Waiting for breath


BRISTOL - She would begin her day without having to use a nebulizer just to be able to move about the house. She would play with her 5-year-old granddaughter outside, the way she was never able to do when her two sons were young, or take a walk with her husband without stopping. She would wash dishes without sitting down to rest every few minutes. Laughter would not leave her winded.

All of that will have to wait until after surgery.

Shackett, a Bristol resident, needs a double lung transplant as her 35-year struggle with emphysema, asthma and bronchiectasis takes its toll. She has never smoked, she says.

“There’s no air coming in, there’s no air going out,” Shackett said. “It just feels like I’m smothering and suffocating. It’s a scary feeling.”

Shackett stays within a four-hour driving radius of Boston, and within cellphone reception, as much as possible. She keeps her bags packed and at least half a tank of gas in the car, never knowing what day she will need to drive south. Soon, she hopes. Continue reading
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