Count Your Blessings – An Empty Nester’s unexpected health journey

Since creating Adventures of Empty Nesters, I have had the very good fortune of connecting with some extraordinary and talented people. They all possess huge hearts, inquisitive minds and adventurous spirits. I met the author of this post, Tam, through her fantastic travel blog, Travels with Tam. Her “adventures” and travels are out of this world! But she also endured a very difficult time and wrote a poignant post about the health of her husband. I asked her to be a Guest Adventurer and share her incredible story. Thank you Tam!


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Tam and Randy

Tam’s Story – Count Your Blessings

My husband Randy experienced a sudden health decline last year, and on September 10, 2013, after two weeks on life support, he received a double lung transplant. The Wheel of Fortune is turning and keeping us on our toes, but we are overwhelmingly grateful for our blessings.

On Valentine’s Day, Randy and I were at UT Southwestern University Hospital, at the Heart and Lung Transplant Clinic. The lung transplant team decided yesterday they wanted to do a bronchoscopy (a look at the lungs, an outpatient procedure) to check his lung function. For those who don’t know, my spouse, Randy, had a double lung transplant in September, and I became very familiar with the waiting rooms at UT Southwestern as he was there for months. Ah, the comfortable seats of hospital waiting rooms! I had forgotten the very special pain they give. As I sat, waiting to hear from the doctor, I read the Dallas Morning News and a story about a young family, a couple with four young children, ages 1-7. The young man, 36 years old, has been diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimers. At 36 years old! The story tore at my heart…what a terrible, terrible thing to happen to such a young man, and to his wife and young children. She is taking care of four children, and her husband, who cannot dress, hold a child, or talk. It reminded me to count my blessings.

There are too many to count. Included are Randy’s life, two wonderful children (young adults), a family who loves me, extended family who mean the world, good friends who care, and a life that has been full of love. There have been challenges, but I have always known I was loved. My life is, and has been, full of blessings, and I am thankful for every single one of them.

Randy’s bronchoscopy came back visually perfect, but the next afternoon Randy received a call and was informed that the tissue biopsy from the bronchoscopy performed on Friday showed possible rejection. Rejection of the transplanted organ is not exactly music to our ears, however, most lung transplant patients experience at least one episode of rejection, especially during the first 6-12 months. It does not mean that the lungs won’t work, or will be rejected; when caught early most episodes are dealt with expeditiously. The word “rejection” strikes fear into even the most optimistic heart, though.

Randy was advised to go to the Emergency Room at UT Southwestern so he could be admitted to the hospital and treated with Solu-Medrol, a very potent steroid. He will spend 3 days in the hospital. You know, we have to expect bumps in the road. As I said, the majority of lung transplantees have episodes of rejection. We have to be as positive in our outlook as possible, and he will be home soon, back on schedule with his Pulmonary Therapy and exercise. Life is, at best, unpredictable, and we have to go with the flow.

Facebook has been a tremendous tool for support and information from others in the transplant world. Facebook groups of lung transplantees have been fantastic. It is amazing to have others who have had these experiences to discuss things with. I’ve talked to several people who have had one or two episodes with rejection and they are all doing fine. As I said, it is not uncommon.

So, now that we know he will be just fine, we can take a long, deep breath. This journey involves so much uncertainty and fear, but more than that, we feel grateful. Every day is a gift.

Does anyone remember Rosemary Clooney? She is our parents’ singer, not ours, but I do remember one of her songs… I used to sing it to my children when they were little:

“If you’re worried and you can’t sleep,

Just count your blessings instead of sheep…

And you’ll fall asleep, counting your blessings”.

Since I did not sleep well last night, it sounds like a plan. I will fall asleep tonight, counting my blessings.


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Alexandra, Randy, Tam and Wesley


Thank you Tam and Randy for sharing your story and we wish you all the blessings you can handle!

Do not miss Travels with Tam  and read about all of her amazing travel adventures!

Best to you! Suzanne


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