Five years ago this morning I was on my way out of surgery and into 4 weeks of the hardest struggle I’ve ever known. A struggle so deep, so intense, at times dispiriting and verging on depressing that I never thought I would come through it.
But when someone else has died and you’ve been granted the gift of a second stab at life, you don’t give up. You don’t quit, you don’t say you’ve had enough. You fight. Hard. With everything you have.
Five years later, I still cannot adequately express the gratitude I feel. There are no words, no images, not even the right song to share the immensity of the feeling.
Instead, I’ve chosen to release a book, something to highlight just how hard everything that came before was. And, in doing so, it made me realise that the 4 weeks of struggle I went through immediately after my transplant were nothing compared to the 12 months that preceded it.
Smile Through It: A Year on the Transplant List – consisting mainly of my own blog posts over the year leading up to the big day and highlighting just how hard it is to live in the constant shadow of death – hits Amazon Kindle bookshelves today, soon to be followed by ePub and hard copy versions.
About the book
The journey I took over the 2.5 years I waited and the year documented on this site and in the book was not a pleasant or fun road to experience, nor one I would wish on the worst of my enemies. That’s not to say you can’t still have fun (as I hope the book shows), but it’s not the kind of thing I’d recommend.
The text has been left almost entirely as-is from the blog posts themselves, save for fixing a few glaring spelling errors. I could have edited more heavily, re-written sections to seem more prescient or circumspect, or removed several of the more mundane episodes, but I chose not to because what I think readers will gain, over the course of the 12 months-worth of posts, is an insight into the true roller coaster lifestyle that anyone awaiting a transplant must endure.
The book covers some of the most exciting times in my life – raising over £20,000 production managing a comedy gig for Live Life Then Give Life, being invited on to Radio 4 and speaking to national newspapers about organ donation and transplant.
But it also covers the terrible toll all of these took on my body and my brain. You’ll see how periods of activity are followed all-too-closely by enforced inactivity and the frustrations and anger that comes with them.
I hope more than anything that this book – like this blog – will serve to give people an illustration of just why it’s so important to sign up to the Organ Donor Register.
You’ll also see just what a dim-witted, self-indulgent, melodramatic, pretentious muppet I can be.
Hopefully, you’ll end up smiling through it with me.
How you can help (if so inclined)
There are 5 things you can do to help me spread the word about today’s release, if you’d like to:
- Sign the Organ Donor Register (or your country’s equivalent) – the reason I’m releasing the book and writing this blog is to raise awareness of organ donation, so sign yourself up if you don’t do anything else. (Links to registering in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand. If you have others, please let me know so I can add them)
- Talk to someone else about organ donation – it’s only through conversation that we learn of each other’s wishes and help save lives through awareness and openness.
- Talk about the book to others and share the link – costs you nothing, but may bring a little light into someone else’s life (I hope).
- Buy the book – obvious, I know, but significant (and it’s less than a pound!).
- Once you’ve read it, and if you liked it, leave a review on Amazon to help guide other readers. It take around 5-10 minutes and can really help in spreading the word into the wider Amazon readership.
About my ego
Releasing a book of any kind is something of an exercise in ego, even more so when it’s self-published.
I can’t deny that I hope people will take notice of this book, that I want people to talk about it, share it, encourage other people to buy it. I can’t deny that I want people to read what I’ve written and that releasing some of the posts from this blog into the world in this way is a great way to achieve that.
I also completely understand those who feel that it’s my ego getting the better of me and putting something out there that people can read the vast majority of – completely free – right here on the blog.
But it’s also about reaching an audience who don’t read blogs, who haven’t visited here and who possibly never would. It’s about spreading the message of organ donation as far and wide as we possibly can.
I’ve lost far, far too many friends who’ve succumbed while waiting for a transplant when it doesn’t have to be like that. Arguments about Opt-Out systems and changes in the NHS aside, if everyone in the UK who support the idea of organ donation signed up to the Organ Donor Register, we wouldn’t face 3 needless deaths every single day.
For my donor
I was saved by someone I’ve never met nor will ever have the chance to thank. I’ve been given a second chance to live a life of happiness, fulfilment and joy when one family have had their happiness untimely stolen from them.
If I were to sit and do nothing to show how enormous this unknown benefactor has afforded me, I truly believe I wouldn’t be able to stand proud and say I’d made good use of the time they granted me.
I would love for you to buy, read, enjoy and share my book. But if you don’t want to do that, let’s at least be talking to our loved ones about our own opinions, views and wishes relating to organ donation.
We can all be the hero of someone else’s life; don’t let that chance got to waste.