Friday, May 24, 2013

The guy with the lungs


I’m just back from attending the American Thoracic Society. I have lots to blog about that, but this isn’t the entry that will have a lot of commentary about the meeting. It’s working better for me to write in pieces of memory. 

I have a sort of plan for my lung transplant one day. I know the transplant center at Fairfax in Virginia is HPS friendly. By that I mean they’ve been willing to take on an HPSer for lung transplant. I know I wouldn’t have to overcome the education phase about the bleeding disorder of HPS there. They’ve already learned it. My brother lives quite close so I know I’ll have a place to live within the drive zone of the center. 

Mind you, I have no idea if by the time that day arrives, I’ll even be a candidate for transplant, but it makes me feel better to assume I will be, and that I have a plan. 

The doctor at Fairfax is Dr. Nathan. I’ve seen him at ATS meetings and heard him talk, but never really shook his hand. 

At this ATS meeting I got the chance! 

Donna and I attended a continuing education session for physicians on diagnosing and treating pulmonary fibrosis. Dr. Nathan was one of the instructors. So, being the Heather that I am, I went up to the front of the room after the class and patiently waited for all the doctors who wanted to ask one-on-one questions to finish. Then I bounded up to the poor man and said, “Hi, my name is Heather Kirkwood, and I’m coming your direction – hopefully not for a long time – but you are my plan.” He sort of looked like a deer in the headlights, as if he wasn’t sure what to say. Then he shook my hand and said it was nice to meet me. I explained I had HPS, that my brother lived close etc. 

Looking back I feel kind of sorry for the guy. It wasn’t a venue where one expects to meet a patient. I’m not sure if I came across as myself either. While I was waiting for the other doctors to ask their questions, I suddenly felt very nervous and anxious. It dawned on me. This is the guy. This is the guy who someday might have my lungs! 

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