Lodi resident Brianne Plines turns 25 today. She will celebrate like most others do, with some type of cake — in her case she wants a Snickers cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory — a dinner of her choice and surrounded by friends and family.
But Plines is not going out to celebrate this year. Instead, she is staying in her hospital room at Kaiser South Sacramento, her family and her friends — and even her dachshund dogs Bella and Penelope — coming up to wish her a happy birthday.
Plines is back in an environment she was so happy to get out of only a year ago. She underwent a double-lung transplant in 2011 to help her in her lifelong struggle with cystic fibrosis.
Cystic fibrosis is a debilitating and sometimes fatal genetic disease of the body's mucus glands that often causes severe respiratory and digestive disorders.
Thankfully, her body accepted the two new lungs she was given, and up until March, Plines was enjoying a relatively normal life, said her mother Michelle Golladay.
Golladay said Plines had gotten a gym membership and a job. She was working as the marketing director of the rehabilitation center for Vienna Convalescent Hospital in Lodi.
"She was fully loving life again," Golladay said.
But a scratchy throat in early March changed everything. Shortness of breath followed.
Golladay knew something was going terribly wrong.
On March 12, Plines was admitted to the emergency room at Kaiser South Sacramento before being transported by ambulance to UC San Francisco, where her doctors waited anxiously for her.
Co-workers said Plines loved her job, was ambitious and cheerful.
"We miss her," said Roxan Vincent, director of nursing at the rehab center. "We want her back soon."
A bronchoscopy, a medical procedure that allows doctors to look into a patient's airways with a special tube, revealed that Plines' illness — which had turned into pneumonia — had caused an acute rejection of her new lungs.
Put on high doses of steroids, the medication eventually stopped the rejection, but still caused damage to her organs.
Plines stayed at UCSF for several weeks before doctors determined they could no longer provide any extra type of care, and Plines was transferred back to Kaiser South Sacramento where she is currently staying.
She is closer to home, but not exactly happy, her mother said.
"She is kind of down," said Golladay. "She is pretty depressed."
Plines' nurses surprised her with a cut and dye job the other day in preparation for her birthday today. They are throwing her a party earlier in the day today before her family and her dogs arrive in tonight.
But the fear of possibly needing another transplant lingers. Will Plines be OK with just time to heal? Or will she need more?
"We haven't really talked about that just yet, but we are holding out hope she doesn't (need a transplant)," Golladay said. "We are holding out hope. It takes a lot of time."
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.