A Breath of Fresh Air

Sharon Kelly
Second Wind St. Louis
February, 2008

Unbelievable, awesome, generous, fantastic, phenomenal and blessed are a few words that describe how 2007 was for my family and me. A year full of miracles and blessings, frustration and joys even tears of sadness and happiness were all part of our incredible past year.

A year ago on News Years I was sitting alone in my apartment wondering if I was going to be able to last in St. Louis until I received the transplant call. My dear friend, Barbara was admitted to the hospital and very sick. I was praying she would live long enough to get new lungs. I was lonely, scared and VERY tired of waiting. The days seemed to drag on and living away from my family was becoming harder. Those Rosary beads seemed to pull me through another month.

February came, Groundhogs day Kallen’s 11th birthday and I wasn’t there. Feb 6th the phone rang at 2:30 am and it was a transplant coordinator saying they had lungs. I started shaking and called Dick. I was planning on driving myself to Barnes but I was too nervous. My neighbor Mayne drove me and soon I started the pre-op ritual for transplant. Dick and the kids plus Suzi were on their way. They arrived as the Dr. was telling me it was not meant to be and I could go home. The lungs were not a match. A few days later my friend Barbara got her call and they did her transplant. It was successful and to this day she is doing well.

Things calmed down in March and April. They were not doing many transplants at Barnes and the weather was getting nicer, thoughts of spring were popping up and Kiley was about to have baby number 2. Lo, my friend from Tulsa, was transplanted a year before and was coming back to St. Louis for acute rejection. She was listed for a second transplant. She was very, very ill and I was more worried about Lo than I was myself.

May 1st, my new grandson was born (Kase Langston McAllister) I was not there as I had been for all the others but Dick and Kinzie had set up a web cam so I could see him and almost be there. He was amazing. It seemed like God brought me a special gift to get me through those tough times. Kiley was feeling well enough to make the trip to St. Louis the next week. It was so nice to see and hold that baby but I did realize that I was getting weaker and couldn’t even hold the baby without needing a lot of oxygen.

Emotionally I was getting weaker too. The woman who never broke down had reached her limit and was at the end of her rope. I fell apart in rehab and all the therapists knew I was not going to last there much longer.

May 22nd I had my usual clinic appointment. The coordinators and Dr’s were aware I was emotionally broke. I had been there 17 months waiting. That day they told me to go home for a while or go on a short trip. I needed to get away from the transplant process. I actually agreed and went home from the hospital to look for a vacation spot at Hilton Head. I thought Dick could play golf and I could be in the sun away from the hospital. I was just finishing a plate of spaghetti when the phone rang, my transplant coordinator calling to tell me they had a possible donor. I couldn’t believe it, they just told me to leave!! This time I did drive myself. I didn’t call Dick until I reached the hospital. I told him not to come but he did. They did all the pre-op stuff and took me down to surgery but this time it was for real. A wonderful family had the courage and generosity to donate the organs of their loved one and Dr. Meyers began my double lung transplant. Dick and the kids arrived shortly after; I was able to talk to them on the cell phone. I saw them several hours later and was taken off the ventilator and NO OXYGEN. I was doing GREAT.I went back to my apartment 10 days later.
June, July and August seemed to fly by. Kinzie stayed with me for five weeks and then other friends and family members took their turn at babysitting with me. Someone had to be there with me at all times. I went to post rehab everyday and worked very hard to be able to come HOME on time. It came. August 18th my St. Louis things were loaded in a truck, Suzi came to clean and pack. Derick and the others were all beaming while moving me out of my little home on the lake. As we made the six hour drive home and arrived into town, there was a caravan of people along the highway to greet us. On the side of a large truck Kerry had painted a sign that read “TAKE A DEEP BREATH YOU’RE HOME!!!” I had made it home, I could breath and I had a second chance at life. God is truly good.

September, October and November were an adjustment period. Dick and I were learning to live together again, snoring and all! People of Chanute were recognizing the woman in the yellow mask, Derick was happy having lunch at Moms again and now Andrea comes too. The other kids were thrilled to trade a 4 hour drive to mom and dads for a 1 and a half hour drive and Kerry and family was glad to have MiMi close again. I also cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner for my family. It was so good to be home!
December was crazy as ever – parties, people, food. We loved every minute. We had the best Christmas ever and we have God and a wonderful family that we don’t even know to thank.

2007 was indeed an unforgettable year for the Kelly family. 2008 will be Great as well. We hope and pray that you have a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year. We hope that you enjoy every minute of every day. We hope that with every breath you take you thank God, and we hope you know how very, very grateful we are for all your prayers.

Happy New Year,
Sharon, Dick and Family