After 39 years and 1 day of declining lung function due to Cystic Fibrosis, at 2:00am on August 7, 2007 I received the gift of life.
I woke up 10 hours later to these words from my ICU nurse "We got you an awesome set of lungs!". From that moment, I focused not only on my recovery, but also on making my second chance at life the most fulfilling that I could make it.
The past 4 years have been extraordinary.
When I decided to go on the transplant list, my biggest goal was to have the energy to clean out the garage so that my wife and I could both fit our cars into it. I have done that and more.
However, this blog is about hockey, the game I love and the game that has shaped my life with amazing friends and support network.
I never dreamt that I would have been able to return to hockey. At 6 months post transplant, I decided I'd throw it out there to my transplant team in Toronto. I asked my Turkish transplant doctor of I could return to hockey. He said, to my surprise, "Absolutely, but wear a good chest protector." 17 seconds into my first game, I took a slapshot directly to my rebuilt sternum. I lived. We lost that game 7-1, but I felt great. I knew that my final hurdle had been cleared.
3 full seasons and over 100 games later, yesterday I received "The (Latest) Call". It was from the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL -- "Trevor, we would be more than happy to have you at the Pro Placement Camp in September." The Jackals are long-time supporters of organ donation.
So, is this is where my road to pro hockey stardom begins? I will have turned 43 by the time I step on the ice at my first pro hockey camp. Three seasons after my former crease mate Olie Kolzig retired from the NHL after a 19-year career. I will be the same age that Gordie Howe was in 1971 when he originally retired from the NHL after nearly 1700 regular season games. He made a successful second run at a hockey career, playing 7 more seasons and retiring at the age of 52 with 2421 professional hockey games under his belt.
The clear answer is NO, I AM NO GORDIE HOWE.
I am not trying to fool myself or anyone. I will not make the Elmira Jackals. For that matter, I am never going to play even 1 game of professional hockey. However, I am not going to embarass myself or the Jackals.
What I hope to accomplish is to demonstrate the quality of life that can be achieved post-transplant while honouring my donor, and all donors.
If one person registers themselves as an organ or tissue donor because of my story; if one person who is sick and decides that transplant is for them; if someone with a loved one in the gravest of situations decides in favour of organ donation; if one kid with Cystic Fibrosis finds hope in me, my goal will be accomplished.
Over the next 16 or 17 weeks, leading up to reporting day (September 2), my blog will track my progress as I try to get in game shape. I will be entirely focused on my fitness regime this summer, even more than I have the past 3 and a half years.
Today, I am still feeling the effects, 3 days later, of playing pickup hockey with a group of skaters half my age.
I'm weighing in at 194lbs. While I am down 20 lbs from my highest weight of 214lbs (15 months post-transplant; thank you prednisone and 39 years of eating whatever I wanted), I still hope to drop 10 more and report to the Jackals camp less than 185lbs. My lung function is around 118-120% of what is considered normal. I hope to increase this by about 5%.
I will keep you up to date.