More Lessons In Waiting

Wait (verb)
To remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until
something expected happens (often followed by
for, till, or until ):
to wait for the bus to arrive.

Everyday, approximately 80 people wait for new lungs in Ontario (some having relocated from other provinces). Yet, in my observation we are among the least inactive people I know.

I’ve been on the transplant waiting list for three and a half months now. I just arrived home from today’s pre-transplant physio, the exercise program I attend three times a week to keep building strength and endurance leading up to my lung transplant. I exercise with other people who are also waiting and recent lung transplant recipients who continue their workouts at the hospital until three months post-transplant.

While I stretch, lift weights, walk the treadmill, ride the recumbent bike, and climb stairs, I negotiate around oxygen tubing and tank, shortness of breath, and a body that doesn’t move like it once could. Some days I talk a lot (which usually means I’ll be there longer, because I can seldom talk and exercise at the same time, since my lungs no longer have the capacity for this). Some days I listen more than I talk.

Always I’m inspired by the stories I hear, the people I meet, the ways in which each person waits, the gratitude of those whose wait is over. I’m humbled by tests of endurance and faith that are being lived around me. I’m awed by the resiliency of the human spirit, the “yes” to life that gets each person out of bed and onto the treadmill…even when the wait gets really long and the breath gets really weak.

Today a man who recently received new lungs observed me riding the bike and asked how I did so with such calm. The first words out of my mouth were, “Quiet the mind.” He happened to catch me on a day when there were no burning internal issues wreaking havoc on my brain and my blood oxygen level was pretty stable! I told him that sometimes I go to the ocean in my mind when I’m on the bike. I go on guided visual tours to the places that bring me joy. “Where is one of these places for you?” I asked him. “Jasper. I love Jasper.” “So go to Jasper when you ride the bike next,” I encouraged him.

Next turned out to be a little later in the morning. I checked in with him partway through his ride and there he was among the Rocky Mountains. I commented on how amazing the mountains are and my new friend agreed. Then he said, “Ohh, but it’s the air. The air is so fresh. I couldn’t breathe very well when I was last there so I didn’t really get to take it in. But I’m going back there this summer with my new lungs!” He was riding the bike imagining the feel of all that fresh air filling his lungs.

At any time my phone could ring with the call to let me know there are new lungs for me. In the meantime, if what I’m doing in my life is waiting, and experiencing a taste of what is waiting for me, I’m so very glad I signed up.


*** Please Note: It is with deep gratitude that I remember all
lung donors and their families as I wait.
Your gifts of new life give me something to wait for. ***