Interview with Richard Throlson

Interviewed by Jessica Lesko on November 7, 2002

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH: 

Richard Throlson is the recipient of a double lung transplant.  Mr. Throlson was diagnosed in 1990 with Sarcoidosis, a disease that inflames the organs and particularly scars the lung tissue.  This disease developed into Secondary Pulmonary Hypertension and by 1999 he knew he needed a transplant.  In early 2000 Richard Throlson began the procedures to get on the waiting list.  It was nearly ten months until he was on the list, however it was three short weeks later that he received his transplant. It was September 30, 2002 that he had the transplant at Duke Hospital in North Carolina.

Richard Throlson grew up in North Dakota and now he and his wife live in Durham, North Carolina.  They relocated to Durham from Virginia to be closer to Duke Hospital.  At the time of the interview it was a little over two years since he had his transplant and things at that time were not going very well. 

Excerpts from Transcript

Excerpt 1 | Excerpt 2 | Excerpt 3 | Excerpt 4 | Excerpt 5

Excerpt 1

 

Background: 

I asked Mr. Throlson if at any point he was feeling depressed for having gone through all that he did.  Here he gave me insight to how he was feeling and how things have changed since a year ago. 

 

Excerpt:

Well I know some of the signs and I think I was exhibiting signs of depression but I didn’t really feel depressed.  You know, it was the lack of enthusiasm, that kind of stuff.  But otherwise, I didn’t really feel depressed.  I just worked as hard as I could to come back from it.  And I was doing…I mean not this summer but last summer I was riding bike again, and you know, I was riding eight miles a day some days and a lot of stuff like that.  But all this year things have just been slowly going down hill.  But no, no feelings of depression.

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Excerpt 2

 

Background: 

Here I asked Mr. Throlson if having a part time job has helped his recovery at all and he lets me in on how hard it is to breathe all day.  Mr. Throlson tells me that he can no longer get by without oxygen.

Excerpt:

My capacities are just dropping so far.  I’ve been trying to get by without going on portable oxygen again but it’s been decided today that I can’t wait any longer.  I’m going to get a set up of portable again.  I’ve had this concentrator for quite a few years and so when things started getting bad I would just come home and hook up on this thing, take the pressure off.  Make it a little bit easier during the day, in the mornings.  I work six to ten in the mornings.  And by the time I’m done I’m wiped out.

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Excerpt 3

 

Background: 

I asked Mr. Throlson about leading a normal lifestyle and if he felt he has since his transplant. 

JL: You said initially your recovery was going very well, was there any point in the last two years that you felt that you were leading or at least on your way to leading a normal lifestyle?

Excerpt:

Yeah, I was…I considered things to be fairly normal there.  You know during the recovery I asked them how I was doing compared to most people and they said, “Probably normal, maybe a little bit better than normal.”  For the first six months they were saying that.  Things progressed relatively normal

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Excerpt 4

 

Background: 

Here I asked Mr. Throlson his feeling on possibly doing another transplant.  It has been discussed among him and his doctors and is a very real possibility in the near future. 

Excerpt:

 

I don’t know if I really want to go through it again.  Because it’s been a lot of trouble. Beforehand, before the first one I was…it hurt and I knew what was going on but I knew what was going to happen.  I knew what I could do, and how it was going to affect me since I’ve had so much trouble with the medicines and with other things.  Something with…get something fixed and something else would crop up and it’s just…its been a fair amount of discomfort.  That’s really been a little disconcerting.  It’s probably not going to be any different if I do the transplant again but it may be.  My match wasn’t that good; it was a fairly poor match.  So, chances are the second pair of lungs would be a better match than what the first one was. 

 

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Excerpt 5

 

Background: 

Right near the end of the interview I asked Mr. Throlson what the most difficult part of the last two years has been. This answer shows you that even after initial recovery there can be some very difficult times, sometimes worse than the transplant and the recovery itself. 

Excerpt:

I think the worst part is the diminishing of function here, coming too soon, I was hoping that it would last and stay away for a while.  That I would be able to keep up for at least a few more years before having to do this again.  I was hoping but I wasn’t expecting.  You know it’s just like getting sick…my…people, “Well how come you got sick?” I was, “Oh people get sick and I happen to be one of them.”  You know it’s nothing…there’s a certain amount of statistical probability and I fell under the wrong category.

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For more information, contact Dr. Mary Jo Festle, Associate Professor of History at Elon University.

Email: festle@elon.edu

This page last updated 11/24/02