Friday, 21 November 2014

False alarm for transplant

2 months and 11 days after being placed on the active waiting list for a double lung transplant, yesterday, Thursday 20th November 2014 at 10.15am I received my first call for transplant. I was in bed fast asleep when my phone rang, I woke up to see it was an unknown number but I wasn't phased due to the fact bupa who deliver my IV antibiotics had rang me at 9am also on an unknown number to tell me my delivery was going to be later than predicted so when I received this second call from an unknown number I just presumed it was bupa again to tell me they were almost at my house with my IVs. How wrong I was! As soon as I answered and heard the Geordie accent of the transplant coordinator I knew it was Newcastle hospital. As I realised it was Newcastle I still didn't think it was my call as the questions she was asking me seemed like it was just a check up phone call to see how I was doing. After I'd answered all her questions she then said 'right well, I think we have a pair of lungs for you so we're going to get you up to the hospital straight away, I'm just going to arrange an ambulance and it'll be with you asap' I think my reaction was 'oh my god!' At this point my mum came running to my room and I told her it was my call! The coordinator told me to stay calm and get ready as quick as I could and that she'd see me as soon as possible before she hung up! I was shaking in shock and my mum had welled up with tears! We both were stood facing each other on the landing in our Pyjamas and we did this awkward shuffle and both said a profanity before running off in opposite directions to get ready! My brother ran out of his room in his pyjamas hair all dishevelled asking if that was my call, I replied yes and he straight away started to take all our bags downstairs, helped me get ready and calmed me down, he was a super hero! We had to call my dads office at work as he'd forgot his mobile phone for the first time ever!! Typical!

My dad arrived home 20seconds before the ambulance arrived at 10.35am, just 20 minutes after my call! I gave my brother and dad a big hug before getting into the ambulance with my mum! I got to sit on the bed for the journey so travelled backwards! The journey went surprisingly fast, we chatted lots to the paramedic and obviously as soon as a car was in our way the blue lights and sirens went on! It was very exciting! 

Me in the ambulance with my cuddly polar bear George who is with me at EVERY hospital visit! 

When we got close to Newcastle we opened the blind on the window and got to see the angel of the North and then the fantastic view of the sage and Tyne river as we went over the Tyne bridge! It was all really surreal even then, I couldn't believe we were actually almost at the hospital! Me and mum kept saying to each other it didn't seem real! 

We arrived at the hospital at 1.45pm. I was taken to the institute of transplant at the freemans hospital which is so incredible and swanky! It's a brand new state of the art centre especially for transplants! Once we got to the ward I was given a side room which was huge! All the staff were expecting me and said 'hello Holly' in their Geordie accents! I loved it! Straight away my nurse Lois began all the pre op tests I needed. Even though we still didn't know if the lungs were okay, they have to start the tests so as soon as you do find out your ready to go to theatre straight away! I first had my obs done, blood pressure, temperature, sats. Then I had an ECG, which was slightly high but they said it was probably down to nerves! Duh! I then had to do nose, throat and perineal swabs. About this time my dad arrived at the hospital at 2.45pm! I was so relieved and happy he had arrived in plenty of time to see me before the op! At 3.15pm I had just finished answering all the nurses questions and been weighed when the transplant coordinator came in my room in scrubs. Straight away she said 'I'm really sorry, I have bad news, the lungs aren't good enough' obviously I was really disappointed, she told us that when they'd called me the lungs had really good gases but they'd only then just found out something bad about the donor and the surgeon said there was absolutely NO WAY, he was going to use the lungs for transplant. I don't know what was wrong with the donor they aren't allowed to tell you but it must have been bad! Anyway my coordinator decided she wanted to do some bloods so they had some up to date ones for tissue typing and then she said I could go home! We were going to visit some of my Geordie family before heading back but in the end we were that exhausted and emotionally drained we just wanted to get straight home and to bed! 

On the way home we stopped at wetherby services for some dinner, I had a yummy greens pasty and 

here I am with a HUGE gingerbread latte! I look a bit worse for wear as I'd been asleep in the car! 

Once we'd eaten we got back on the road and I cosied up again 

we got home at 10.15pm exactly 12 hours after my manic day has began! 

I woke up today and yesterday just feels like a dream, I can't believe it really happened! Yesterday just wasn't supposed to be my day though, everything happens for a reason! I just hope my next call the lungs are good enough and it's the real deal! At least I've now had a practice run! Thanks for everyone's messages of support they are amazing! 

H x

Sunday, 16 November 2014

The end of a season...

The months March to November are better known to me as caravanning season, my favourite season! We have our small caravan on a seasonal pitch at my favourite place in the world, a campsite on the north west coast of Anglesey, Wales. Our caravan overlooks the sea and the campsite has its own private beach, it's paradise. Through out the season me and my mum go to the caravan as often as we can with my dad and brother joining us at weekends and in the school holidays. Occasionally my sister and her boyfriend get time off from their jobs in London and also join us and the 6 of us squeeze into the caravan and a tent in the awning, it's a good job we all get on well as it's pretty cosy to say the least! I love it though, the minimalistic side of caravanning, me and my mum often joke about how self contained it is and why do we bother to have a big house when we can happily live in a caravan half the size of the lounge!

This season has been the best one yet I think, we have wonderful 'neighbours' in the caravans surrounding us and it's a really friendly community. Next door to us is a lovely couple, who happen to own a speed boat and are keen fishers! So over the season I was lucky enough to be invited out onto the boat on numerous afternoons to go 'zoom, zoom, zoom' and try my hand at fishing. I must say the 'zoom, zoom, zoom' is super exhilarating and fun as I predicted it to be, but fishing, which I wasn't so sure I would like, I took to like a natural apparently! Much to my surprise, as soon as I'd cast my first line and the weight had hit the bottom, I had a bite! I eagerly reeled it in to find a whopping big pollock on the hook! I couldn't believe it and thought it was a stroke of beginners luck! But no, the afternoon carried on as I'd started, bite after bite, I was catching within seconds of casting my line! Most of the fish were pollock and were too small to take back and eat so were freed into the sea to live another day but in total I caught 2 big pollock and my brother 1. Then, an amazing thing happened. We decided to finish up in a spot we'd been fishing after deciding we'd caught what we could from there, so I began to slowly reel in my empty rod when all of a sudden I got the most humongous bite, I almost fell out the boat! I kept reeling even slower so as not to lose whatever was on the end of my line, then they became visible, there in the water were too bright silver fish thrashing about with each other, fighting! They were moving so fast we couldn't tell what they were but as we lowered the net in and scooped them up it immediately became clear I had caught 2 mackerel! I was over the moon with happiness and pride! Bernard (my neighbour) couldn't believe his eyes, he said never in his 20 years of fishing off that coast had he caught mackerel nor knew anyone who had! I have a magic touch he says!

Me my brother and sister with Bernard Launching the boat 

Just after I'd caught the Mackerel

The days catch!

When we got back to shore we had a massive joint BBQ and buffet full of the days catch and other yummy food, the sun was shining, music was playing and I was surrounded by my family, it was one of my favourite nights ever!

 Everyone enjoying tucking in to yummy food!

One of our other sets of friends on the campsite own a pair of JetSkis and after hearing about my bucket list insisted they take me out for a ride on them! So I got all kitted up in my wetsuit and wet shoes before being whizzed off at 80mph into the open ocean! I thought the speed boat was fast but the JetSki was a whole new level of speed, it felt so fast it was incredible!
Going off on the JetSki!

One of my favourite hobbies whilst at the caravan is going onto one of the pebbled beaches and collecting pebbles to paint! I decided to do bit of an artistic display in front of our caravan pitch to brighten things up. I sat many an hour over the season painting the pebbles and have ideas to add to it next season!
 'Oh I do like to be beside the seaside'
Sea creatures and flowers!

Although the sea is freezing whatever the weather, I can't resist going in! It's so clear and fresh it just tempts me in! I wear my wetsuit of course (I don't want to get hypothermia)! My sea antics included:
 Jumping off the rocks!
 relaxing in a rubber ring with my dad!
 bodyboarding with my goddaughter
paddling along the beach 

Now the season is over, I miss it so much, my health is so much better when I am there, the fresh sea air does my lungs the world of good! I rarely need my oxygen and I just think the more outdoor lifestyle suits me! I'd much rather be in my cosy bed in our house than in the caravan during the winter storms though! I suppose it's nice to have something to look forward to and fingers crossed I'll be returning to the caravan with new lungs!