my life. And for some reason, God didn’t call me home. I have a second chance and I don’t intend to waste it. The next stage of this for me?? To get back on my feet. To grow stronger every day that I can. To finally finish this painful journey. To RISE.
Jul 23, 2014
CALL FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION: Reggie's health is declining and he has been moved closer to the top of the transplant waiting list. The need for your financial support and prayers is greater than ever. Please consider making a contribution today.