Monday, 3 March 2014
More Birthday Celebrations
It was birthday time again in our household this weekend. This time Sarah's, who turned 22 on Sunday. We cannot quite believe she is now 22, sometimes it only feels like yesterday when she was born. To celebrate we drove across to Norfolk to spend a night and have some time together by the coast.
It was yet another one of those milestones for me. Sarah was 18 when I was first diagnosed with my Pulmonary Hypertension. She was literally about to start her A level exams and she ended up having to go through her exams knowing that I had just been told I hadn't got long to live, so it was one big struggle for her to get through them.
For me, given what I'd been told, I didn't really ever know whether I would see her reach 19, yet alone 22. I was told by my cardiologist at my local hospital at the very outset when they found my heart was dilated, that I wouldn't have many years to live, this was before any formal diagnosis was made. I can remember always clinging to the hope that I may see her celebrate her 21st birthday, so every year we celebrate beyond that now is a blessing.
Sarah didn't get her first choice of university, but after some frantic phone calls and going through the very stressful 'clearing' process', she managed to get a place at a university she was very happy with. Unfortunately the university then messed up her accommodation arrangements, so she decided to defer her place for a year, when they would guarantee her a place in the student halls.
It began to feel a bit like everything was going against us at the time, Sarah's grandfather had just had a heart bypass operation too, which hadn't been successful and he was very unwell. My health just then deteriorated more and more and by the time we got to the following September, when she should have gone away, I had just been listed for a heart and double lung transplant.
During that year, Sarah worked full time at Waitrose, where she had had a weekend job while she completed her A levels. She often worked shifts and so had a lot of spare time during the day and she spent many an hour taking me out and about and keeping me company during that awful first year of my illness. So although university hadn't worked out for her, for me it had been a blessing in disguise - not that I'd ever wanted to stop Sarah going to university. Her being at home with me and spending time with me helped get me through that first very frightening year. She also took me for hospital appointments and doctor's appointments and always kept me laughing.
When it came to actually going off to university, Sarah decided it wasn't for her any more. Our lives had changed dramatically over the year with my illness and she was also by this time seeing Oli, who is now her fiancee. Sarah decided to complete her studies through the Open University and to continue working full time. She then moved on from Waitrose and now works for an insurance company, is half way though her OU course and has started her insurance exams.
She has managed to come a long way through all my illness. It's funny how things have a way of working themselves out for the best somehow through life's little twists and turns. We are now all excited and looking forward to planning Sarah's wedding next year...there is so much to look forward to.
We had a lovely time in Norfolk, after spending the Saturday afternoon on Brancaster Beach, we spent the evening with Sarah and Oli to celebrate her birthday. We all stayed over and enjoyed breakfast together on Sarah's actual birthday morning.
We walked off our big breakfast along the coast path at Brancaster Staithe and then we enjoyed a lovely day out in Wells- Next-to-the-Sea. We stopped off at the beach cafe for coffee and then had a lovely long walk along the beach again. I reckon I managed to walk another 4 kilometres that day and just kept on going, which again simply just amazes me after how I used to be and how little I was able to manage.
Once again, I've been blessed to see Sarah have another birthday and I'm thankful I was able to enjoy the day with her and Oli, doing things that I had once accepted that I would never be able to do ever again. It is all thanks to my donor and their family, who I thank with all my heart for giving me this second chance at life.