KATHLEEN SHEFFER - ROSE COLORED MASK
A new blog series about life post Heart-lung Transplant
Writing has become a tool for me to process the trauma of my hemoptysis event and heart-lung transplant. While I've shared some of it on Facebook over the last few months, I'm wary of distressing unsuspecting newsfeed browsers, knowing how affected I can be by certain types of posts when I'm in certain types of moods. So I started a blog to create a barrier, albeit flimsy, to my less rosy confessions and longer-winded updates. Puns intended. Learn more: www.rosecoloredmask.wordpress.com
Always An Adventure 12.30.16
We arrived in Sedona a day late. On Tuesday, my dad and I picked up a rental car and headed south to Phoenix, in direct opposition of our planned itinerary. Stanford’s Lung Transplant Team wants me to report any abnormal symptoms without making my own judgments—a fact my mom reminded me of when I tried to blame a hypoallergenic dog for my itchy eyes, stuffy nose and raspy voice.... Click to read more
A Day In The Life - 12.14.16
It’s 2pm and I’m curled up on the couch with my dog, Basil, trying to wait it out. “It’s not real. It’s not real. It’s not real,” I type over and over again in a note on my phone. I wish I were being productive. My head hurts and I can’t focus on words on a page. Nothing interests me. I have no motivation. Organizing anything is impossible. If I am able to respond to a friend, it’s only to say that I will have to respond later.
“Why is this happening to me?” I type into the same note. I don’t want to live like this.... Click to read more.
Thanksgiving - 11.24.16
I can’t fathom anyone in the world ever having more to be thankful for than I have this year. No offense, but I’ve got dibs on Thanksgiving 2016. I’m pretty sure that’s how these holidays work.
How can I thank each nurse, doctor, surgeon, social worker, family member, friend and stranger who made it possible for me to wake up this morning? The list of things I’m grateful for is quite literally endless. ... Click to read more.
Inside Acceptance - 10.25.16
The room grew even more disproportionately large as my radiant symbols of support—mother, father, sister and family friend—let the door close behind them. I raised my eyebrows innocently, hoping that pulling my lips toward my cheeks would reassure the social worker I had nothing to hide. Now she had me alone with no family to augment or smooth over my answers. We sat across from each other at a table on an elevated platform skirted by individual chairs arranged dejectedly in what must have once been an intentional formation. What could be more comforting than the intimate setting of a stale lecture room? ... Click to read more.
Somewhere in the 28 days between being listed for a heart-lung transplant and receiving one, I decided I would write a book. Something to keep me busy during what I assumed would be a year of loafing around my parents’ house on 3 liters of oxygen. I bought four novels I determined were relevant to my education as an author-to-be: Pat Conroy’s The Great Santini (fighter pilots and autobiographical fiction? Sold.); Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen; Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar; and Anatomy of an Illness by Norman Cousins... Click to read more.
To My Donor - 9.22.16
Your heart and lungs and I have spent a lot of time irritable and in pain. I have felt ungrateful and unworthy. Transplant inherently comes with tremendous loss, but it seems that every day now I discover something beautiful made possible only by our surgical merge... Click to read more.
Uncharted Territory - 9.15.16
I was told that transplant meant trading Pulmonary Hypertension for immunosuppression with lifelong medication and monitoring. Medication and monitoring? I’ve got that down. I severely underestimated how difficult it would be to learn all new medications, tests, terms, risks and necessary precautions... Click to read more.
“This will be one of the bad days,” I had told myself when I pulled my mask over my face that morning. It seems my team really gets a kick out of putting foreign objects down my nose and throat. In the hospital I was on a ventilator and on three separate occasions I had an NG tube threaded through my nostril and down my throat to empty my stomach... Click to read more.
The Call - 9.6.16
I didn’t stress about packing absolutely everything I needed because I believed it would be a dry run. These are never actually rehearsals, but they’re referred to as dry runs after it’s determined that the potential match is not a good one. Almost every transplant patient I knew had had at least one—one friend even entered the Operating Room before they called it off. I figured it was a rite of passage... Click to read more.
I’m Doing Really Well - 9.3.16
I’m doing really well. At first I believed that was just what my doctor told me to get me to stop asking questions. He is always in a rush to leave the room. “You’re doing really well,” he would repeat. “Okay,” I would think. But I am in more pain today than I ever was in the hospital. But I am constantly irritated and all my relationships are strained. But I wish I had my old life and poor excuses for lungs back... Click to read more.
Status Post - 8.25.16
The morning of August 13, I woke up at 7:30 without an alarm. I had slept in my house in San Francisco for the first time in three months. I walked through the kitchen toward rays of morning light breaking through the thick fog visible from the front window. Somehow my neighborhood always has some sunshine, even when the rest of the city is overcast... Click to read more.