Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mr. 23% Statistic

Today I was poking around on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) website--for those who don't know, this is the organization which houses the transplant lists and organizes organ allocation. That really isn't a great explanation but it's alls I gots right now...

In addition to The Lists, UNOS also has tons of data on the site. The data I was most interested in was the stuff about survival rates and transplant centers. It was very interesting and informative.

I stumbled upon some statistics about lung re-transplantation. The data shows that the survival rates for re-transplant are significantly lower than for first transplant.

Apparently, at 5 years post re-transplant, about 23% of the patients are still alive. I have to admit, when I saw that number, I drew a breath. 23% seems so much lower than the 50% survival after 5 years with a first set of donor lungs.

I am coming up to my 4 year anniversary with this set of lungs. After saying goodbye to my dear Double Double Sister, Susy, and seeing this number...well, I'd be lying if I said it didn't give me pause.

Here's the thing, though. After I had some time to process it, I realized...Yea, I realized I'm weird.

During the time after transplant (tx) #1 I had this nagging worry that I would fail to be one of the "cool kids" and live a long life post-tx. I wanted to be good enough, worthy, impressive--all of those things--like the many other people around me who had lived 5, 10, 15 years post-tx. I doubted my ability to be in that club.

Here I am, now, looking down the barrel of a strikingly dismal statistic and that worry to measure up is gone. I am no longer feeling the need to prove myself worthy of the 50% survival rate. I am feeling the need to prove that statistic wrong, for me. I am feeling competitive with that statistic. Screw that 23% bullshit--that's not how I'm going down.

That's part of who I am--I really like to have my back up against that wall. How strange that I feel more comfortable, no...empowered, now that I know I'm fighting the odds on a much steeper incline than I was before.

As I said, I am weird.

Do I think that this attitude will prevent me from succumbing to this statistic or another one down the road? No. Of course not. If Susy taught me anything it's that desire alone can not keep a person alive when the body is beyond repair.

Do I prefer this feeling of competitiveness and fire to the feelings of fear and unworthiness? Of course I do.

Will it help me live longer? Who knows. Will it help me live better? Oh, yes.

I'm glad I read that statistic today. I challenge you Mr. 23% Statistic--I will surpass your expectations.

At the same time, I challenge myself to live like there's only 23% chance that I will be here next year and do it all while I can.

I challenge you to find your motivating statistic and live your life bigger and better too.

23 is my new favorite number.


Femail doc said...

My motivating statistic, now there's a concept to mull over. Interesting post, and inspiring attitude! You my hero Tiff!

Midlife Midwife said...

hmmm, my motivating statistic? Many eons ago I had a doctor tell me that he didn't want to fill out my medical release for college. He told me that no one who had been diagnosed with chronic fatigue/depression/mitral valve prolapse would ever be "healed". He said I wouldn't make it through even a semester of nursing school, much less graduate. That made me so mad I was motivated to be that one person who did make it. Sometimes that motivation to beat the odds is pretty powerful stuff.

So Tiff, I am cheering you on...just go out there and beat those statistics. I'm betting you are one of those 26%.