Not one of you sent help! Haha, despite the abandonment from you lot, the plastering has been completed! The mission included hiring a van, man handling huge sheets of plasterboard, getting them inside, looking up at the bathroom ceiling...and then paying somebody else to finish the job. We know when we're beaten.
So another huge gap in my blog writing - shame face - sometimes I think I'm not cut out for this! But then I remember I'm only blogging because I enjoy writing so much and to document some of the experiences around my transplant so I don't forget them. One of my strongest memories is tuna-sandwich-gate, so I think it's about time it got telling!
After my doctors had exhausted every other option, I was put at the top of the super urgent liver transplant list. As soon as you're put at the top of this list, surgery is (hopefully) imminent, which means you're no longer allowed to eat or drink a morsel (I imagine a full stomach gets slightly in the way of intricate liver surgery, I believe it also causes havoc with the drugs keeping you asleep). No big deal right? No big deal if, as the doctors had guessed, a liver was found that evening. Or maybe even the next morning. But my liver was found three days after I was put on the list. Three days with no food, three days with no water except an occasional wet cotton wool bud being swept around my mouth and removed before I'd managed to clamp my teeth around it and suck it dry...and if I'm honest, probably swallow it out of desperation.
It was a Wednesday that I was put on the list. By Thursday at 6am I had deteriorated so much I was taken, unconscious, to ICU. When I woke up I had a nurse called Ola looking after me. Ola was exactly what you want in a nurse, very to the point, efficient, certain of her actions, and bloody lovely too. I asked Ola for some food, I remember it so clearly. She said "What would you like? A tuna sandwich?"
I don't really like tuna, but at that moment nothing, nothing on Earth, sounded more delicious. I imagined the sandwich as Ola went off to get it, it was going to be slightly stale, thin brown bread with dryish tuna mayo in-between, exactly what you expect in hospital but at that moment just utterly perfect in every way!
Ola came back empty handed. Had she forgotten about the delicious tuna sandwich? My stomach was screaming. Ola told me I needed to ask the doctors as she'd been informed I wasn't allowed food. OK, not a problem, I just need to ask the doctors. Clearly they just didn't realise I still hadn't eaten and the second they did they'd run off to get me my tuna sandwich. And probably a yoghurt too.
After what must have been five years, the doctors came over. But didn't seem to realise the severity of the hunger situation. They told me the same thing, no food because we could find the liver at any moment. I begged, and begging is not something that comes naturally to me but I begged and begged and begged. When the doctors left I begged Ola again. But Ola was firm. Paul was firm, my family was firm. The best I could get out of them was the wet cotton wool ball for longer than a split second and then I made each of them describe their lunch in minute detail.
By Friday lunchtime my pancreas had started failing and my body could no longer store the glucose that was being pumped into me, my body was literally empty but by now I couldn't really breathe and sleeping was the only thing I had the energy to do, so thoughts of the tuna sandwich melted away. Until...
I woke up from the op! In my defence food wasn't my very first thought. It took a couple of hours for the confusion to lift. And then the gratitude descended and there was room for nothing in my mind except enormous thanks. But I'm only human so thoughts of food returned pretty quick if I'm honest. My new nurse, Naomi, said I could have a yoghurt. The hospital yoghurts were so disgusting I hadn't eaten one since I'd been admitted two weeks earlier, but now - with Naomi's help - I inhaled it and nothing had ever tasted better!
Naomi wouldn't let me have another one, instead she said I could wait until Paul came and then he'd be allowed to go and buy me some food. Note it was now FIVE DAYS with no food, bar the yog. Well it was hours until Paul was allowed to come. And when he was, I said to myself over and over and over 'make sure you tell him you love him before you ask for food, make sure you tell him you love him before you ask for food...' To this day he says I didn't get the loving him bit out. The shame. But you don't understand the hunger!
He came into ICU, it was the first time he'd seen me awake since my life saving surgery, he was absolutely beaming! Visitors had to put on a plastic apron and wash their hands before coming to see me, I can remember him now, trying to wash his hands so quickly and fumble with the apron without taking his eyes off me for a second. I admit I don't remember saying "I love you" but I must have! But I do remember asking him to buy me some food. And I remember him saying yes of course, I'll go in five minutes I just want to see you...and then I must have begged him because the next thing he's laughing, pulling off his apron and disappearing to the hospital shop! Little did I know he'd been waiting outside ICU for five hours before they'd let him in, and then I sent him straight back out. I cringe with shame just thinking about it.
When he came back, laden with yoghurts and smoothies, he helped me consume them with quite alarming speed. So alarming in fact that I set my machines off, doctors came over and all hell broke loose as my numbers were spiking and suspicions grew that my brand new liver was not happy. Then the doctors were told what I'd eaten...the spikes were my liver responding to a massive sugar injection. I got a telling off and punished with another food ban. I have no regrets.
My relationship with food ever since has been a bit freer than it was for my thirty years pre transplant. Whether because I now know hunger like that, or because I've realised life really is too short, I enjoy food a lot more now. I also take it more seriously and appreciate what I'm putting into my body. I try very hard to keep my liver healthy, and free from massive sugar bursts!
Most remarkably, I've not had a tuna sandwich! I can still imagine the tuna sandwich I was dreaming of, I imagined it so hard I can see and feel every detail of it. But considering I'm not tuna's biggest fan, I've decided to keep that delicacy as a memory I'd rather not spoil.
Thanks for reading about my food obsession! Please click the little heart too, it makes me well happy when people do!