Archives: smile through it

Media tarting

The highlight of my day was not (surprisingly) the 6 hours I spent in the car driving to Bristol. I do love long car journeys, especially when it gives me a chance to listen to some of my heavily-stacked Podcast queue, but even 6 hours is pushing the enjoyment factor when I’m in the car on my own.

I did however, love chatting to BBC Radio 5Live Breakfast and BBC West Midlands Drive about the rising CF population and the predictions that it could almost double by 2025. Not sure I agree with the numbers entirely, but we know the number of people being born with CF is relatively stable, so the prediction suggests a definite rise in longevity, which can only be a good thing.

This week on Tuesday it was Kerry’s birthday, then Emily’s, then Jess’s. All three of them no longer with us, all three of them succumbing to the ravages of CF and the complications it brings. The fact that we could be looking at a future where no one is dying from CF is incredibly exciting and definitely brought a smile to my face. What better way to mark their birthdays than helping spread the word about our fight to beat CF for good?


It’s odd that I loathe Valentine’s day as much as I do and yet always really like Mothers’ Day. I hate being told when to express my love for my wife, and yet I love that there’s a whole day devoted to mums. Feels weird.

But it was lovely to see and spend time with both of my mums – Mummy L (mine) and Mummy H (K’s) – and to let them know how much we appreciate them and everything they have done and continue to do to support us and show their love to us. I like to think they know that we love them and appreciate them every day, but just in case we bought them both flowers and had a lovely Mothers’ Day cuppa with them to say thank you.

It’s also a day I reflect on all those people who are desperate to be mums but aren’t because quirks of fate have taken that chance away from them for one of very many reasons. Those mourning the loss of a baby, those trying so hard to have one and those who know they will never be able. All of these people are always in my thoughts on Mothers’ Day even while we smile and enjoy the mums we’ve got.

What did you do for you mum today?

Creative win

A nice work-related smile today as we presented some initial creative concepts for a big piece of work that is rapidly descending on us.

Any creative will know presentation of concepts to a senior leadership team is always slightly nerve-wracking as you face that awkward “what do I do with this if they don’t like it?!” thought process.

Luckily they not only liked it, some of them even mentioned that when they first heard the concept they really didn’t get it and thought it would be a dead end, but seeing the execution and possibilities they got almost excited.

Score one for the creatives today!


It certainly hasn’t been an easy day today, with many different irons in the fire all needing to be tended to and kept red hot, but the sky on the train back into London was its own shade of pastel red with a dusting of cloud cover.

I love a good sunset. Somehow no matter what kind of day you’ve had or how you’re feeling a bright, colourful sunset does wonders to ease the mind, calm the body and make you appreciate the natural wonders our world serves us up with every day.

How was your sunset tonight?

Back to my roots

For the last two years on January 1st I’ve sworn to myself I’m going to revitalise this blog and do things differently. I haven’t. I’ve spent the last two Januarys and Februarys slowly failing to keep up with a constant schedule, largely because I can never work out what this blog is supposed to be.

So from tomorrow I’m going back to my roots and this will be about one thing and one thing only: that little thing that makes me smile every day, whatever it may be.

Way back in the beginning, that’s all this blog was supposed to be. Some of it was going to be able daily battles (and that’s what ended up in the book), but it was also here to remind me to keep smiling, no matter what.

Whatever happens over the coming months and years, wherever my health takes me and whatever else life throws at me, this blog will be here not only to document the process, but also to remind me when the going gets to its very toughest, that the world is really a very funny place and you have to keep on smiling, because the other options are too dark to think of.

That’s what I’ll be doing from now on. And don’t worry, you’re excused if you no longer want to listen.

Keep smiling!

Pressing reset

When I started this blog it was about trying to keep on top of things, those slings and arrows of outrageous fortune Shakespeare told us about. It was about charting my journey up to and beyond transplant and all the weird emotions and exciting opportunities it brought.

Now, though, I want it to be more than that. Partially because I’m now blessed to have a life that’s much like anyone’s: I have a full-time job making a real difference in people’s lives, I have a loving wife and a beautiful home to come home to every night, I have everything I ever wanted from my extra time in life, bar a few of the more outrageous and/or longer-term goals I came up with beforehand.

So I want this blog to be about more than just me and my journey, but to stay true to the principals under which it began.

This year, I’m going to set out to make Smile Through It a place where you can come for inspiration and education of all kinds. (Except the bad kind of ‘education’ that just made you suddenly wonder if you want to come back here at all, I won’t be doing any of that stuff.)

I want this blog to become a place where you can discover and share stories of living life in the most honest way possible. That doesn’t mean people going on crazy adventures: an honest life is simply about living authentically to yourself. And if that’s a little too ‘new age hippy’ for you, think of it like this: happiness comes from living the life that fits you, nothing more.

This, then, will be a period of adjustment for me as I work out how best to make all of this happen, but it will involve lots more storytelling (because I’ve not done nearly enough of that on here in recent months), it will involve a lot more of other people’s stories, and it will hopefully involve more than just reading.

I’d love to hear from you to know what you get out of this site and what you’d like to get from it. What posts really inspire you and make you want to do things, what bores you to tears and never makes you want to come back, and what would you love to see more of from me?

Please get in touch however you’d like: you can email me (or use the contact form on my personal website to be sure of passing spam filters), you can Tweet me, you can even find me on that weird and lonely place they call Google plus (however amazed you may be that it’s still going).

Smile Through It is a philosophy on life that I’ve let slip in recent weeks and months, and it’s time we got back to what mattered. So here’s to a 2015 full of growth and development for me, for this blog and, hopefully, for you, too.

A Very Important Day

Smile Through It: A Year on the Transplant List cover

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:

  1. 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)
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. Buy the book – obvious, I know, but significant (and it’s less than a pound!).
  5. 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.

Don’t Live Life On Pause

Mini DV Deck

It’s fair to say I’ve been looking forward to this week for quite a while now.

As I explained on Friday, reaching the 5 year post-transplant mark is a significant step for anyone. It gives a remarkable psychological boost that – for me at least – makes me feel like I may be approaching normal. Ordinary. A regular person.

But, the truth is, I want to be more than normal. I relish abnormality – I want to be as different, as unique and as extraordinary as I have been up to this point. I don’t want to let 5 years pass and think it’s OK to let it rest.

I want to tell the world the impact that my donor has had on my life.

I want to show the world the power of transplantation.

I want to help people understand how important being registered to be an organ donor is and the lives you could save and transform.

I want to be remarkable in the truest meaning of the word.

I want all of these things, but more than anything, I want you to know that extraordinary lives can be lived by all of us every single day. With a deep breath, a smile and a kind word to those around us, we can all have an impact. By signing the Organ Donor Register, we can all leave a legacy. By making sure our loved ones know our wishes, we can all be a part of something bigger.

Tomorrow, on my 5th second birthday, I will be releasing Smile Through It: A Year on the Transplant List on Kindle, closely followed by ePub and physical versions, too. It’s designed to give people an insight into just how hard it is to do nothing but sit and wait.

I want you all to remember that there are too many people in the world with their lives on pause while they wait.

Don’t leave your life on pause; find the play button and let’s make sh*t happen.

Photo: Brian Gurrola on Flickr.