Monday, 15 April 2013

Elephants and Sheep

Views from Voi Lodge, Tsavo East, Kenya 
A friend of mine recently described the aftermath of her recent transplant assessment as the 'elephant that is transplant'. Anyway that got me thinking about 'elephants' and the 'elephants' that have now taken up residence in my own life.

I have a lovely memory of elephants, when we got married Rob and I were fortunate enough to go to Kenya for our honeymoon and we went on safari. Here we enjoyed many a precious moment watching elephant herds come to the watering holes at the  safari lodges we stayed in and spotting elephants meandering on their way through the grassy, hot savannah to find their next rations of food and water. I can remember stopping in the safari van for quite some time as we all quietly watched a most gorgeous baby elephant just wandering aimlessly along the red and dusty dirt track we were travelling along. I recall it being so cute and endearing I wanted to take it home with me. We also had to be wary when a large elephant bull was hovering in our wake and I remember that being one of a few scary encounters when we had come face to face with the wildlife out there.

Drinking and bathing

Little did I know that I was carrying a baby 'elephant' of my own at this time, that was quietly and slowly growing inside of me, called PH; it didn't really hurt or affect me then, but today it's turned into one of those enormous, scary bull elephants, lurking and threatening as I face it head on, living day to day with it and all the restrictions it brings as well as feeling unwell on a daily basis, which is just becoming normal to me now, but it isn't normal.

Take me home, I'm so cute
On top of that there is the 'elephant' called transplant, as my friend describes, it's another looming, immense, bull elephant too. There is always that hard decision to go ahead with it all weighing on our minds and all the hundreds of questions and 'what ifs' that that decision once made might bring. Whatever you are doing at any moment in your life there is always the thought the call could come at the moment, what is the plan if the call comes at that particular time; there always has to be a plan wherever you are, whatever you do and a plan for everyone else that is involved. There is always the dark threat that you may never get the call and all the what ifs that go with that; that is a no go area in my mind, just so I keep sane, but it is also a reality. Then there are all the 'what ifs' that come with having the transplant; will it really give me a better quality of life than I have now? Will I really feel better after a while and be able to do things again that I can't do now? What if it makes me feel worse? No-one can give us the answers, everyone is different and unique, but it is a chance we have decided to take, because it is the only option that offers real hope. Still it feels like the weight of an elephant on us at times.
Don't touch my baby, I'm a big bull

My other large elephant is my intravenous drug Epoprostenol and living with all that entails on a daily basis; then again, I love this elephant too: I wouldn't be here living life as fully as I am trying to without this elephant, so this one is perhaps the mummy elephant, giving me a good quality of life while I wait, nurturing me on, but being a pain in the back sometimes while she has to do it. There are a few small baby elephants kicking around in my day too, the warfarin and the yo yo that is INR levels. The restrictions of diuretics when really you just want to be getting on with life; sometimes I think my life's new calling could be to be a toilet inspector or reviewer. Woe betide you really, should you dare take the spironolactone and furosemide drugs when you are on your way out!

Visitor amongst the spring crocuses
River Levens
Everybody has their 'elephants' and their own way of dealing with them. For us, keeping busy and trying to enjoy life to the full helps keep our 'elephants' tame and under control. Just after Easter Rob and I enjoyed a week back in the Lake District, here we are lucky enough to have our own place, which we have lovingly restored over the years. We had spent years visiting Cumbria with our children prior to this and I have many childhood memories of holidaying there as my parents always owned caravans in this area. I was also brought up in the North West, so the Lake District was always within striking distance for a good day out and these days it is near to my family, who are still in Lancashire.

The world famous topiary garden at Levens Hall, stunning as always
So it is a very special place to us, we are always content when we are there and there are always new places to explore and favourite places to revisit. When we are there our 'elephants' feel more like 'sheep' and feel further away from us, we relax and unwind and just enjoy being carefree and getting out and about, often just experiencing simple pleasures like sitting by a lake and watching the world go by, or driving around admiring the scenery, especially the new born lambs and daffodils at this time of year.

Post office, Beetham

Foraging amongst the reed beds at Leighton Moss RSPB reserve

Just the two of us, Blakwell Arts and Crafts Centre, Winermere

Pots all bright and tidy now!

Sunshine on the rocks! 
 Windermere peeping through the trees

Only sheep allowed in this house
We had a lovely time and managed to catch up with family in Lancashire, which is only a stones throw away, we tried a few new pubs for lunch and this time just visited places that were nearby, but as stunning as ever. We pottered about locally with our cameras, caught up with friends and did a bit of spring cleaning and tidying about the house.

The weather was cold to start with, but soon began to get milder, with a bit of spring sunshine, which in turn also gave us a lift, I think it has for everybody. We are back home now and it is much milder and sunnier and everything else feels that way too. For now I've brought back some sheep to replace the elephants and things feel easier to cope with.

Just spring lambs now!
I have been waiting for my transplant for 575 days now and one day I feel in my heart that that call will come and things will go well, somehow I just have that feeling that things will be alright.

One day I would like to have a ride on an elephant, perhaps in India or in the Far East. I feel like it should be easy, by the time I get to that point I will have ridden one many times mentally and emotionally and negotiated myself around them over and over again...    

Please help if you haven't already by signing up to the organ donor register, the website link is listed below.

Just learning to negotiate the elephants

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