Pure gut instinct kicked in on February 4th. I texted Julie's mom, Mrs. D. The text said something about a collapsed lung. Kim, my assistant of four years immediately called Mrs. D. The news was not good. Julie was in the ICU, on oxygen, and not well. My blood turned into ice and numbed my entire body. I called my mom trembling and fearful.
Prior to this, Julie had been in the hospital. Most of our texts were about online shopping or The Bachelor. I was shocked.
I found out that Julie had been fighting acute lung rejection which is treatable. Julie had gone to the hospital several times for this. When we called Mrs. D., they just found out it was chronic rejection of the lungs. Chronic rejection has only one treatment. A lung transplant. She needs lungs...again.
In the days that followed, I called Mrs. D. after breakfast and before dinner. Mrs. D. did not sugar coat anything for me. I had grown close to Julie's family. I appreciated the truth because I wanted to be prepared for whatever was next. Our calls were like clockwork. 9:30 and 5:00. The nightly rosaries started in the midst of this.
I went to six out of the nine rosaries. They were incredibly somber but comforting at the same time. You knew that everyone else was in the same pain as you were. Julie's dad, Mr. D. came to all the rosaries. Mr. D. would give us updates. I knew most of the information from Mrs. D. but it was comforting to see her dad and siblings. Her siblings would always be surprised by how much I knew about how Julie was doing that day. A rosary like this lasts for nine days. On the ninth night, Mrs. D. came. She was overwhelmed by the 60 or 70 people that showed up every night for her daughter. When she saw me, she was sobbing. I held her as best I could trying to comfort an exhausted mother.
In the days since, Julie has been able to come home on oxygen. She is doing crafts, cooking, and visiting people. She went to the planetarium, to her grandma's, out to brunch, and she got ice cream with me. You can imagine my pure joy as I saw her in her pink coat as she walked in to the ice cream shop.
Julie has to have an oxygen tank with her at all times. She plays the oxygen tank card well; you bet the ice cream store offered us free ice cream! When this all happened last time, I distinctly remembered Mrs. D. saying Julie would not need another transplant for 30 or 40 years. I remember saying I'll be here with you all. It's just 18 months later and she has to do it again. I am proudly holding Julie's hand as she goes into battle yet again.
There is fear and faith. I've thought about these two words frequently. Fear is a natural human instinct. We can't help but fear when things look as bleak as a winter sky. I felt guilty as a Christian woman for having fear about Julie's life. However, I can choose to have faith in God. I have tremendous faith that God will provide Julie with lungs and the strength to survive another transplant. The wait is pure hell for Julie, her family, her church, her sorority sisters, and for everybody else in Julie's life. I feel anxious every day and butterflies have consistently occupied my stomach since February 4th.
I want to thank my assistants for seeing me through this tough time. They have seen me sob and consoled me. My family has been very involved compared to last time. They try to understand my explanations of everything and it's really hard because we are used to mobility issues not necessarily severe medical issues. Everyone has been so understanding and I am grateful for you all.
I want to sincerely thank Julie's family-especially Mrs. D. for providing me with support and putting up with my questions from someone who still has a lot of learning to do about the world of Cystic Fibrosis. Everyone that knows Julie chooses to have faith in her, her medical team, and God. She will get lungs and have a successful transplant. I have faith.
Let’s hope and pray that Julie gets lungs soon.
P.S. I am going to go to Julie’s house on Monday to watch The Bachelor.