I am about to celebrate my 60th birthday this week - 57 years longer than my original life expectancy!
I was diagnosed as a child with cystic fibrosis. The numerous hospital visits each year were good because they gave me time to rest from playing and fighting with my brothers - I was the only girl. To me, regular hospital visits, coughing and wheezing was normal.
It was all I ever knew.
As life and time went on, so did my illness. I never let it prevent me from living my life. My saying is 'I'm here for a good time, not a long time', and I've done both. After being told that I was not expected to live, I ensured my life was filled with quality, living life to the fullest, partying, spending time with my beautiful daughter and great friends. I felt good pre-transplant when I lived and worked by the ocean. The sea air did wonders for my lungs.
A transplant was the only option to continue on life's journey. I remember one time I was not expected to survive the night. That was until a 6ft gorgeous nurse named Laurie came to look after me. I thought to myself - I'm not going anywhere!
My memories of waiting are positive due to the friendships formed with others waiting too. Not everyone survived and not everyone received a transplant, but the friends I made at that time and the transplant co-coordinator were invaluable to me.
I waited just over two years for my transplant. Surviving afterwards was a concern for the doctors, but not for me. I knew I was going to live. 24 hours after the operation when I was chatting away, the ICU nurses were ready for me to go to the ward. The staff were excellent.
I felt free. No coughing, no wheezing.
Eight years ago I was given a new life and a new responsibility. I wanted to look after my new lungs for they belonged to somebody's loved one.
I admire and I am forever thankful to the donor family. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here with my beautiful daughter and she wouldn't have her mum.
Having life is simply the best.