Having a slightly freaked out moment here, as I was browsing back through my blog and I realised it is exactly a year ago today that my lung collapsed. That was jolt enough but then even more freakily, the friend who was round at my mum's house this time last year (who we don't see very often) is round again, exactly a year later. This coincidence was enough to panic me a little into a rather stupid "it's a sign!" moment but I am getting over that fast. Still thought I would blog about it instead, it helps my brain clarify things (I imagine the inside of my head to resemble a tangle of pink ribbons, I don't think I am far wrong).
It's just all really quite similar, I went round, had lunch with my mum and her friend, came back here...exactly like a year ago. Mind you I did not go out salsa dancing which I did last year the night before, complete with cylinder and inappropriate shoes.
Last year was just the most frightening time of my life. Actually post transplant was pretty frightening, but at least post transplant, whenever I was concious, people were all telling me how well I was doing (even if I didn't believe them) whereas last year when my lung collapsed I could see on people's faces that I was a)not doing well and b)scaring the living daylights out of them. Over those few days where my lung was constantly collapsing, I could just see my life ebbing away in front of my eyes, and see the helplessness in everyone else as they watched on in sadness.
Here is an extract from some writing I have been doing, about last year:
They fought hard to get another drain in but by this time the carbon dioxide levels in my bloodstream were rising dangerously high. There is a machine which can help rebalance the CO2 levels called a bi-pap. This is a non-invasive ventilatory machine which pushes the air in, splinting the airways open and allowing a greater gas exchange to take place. It was quickly realised however that they couldn’t use this on me as my lung was still very much deflated, and clearly full of holes, which would only be made bigger and more irrepairable by using the bi-pap. A surgical option was discussed; previous episodes had resulted in me having a bullectomy and subsequent stapling of the remaining tatters of lung. I was deemed too ill for any such procedure. If they put me on a ventilator, I would probably never come off it I was so weak. My mum was taken aside into a room and the doctor gently explained all of the above and ended by saying essentially there was nothing more they could do. All my readings showed that my body was slowly shutting down. “Emily is strong, but even she is not strong enough to overcome this.”
There was nothing left for my mother to do but make the phone call that she had been dreading all her life, and tell my family to get up to the hospital as soon as possible. I am thankfully very unaware of most of the goings on in the early hours of that morning; it is my poor, ever faithful family who endured the agonies of the unknown. I drifted in and out of consciousness, the high CO2 levels making me sleepy and acting as a kind of anaesthetic. I woke to find my family standing at the foot of my bed. They were all in tears. My father was crying. He doesn’t cry. I requested for them all to leave the room as I needed to know what was going on; I wanted to talk to the physio alone as I didn’t want to scare my family. I asked her if they thought I was going to die. She replied gently “it doesn’t look good.”
Having heard what I needed to hear, I summoned my family back in a few at a time. I realised what everyone was saying, I realised what everyone was thinking, and I trust my team implicitly, but I just couldn’t quite believe that this was it, this was the end. I tried to assess the situation rationally. I decided that if this was what my death was going to feel like, then it wasn’t too bad. I felt fairly comfortable, strangely calm, and my breathing wasn’t too laboured. Apart from not being able to feel my arms and legs anymore, I had very few symptoms, plus I had good painkillers and good support. I knew that end of life wise, things could be a lot worse. My sisters came back into the room, tearstained but smiling at me. I was unsure what to say, I didn’t want to give them false hope, that would be cruel, but at the same time something in me was telling me that I wasn’t quite ready to go. In the end I selected simply told them firmly that I was going to fight and that “it’s not over till it’s over”
I know I have new lungs, I know these aren't collapsey, (real word honest) but I think because after the collapse in 2005 we were so sure that the summer of 2006 was going to be so much better and then it happened again....I don't know. I am just waffling really. Although that is what blogs are for so I won't apologise.
So come on Emily, instead of being scared of the past, let's have a look at what you have now: you have amazing new lungs, your life has been saved once again since that episode, you have a wonderful family, a fiance (still can't get used to saying that!) you can walk, talk, run, breathe...things are really pretty good. I suppose the anniversary of the collapse just serves to remind me how fragile and delicate life is. But instead of that making me nervous, I need to use it to push me forwards, to ensure I keep on embracing every opportunity in front of me now, and to make the most of this wonderful new lease of life.
What a difference a year makes...