Friday, 6 December 2013

A Life Less Ordinary

Well it's has been a bit of a stressful week one way or another. Yesterday was a total nightmare.

First all our systems went down and once that was sorted out the fire alarm went off and we all had to stand around in a freezing cold, and very windy, car park. Then when the storm hit everything went crazy. Well they say thing happen in threes.

Once again we appear to have got away with very little damage here in my little village bubble. The last of the leaves on the Silver Birch are now carpeting the lawn and a few of the smaller twigs have joined them but all in all no damage. Sometimes living in Bedfordshire is a blessing as everything seems to skirt around us.

I also had my meeting with the Occupational Health doctor yesterday and fair play she admitted she'd totally misunderstood the situation. The report will now be altered to accurately reflect my situation. So all's happy in Hazel land at the moment.

This weekend it is all hands on deck to get the house ready for Jenny's arrival on Monday. I am so excited I have permanent butterflies in my stomach. To be fair there isn't that much that needs doing. A tidy up mostly as Peter tends to leave his tools in the hall when he's working on the cars. And I accumulate paperwork which never seems to make it upstairs. I'm pretty sure Jenny won't care how the house looks but I will feel better if it at least looks tidier than it does now.

Today is Peter's birthday so I'm treating him to a pub lunch and then we are heading to the shops to get our usual weekly groceries. Tomorrow and Sunday, between clearing up, I will be resting as much as possible in order to be in tip top condition for Jenny's arrival. The last thing I want is for illness to get in the way of this much longed for visit.

In the news this week there has been much ado about a man, I can't bring myself to call him 'gentleman', call Derek Gates.

This paragon of the community is a career criminal, drug users come drug dealer. Despite his past he was given the precious gift of a new heart and then promptly went back to his old ways. Of course the blood is up amongst the transplant community and there has been much muttering about 'wasting the organ' etc, etc.

Now while I am angry about what has happened I take a rather different view from my fellow patients.

I think it is very dangerous to call for transplant to be granted on anything other than clinical need. This man MUST have meet all the criteria at the time of his transplant. Getting put on the transplant list isn't easy. It is a long, tedious and frustrating process and more people are turned down than accepted. Apart from blood types, tissue types, height, weight and general overall health of the rest of the body there are factors that many people are unaware of. You are only put on the list if your are expected to have only a year or less to live. Many patients exceed this of course, mainly because once on the list your condition is very carefully managed to ensure you stay well enough for transplant. You have to have a better than 50/50 chance of making it through the operation. Mine is currently 85%, so not bad. And you have to be judged 'compliant' when it comes to taking meds and generally looking after yourself. They would not even consider you if they had any doubt you would undo all their good work as soon as you got the chance. What they do not take into account is your criminal record and nor should they. As with the law medical decisions must be based on facts not 'what if's'.

So Gates must have been able to convince the medical teams that he was going to behave himself after the transplant to be put on the list. Now either he is a very good actor or he genuinely meant it at the time, no one will ever know. I would like to be generous and think he actually meant it but pressure of circumstance resulted in him slipping back into his old ways. I know a lot of people will think otherwise.

The other distasteful aspect of this story is the number of people who say the organ has been wasted. Has it? Donors have no say as to who gets their precious gifts once they have died. All they know is that they will be helping someone to live. So like it or not this donor has got their wish and I think it is an insult to that family that the organ is now being abused however I think it is also an insult to call the donation a waste. Technically the organ has not been wasted and a life has been saved, even though it is a life we may not approve of.

There are calls for former drug addicts to now be denied transplantation for fear they will return to their old ways. Well if we do that for drug addicts what about alcoholics? George Best got clean, got his new liver and a few years down the line drank himself to death. So on that basis should we also include reformed alcoholics on that list? The list of reasons to deny people transplant could stretch on and on if we chose to look at it in that light. Fortunately we do not nor should we. Yes he is one very bad apple who will now spend a fair amount of time in prison but he is only one of many more who have devoted their new lives to help others.

I can't finish this blog without mentioned the sad death of Nelson Mandela. He is the ultimate example of someone who managed to turn his life around for the good of many at much cost to himself. He started out as a lawyer, was labelled a terrorist and finally became South Africa's first black president liberating millions of his fellow countrymen from oppression in the process. Some will always see him as a terrorist, most will see him as a saint. In reality he was neither, he was just a man trying to do what was right.