A favourite quote and a way by which to approach life.

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

I prophesy

Okay, maybe not, but I was right that my lungs were going off and I didn't have long left before an admission.

After my last posting here I had a terrible night and gave up on trying to cope alone not too long into the morning of the next day, and I pressed the Big Red Button (the community care alarm). Although there have been several occasions when I really ought to have pressed the Big Red Button, this is actually the first time that I have done so, and I have to say that I was terribly impressed. After my alarm had remotely dialed my phone to the care alarm base, and the rather bored-sounding man who answered realised that this wasn't a test call and that I could barely speak to him, everything happened very quickly. He immediately called the ambulance, who arrived within 4 or 5 minutes of my having pressed the Big Red Button, and was very closely followed by the community care alarm warden. She mainly looked on (and looked worried) while the paramedics did their thing (and who also said, 'We're not going to stay and play; we're going to scoop and run', which is phraseology I've heard of, but never heard said in the situation it relates to), but she did go on to keep the people at her base informed as to what was happening. So yeah, the Big Red Button system works and I'm impressed.

The lovely paramedics (unusually, it was two women, which was rather nice) phoned my usual ward to see if they would take me in crisis even though it was a Sunday, and thankfully, as it was morning there was a doctor on the ward doing rounds so I was able to go there. Oh yeah, and it also helped that they had a spare bed/cubicle for me (I have to have a cubicle, because I have the company of Mrs A). It is so much better when I can go straight to my usual ward, rather than having to battle my way through the emergency admissions procedure of A&E and/or EAU, and the ferrying around the city by ambulance that goes with that. It may be a good system financially, but it is not conducive to healing, because you can't settle in one place and you never know whose looking after you or how long you'll be somewhere. Also, if like me you have a condition that doesn't exactly follow the text books, it can be frightening having your life in the hands of people who don't know the complexities of your disease and who may, or may not, pay attention to what you say about what helps/doesn't help. Most medics are fine and are more than happy to take note of what I say, because they know that I've dealt with many crises in my health before, whereas what they are seeing may be the first crisis of mine that they've seen. However, I have had some experiences of 'doctor knows best', some of which have been stupidly dangerous to me, and have consequently knocked my trust. Anyway, this time there was no need to worry about any of that, because I got to go straight to my second home, where even if the doctors are new (they change every 6 months), the nurses have known me for years and will fast kick any pompous young doc into line if they think that I'm not getting what I need.

This wasn't the worst attack I've ever had, but it wasn't the least significant either, and it took a long time to settle - somewhere around 35 I think. Even after initial settling it always takes time for my lungs to really get their act together, so whilst I may not have been desperately fighting for breath after the first 35 hours, breathing still wasn't an easy 'do it without noticing' thing for several days. However, I eventually came through it and I had my usual big sleep - 2 days - and then I began to feel a little more alive. It's always good when you realise that you've survived and that you will have more days ahead of you to make the most of. It can also be a bit ... what's the word ... um ... ground-bumping when you think about how close you were to not making it through, which is why I always have a day of feeling miserable after an attack, even though I'm pleased to have come through it. I'm sure there's some emotional logic in that somwhere.

I don't want to go into all the events of the couple of days prior to this splat, because it could contravene another's privacy, but I will just say that they were very stressful days and totally exhausting. On the Friday night prior to the lung splat I had practically no sleep at all, and then I was busy all day on the Saturday with the same stressful situation, all the while feeling increasingly unwell. Then, as I said before, the Saturday night was very sleepless, this time due to my lungs not doing their breathing thing very well. By the time it came to the splat I was so exhausted to begin with that I truly doubted I had the energy to get through it ... I was scared. I had one of my priest friends, C, come and sit with me for a couple of hours during the battle for breath on the Sunday night, and he really helped calm my fear, even though my breathing was no easier. I knew that he, many of my friends and those at church were praying for me, and you know, I'm sure that it's only through their prayers that God gave me the energy to survive this time, because I really didn't have any reserves of my own to draw upon.

Let me tell you something ... When C came to sit with me in those long dark hours of breathlessness, there was a point at which I was thinking about the prospect of death and of dying and of how that made me feel. I had this kind of image/picture of standing in darkness almost alone, except for a small, wizzened man/being/creature standing feet away from me. He looked me in the eyes and I knew it was the creature of death even though nothing was said. We both stood looking at each other and I could feel myself getting weaker with his gaze, but he made no movement towards me. It seemed that he had unlimited patience and that he was waiting for me to reach out to him, and only then would he step forward, though there was a hunger in his eyes for me. I was afraid of him and the darkness and the isolation that we were in together ... and then another being, a bigger being stepped between us. This was God. I knew it, though nothing was said. He had his back to me, but I knew this being was gentle, and although no words were actually spoken some words did move in the air, and they were 'Not tonight.' Although Death was standing there patiently waiting for God to step aside, God's patience was/is infinite, and with the words of 'Not tonight' slipping like silk through the air, Death eventually turned and walked away. From then on my fear for that night left me, even though the battle for breath continued.

It's not easy to see, but there can be beauty in the darkness.

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