Thursday, July 19, 2007

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...


Anonymous said...

dear Emily,

I can we can all fully understand your nervousness on the anniversary of such an awful experience but really you mustn't compare things then and now. You are well and you will stay well. You have brand new lungs, why would they collapse? So relax and enjoy your newfound freedom and vibrant good health.

And remember - there is no such thing as false hope. Hope is good and it makes miracles happen; it's when we give up faith and hope that we decline.

Take good care and think happy thoughts.
hugs, J.

Anonymous said...

ps: excuse typo" I think we can"

Anonymous said...

I really don't know what to say to this blog. Reading the extract brought tears to my eyes. I don't think Yay really does it justice but I'll say it anyway 'YAY!'

Lorraine said...

Phew - needed a bit of warning there before I read that Blog I'm afraid - tears streaming down my face now. Don't look to the past - look to the future - you have a family who love you immensley - lots of friends and a loving and devoted fiance AND you have a wedding to plan. Fantastic. Live life to the fullest - as you were ment to do. xx

suzie said...


You're doing brill Em, its not an easy road but you did it and will do it for a very long time.

I agree, blogs are good therapy, face thing is too, we can laugh and cry all in the space of 5 minutes.

Much love hunni
Sue xxx

Anonymous said...

such an inspiration to us all......and proving that you are such a fighter etc and given the opportunity of a transplant has made such a difference to yourself and your family. Listening to your mum speaking on tv reflected similar felings that I had too of making such a difference to all our family being able to plan a few days weeks ahead instead of day by day and juggling hospital with home life etc.

take care hi to your family from one mum to another especially please say hi to your mum.:D

Elaine Rach & family xx

Jac said...

I suppose these memorable dates must bring back some strange feelings - forcing you to look back at what you have come through over the past few years and realising how scary and huge it all was!

At least for next year you can look forward to creating some new memorable dates - first lung anniversary, wedding anniversary and many more happy days!

Higs xxx

Anonymous said...

I remember this time last year, hearing what had happened and how ill you were. I remember feeling worried, but I didn't think for a minute that that would be the end...I know I didn't exactly what was happening, obviously, but I knew it was pretty bad, and still I had complete faith that you would pull through :) Actually, I was going for a run (I use the term "run" in the loosest possible sense) with Jess in preparation for the Hydro Active when she told me, and so my main feeling was one of disappointment for you, as I knew you'd been training too, and we thought you might not be well enough to take part on the day! How foolish we were! As if collapsey lungs would stop you! ;)

Here's to many many more summers, free from misbehaving lungs!
Love always xxx

Anonymous said...

You are great and you will do great things for a long time to come.

Take care sweety (oops put sweaty the first time round lol!)

MoO and Gracie Lou xxxx

Anonymous said...

Once again Emily you have made me cry - can you finish that bit of the 'story' tho - how you got better? Was it just through sheer determination or did the docs do something major. Your poor family - they must be 'skipping' now!!!!
Lindy xxxxx

Anonymous said...

Sending you enorous hugs Em. It's sometimes nice to know you are human and have wobbly days too, as you appear so strong and together. What a great thing to have a wobble about though (weird sentence). It's something that happened in the past, and logically not something you are going to have to face again.
Just keep on looking forward like you do so well, and remember that although you do a fab job of raising organ donation awareness, you have to dedicate some time just for you too.

jess j xxx

Anonymous said...

Emily if everyone could read this and see your before and after photos they would all sign up to the doner register ..who could not be moved by it .Once again you have me in tears,but happy ones.I prayed for you everynight since your lung collapse last year and it was only in the last few nights I have realised that I do not have to include you anymore ,this only means that god answered my prayers and you have a wonderful life ahead of you and a healthy pair of lungs...ENJOY!! luv Annex

Anonymous said...

emily -hope u ave gotton over ur scare about the anniversary thing, but all i have to say is that theres no point in worrying about wot could (in a very unlikely event) happen and just get on with life. if anything were really destined to happen it would (not that i no if destiny is true/not) happen wether u liked it or not, so y waste time worrying about it. enjoy life, be happy and live like u want to live, dont let anything strange/mysterious get u down

keep smiling
love jennie higgins