Smile Through It II: The Next Chapter

Chasing dreams, because I can

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Posted by Oli on Sunday 19th November, 2006

The hardest thing to come out of my recent downturn in form – as it were – is the adaptation I’m having to make to the way I do things and the things I do.

Yesterday, my big bro took me out in the afternoon to catch the new Bond movie (which is fab, incidentally, if somewhat dumbed-down Hollywood in parts) in the Xscape Cineworld in town. The trouble is it’s about a 200-300 yard walk from car to screen, including going up a floor, which took me a long time to negotiate and a lot more energy than I was used to.

I’ve recently become accustomed to walking a lot slower than I used to, although I did go through a patch of setting off at marching pace for 10-15 yards before being pulled up by unhappy lungs protesting at the work rate. I’ve now learned to start out slowly and continue in the same vein, but this latest infection has left me with a real need for permanent oxygen supply – something my pride has not quite caught up with.

Last night, K had some old work colleagues over for a girlie night in, which I couldn’t avoid and actually really enjoyed (she’s really quite girlified me). But even though it was in our place, and spent entirely sat on the sofas in he lounge, I couldn’t bring myself to wear my O2 in front of the group.

Silly, I know, but a good example of the adaptations I’m having to make to carry on as normal. I’ve got to get used to the idea that I’m going to have to have my nasal specs on when people are here and, more troubling for the moment, I’m going to have to get used to taking a portable cylinder out with me when I leave the flat.

It’s hard to describe the battle of heart and mind that’s going on at the moment – my head knowing that things are not only easier but also much better with the O2 on, my heart not wanting to be seen as a “sick person” by all and sundry who see me in the street.

One of the few blessings of CF is that to the untrained eye (and often to the trained, if you ask medical students patrolling the wards in hospital), the average person with CF doesn’t look any different to the average person without CF. Slightly skinny, maybe, but skinniness is somewhat in vogue at the moment anyway (for the girls, at least) so it’s not a big thing.

Going out with nasal specs and an O2 cylinder is another matter altogether. No one else does that. “Normal” people don’t travel adorned with extra air. Which means admitting to the world that you’re not the He-Man you wanted them to think you were. Or, at the very least, admitting that you’re “different”.

It’s one of life’s little ironies that I’ve spent such a lot of my life championing individuality to my friends, family and, more than anyone, the kids in my workshops, and now here I find myself aching to conform, to fit in, to blend.

But needs must, and I know I’ll come around to it. I just need to be more forceful with myself and understand that if I’m wearing the O2, I’ll be able to do more than I can at the moment, and hopefully “freedom” will be the spur that allows me to come to terms with it.

Failing that, anyone with any other ideas, please let me know!


6 Responses to “Adaptation”

  1. Emma said

    Hi Oli
    Lovely to hear from you again buddy, but sorry things have been a bit tricky for you (don’t you just love understatements eh?!). It must be really tough getting used to wearing the oxygen all the time, but I have no doubt you will get there hun. I had to wear oxygen on the areoplane over here and it certainly provided entertainment for the rest of the passengers every time I stood up to go to the toilet! ;o)
    Hope you are doing ok and sending you lots of love
    Emma xxxx

  2. Suzie said

    Hiya Oli,

    I was wondering where you had got to and how you were doing, its good to hear from you.

    You’re right about blogs, they seem to have taken over the world, I’ve even started one myself. My son Chris was being assesed round about the same time as you and was lucky enough to get his transplant on 20th of August this year. I understand how difficult it is to make those changes as I saw him go through the same thing. We did manage to keep smiling here, how, I dont know, but it made a huge difference to have humour around and beleive it or not he really wasn’t an unhappy person. He chose to forgo his social life totally as he never really came to terms with going out in a wheelchair, or being seen struggling.

    I’ll be looking in on your blog and keeping everything crossed that you get your call very soon.

    Take care Oli

  3. Nick said

    Hello Oli
    Sod the O2 embarrassment, you have just admitted to being “girlified”.
    The only thing different about you mate is the fact that you are a great guy and lets be honest on this planet called earth there aren’t many.
    Keeping writing your blog cos I know me and Mel will be reading it, but not before the Jungle thing has finished.
    If there is anything I can do to help you lighten the mood. Maybe rather than write back I should just call you, or pop round for a cup of tea being as you are only about a mile away.
    Talk soon

  4. Ben said

    Meep meep beep beep Oli,

    Great idea with the blog. I’m always checking the myspace one out as well. Ahh, I see it now directs you here. Clever!

    I’m back just before Christmas, so it’d be great to pop over for a cuppa if that sounds good to you. I can regail you with tales of, well, Frenchness in general. Maybe I could meet the elusive K as well?

    Keep up the good work mate, it’s great to read your stuff,


  5. Nikki said

    Hey, I don’t know you but you teach Drama to my best friend, Sarah Aldridge. She sent me an email about the performance of April 22nd (which i intend to see) and with this link. I just wanted to tell you i think you are very brave because I don’t think i could deal with it, least of all talk about it. But good luck, stay strong!
    -x- Nikki -x-

  6. […] Those of you who were around early on in this blog may remember my difficulties coming to terms with the idea of venturing out and about with my O2 on and my reluctance to do so.  I still don’t think it’s entirely gone away, but I reasoned with myself that if I was going to be spending a couple of hours in the shop, it would be really silly of me to think I could do it unaided.  Especially when I’m doing everything else I can to make sure I look after myself and don’t take huge steps backwards. […]

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