Smile Through It II: The Next Chapter

Chasing dreams, because I can

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Thick and fast

Posted by Oli on Friday 13th July, 2007

The funny thing about not doing very much is that when things do happen in your day, it makes them seem like a much bigger deal than perhaps they would seem on another day.

On the other hand, the ups and downs are coming in so thick and fast at the moment that I don’t really know what to do with myself at some points. Most weeks seem to end with an interesting good news/bad news summary for the week, although I try not to dwell on that too much lest the knowledge that the week contained more of the latter than the former start to drag me down again.

Then you get days like today, when the good news/bad news cycle suddenly notches up a gear and starts flying along quicker than a steroid-powered rider in the Tour de France.

I woke up this morning just before 9am, a good average morning wake up time, feeling pretty good. After doing my nebs and physio, I’d noticeably slowed down a good chunk and was feeling a distinct lack of energy. Immediately, my head starts to worry about how much of a struggle today is going to be.

Luckily for me, I didn’t have that much time to dwell on my thoughts because for three quarters of an hour between 11am and 11.45am, the phone didn’t stop ringing. If you want a clearer demonstration of a good news/bad news day, you’ll have to search long and hard. Although it was really bad news/good news. The phone calls went as follows:

– Lisa, my nurse from the Churchill in Oxford calls and tells me that the result from my Glucose Tolerance test in my annual review was high, a possible indicator of the beginning of CF-related diabetes (CFRD), more on which later, but suffice to say it didn’t put a smile on my face. She’s going to try to find me a blood sugar testing kit for me to monitor my sugars for a couple of weeks before my next clinic visit on 2nd August to see what’s going on.

– Mum phones. Tell her why I’m not sounding over-joyed. She tells me not to worry about the GTT. Immediately, it makes me worry. Mum only tells you not to worry when there’s something to worry about (or at least only says it in that tone of voice where she doesn’t sound entirely convinced there’s nothing to worry about). Tells me my Grandpa is up for the weekend if I want to come over and I’m left to ponder if I’ll have the energy to make a trip to Mum and Dad’s to see him.

– Emma calls to tell me that the Daily Mirror want to run a feature on me and Robyn, who is also currently waiting for a double lung transplant and also has CF, and is currently the face of National Transplant Week. She asks if I’d be interested. I know it’s not really a question because she knows how much of a media monkey I am. She has to check with Robyn, too, but will get back to me.

– Emma calls again, Robyn’s on board, so she gives me the writer’s details.

– I phone the Daily Mirror writer and talk to her a bit about donation and things. The spread will form part of their One in a Million campaign, through which they’re aiming to sign up a million potential organ donors. We arrange a proper telephone interview for Monday morning and I pass her Robyn’s details.

– K phones from work after I text her about the Mirror piece. She’s excited (she tends to be more excited than me about pretty much everything, for which she thinks I’m rubbish) but can’t talk for long, so I don’t tell her about the GTT results.

The thing is, I don’t really know what to feel about the possibility of CFRD. What confuses me is that the perception of people being diagnosed with diabetes is that a massive blow and in some ways the end of life as they know it. Just think how many “Oh God, I’ve got diabetes” stories you see in medical dramas and other TV shows. Just this week, K and I watched an episode of Brothers and Sisters, the new Channel 4 show, in which the family’s life crumbles around a daughter’s diabetes diagnosis.

But at the same time, I know plenty of people – many of my friends – who have diabetes and CFRD and it makes no apparent difference to their lives. There are countless stories of people doing all sorts of things through diabetes – take Steve Redgrave, who won an Olympic medal while dealing with it.

So it seems like it shouldn’t be that big a deal, but at the same time I think my mind has been programmed into thinking it’s a nightmare.

I certainly don’t relish the thought of yet more drugs and treatments and things to think about during the day, but as Lisa said on the phone today, it may explain why recovery times seem to be longer at the moment. Perhaps getting my blood sugars under control – if indeed they are out of control, which we still don’t know for sure – will open the door to a more full-on recovery and bring back other little aspects of life I’d given up on for the time being, like popping out to the shops.

I suppose the biggest problem with having not very much to do all day is that it gives you a lot of time to dwell – to think on things for far too long, when in an otherwise active life, you’d have busied yourself with something that takes your mind off it. When you feel so short of energy that you can’t engage with anything, your mind is free to take itself off to all sorts of places you’d rather it didn’t go.

So I’m deciding for myself tonight that I will go to bed not focusing on the “maybes” of dubious GTT results, and instead relish the the thought of FINALLY getting to maych Emily by hitting the National Press. OK, I’m a long way behind her in media stardom for now, but I’ve got much more in my tank yet. Just you watch…

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