It’s been a long old time since I last wrote a post. Shame face. It’s not because I’ve given up blogging already, no-sir, I am not a quitter. Or at least not a quitter quite this soon. We’ve just bought our first house, I feel so grown up right now, and that has taken every bit of physical energy as well as every single bit of morale as one tradesman after the next cocks up. Isn’t renovation great!
The rogue plasterer and all the mayhem he caused got me really disheartened to start with - he was ruining my vision of our breezy, romantic move, and sinking a lot of cash. Lovely chap. But after two weeks of living out of a little bag caked in plaster dust and developing a perma-plaster-sneeze, we have taken matters into our own hands. Oh yes, that’s right, we’ve watched three youtube videos and now feel ready and fully qualified to plasterboard the bathroom ceiling (I'm putting the other 6 ceilings out of my mind). Watch this space. And remember - I haven’t given up blogging so if you don’t hear from me for a month, the plaster boarding did not go well at all.
Contrary to what you may suspect, this post wasn’t actually intended to be about our DIY exploits, ambitious - and impressive - though they are, but I did want to write about our move, sort of...
Get to the Point Love
This morning I was standing in our shambolic kitchen rinsing dust off mugs ready to fill with tea. To my right was our broken back door with black bin bag sellotaped over the missing cat flap, to my left…well, building site is the only descriptor. And my thoughts jumped to the Tuesday afternoon, almost seventeen months ago, when I was discharged from hospital.
My time in hospital was inexplainable. I was admitted into Cardiff Hospital “probably for a couple of days while we figure out the problem”, and then I was discharged from the Royal Free Hospital London, three weeks later with an organ given to me by a stranger, a family who looked a whole lot paler and thinner than they’d ever been, and an overwhelming realisation of how fragile and special this life is.
I was excited to be discharged, but also nervous…mainly nervous actually. Since I was last outside I felt like a very different sort of person. I stepped out of the doors and the outside was so big, I can’t explain it, it was enormous and loud and so close. Rather than go home to Cardiff, Paul, the doctors, and I decided I should stay in a hotel around the corner from the hospital for three days in case my liver fell out. Paul and I got a taxi even though it wasn’t even a five minute walk because I had so so many bags of gifts from all my lovely visitors - it’s extraordinary how much you collect in hospital!
We got to the hotel room and I can’t remember why but Paul went out, I think perhaps to buy some food (I was devouring a lot of food at this point, after being nil by mouth for THREE DAYS pre op, just imagine that for a moment, that's real pain).
I sat by the window in this little hotel room. I could see out across the road. The Royal Free Hospital is in Hampstead Heath - a right fancy part of London. Across the road was a row of beautiful three story Victorian terraces. As I watched, a mum with three young children walked down the road and they disappeared into one of the houses. In the darkening January evening, the lights came on inside and I could see the kids throwing their school bags down and tearing around the house. And in that moment I felt an ache so deep and I started crying so hard it was like my body couldn’t get the tears out fast enough. I was sitting in this little dark hotel room, 30 years old, my most important possession now a carrier bag crammed full of drugs I couldn’t pronounce and needed a laminated chart to show me how and when to take. Across the road was a family that had a routine, knew their plans, had got their life sorted enough to live in a beautiful house in a beautiful street. How had my life taken this turn? How had I so little and now I didn’t even have a direction, a purpose. I’d been spat out in London, on a winter evening, vulnerable and dependant. I was a shell of myself and it had all happened so quickly.
So this morning, when I was standing in the chaos of our cottage, where nothing works and we can’t keep anything clean, trying to make a cup of tea and get it outside before anything falls off the ceiling into it, I had an immense feeling of peace and gratitude and wholeness. It’s not about owning property, but that I have a place, I know my direction, what makes me happy, I know my body again, I can stand up straight again (literally and figuratively). I have my confidence, my dreams, and now I also have a place to call home. Better still, I am almost one and a half years post transplant with - touch wood - no signs of rejection.
And more important than it all, I have my one constant, the man who came back from the shop to our hotel room seventeen months ago and scooped me up and dried my tears. The same man that came out of the shower this morning, grabbed our mugs of tea and followed me through the broken door and into our garden, filled with sunshine and the sound of sheep from the field next door. We sat there for twenty minutes just enjoying so much what we have now, before getting ready for work and heading out the door. Even that, even work, feels like such a privilege. One I ached for from that room last year.
No Big Deal
I look back at the whole transplant thing, and sometimes I think - what was the big deal?! In the grand scheme it wasn't really. But I think what affected me so much, more than the operation, or getting so sick, was the speed it all happened. My complete lack of control over my body and even my brain. My reliance on others to save my life, to feed me, to help me walk again. I went from being strong and wildly independent, to being as vulnerable as a baby, in just a week.
Now I'm living in a bit of mess, but it is my mess, I have control over it. And that's a feeling more important than I ever realised. Enjoy your routine, enjoy what you have built for yourself, enjoy the small things - it is terrifying when they are taken away from you.
Thank you so much for reading - it's lovely to be back writing again! Please click the little heart if you enjoyed :)