Saturday, 15 October 2016

Celebations and Three Years On...

We are now well into October and have finished celebrating some wonderful family occasions and milestones. We arrived back from beautiful Budapest after celebrating Rob's retirement and spent a day unpacking and packing again for a quick turnaround for a long family weekend get together in Whitstable. 

Our first celebration was our twenty sixth wedding anniversary - gosh the year has gone so quickly since we had our special twenty fifth celebration last year. These anniversaries are so important to us. Some ups and downs with health during this last year never fails to remind us to enjoy and make most of every good moment and of course of each day if we can, however the day falls. 

Next up was the extra special event, really the reason we all felt the need to be away together and away from life's pressures; a special time as a family and a time to reflect and be thankful for all the extra time we have been given together. It was the third anniversary of my heart and lung transplant; the day I received my gift of new life and a new start and new beginning. A day for us all to celebrate my life and the life of the wonderful person who was my donor. And also a day to give thanks to my donor's family who also gave their consent to give me my wonderful gift in their time of great sorrow. It was also a day for us to raise a glass to all those that helped save my life and who continue to care for me and keep me safe - all the fabulous staff at Papworth. 

We were able to watch a glorious sunset over the beach and sea in the evening, which felt like such a fitting tribute to this special day. It's been another wonderful year in many ways. We had a wonderful addition to our family in the form of Ted, our cocker spaniel puppy. Another dream come true and being fulfilled since my transplant.

Then there was the publication of my book 'Life is for the Living', another life long ambition come to fruition and I'm hoping it's going to still make a difference in raising awareness of Pulmonary Hypertension and much needed funds for Pulmonary Hypertension and Transplant support over the coming year. Fingers crossed. We've just achieved sales of over 850 copies now and with events and commissions from book sales raised over £2500 now.

Rob and I have enjoyed countless enjoyable occasions with family and friends and been able to be part of many interesting new ventures and projects. It's been another fabulous and great year. 

We thoroughly enjoyed Whitstable and had sunny, breezy and fresh, autumnal weather. We had lots of long family walks with both Alfie and Ted - the two cockers- in tow; coffee and doughnut stops by the harbour, fish and chip suppers, home cooked meals in the rambling beach house we rented, sunsets and roaring log fires - all pretty perfect. We could walk down to the beach from the house, feel the sea breeze in our faces and watch the tide turn and wind change as it reflected in the calm and rough of the waves. 

We've had a few challenges with my health this year, a few hospital blips resulting in more hospital stays and clinics and a closer eye on my health. I think we managed to take them in our stride and wade through them, coming out on top again. We always knew that the transplant road wouldn't be the easiest at times with the infection and rejection risks that transplant can pose, but we have been given a precious gift and I've stayed in better health than pre transplant thanks to receiving my transplant. An extra three fabulous years all thanks to my donor. The tide and the wind have turned in our favour again during this special and sometimes challenging third year and we are forever grateful. 

We finished our lovely break with a special family meal for Rob's birthday - another celebration of how far we have come. We have so much to look forward to and quite soon in this next year post transplant. Both my girls graduate in November - another thing that I'm delighted I'm going to be able to be part of. Then big excitement for the new year - our first grandchild expected in January. I feel priviledged that I've already seen pictures of the baby scans and already felt the baby kicking. Huge family events to look forward to and strive for. 

I'm well underway with my next book 'Heart Boy' - I shall let you guess who that one is about! And some more events, speeches, activities and projects planned to help raise more awareness of organ donation, transplant and pulmonary hypertension. So many busy and exciting things to look forward to. It's surely going to be another great year amongst whatever other unknown challenges or other exciting things that may happen. 

As I finish writing this blog, many of you will already know that we have unexpectedly been thrown a new challenge, which begins this next year, my fourth since transplant. It's unexpected, yet we have probably been always quietly preparing to tackle it head on when it came. Rejection. It's my first big run in with this one, but I know I've been extremely lucky to get this far without having to face it. 

It's a frightening and scary word in our transplant world, but with the dedication and commitment yet again from my wonderful transplant team and the love and support of all our friends and family, we are determined to fight positively through this. And I'm taking great deal of inspiration from a very courageous and brave friend, who has had and is still having a very tough and difficult time. As she encourages me on, she tells me, 'It's what we do Kath.' And it is. We will try and stay positive, take one day and one step at a time and face this head on. After all, there is still so much to strive for and too many wonderful things about life for it to be any other way. 

I will know more about what is happening over the next day or two and will keep you informed soon, but I've been warned and know that these things take time to unravel as each step is taken, so it's probably going to be an ever changing and ongoing process as it coninues to unfold. 

It is because of challenges like this that we have to make the most of every day, grasp every moment, celebrate and make the most of life. That's why we celebrate everything and try to enjoy it and although we've moved on so much from three years ago, that's why we never forget where we moved on from and the person who gave us this opportunity to do so. 

Life can be fragile and unexpected at times for anyone. Enjoy it, live it and reach for all your dreams.

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