Saturday, 31 October 2015

Looking to the Year Ahead...

For me, autumn has always been a little like New Year, a time for a fresh start. I think it's after being in the teaching profession and working in school and the new school year starting in September. Autumn was always a time to reflect and plan for the year ahead. Now autumn will always be a very significant time in my life as it's the season I received my transplant and my second chance at life. Autumn, therefore, feels very poignant as a time to think ahead and into the next year.

I remember thinking how am I ever going to have a better year than the first year after my transplant. It was such an amazing year being able to do so many things that I'd believed I'd never do again and have so many wonderful new opportunities having been given my life back. Now I've just passed the two year anniversary of my transplant and I'm thinking the same yet again and wondering what my third year post transplant is going to bring. So I'm hoping and planning for it to be another good one. 

Health is always going to be one of my highest priorities in having another good year. I can only try my best to remain as healthy as possible with exercise and diet and following the advice given by my transplant team, who continue to look after me well. Autumn is flu jab time, so I had mine last week - it's another preventative measure in the hope of keeping my lovely new lungs working well. At the moment they work beautifully and I'm trying hard to keep it that way. Sometimes I feel like it's a game of dodging in and out amongst all the coughs, colds and sneezes. It always surprises me how many people think it's ok to cough and splutter all over others without a second thought - or maybe it's just me being more aware or even paranoid!

Another priority will always be campaigning to raise awareness of Pulmonary Hypertension and Organ Donation and I've been planning for the year ahead already on this front. For the last year or so, as many of you already know, I've been writing a memoir all about my journey with Pulmonary Hypertension and through transplant. I'm hoping it will give readers a valuable insight into what it's like to be diagnosed with and live with a life threatening, rare and terminal condition, the difficulties coping with a long wait for a transplant, as well as undergoing a major transplant operation and the life changing differences a transplant can make. I hope it will be of interest to anyone affected by either Pulmonary Hypertension or transplant or both, as well as anyone suffering with any type of life threatening or chronic illness. 

Hopefully it may appeal to a more general audience too, as it is about surviving against all the odds and a miracle happening! I'm planning my book launch for early in the new year and hopefully this will help renew and refresh my campaign to raise awareness and through my book I may be able to reach new audiences. I hope to raise some funds for PH genetic research and transplant support at Papworth hospital if anyone buys it! For me, it's a big project and as well as raising awareness for PH and organ donation, I'm personally very excited about it and looking forward to having my own book published and giving my campaign to raise awareness a new lease of life.

Through my hospital, I've also become involved with several patient focus and advisory groups over the last year, which has been interesting and is leading to more and more interesting projects such as  working with researchers and university students and of course work that is related to organ donation and transplant. I'm also part of the Transplant Patients Representative Group at Papworth and we are currently working with the Transplant Team on some new ideas.

One of the problems many patients face after overcoming many years of illness is finding a role and purpose in life once more and that takes time and I believe it's part of the recovery process. I'm hoping all these new avenues will develop and continue to keep me busy - they certainly have until now. I'm sure there will be unexpected surprises too -  I hope so and I'm excited to see what life brings next! 

Thanks for taking your time to read and to all my regular readers,

Kath x

PS. I've been working on this blog and my other social media sites in readiness for my book launch early next year.

Most importantly, I've changed my blog URL link for this blog - 'Life is for the Living' - to: 

So if you have any links to my blog they will need to be changed to the new link if you'd like to continue following. 

I have a new author Facebook page so you can track my book progress and see where I'm up to in my writing process. It'd be fantastic if you would click on the page below and 'like' and 'share'.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Two Years On - Thanks to my Donor

I've been lucky enough to have had my new healthy heart and lungs for two whole years now. Every extra day of new life has been a bonus and always will be. Thanks to my donor I've been able to do so much, see so many things and live life to the full. I didn't ever think my first year post transplant could be surpassed, but this second year has been another fabulous one. It's been extra special because I've been able to celebrate my daughter Rose's twenty-first birthday and also Sarah's marriage to Oli earlier on in the year. These are family celebrations I wouldn't have been well enough or even alive to see if it hadn't been for the generosity of my donor.

The day before my transplant anniversary is our wedding anniversary and the day after is Rob's birthday, so it's a busy time in our family for celebrations. This year it was our 25th wedding anniversary - the big silver one and one I didn't ever expect to see a few years ago. We decided to do something extra special and have the holiday of a lifetime to celebrate all three occasions. 

I can only say an enormous thank you to my donor, my donor's family, the transplant team who tirelessly worked to save my life and still give me such excellent ongoing care and all my family and friends who've supported me and still do.  

I was able to visit many new places and have some new and wonderful experiences all thanks to my donor and the very special gift of my new heart and lungs. I visited new cities, went on a cruise for the first time ever and travelled overnight on the Orient Express - something I've always dreamed of doing since being a child! There aren't any words to describe how organ donation can make such a huge difference to a family and how having a second chance at life is such an amazing gift.

Please think about signing up to the organ donor register and discuss organ donation with your family if you haven't already done so - three people a day still lose their lives waiting for a transplant. I know I've been extremely lucky - organ donation truly does make such a difference - it gives independence back and an ability to do simple things again such as bathing, walking, cooking and even pushing a supermarket trolly around. The special moments we've enjoyed this last few weeks are just the icing on the cake when you've been given back those more simple and basic things in life. It's those simple things that really matter and make such a difference, as well as being given extra time with your loved ones to make as many new memories as you can.


The Ship




The Orient Express


 We visited many beautiful churches while we were away giving us chance to stop, reflect and give thanks to my donor - my donor and their family are always in our thoughts.