This last part of my interview with my son deals with his thoughts when I was called for a transplant.
Where were you when you heard that your Mum had been called for a transplant?
The first week at my new school I made my regular teachers aware of mum’s situation and knowing that if Mum rang the call would be important, they had all given permission for me to answer my phone if she called.
I was in film class when my phone rang. My step-brother Ronan picked it off my desk and said, “Your Mum is calling.”
I grabbed my phone and went to race outside but the relief teacher held his hand up for me to stop. Ronan explained the situation for me, but by the time I got outside, the phone had stopped ringing. I immediately rang back and Grant answered the phone. My heart stopped for a second thinking this was bad news, but Grant said, “Your Mum’s having an x-ray, she’ll be out in a minute with some news for you.”
I don’t know what we talked about while I waited for Mum to come to the phone, but the first thing Mum said was, “I’ve been offered a set of lungs.”
What was your first thought after the phone call ended?
I have never been so freaked out in my life and I wondered if I had just spoken to my mum for the last time.
What happened next?
I sat down for a while before I went back to class. Everyone asked what was going on. I hadn’t told many people that my mum was sick and they all stared at me when I said, “My Mum is going into surgery to have a lung transplant.”
There wasn’t anything anybody could do or say that would help me. I just had to wait.
And it was a long wait.
The next pieces of information arrived by text. Due to the time difference between Sydney and Perth I knew Mum would be in surgery until midnight. The first text Grant sent said that the surgery had started. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, I felt helpless. The deputy principal let me sit in the library for the rest of the afternoon.
Waiting for the text to arrive was torture. That next one informed me that Mum’s right lung had been transplanted and they were starting on the left lung. Just after midnight, I learnt that Mum was in recovery.
In the morning, my Grandma rang to tell me she had been to see Mum and everything was progressing well. In the afternoon Grant sent a text to say Mum was off the ventilator and breathing on her own.
On Sunday , when the phone rang I thought it was Grant with bad news. But it was Mum! She didn’t say much, but I instantly felt calmer. I could hear that she was no longer gasping for breath.
Despite this, I was still worried. I was used to Mum being sick, but this felt different. I didn’t know what to expect next, and I didn’t know what the warning signs would be.
I was booked to fly to Perth a few days after Mum left hospital. I’d been warned that because Mum’s immune system was weak it was really important that I was honest if I got sick. If Mum got sick at that stage would be dangerous, so if I had a cold or other symptoms I’d have to stay at Grandma’s house. I was paranoid that I was going to catch something, so I kept my distance from everyone.
The plane ride took forever. I knew Grant was going to pick me up while Mum stayed home (keeping infection risks to a minimum) and that as soon as I got home I would have to shower (plane germs) before I could see Mum. I thought not hugging her was going to be hard, but she waved at me from the lounge room and I could see straight away that everything was okay.
All my tension melted away.
Is your mum different post transplant?
A little different, it’s like the Mum I saw at home when I was younger, everyone else sees now too. As if this is who she was always meant to be, and her old lungs held her back – that she didn’t have enough energy to be herself around other people. Now she seems to have more energy, and she’s happier, and she talks a lot more now too – but she’s still my Mum.