Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Passing of A Friend

Wed Aug 30th, 2006

This afternoon, my friend, and Alex's girlfriend's Mom, Wendy Olson passed away.

Many of you who have been reading this post for many months know I have a close connection to the Lung Transplant Unit at Toronto General Hospital.

Wendy is my reason for this affinity.
On March 1st 2004 Wendy came to live with our family while she awaited her double lung transplant.
After 9 years of suffering from Pulminary Fibrosis, as a result of an allergic reaction to penicillin which had deteriorated her lung function she was qualified for a lung transplant.
She had never smoked or lived or worked in a contaminated area, and she did not have a negative lifestyle.

Wendy represents any one of us who consider ourselves to be living a risk-free life.
One allergic reaction can change your life forever.

On June the 4th, 2004 we got our call from TG transplant team, and lungs were there for Wendy. Funny thing....that morning I had heard a 13 yr old girl was hit by a train in Toronto, and hung on for a while.......
We never knew if this girl was her donor or not.

All I do know is that night we sat in the hospital going through all of the steps and tests to prep for surgery, and we heard the specialists speaking to all the patients in the prep area. The donor had a good liver, two kidneys, good lungs and a heart to give life to at least 5 dying people. Five lives were saved in that 24hr period. One victom did not pass away in vain.

Today I remember Wendy who did not pass away in vain either. Wendy volunteered herself to be a human experiment so future sufferers will have less drama to their recovery.
Wendy was strong. I remember her as a dedicated mother and a great friend. She loved crafts and she loved to read. She was house proud and did alot of work to help her children advance in school. She did alot of reading of text books through the years to help her daughters understand things they may not have picked up in the classroom.

Wendy was so funny. She had a great way of telling a story. She was very high on her trivia scale. Meaning she knew alot of information.

These last couple of years have been up and down for Wendy in her recovery. The auto-immune component to her disease played havoc with her body because of the anti rejection meds she needed to take. It is certain in my mind, that the Dr's learned alot from Wendy's reactions to medication, and it forced them to create new protocols for post operative investigations and treatment.

Alot of good came out of Wendy's transplant too. For quite a few months Wendy felt very well. She didnt have quite the energy she dreamed she would have, but she got to travel, and she worked on helping plan her daughter's wedding. She wanted to see her daughter marry, and she did.

Wendy wanted to see her younger daughter Amber (Alex's girlfriend) graduate highschool. She was in recovery when her daughter graduated highschool, but it was video taped for her to see when she was strong. She got to see Amber receive scholarships in Forensics three years in a row.

Wendy got to travel to BC on a plane and see relatives and tour around our most Western Province, which was a dream.

These last months were not so good.
12 yrs of having to take prednizone for the auto-immune component of her ills played havoc with her body. Wendy was showing signs of renal deterioration. Wendy was still strong. She told me in her last hospital stay at TG that she would do it all again if the opportunity came up. Those extra very well months were worth it all!

Even when Wendy's lung function had a 25% loss she was still strong. She had a deep will to live. Her body faught hard to survive. Pneumonia, and digestive ailments did not deter her from trying to live. She wanted to live to have more experiences with her family.

I have never seen a woman so determined to control life and death than Wendy. She would will her body to make it through a holiday, or recover just enough to get to go home from the hospital at the time the family was starting to fatigue. Wendy was in control. She tried her best to stay with her family this summer to have her last times with everyone around. At a time that would not interfere with school studies, and when University was about to start, Wendy allowed herself to let go, as not to put her youngest daughter through the strain of travel back and forth from an away school, and effect her studies.

In most circumstances a patient would not survive a week after being taken off their support systems, yet Wendy did. Alex feels she did that so Alex could get back from Vigilent Guardian to be with Amber through the end.

This is a remark on the unselfish and thoughtfulness of Wendy.

Wendy You Are Like My Sister.
We Will Miss You Very Much!

Click on the photo of Amber and Wendy to see Slideshow of Wendy Olson's journey from transplant list to surgery.

My Previous Transplant Stories



Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

I am so sorry for your loss. How blessed you both are to have had each other in your lives!

Mother of Invention said...

What a wonderful tribute to your good friend. I hope Wendy's family sees this piece. She must have been an inspiration to many..even to me, now. We all have physical ailments that we'd rather not have, but what she dealt with and how, puts this all in perspective for me today.

Jules said...

Lynn - my thoughts are with you and your family, especialy Alex and Amber. What a good friend you were to her and such a tremendous example of courage she is to those with whom you share her story.

Sam Spade said...

I am sorry to hear about Wendy's and also your lost.To loose a Mother or fiend is always very hard.The photos were very moving.My mother is 76 years old and has congestive heart failure.She,too is on oxygen,but believe me,you will never see her on a tread mill.
My thoughts and prayers are with you both.