Monday, August 31, 2015

A Glimpse of Summer Fun

     As summer winds down (today is the start of Professional Development week for teachers in my district-- yay!) here is a video that effectively captures how great the past few months have been.

     It was my son's idea to use the blaster as a trombone. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Good Kind of Overwhelmed...

     Yesterday I received an email from the Events Specialist for the University of Michigan Transplant Center.  She had previously asked me to be the guest speaker at the upcoming Vita Redita, a black tie event to raise funds for the transplant center.  She had also asked to share my transplant anniversary Facebook post to the transplant center's official Facebook page.  Here is what her email said:

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Different Kind of Transplant

     I am so happy to announce that I WILL be teaching again in the fall!  I am "easing in" by doing only one hour a day and my current placement is at the middle school level. So much for "easing in!"  I'm somewhat nervous about teaching an age group and curriculum I have no experience with-- despite a decade a teaching experience, I will be the "greenest" staff member in more ways than one. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

5 Unexpected Physical Changes Post Transplant

Here is a list of physical changes that have become a part of my post-transplant life. Most of them are unexpected and seemingly unrelated to having healthy lungs, based on my limited medical knowledge. If one of you is a health professional or a fellow lung recipient and wants to chime in on the list below, please do so!

1.  Dandruff

Prior to the transplant, I could have been the "before" guy in a Head & Shoulders commercial. Sometimes even my eyebrows would have dandruff. Gross, I know!  But post transplant, no dandruff at all. None.  

2.  Chapped Lips

Another frequent issue I dealt with before the transplant was chapped lips. Just like with the dandruff issue, despite using products to help, it was still a problem. But not any more, at all, ever. 

3.  Grey Hair

I've talked about this before, but it seems like, even though my mom went completely grey by age 35, the sudden shift between no grey (especially in my facial hair) and bunches of it seems too coincidental. 

4.  Noisy Breathing

For many years prior to the transplant, when I slept, I wild often make noises as I exhaled. Mostly these sounded like moans and groans-- I wasn't talking in my sleep or something.  Other times I would make chewing noises during my slumber.   My wife made a recording of it once to make me aware of how loud it was.  Since the transplant, I don't make any of those noises-- but now I snore sometimes... at least it's a "normal" annoying sleep noise!

5.  Leg Hair Disappeared... then Came Back!

During the span of several months, the hair on my outer calves of both legs completely disappeared and then came back in full force. It looked like I had deliberately shaved it. My wife noticed it one day, and I realized that I wasn't sure when it started. I know it wasn't an occurrence that immediately happened after the transplant, but apparently it gradually occurred over some period of time. I forgot to show my doctor at one of my visits and ask her about it, and by the time I saw her again about two months later, all of it had grown back. I asked her about it and she just shook her head. I get it-- what's the point in trying to solve unimportant hair mysteries when everything that matters about my health is going so well?  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Six Images Say So Much

The first three images are from a year ago, when I left my house after getting the call, a photo of me post-op, and the reaction I had to arriving at home after twenty days in the hospital...

The next three images capture my transplant anniversary:  placing a candle in the water off Mackinac Island in honor of my donor and his or her family, my son's drawing on the paper tablecloth when we dined at The Woods restaurant, and an image of he and I as we traveled to the island on the ferry. 

I am so incredibly fortunate and forever grateful for the life I have. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

This is a Picture of Progress

It's been quite a journey, and I think a huge part of the reason for how successful it's been has been my attitude. The picture on the left is from the first day I was fully awake and able to move to the chair, a mere four days after the surgery. 

One year down, many more to go...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


     On Wednesday, August 20, 2014, I got "the call."  And on Thursday, August 20, 2015, my wife, son, and my mom and dad will celebrate the year that has been possible because of the successful surgery that began that night and continued long into the next morning.  Our plan is to go to Mackinac Island, largely because that is a place my wife and I would go every year.  We understandably put that tradition aside for the past two years.  My mom and dad will join us for the first time; neither of them have been to the island in over 30 years.  We do all this in lieu of celebrating something meaningful in the life of my donor and donor family.  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Worst Day of My Life (Now with Context!)

     Below is an e-mail I sent to some friends on Thursday, October 5, 2000.  I had been attending Eastern Michigan University for a little over a month.  The subject line was "My Worst Day."
      Yesterday, I woke up. That was my first mistake. In a comedy of errors, I was lucky enough to experience the worst day of my life up to this point, and I can't imagine any day being much worse. Although, that's what I kept saying yesterday, figuring the day could only get better after each setback.

Monday, August 17, 2015


     Typically when my son says, "Let's race," I do, because what better use for these new lungs than seeing if I can get to that tree up ahead faster than my seven year old?

     But yesterday it was I who initiated a contest when I saw a web-like section of the play structure near the beach by our campsite. "Do you want to see who can climb to the top the fastest?"
     "Sure, Dad."

     Clearly I lost, but when I compete with my son, I always feel like I'm victorious. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

It's the Climb...

I can't believe I just referenced a Miley Cyrus song...

Anyway, never grow up!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Monday, August 10, 2015

Rink Rats

     I was apprehensive when my doctors approved me to ice skate a few months ago, based on the fear that if (more like when) I fell down, it would hurt my still-not-as-strong-as-it-could-be upper body as I braced my fall and subsequently got myself back up.  But my son's ice skating birthday party gave me a chance to face this fear and skate with him for the first time ever.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Six Going on Seven

     Imagine that you just turned six years old.  Your dad has been dragging a tube around everywhere he goes in the house for over a year.  Whenever he leaves the house, he carries a noisy backpack.  The tube goes in his nose and it helps him breathe.  You know he goes to the doctor a lot and needs new lungs.  You're pretty sure Dr. Simon is getting them from Argentina, but when you say that, Dad explains that Dr. Simon is helping, but he isn't getting them from another country.  Almost exactly two weeks after your birthday, that "call" that you've heard Mom and Dad talk so much about comes, apparently-- first your grandmotherly neighbor and, later that day, your actual grandmother, stay with you after Mom and Dad leave.  Dad gave you an extra long hug and seemed like he might cry before he left.  Grandma tries to play video games with you but is really, really bad at them.  Mom didn't come home that night, or the next night, and that was okay, even though you hadn't been away from her for that many nights before.  Grandma lets you have pretty much whatever you want, because Dad's in the hospital getting his new not-from-Argentina lungs, and Grandma usually lets you have whatever you want even when it isn't a special circumstance.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Spider Twins

This is my favorite photo from my son's birthday yesterday. It pretty much sums up why I love having a 7 year old.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Back in the Wild Again...

     My first camping trip since 2012 in three photos:

First bike ride post-transplant.  Pedaling along next to my son was definitely a highlight of the trip.

Walking to places I couldn't make it to before and enjoying the beauty of nature.

Three years was worth the wait.  Thanks new lungs!

Monday, August 3, 2015

King for a Day

     Four square is by far my favorite "playground" game (second only to dodgeball), probably because I am, not to brag, very good at it. I first learned to play at CF camp, and loved the game instantly. Later, in the days when my wife and I would host a summer party for my co-workers each year, we would make a court in our street and all be kids again. Regardless of whether or not a person has never played or is an old pro, four square is accessible and fun.