Sunday, 18 May 2014

A Day of Quiet Reflection

It's been a bit of a mad 24 hours that's for sure. I think I've experienced every emotion going and some I made up especially for the occasion. Naturally enough yesterday's blog was about the event. This one will be more about the feelings it evoked and I apologise right now if some of you find it a bit morbid or hard to read.

On getting the call there was the initial feeling of shock followed by enormous excitement and relief. Peter and I actually laughed and chatted excitedly as we got ready to go. Every now and then one of us would become Victor Meldrew and shout 'I can't believe it' before carrying on with what we were doing. It didn't feel real, I really never thought my call would come.

Once the ambulance arrived a touch of anxiety appeared but I immediately pushed it away. This was what I'd been waiting for and wanted so desperately. There was no way I was going to bail. This might be my one and only chance. On route I managed to zone out most of the driver's chatter and I found myself thinking about Kath and John and of course Anne. I'm sad to say I didn't think about Anne for long because I knew I had to focus on the positives. I allowed myself to imagine what it would be like not to drag a heavy pump around with me or to walk along the prom in Aberystwyth, to make it down to the waters edge and dip my toes in the freezing sea. I made a note of the date, May 17th, this was the day I get to be reborn or the day I die. I've always been convinced that I will either sail through and recover quickly or I'll never make it out of the operating theatre. I've never envisaged any difficulties after the operation only during.

Once at the hospital the initial rush of tests and paperwork stopped me thinking too much. At that point I was told about the delay in retrieval but assured that the organs were good and that it was a very good match. We settled in for the wait and discussed the future, something we haven't allowed ourselves to do much of these last few years. For us the future is next week or next month at a push. I was now excited and full of hope. It still felt unreal, especially as I was the calmest I've ever been inside a hospital.

As time went on the doubt began to appear but hope was revived when I was sent off for a shower and put into a gown and compression stockings. Now the excitement was tinged with a bit of anxiety but I kept telling myself it would be the only way I'd get to do all the things I wanted to so I may as well just get on with it. Sitting back in my room with soaking hair, the promised hair dryer never materialised, we jumped every time a porter went past the door. The transplant coordinator popped in and said that it wouldn't be long now, they were just carrying out the last of the tests on the donor organs but as far as he knew we were still good to go. Hope, excitement and fear began to grow.

Half an hour later Paul returned and I knew just by looking at him that it was not going to happen. He was very, very apologetic and explained exactly what had happened. I didn't feel anything, I was numb. I was offered tea, which I accepted and something to eat, which I declined. My stomach was so clenched I didn't think I could swallow.

Heading home we didn't speak but Peter kept reaching across to squeeze my hand. As we got nearer to home I knew I couldn't be bothered to cook besides what I really wanted was comfort food so I was dropped off at home while Peter went to grab a Chinese, my favourite comfort food, and at last a few tears fell. I spent the afternoon sprawled on the settee watching something, I can't remember what, alternatively picking at crisps and sweets or dozing for a few minutes. Peter slept for a few hours and then took his frustration out on the garden with the result that we now have a cleared patio.

The tears finally came around two this morning after several hours lying in bed going over and over in my mind what had happened. By the time the storm had passed I was kept awake by 'essential works' on the railway. I'd forgotten all about the leaflet we'd had last week stating that 'we are going to ruin your night's sleep but as we've told you about it it's OK and you can't complain'. I did get some sleep though as I woke up at seven thirty with red eyes and a muggy head. Terrific!

Today Peter is out at some computer thing so I've had time to think clearly and there are things I can take comfort in. At least there is no doubt now that I am on the transplant list. The fact I got the call less than a month after they classed me as urgent and lowered their standards a bit, may or may not be a coincidence but hopefully not, as it means I am more likely to get another call. Of course there is the over riding fear that yesterday was my one and only chance. I may be right but I'm trying to dismiss the idea, however right now it is hanging around like a bad smell so I'm going to have to try a bit harder on that count.

I have learned that whatever happens I will be supported by so many people that I will never feel alone. I also know that none of these wonderful friends and strangers will mind if I cause another day of stress and anxiety further down the line. I feel so very lucky to have you all.

And last but definitely not least, I am immensely grateful to the donor and their family for giving me this experience. It didn't work out for me in the end but someone has had their miracle because of you. You are very special and I will never forget you and the gift you were willing to give. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and may you forever rest in peace.