Thursday, 12 January 2017
January and arriving with it another brand new year and leaving a previous one behind. January 2017 rings familar with January 2016 for me. I started 2016 waking up and in my own bed and feeling much better after arriving home late on New Year's Eve following nearly a month in hospital and a few months of being unwell. Bring on January 2017 and although I'd not physically been in hospital for a month, I'd been in and out of hospital and made many trips there due to being seriously unwell yet again for those months ending the year. So both times starting a brand new year with fresh new hope and resolve to recover and regain my health once again. And starting the year with an even bigger appreciation and anticipation for life and what this new year may hold.
I'd begun to feel a lot better and brighter during those immediate few days before Christmas. I didn't dare to hope that it might last and I might feel well again. But it did and I'm much better now following those two awful bouts of acute rejection and all that comes with it. The heavy treatment, the harsh side effects and the mental and emotional anguish that comes with knowing that my body doesn't want accept my new lungs. The not knowing which way things may go. Will the treatment work? Will things deteriorate even more? In this world of transplant things can spiral out of control so quickly. It's not an exaggeration - it's happened to friends - we've lost friends unexpectedly and we have friends still, who are battling hard at this moment to overcome the fate that rejection can bring. Organ rejection is challenging in every way and is physically, mentally and emotionally gruelling.
So January 2017 brought respite and relief for me just in that I knew I'd turned a corner in this battle - that I felt better and stronger was a good sign and this week after a visit to clinic, the signs are still looking positive. The routine tests showed that I'm now stable, that I've overcome this setback for now, that I've beaten these rejection episodes. I'm still not totally through it. My lung function has declined by 25% now, but there's still a chance and hope it may improve now I'm stronger and able to exercise properly again. My medication has been altered yet again to help matters, increases in some, decreases in others to try and maintain the delicate balances needed to prevent infection and rejection flaring. I've been given a steroid inhaler too, to continue treating and preventing the airway rejection. There's still more clinics in the next weeks and months to check progress. I don't mind any of this, as I count myself lucky to have got this far - to have been able to hang on to some reasonable lung function and to feel well again. It's been the best Christmas present and best start to the new year I could have asked for.
My new year resolutions aren't big ones. Just going through all this has enabled me to re-evaluate things yet again. My priorities are to keep on working hard on my health, recovery and becoming stronger again. If I can keep my health, then I can work on my other resolutions. Rob had just retired when I fell ill, suddenly he became my carer again. Now in a new year we are starting off again with our retirement plans. More time together, more memories to make. We're expecting a new grandchild, so helping Sarah and Oli and spending even more time with family will be a big priority.
Then I hope to continue working with our Transplant Group at the hospital with our support group and the other initiatives we've been involved with. We set up the support group to help patients going through transplant and its ups and downs. It's strange as the tables were turned in those few months before Christmas and members of the support group gave me so much support, which helped me through the difficult parts. It was much appreciated and made me realise even more how vital it is to have a support network of people who understand properly and can share their own experiences to help each other.
I've also recently become an ambassador for Papworth Hospital Charity and plan to continue to promote my book 'Life is for the Living' to help raise awareness of PH and transplant and funds to help and support these causes. My last big priority and challenge for this year, is to complete my next book. I've been working on it for a while, but have been stopped in my tracks over the last few months. So I've restarted the work on it now, purposefully aiming to complete my first draft.
They are all goals that are closely related to my priorities, things that have been ongoing already, but with being poorly again made me realise they are things that will always be close to my heart. The things I find important that give me a good balance in life. Time for family and friends. Time for important causes that have affected my life and time for myself through my writing.
Wishing everyone a very happy and healthy New Year. I hope you have lots to look forward to, new plans and memories to make and that you're still sticking to those New Year resolutions whatever they are. For those struggling with their health, I hope the new year brings hope, strength and the opportunity to feel better.