First off, a big THANK YOU to all the people who supported my team by donating money, visiting my garage sale, and for just being awesome.
Sorry for the length but I had to write sort of a preface about the journey up to this ride, even though most of you know the story. Only weeks before my lungiversary, I searched the internet for an athletic event to show off my brand new lungs and the abilities they have gifted me for the end of our first year together. I found the Trek Tri-Island, held by the American Lung Association, heard of anything more perfect than that? I think not!
Just over a year ago I had been sitting on the couch with 5+ liters of oxygen, under 17% lung capacity and much less than perfect oxygen saturation. With that, I was barely able to walk 30 feet to the bathroom and back. Not to mention the multiple antibiotics: IV, oral, and inhaled, that I took around the clock, as well as much needed chest therapy to loosen the mucus. Other things I needed to live included a Bi-Pap that I wore while sleeping so I could breathe easier and receive extra oxygen. At the same time my feeding tube ran at full force, stuffing me with extra calories and protein, hoping to help me gain weight and fight off the infection. Lastly the constant, non-stop coughing and bringing up garbage that plagued the inside of my lungs. Which were suppose to be clear, dry and empty for breathing and moving oxygen. All of that on repeat, day in and day out, fighting, and waiting for something to happen. That was my life.
That was only one year ago.
Then the phone rang. I was back on the transplant list, and the real waiting began. Waiting on one more phone call that could completely transform my life. Not soon after the first, the second call came, they found a match, they had new lungs for me, and off we went.
It wasn't all fun and games right out of surgery, as to be expected, but the thought of getting new lungs was so beyond belief that nothing could ever ruin that. I knew what to expect but the lung transplant recovery itself seemed to go a lot smoother than I had originally thought, or than what was to come. Even though there had been some complications with the lungs, contributing to 3 weeks awake on the ventilator, it was incredibly worth it (DUH) and didn't seem as bad once it was all over. When I was finally released I went right to walking and was raring to go, I had a new breathe of life, literally, and a new start. I have the ICU's awesome team to thank, for getting me up and walking even with the ventilator in, but who knew that was to prepare me for a bike Trek like I hoped to participate in for my 1 year anniversary.
Only a week after leaving the hospital, in pretty much what I thought was tip top shape, walking, feeling great, and all that. I began having stomach pain, more than I could handle. (and I am no stranger to pain) To the emergency room I went, waking up to the news that I needed surgery, right away, only weeks out of my lung transplant. Into surgery I rolled once again. Waking up, only this time in pain, agony, and unable to walk once again. I had to fight again just a bit harder this time, but once I was back to walking, I was unstoppable.
Who would have thought in only 8 months I could ride a bike, let alone pedal it for 50 miles, or 60 miles over 3 days in the San Juan Islands. A place where hills outnumber downhill and flat by close to 75%. I know I'm exaggerating but with my prior hill riding experience at like none, it seemed a bit much for my toothpick legs. Besides that, my team and I didn't have any spare time when it came to fundraising for the ride, since our much needed donations were still rolling in days before, and even after, money which we needed in order to participate, I become worried we would not make it. Either way, lateness and all, I was set on riding the Trek Tri-Island, and I did just that!
Besides the 3:00am wakeup that my mom, good friend Allysa, Rachel, who flew from California, and I had to conquer in order to arrive on time for the first day. We made it and shuffled onto to the ferry without much problem. The first day we rode on Orcas island, which had the most hills, and the bike computers came out saying we rode about 26 miles. Which took me almost twice as long as it did to do the 50 mile ride I had done early in the month. I knew the hills were to blame, besides, I found out how horrible I am at riding downhill, it seems like va simple thing, but I actually end up going SLOWER downhill than I do uphill. How you may ask? Good question.
The next day we didn't have to be up as early, but I was already tired since I kept everyone in the tent up until it was time to take my pills. (I may have actually kept everyone in the camp up.. but I wouldn't know my hearing isn't good ) Anyway, we were off to Lopez island for the second day of the trek, which is a smaller island with apparently much less hills. I did notice, but I think these islands were just meant to be the death of bicyclists or people not so fond of hills. (Like myself) It got to the point where I was happy to go up a hill as long as I didn't have to go down one on the other side, a bit sad. But I'm still new at this cycling thing.
I have to say though, the Trek Tri-Island was one of the coolest, well organized, multi-day events I have ever been lucky enough to be a part of. Part of this awesomeness included the amazing people involved in running the Trek, the sweeper guys, the support vehicles, photographers, cheerleaders, bike mechanics, and all of the participants of course! The other cool thing is that, awesomely enough, it was all for the American Lung Association, so it just was perfect. (You all know how I feel about lungs) The food was great, the planning was perfect, the ferry's were a bonus on either side of the day riding bikes, since I love ferries, and the camp location was awesome also (for a bike trek).
The last day was another one of the earlier mornings, since the camp was at a school and we had to be out by 7:00am, packed up and gone. We were to ride San Juan Island that day and we did, although our team cut it short to make an earlier ferry to get back to the other side as Rachel also needed to catch a plane. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to join the group of people that rode this 3 day ride. I am more than grateful to have been given the gift of these new lungs so that things like this are possible for me, while getting up from the couch seemed like a such a chore only a year ago.
So there I was, without my oxygen tank, among free of the other things I needed before my transplant, and only a handful (literally) of medications to take a few times a day, brand new lungs, my friends, and my bike! Besides the fact that I had never imagined myself being able to do something so awesome so soon after transplant, I am glad that the event also gave back to an organization that rocks. One of which everyone needs and should help in raising awareness for. Fighting for clean air, lungs (which we all have). We all need to breathe to live, and because it is more than important for everyone who lives in this world, having clean air. GO AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION & GO TREK TRI-ISLAND!!