Last weekend, I finally got around to getting my yardwork done. I mulched around the walkway and the side of my condo and planted flowers in the garden. When a friend heard what I’d done, he asked, “Is that a chore, or is it fun?”

“It’s fun!” I replied.

It’s one more thing I get to do that I couldn’t before my double-lung transplant almost six years ago due to cystic fibrosis (CF). With new lungs, I celebrate how far I’ve come and delight in all the little things I can do now.

My friend’s question made me reflect on how hard my life was before transplant. My lungs longed to do normal daily living activities like taking out the garbage, getting the mail, or walking to my car without being thrown into a violent coughing fit. Everything used to feel like a marathon. I had to account for each breath and ensure that I’d have enough air just to walk to my bathroom on some days. When I was fighting for every breath, I didn’t have the capacity to expend energy on luxurious activities like yardwork.

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From fighting to stay alive to dramatic change

Six years ago, I was waiting for my double-lung transplant. I lived at the hospital for most of the five months that I was on the transplant list. Stuck in survival mode, my focus was solely on staying alive until the call came.

I hadn’t realized how hard it was to breathe and do life with CF lungs until I got a new set. I thought it was normal for each activity to be strenuous. It was the only life I knew because breathing had been hard my entire life.

After the transplant, my life changed drastically. I no longer have to pick one task to do per day because that’s all the breath I have. I can perform daily living skills without breathlessness and exhaustion from oxygen deprivation. The more I can rely on an abundance of air in my lungs, the more activities I can do without fearing that my breathing can’t handle it.

It seems silly, but I cried when I cleaned my condo for the first time after my transplant. I was so thankful to God and my donor for these simple life tasks that are often taken for granted. The ability to do things with little effort is a gift I celebrate every day.

My life has been transformed in ways I often can’t articulate. Full disclosure, I typically cry tears of joy at least once a day. I’ll be performing a mundane task or engaging in an activity that reminds me of where I once was and what I wasn’t able to do. I don’t take the little things for granted. To me, they’re all big things.

While others grumble about housework or yardwork, I rejoice that I’m able to do it. That’s why I consider mulching and planting flowers a fun activity. Most people consider it a chore, but for me, it’s a privilege I didn’t have before my transplant.

I revel in walking barefoot while feeling the soft earth between my toes. Watering my plants while encouraging them to grow is one of my favorite nightly activities. Yes, I’m the weird lady in a bathrobe talking to my plants in the front yard. And I’m pretty proud of it.

Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.

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