Hi my name is Jourdan Sibley. I’m 19 years old and I’m from Livingston Parish!
When I was five days old I was diagnosed with a disease called Cystic Fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time. In people with CF, a defective gene causes a thick, sticky buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas, and other organs. When I was young I wasn’t affected as much as I was when I grew older. Other than doing breathing treatments 2 times a day a lived a fairly normal life up until my high school years!
For 2 1/2 years I was basically confined to a chair in my house due to the lack of oxygen my body had. I had to be home bound from school so I missed the last few weeks of my freshman year along with my 10th and 11th grade school year. I was hooked to an oxygen tank 24/7. I could barely take it off to even wash my face without getting light headed and almost passing out. My lung function had dropped to 20% and I basically lost all hope. I had no faith that I would ever get that lifesaving call. I wanted to give up. I didn't care to even live life if I was going to be in so much pain all the time.
What was the point? Was it really worth fighting? Did I even have a purpose on this earth?
I had such a bright future for myself before I got sick. And by this point in my life I had basically given up on my dreams because I didn't think I would make it to see 18. I felt as if God was waiting for me to completely give up and then it would be my time. It had been 2 years and I was only getting sicker, every day I would think to myself am I really going to wake up tomorrow? What about next week? Will I still be alive? Will God still be with me helping me fight this? I went to sleep that night praying that he would wake me up that morning. I was in so much pain, my lungs hurt. It hurt to move. To breath I could barely roll over in my bed without being in pain. Then one day I woke up and it seemed like a regular day. Got up, got in my chair and started the process of breathing treatments.
Before I knew it everyone showed up home from work screaming, crying, and yelling. I had gotten my call for lungs. What do I do? Well, we packed our stuff and headed to New Orleans! I'm going to skip around the part about us waiting and waiting. Just know we were there from 10-7pm that night! Right around 5pm they came in and said they would be taking me back for surgery at 7:45! So we wait.... 7:30 rolls around and I've heard nothing. Finally someone comes to my room and asks for my mom to step outside. I knew it couldn't be anything good. The lungs had lost too much oxygen for me to have the surgery. I was going home once again without new lungs...
What now? I was heartbroken. Devastated. Confused. So many emotions at one time and I didn't even know what to do or say. I completely broke down and lost it. I wanted to go home. Not in 10 minutes not in 5 minutes, right that second. I didn't want to see one more nurse or doctor that night. I couldn't understand why God would put me through something like this after everything I had gone through.
Why me? I kept asking myself why. What did I do? Why can't something good happen to me?
Everyone kept telling me it would get better. I would get that call eventually. Yeah I'm sure it would come. But would it be too late? Would I still be around when that time came? I had finally found hope and then when they told me I could not get those lungs. It was like I just shut down. My body was done. I was tired of fighting. Tired of the struggle. I wanted to feel good and I knew it was never going to happen without that transplant. My body was worn out. My faith was gone. I started questioning everything in life. Why am I still living? I didn't want to take my medicine; I didn't want to do my breathing treatments. I didn't want to take care of myself because why? Why should I? I've been fighting for so long and nothing good is coming my way. Why should I keep fighting? I couldn't make myself understand why everything was so hard. I had this attitude for about 2 weeks... I was depressed. I didn't want to eat. I didn't want to do anything. All I wanted to do was sleep. I had no energy.
Finally I started looking up, praying that God would send me a sign something to give me strength to keep going. I knew he wasn't done with me or he wouldn't keep putting me through these things. 3 weeks later I received another call for a potential donor, and I was a nervous wreck. I was so nauseous. I had no words to say. I didn't know what to do other than grab my bag and get into the car. So many thoughts were running through my mind at that point.
Was this the one? Trying not to get my hopes up this time but over something like this, it's very hard. This could be my second chance.
My chance to finally breathe like everyone else and live a normal life! Everyone was there. All my family, my friends, we all waited anxiously. We waited, and we waited. Before I knew it someone came in and said "okay time to go" talk about a nervous breakdown! Would I ever see my family again? Was this goodbye forever or a new beginning? No one knew. We all just prayed. I don't have too much to say about anything that happened after this point because, I was in surgery! I do remember being wheeled into the operating room and wondering where the lungs were. Asking to see them, and all of the tools they would be using on me! Yes, I’m crazy I know, but I thought it was awesome. Before I knew it someone said, "Ok Jourdan its time to go to sleep the lungs are almost here."
The next thing I remember is waking up feeling tense, in a ton of pain not knowing if I had received the lungs or what had happened to me. Then I heard something I was waiting to hear from the time I went back for surgery...not knowing if I would ever see her again. "Hey baby it's mom. I'm here with you. You’re okay. You made it! I could feel my body relax. I knew I was going to be okay then. I felt safe. A few minutes later someone came in and told me they were going to take me off the ventilator because they felt as if I was ready.
That was my worst fear!! But I did it! I came off the vent and took my first breathe on my own with my new lungs.
It wasn't the best due to all the pain plus I was still on a very large setting of oxygen so I don't really count it as my "first real breath". Later that day I was sitting up in the chair for the first time. The next day they had me up walking around. Talk about in pain, but I pushed through it. I refused to give up! I wanted to go home. I wanted to get every tube out of me and be on my own and I knew it was going to take time.
I had some complications throughout the process of trying to go home before we were in the clear but I got through them! I won't ever say it was easy because it definitely wasn’t. But was it worth it? Yes indeed. Would I go through it again if the time comes? Yes I will. After we had been discharged from Ochsner, we were to stay in an apartment for 3 months in New Orleans right next to the hospital due to all the doctor visits I would have back to back to check my levels, and just in case something were to happen, we would be right next door!
The past 3 years of my life have been extraordinary!
I attended my senior cheer camp, graduated high school, went to college and now working full time at woman’s hospital as a phlebotomist. I do plan on furthering my education; I'm just trying to figure out what exactly I would like to do.
I can't even begin to explain how grateful I am for the gift of life I have received. My life has changed drastically for the better! No more breathing treatments, no more coughing, no more exhaustion every day. Just a few pills in the morning and before bed. I'm full of life & full of energy! I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me. Just always remember,
If God brings you to it, he will bring you through it!