Ups and downs are par for the course in life, and we all learn to live with our own particular roller-coasters and merry-go-rounds.
Right now, I’m in a pretty substantial dip, enclosed as I am in my hospital room with what appears to be very little day-to-day improvement or sign of change.
I’ve been in just under a week now and, while I do feel better than I did when I was admitted, I don’t feel like I’m somewhere the docs might describe as “better”.
What’s become worse over the last few days is my intense focus on my transplant and when it’s going to come.
For the last 20-odd months, I’ve lived with the ever-present likelihood of that crucial phone call at any time of the day or night, but it’s always been something which I’ve lived with in the background and not paid much heed to.
Now things are looking less rosey, and with landmark moments being missed and life being put on hold, the urgency has been brought to the fore and the once-in-a-while thoughts have turned to a daily dwelling.
What upsets me most about things at the moment, though, is how much this borderline obsession is changing me as a person.
Not only do I feel more negative than I have for a while – finding myself struggling to see the fun side of life or consider anything that might be conceived as residing in the “future” – but I’ve also developed what can only be described as a jealousy towards others.
One of my closest “net-friends”, with whom i’ve shared many of the bizarre, amusing, surreal and downright scary moments of the transplant process, has been granted the gift of life which had so long eluded her.
But rather than finding myself eagerly awaiting news of the new joys she’s discovering every day, I can’t bring myself to catch up on things because I am constantly hit by a wave of “what about me” feelings.
I don’t recognise this as a trait in myself – it’s just not me. I’m not a jealous person and i’ve always delighted in the triumphs of my friends, family and all those around me.
So why the change now? What is it about my life at the moment that has brought out parts of myself that I never knew I had?
They say you learn a lot about yourself in adversity and “they” are often right. But how much of my current mood and outlooked is a deep-rooted personality defect that’s been dormant for years and how much is it merely distorted through the prism of life-threatening illness and the hope of salvation?
I honestly don’t believe I’ve changed as a person, nor do I think that my current health-hurdles are insurmountable. Similarly, I don’t expect my run of negative thinking to go on forever, but see it merely as a darker period brought on by hospitalisation – an effect I’m all too aware of from past admissions (both recent and historic).
The trouble with lung damage and infection is that it’s incredibly hard to know when you can reasonably expect to regain your lost lung function after a bout of infection and when you have to accept that you’ve waved goodbye to the portion of lung for good.
Clearly, the lower the function in the first place, the less there is room for movement either way. So when lung function drops, it’s hard to keep the fatalistic wolf from the door – both physically and mentally.
I’m not giving up yet, though. I’ve been through tough times before and although I’ve never considered myself quite as close to kicking it as I have this time, I’m confident that I can get past it.
This is largely thanks to my ever honest and sensitive team at Oxford who know what goes through my head and aren’t afraid to tackle the issues – and fears – as they come up.
I may not be able to bring myself to stay fully abreast of a good friend’s post-transplant progress, but I can still remind myself how often things looked bleak before the big day arrived.
Everything comes to he who waits, and while my new lungs may be the longest-settling pint of Guiness in history, I’m sure I’ll soon be frustrating someone in my position with my tales of new wonder in my life.
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- Nope, we got nada!