My Summer Vay-Cay!

Hola mi amigos,

Let me start this post off with a ‘lil’ welcome back ;).  I have not blogged since June 20th. Now thats what I like to call a dry spell...

My ‘Dance card’ has been pretty full lately, but that does not mean I won’t be dancing with Ellen DeGeneres... They still plan on having me shaking and groovin, its just a matter of health. I want to dance at my BEST. Ya know?

Remember those essays you had to do when you got back to school after summer vacation? well, here’s mine ... 

What I did over summer 2012 - by Hélène Campbell

My summer really started over the weekend of July 14th. That is when I got permission from my doctors at Toronto General Hospital to go home!! Not just to my temporary home in Toronto, but to home home, in Ottawa! Good Ole’ Alfie’s Stompin Grounds!! There I was, let free, to be at mi casa at Lasta :)

Momma Lion (otherwise known as my mother, Manon) and I packed up our things in Toronto. I am sad to say I left some things behind, but like Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, ‘I will Be Back”. I took my Reeses Peanut Butter cups home though.

I was looking forward to going back to Ottawa, but as happy as I was to get back home, there was some sadness. My memory of details there had sharpened, things like the interior of our temporary Toronto home. But more importantly, of the remarkable people I met. So many very kind strangers who treated my mom and I so well; neighbors, storekeepers, burger restaurant employees (you know who you are ;) ), deli employees, taxi drivers, physiotherapists, nurses, doctors and everyday people on the street who recognized us. On Monday, July 16, as were leaving, literally “a man on the street” said “hey, aren't you the girl with the lung transplant?”. When I said “yes” he wished me good luck and said that my story gave him a reason to quit smoking. That was neat.It was going to be so different this time, and I knew it. I could go to my room without wheezing! My breath was still taken away as I opened the door to my bedroom. I found out you can cram quite the amount of people in my room.

July 18th My family attended a news conference at the Government Conference Center in downtown Ottawa. My mother and I received such a warm welcome! I was super honoured that the Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq, attended and announced $10 Million in government funding for Transplant research in Canada. Thats So Exciting! Thank you to all who supported and helped out with this! (Ottawa … I love you!)!!

Then, I kind of dropped out of sight. I tweeted about putting out the garbage, then I didn’t tweet for about three weeks...  One of my followers asked me if the garbage man took me with him... hahah! 

I had an intense schedule before I left Toronto. Medically, there were tests and then my usually physiotherapy. With the organ donation awareness side I had been quite active, attending a number of events. When we came back to O-Town, I began my recovery. I needed to rest (and so did my mom!).

My family has a trailer we go to. I spent a lot of time up there in July and August. I was even there last week. Chilly, but I loved the colors. Being up there is awesome and is a huge part of my second chance at life. I can swim, hike, canoe, etc! I can do them all now in moderation. Sometimes, I could be very quiet, do some reflecting, and concentrate on resting. A big change is that I can sit near a campfire now - a definite no no when you are on oxygen...

Of course being back with my family has been WONDERFUL!! I missed them so much. They are all so strong. We are a family of six, I have two sisters and a brother plus my mom and dad.  It is so nice to just be together, even if we don’t say anything. I can say the same thing when it comes to being with my friends here in Ottawa. I missed people so much.

I really enjoy just walking, which was very tough stuff before my transplant! My sisters and I go for walks and it means so much. I also volunteer to take the neighbor’s dog for a walk. I’ve only done it once though so I’ll have to pick that up!

So what about my recovery? I am recovering from the double lung transplant fairly well. All transplant recipients expect some issues. There can be issues of organ rejection or infection, and there can be issues with the anti-rejection medications (I am down to about 30 pills a day!). In my case there is a problem with my hemoglobin; the red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body.  My new lungs are doing their job of making the oxygen, but my blood isn’t doing a good job of carrying that oxygen. They think it is due to the kidneys, I am not worried because my doctors are working on it. If you see me in person I look pale sometimes and I get tired easily. So, I have to be careful to rest enough and, interestingly, drink enough water and juice (yum). Having spiffy water bottles is my new thing...

Transplant recipients have to maintain body strength through physiotherapy, it is part of the recovery process. I love to go to the gym at 10am...that way I can watch The Ellen DeGeneres Show while working out.. Pumpin That Iron boy! Arm wrestles anyone?

I wear my Reeses T-shirt. It creates an image of a laughing orange blob on a treadmill. ;) Its pretty awesome.

I got to do a lot this summer, went to some weddings, swam (another “could not do” before transplant), and broke the sound barrier with my friend Felix Baumgartner... well, not the last one … but you never know. ;)

As the summer wound down I started getting busier again. I’ve been doing some speaking at about organ donation awareness at a few events. I really enjoy doing it.

I am also writing a book about the last year; because let's be honest, it's a bit of ‘alungstory’. Writing a book is a whole new experience for me and it has its challenges. I’ll promise to do my best to deliver a story that will express grrrrattitude (attitude with a little “grrrr”).

As I have said before and will say again … I don't want to stop my campaign to raise organ donation registration awareness. I not only want to help people on the organ transplant waiting list but also to honour the gift of a second chance I received from my donor. In Ontario alone there are, right now, over 1500 people waiting for a second chance at life through an organ transplant. Every three days one person on the transplant waiting list dies. I am sad to say a very dear friend of mine, who was on the transplant list, passed away in July; she was 20-years-old. I am dedicating this post in her memory. She, along with many others, fought an amazing fight and kept hope until the end. 

Love You Lung Time

Hélène

 

In Memory Of L.M.

Ma chère amie, je t’aime de tout mon coeur. 

1991-2012