Who Would You Want Using Your Lungs?

Soul Dipper’s raison d’etre has just been challenged.  Negativity has been flying.

The Guides told me, “You are not to mind this.  Simply tell the story.  The readers will share their insights.  Enjoy their willingness to shine.” 

First, I watched this video of Helene Campbell, a 21 year old lung transplant recipient from Canada who appeared on the Ellen Show.  It’s sheer joy.  But it brought back a resentment like heartburn after drinking a cup of poison:

Helene Campbell

(Apologies for the video not being embedded)

An earlier lung transplant situation gave rise to my uninvited  bitterness.  I’ll name this recipient “★”.

A number of years ago, Joanna (not her real name) said, “What is it about ★ that makes it hard for me to want to help haul the oxygen tank around when we go places?  I’m never asked but it’s expected of me.  I don’t feel good about helping.  Am I a rotten person?”

“You’re not alone,” I said. “Different people are having a tough time with this. Me included.”

How could I respond positively when I identified with Joanna’s feelings?   I said, “Carolyn Myss wrote about needy people who hook others with invisible cords.  It’s done in silence, but it’s felt.  She calls them energy thieves. I’ve wondered if that is what is going on. Not being able to breathe and having to haul a tank around could cause anyone to cop an attitude that healthy folk should step up to the plate. However, I’d rather be asked. I feel manipulated with the silence.”

“The tank seems to sit there asking: what kind of human being are you?  So…regardless of appointments, we haul the damned thing at a snail’s pace, with ★ connected, up the stairs or to the car.”

Numerous little “lungs”, full of air, allow the seaweed to float to its destination. So like humans.

I said, “Never mind, we’re all praying that a pair of lungs show up real soon.”

Joanna said, ” What really gets me…★ is a senior who miraculously got accepted for a transplant in spite of being a long-term smoker. That’s because ★ told them the smoking habit was done.  That’s not true. ★ is still smoking! That makes it even harder to help!”

Neither of us like being negative.  We agreed to just carry the tank when it’s in front of us and keep praying for the lungs to show up.

We hauled that tank a few more months before the call finally came through. ★ was off to receive new lungs in another location with family in tow. The expense and time away from work was significant for all involved.

After the transplant, ★ convalesced for many weeks during which sessions with psychologists provided mental, emotional and moral support. When everyone was certain the new lungs had been fully accepted, it was time to come home.

At first ★ flourished.  It was a pleasure to see the freedom from tanks and tubing.  Then ★ began to slip, becoming more and more frail and, eventually, moving as slowly as pre-transplant days.

At a gathering last year, I looked across the room and saw ★ sitting, not talking with anyone and showing signs of labored breathing.

I took the chair next to ★, “How ya doin’?” I vaguely remember hearing the response about a fall and increased loss of memory.  My concentration became lost in the smell of cigarette smoke embedded in clothing and hair.  Instead of compassion, I felt disappointment.  I was back into judging and didn’t like it.

A few days later, I said to  Joanna, “Where is ★’s gratitude – or reverence?  Would would the donor feel…or the family?”

I know I don’t have the big picture.  Who knows the purpose of these actions?  It’s time to hand over the resentment again and wallow in the joy expressed by Helene Campbell.   She fought for her breath and helped her body accept those new lungs.

Helene Campbell is the kind of person I’d want using my lungs.

48 thoughts on “Who Would You Want Using Your Lungs?

  1. It’s not for us to judge the journey of another. Not always an easy thing to do however. Some souls, given opportunities to shine and rise, continue to choose the opposite. We can ache for them and yet not allow them to pull us downward unto their path. It all comes down to choice doesn’t it? Choosing gratefulness, choosing health, choosing to be stuck in old patterns that do not move us toward life and light. Choosing to remove ourselves from those who suck the life blood from us. Choosing to be aware for our guides, choosing to refuse to know them. Blessings to you, dear soul, on this amazing journey we are on.

    • It sure is a choice, Joss, – one with consequences that can affect many others. To varying degrees, the consequences have affected everyone in this person’s life. Plus – this just now makes me aware that Doctors must have to observe these types of choices constantly. How do they honour them knowing the consequences put unnecessary burden on the health system and on loved ones?

      • tough situation and tough decisions for sure. It’s these kinds of situations that pull us towards living more in our head than in our hearts – when I say ‘we’, I’m thinking of doctors etc having to deal with this. It’s hard when people with good hearts and good intentions get carried along in a person’s illness of body and soul.

        • Good point, Joss. It’s safer for us ordinary folk to use our heads in case those pesky feelings start affecting us! I’m glad Doctors counsel with welcome objectivity. My doctor is close to my age. When I have to make decisions where I’m totally in the dark, I say to her, “What would you recommend if I was your sister and we were sitting at the park talking about this?” After she checks into what my intuition is saying, she gives me an indication of which route she thinks is best.

  2. I find it sad that the recipient clung on to the old addiction that threatened her life and held her back from embracing a different one. But haven’t I done that? Held on to old behaviour, not allowing my Self to be. So I cannot condemn her, just learn from the lesson and let go of the baggage that has held me back. Thanks for sharing, Amy ~ for me, this is about unconditional acceptance, of others and of oneself..

    • Yes, Jacqueline, these situations give us a terrific opportunity to look at ourselves. Joanna did exactly what these types of experiences “ask” us to do…she looked at her reaction/response to the situation. What’s the lesson? What higher learning is available? That’s our work.

  3. You always give us lessons to learn here, Soul. There’s so much negativity around me now, I’m glad that I stopped by today. Something I’ll ponder for a good while.

  4. Oh boy. The dilema. To withhold judgement. Noble goal, but perhaps not really possible on this human plane. Maybe a (I forgot the term for the highest level soul, but that one) could withhold judgement. But those of us, living our day to day lives and seeing injustices play out before our very eyes…I don’t think it’s possible. Perhaps it’s not even right. For, if everyone withheld judgement, how would we go about legislating protective laws? (For example, laws that help us to remove minor victims from abusive home situations) Judgement is a many-faceted affair, I think. Personally your story about * makes me livid.

    • Hey Linda, I sure appreciate your clear and concise summations! I respect that you speak your truth.

      It seems there’s a time for us to observe and reflect what the incident shows us about ourselves and there’s a time when we observe and act. Knowing the difference takes life experience, spiritual maturation and a good connection with those “highest level souls”. In other words, we do the best we can given what we know and believe at that moment.

  5. I love your posts Amy because in among the beautiful, uplifting spiritual insights you do not shy away from including a very real grapple with your own human nature, something I’m sure every single one of your readers, myself included, can identify with.

    I think that what this story illustrates is the way in which we exist as reflections of each other. Whatever else you were feeling about {star}, and there’s a whole, complex, mixed bag of emotions there, what you were sensing perhaps were traits that you yourself have made conscious effort to overcome. It does seem to be that the things about other people we react most strongly to are the ones we most fear because they do, or have at one time, resided within us. They resonate with us in some way because we have intimate knowledge of them, and because we have intimate knowledge of them we know we don’t want to go there again (if we have managed to overcome them) or we are scared that they may rise to the surface if they are still something we are battling with.

    Being non-judgemental must be one of the hardest human traits to overcome, especially if you are someone who is awake and therefore aware. It is hard because it is within our nature to measure things around us. We do this because measuring is how we come to know our own place in the world; where we are against where we would like to be. It sounds as if you, Joanna and numerous other people, the lung donor included, did more than enough for {star} who ultimately let herself down. You are right too I think, in that there are people who survive by leeching energy from others. I do not believe you are less of a person if you walk away from such individuals once this aspect of them has been recognised. In fact, walking away could be just what they need, for it is only when they find themselves utterly alone perhaps, that they will be able to find the resources they need within themselves to learn the lessons they need to in order to keep moving forward. It is necessary for us to recognise these things in others so that we may also recognise them within ourselves. I recently discovered, through a frienship being severed, how I was tending to rely too much on someone. The severance, intiated by them, was hurtful at first but turned out to be the best thing they could have done for me, in more ways than one. As painful as rejection can be, it can also be one of the most useful experiences: closing doors inevitably forces one towards other doors which, when opened, reveal treasure previously unimagined. I am always grateful for those people in my life with whom I have the most difficult time, for it is from them I often learn the most.

    Sorry this is so long! But it is given with lots of love, as always, and gratitude for the amazing work you do.
    Thanks Amy

    • Jinkspots, you wise person! Learning when to help and when to let people help themselves is an art. Too many fall into the trap of responding to the unhealthy needs of others. As you astutely revealed, that becomes enabling instead of empowering.

      You’re right – the people we find most annoying are our best teachers. I had a woman tell me one time that I was a needy person. I nearly fell off my chair! If anything, my independence was the biggest obstacle that I had to overcome. But that was the surface stuff. Her statement rattled my cage sufficient for me to see the cage. If she had attempted to explain it, it would have been detrimental. I had to come to the realization myself. I had to “grow up” and stop waiting for whomever and whatever.

      I hope you are settling well in your new location, my friend.

  6. Another great lesson of compassion. The first thing that jumped out at me in this piece was “energy thieves” (we all know them)…yes, I’ve read several of Carolyn Myss’ books!

    • I tune into different programs where Carolyn is involved – along with many other great thinkers – and her “no nonsense” approach keeps me in giggles. She has balls, that woman!

  7. I’ve learned that life is all about making choices. Even when negative things happen to us, we have to choose whether we allow these “bad” situations to make or break us. I’m not saying that it’s easy or straightforward. Each individual’s path is different, but we all face hardships/obstacles at some stage of our lives… no human being is exempt from it. it’s how we deal with it that counts!

  8. Oh my … such a difficult question – situation – dilemma. I am going to go out on a limb here, for I spent a lifetime working with sick people. And many had AIDS/HIV.

    I do not think that this is about a lung transplant. I was known for making my patients compliant with their medical regimens when most chose not to be. I was catapulted from a family where I was taught that: “if you had to work for living, you quite simply were not a part of the aristocracy.” This made for a very difficult life. However, because of the way that I was raised I learned early on of the power of love. After one hellacious marriage and then divorce at 27 … I had NO SKILLS and no money. Yet while in the nut house I was allowed (I had no family and no support from anyone) to look for a job. I found one as a nurse’s aid … took the training (once out of the hospital) and went to work. So here I was in a hospital as a worker at the lowest rung on the ladder … where everyone looked at you with distain. Now remember although I never found it comfortable I was accustomed to being at the top rung of the ladder. This was very difficult.

    I had elderly patients. I learned that through the power of loving touch I could get my patients to do what it was that I needed them to do. TOUCH does not come from the mind. Your hands can not judge. But they can express love. And physical love can be (I believe) more powerful that the judging mind for you are concentrating on the act of touch as opposed to judging. Or … maybe I did not wish to deal with a patient that day … I got those thoughts right out of my mind by say … sitting at the end of the patients bed, then holding their hand and expressing my care for them before we went to work. I was willing to love. And I might add it was from these elderly patients that I first learned about love.

    I carried this through most all of my work … as a Respiratory Therapist later (which I found out was really looked down upon in hospitals). My family on the east coast could not even say the words RT. They were truly disgusted with me for what I did. But I knew that it was a great gift … for I was able to grandfather in to the profession … passing my boards without ever having gone to school … and me test-phobic. When you are an RT you have more things that you require of your patients that as a nurse’s aid. Therefore more love will be required. Then came the AIDS crisis in 1985. No one would work with anyone who had this disease. I knew that I could make huge difference. It was simple: exchange any judgement that I might have for love. Approach the patient with love (for me it was through touch, genuine hand shakes, hugs and vocal expressions of caring and sympathy whatever it took). The power of love is extraordinary. And it works EVERY TIME. I continued to be judged by my family … and I never made a dime. But I knew well the that the work that I did was of great value. And? My husband is a successful attorney. I never had issues with not making money … or the value of what I did.

    Please do not think that I am not judgmental … it is just that with the ill, I truly know the power of love.

    I also have a different view of life and death (perhaps because I have seen so much death). I don’t know what comes next. You know, as in the next life. But I do know that it is good.

    The first lung transplant … appears to have had no self love and was perhaps unable to accept love from another. The second well I have seen her and isn’t she amazing? There is no wasted life … just lessons learned and lessons not learned. Thanks amy for such a wonderful piece. Liz

    • Raven, thank you for your incredible response. Not only have you shared your reliably sagacious insight, you have shared a part of your story that endears me even more to who you are! It’s hard for me to imagine the experience of a family withholding love due to status. My mom taught us that true class was being able to dine with princes or paupers with equal appreciation for their spirit.

      Your comment about the first lung transplant having “no self-love” is highly astute. Besides seeing the person fight for each breath, recognizing the low self-esteem kept all of us willing to help out even when it was to go outside for a smoke.

      Raven, I’ve heard of situations where old souls are raised by new souls. It’s mighty hard. If that was the case in your family, you were teaching them the whole time. That role is damned confusing when there’s more rejection than love. I’m glad you were given all you needed to do the work you did and do.

      I’m so grateful for this connection.

      • You are a significant person within my life today. I too am grateful for our connection … I continue to learn from you daily. Thank you for that and for your loving spirit.

  9. Judgement (or putting aside judgement of ourselves and others) has got to be THE hardest lesson to learn. I know that I am not there by any stretch of the imagination. Yet!

    • Rasma, we can talk about this over tea, too, but do you suspect the people who seem to be non-judgmental are just those who have learned incredible communication skills? You know…like the people who can tell us to take a hike and we feel they’ve just given us a hug?

    • Well, Kim, I know for sure your sister’s lungs were not the ones received in this situation. Just out of interest, did your family learn about the recipient? I remember reading about one recipient of a heart meeting the donor’s family. She learned why she suddenly had coffee cravings when she had previously hated coffee. Turns out the donor loved his coffee.

      • Dear, Soul,
        the woman wrote our family a letter saying HOW BLESSED she was to have Kay’s lungs.
        & I wrote one back sending a photo of our dear angel, Kay.
        It’s all so utterly surreal.
        beautiful and sad at the same time…
        btw, Nobody recieved my sister’s heart. That was her **GREATEST** organ of all! Xxx

        • So, Kim, are you saying her heart was available for a recipient and it was not used? If not, it was simply too big for anyone’s chest cavity, right? 🙂 As a loving sister, I can only imagine how surreal it would be to know a part of a loved one is so vitally alive… Overall, is that a good feeling or is it kind of hard?

  10. Easy answer. My daughter-in-law. She’s a delightful, health-conscious lady who loves her life, her family and appreciates everything that she’s been given. I’d do it in a heartbeat.
    Your story about your friend was sad, but I know others like her. We can send happy thoughts into the Universe, but we can’t make everyone happy.

    • So here’s a great human being who is not likely to need any spare organs! Lucky you to have a son who knows how to wed well! Yes, we were given a wide selection of teachers.

  11. Hi Amy,
    I’ve been away for a while and come back to a whole new look over here. Congratulations, it’s really lovely – and I like the photos on the side!

    Your guides are correct that you needed to tell the story. I can understand that its hard work to have to lug the heavy tank and I don’t blame you for being resentful of someone who takes it all for granted. I don’t know anyone who’s had a transplant and hadn’t thought about the aftercare including not just physical but mental, emotional and moral support.

    Ravens story is inspirational. I was interested to learn that a lung transplant can fail for lack of “self love”…
    I love this line from her comment:
    “TOUCH does not come from the mind. Your hands can not judge. But they can express love…”

  12. I don’t know how long ago this was; but, I don’t think she could skate by now. You should see the list of tests and so forth that people have to go through. They do comprehensive physical, mental, emotional, financial evals. They have to be sure we’re motivated. Just a lot.

    I can understand the difficulty of accepting that after all that, she smoked. I know people on 02 who smoke … and there are dangers in that for others around them. Ah, not to judge.

    I’m so pleased to see that you love worms too! 😉

    • We were told of the intense screening process which is why it was amazing that someone could squeak by them, Jaimie. Many have said that cigarettes are harder to quit than any other drug. It really helps me to remember that we come into these incarnations with agreements. If it’s true that the physical sojourn is about experiencing emotions and feelings, then my opportunity (agreement) with this relationship is to look at and replace my desire to judge. Acceptance is the antidote for judgementalism. I thought I had accepted the situation, but it was still smokin’~! Maybe I’ll take a composting lesson from our favourite little worm! 🙂

  13. One more great post from you. I wonder how you always pass on some important lessons in the simplest way to all of us.
    “Judgement”, it’s a word I never like to use. I think it’s never possible to judge someone else. As a human, we can’t expect to do all the right things world. So how can we, judge someone else without knowing, that person’s circumstances and conditions.
    This story of your was a really thought provoking one. I somehow feel sorry for *.

    • Exactly, Arindam – judgment is insidious. It’s easy to overlook the myriad of ways we judge others – from looking at their unusual haircut to complaining about our government. Where’s the line for judgement to be acceptable or not? I will speak out when any living thing is being hurt, but how is it my business otherwise? It’s not!

      Your feelings are where I want to be – with compassion or empathy. ★ is living the life chosen by ★. How would I know what that life is supposed to be? But I do know how it’s affecting me. That’s the part I need to manage with love and kindness.

  14. Ahh, the times I’ve pondered these questions. Who is ‘worthy’ to receive a transplant? And would I ever … Because honestly, I’ve seen a lot of this. Crazy drunken smoker actor gets kidneys – small child born with deficient kidneys gets none. Dies. Complicated. And though you mention not liking to be negative, we have emotions that are important to express before they turn against us. How best to do this without polluting the world with the negative ones? Kvetching is allowed, in my book – good friends are great for this. And that’s all I can think of for now, Amy. Good post.

    • There must be great and grand rationale behind these decisions, Bela, elst who could possibly participate in the process?

      I keep company with people who give and receive expressions of feelings freely. In case any of us forget, we encourage each other to look at ourselves when negativity prevails. It helps to remember that the whole picture – physically or universally – is seldom readily available. This situation is no different. And I thought I’d reached that stage! 🙂

  15. Another great thought provoking post Amy…thank you…
    This is a perpetual human dilemma, because we all know that it is not our place to be judgmental, whilst being exactly that…this is a most difficult  behavioral  characteristic to muster and master…
    We have a saying, that when we point one finger at someone…the other three point back at us…worth thinking about and living towards… It is as always in the final analysis, our own journey of evolvement that is definitive in our growth path…

    God bless…

    • Your comments give such a great summation of wisdom, Shama. The endless stream of assessing, comparing, critiquing…it is a cold reminder of another chestnut that we have (I like the finger pointing one!) – “It matters not what you think of me. What matters is what I think of you.”

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