I had just returned from a evening at my Camera Club where I had been treated to a lecture on the “Land of the long white Cloud” a travel log and photos from a woman who had been to the Islands of New Zealand for her 25th wedding anniversary and had a collection of objects she had brought back with her for us to look at. It was a adult version of a show and tell which was not surprising as the lecturer was a Ex Teacher. I will say that the lecture although directed towards a more WI audience had some good Photos including some nice Arial shots and Landscape work. We even got a History lesson thrown in for good measure about James Cook and Maori culture. The Treaty of Waitangi signed on 6th February 1840 was a important date when 45 Maori Chiefs signed with the British she repeated this date several times like teachers do. I noticed the date was my daughter Kaylee’s birthday although 1840 rang no bells for me.
New Zealand Did, it brought back memories of the two job opportunities that I had passed by in my early career. I had been offered Jobs in Wanganui and Auckland working in the Forensic psychiatric services The first job was not very attractive as it was working in the New Zealand version of Broadmoor hospital with long term patients not the sort of work I liked to do . The second was a good job in a area I liked but I had commitment to my eldest daughter Kaylee who I was visiting weekly since the relationship with her mother had finished. I decided that a relationship with her was the most important thing at that time, she was still young, so I declined the offer. Sitting there looking at the photos while having problems breathing I wondered what life would have been like for my family if I had gone.
It was 23.00 when the phone rang while I was on the computer looking at possible photos to enter in the Annual photo competition the following week at the club. The number that had come up was not familiar. I thought for a brief moment maybe it is someone else ringing, but knowing in my heart who it would be.
Hello this is one of the transplant coordinators at Harefields Hospital we have a offer of a possible set of lungs How are you feeling are you well, any problems? I confirmed my healthy state, Would you be willing to come to hospital tonight? I asked him to give me 5 minutes to talk to my wife and would he ring back.
I called up to Liz who was upstairs to find out she had just run a bath and was about to get in, she was not happy! Liz had worked nights Wednesday had little sleep either so this was the worst time for a call. My son had gone to bed early after also being up till the early hours the previous night doing homework he had left till the last minute once again. Getting to sleep at 2am he had not slept much either.
By the time that The coordinator had rung back everyone was awake and irritated. Sorting out things to take with them and getting stressed out. My daughter was upset, my son half asleep and I was stuck downstairs, tethered to my Oxygen, unable to get up the stairs quickly due to my breathlessness. Everything I needed was stored in the bedroom and so I was trying to make a mental list of things that had been unpacked since our last trip, my hypoxic mind would not work and I couldn’t think straight, this was despite having gone though the process a few times by this visit.
I quickly posted a notice on Facebook and wrote a entry in my blog before turning the computer of and wondering when I might switch it on again., would I get some photos in the annual competition, and how would I have voted if I missed the general election!
We did eventually get everything in a bag and packed in the car with an extra Oxygen bottle.
We got to Harefields quite quickly as traffic was sparse and as we pulled into the hospital I could feel my tension rising. We went to reception and were directed to F East the same ward I had been several times before and was shown to the same room again. It was beginning to feel very familiar sitting looking at the same walls again this was not a good thing.
We went though the usual process of swabs bloods and form filling and questions about health all my observations were good except a raised blood pressure reading probably as a result of the stress and we settled for the inevitable long wait while the team went to assess the organs for suitability. Then came the dreaded shower and shave which tired me out and left me gasping for breath I say dreaded because this is the point at which you start feeling this could be happening now as you are ready in gown and prepared for surgery and the panic sets in again with a vengeance and then we wait and wait. The clock in the room was broken and continued to say 12.00 every time I looked at it, which I found it hard not to do. Isn’t it Funny how you find can it find it hard to stop repeating something even when it isn’t working, but because I had taken off my watch I kept looking at it in the vain hope it would move.
Time seemed to drag even more than it had on previous calls and I found myself becoming more tired and more ambivalent about the outcome of this visit I wanted things to proceed but felt fearful of the prospect of the surgery. I wanted to have a new life in which I could breath walk and run without feeling like I was drowning. But I was desperate for the sense of comfort and familiarity that I have with life as it is, however poor. It is the unknown that preys on your mind when the surgeon asked me if I had any questions I wanted to shout out “will I die during the operation” but the only person who would have that answer to that question is the lord almighty, so I said some prayers and waited some more.
Sitting there I was fearful of any sound of footsteps towards our room, listening intently for signs of approaching staff. Then the transplant coordinator came back to the room and I could see it was not good news. The lungs were found to be unsuitable as the blood gas results were not good, indicating damage or other problems.
Once again my heart sank at the same time as the anxiety left me I felt relief and despondency at the same time and I had to face the prospect of rewinding the process mentally and going home. We spoke with the coordinator and asked to be put on hold till after the back holiday weekend had finished and the kids were back at school. He said he would ring on Tuesday evening to check how things were and he went off to get us a drink of tea and coffee.At this point I was reminded that someone had died to give us this chance I felt sad that someone's father,brother or son was no longer alive. I hoped that the other organs could be used to help someone else and thought about the brave relatives that had given consent for this to happen.
After the drink we sorted ourselves out and got on the road home as we drove I was uplifted by the sun coming up that morning and loving the clean light streaming over the landscape,it had been awhile since I was up that early in a long time, in fact the only time seemed to be those days when I have been coming back from Harefields. We got back home at 6.30am and fell into bed and so did the children particularly my son who had slept in the car.
On positive aspect of the visit was the fact that I found out my blood group is A+ .Also I will not need to get my chest waxed for a few weeks now, Nice!!