For Shelly

I was greatly saddened recently to learn of the death of a fellow blogger in Oregon. I first heard from Shelly around the end of 2005, when she found my blog after searching for one of my keywords (“pulmonary fibrosis”). She wrote me:

I found your blog when I first started this thing last month. I was interested in PF and lung disease in general, that’s how I found you. It was a coincidence that I found your writing interesting, as I too am a free thinker (I prefer that to dirty liberal) and thought your musings…..for lack of a better word, amusing!

As this message hints, we shared a number of things in common besides the fact that both of us had pulmonary fibrosis, including a sarcastic (some might say “twisted”) sense of humor and a general disdain for George W. Bush. For the next couple of years, we continued to send each other links to the latest news about current research and developments in lung disease, updates on the current state of our health, not to mention the occasional poop joke.

Shelly’s illness was, unfortunately, much worse than mine due to the fact that she had suffered from rheumatoid arthritis since the age of 15, and large doses of prednisone over the years caused her to gain weight which further contributed to her lung problems. Nevertheless, she was one of the most positive, funny, upbeat people I’ve ever known. For the last year of her life, she was in the process of qualifying for a lung transplant (which involved a diet and exercise regimen) and was excited about the new opportunities a transplant would bring her. She was well aware of the seriousness of her condition, but her holiday greeting for 2007, while expressing a prescient fear that this might be the last Christmas she would spend with her family, also contained this message of optimism:

I just wanted to wish you a very happy and safe Christmas. May you and your families be blessed with a wonderful evening, eat too much, spoil your loved ones, and remember to tell those special people how much you love them and what they mean to you. For me, here’s to a new year! To a second chance! No more oxygen hoses and scooters. No more being scared to go out for long and having people stare at me! Oh and no more Atkins diet!!! Here’s to walking my dog and fishing with my daddy! Road Trips with Mike. To taking my nieces to the park or even Disneyland! Here’s to camping and SWIMMING! Oh and to sitting near a burning candle!

TO NEW LUNGS & FRESH AIR!

She was supposed to go to Seattle last month for her pre-transplant medical evaluation, and hoped to be placed on the waiting list for new lungs shortly thereafter. However, when I checked her web site recently to see how the visit had gone, I was shocked to learn that her condition had deteriorated very rapidly after the holidays, and she passed away on February 24. She was only 32 years old.

So here’s to Shelly; may she rest in peace, and my deepest condolences go out to her friends and family. It was her custom to close every message and blog post with the following words, so it seems most appropriate for me to end this post with them as well:

“Life is not measured by the breaths we take…but by the moments that take our breath away!”

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