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

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Memories

It's a bit delayed, but as predicted I've been having something of a rough time getting my head around the trauma of the last asthma attack. Maybe it's taken time to surface because I've still been so worn out from it, or maybe it's that I've been trying to push it away in an attempt to move on. I should know, though, that this never works long-term and it always comes back to bite in the end. That's where I've been up to this past week. I dunno ... it's just ... well having a stand-off with death is frightening ... not something you ever get used to, no matter how many times you go through it, after all, it's not as though I haven't had the fight for life before. I think maybe it was the repeated fear I saw on the face of everyone who treated me - not just a some, but everyone ... and the anaesthetist who clearly didn't wholly expect me to survive ... and their debate as to whether or not I'd ever manage to come off the ventilator if they intubated me, but what were the chances of my living if they didn't ... and the fact that I was so utterly exhausted from lack of sleep and inability to breathe before I even got to hospital, so I didn't believe that I had the energy to fight ... and that calm that descended when I fully realised the situation I was in and that no, I couldn't get through this on my own and that I may well not survive ... not a resignation as such ... more of an acceptance.

When I was in resus I was in the same bed-space that my friend Carol had been in when she'd had her heart attack. That was three and a half years ago now, but it's still an awful time to remember, and while I was fighting for my own life I was remembering Carol. And then the docs weren't convinced that I was going to be well enough for transfer across the city to RVI's Critical Care Unit so they were wanting to keep me at NGH in their ITU. But the last time I was in there was when they turned off Carol's life support machine ...

It's a small unit. The bed-spaces are cramped for an ITU. The bed-spaces are close together. Wherever I'd have been I would've been almost within reach of where Carol died, and the loss of that wonderful person would've overwhelmed me ... She'd been my business partner, and my best friend. She was 42 and died without warning - literally dropped to the floor of a bus after some post-work Christmas shopping. It took the paramedics 16 minutes to get her heart beating again, but she never regained consciousness and six days later they switched her life off at the wall ...

... And then there was Laura. A little younger than me. A wonderful, generous, shy, exceptionally talented, warm and loving friend. Desperately unhappy for years. She killed herself ...

I still miss her. I still think about her an awful lot. I still wish that I or others could have made her believe what a wonderfully special person she was. I understand her decision to take her own life, but that doesn't stop it from saddening me deeply and missing her tremendously.

... Not long after that there was Janine. Again a little younger than me, but not much. We'd originally met online - in an American chat room, but it turned out that we lived only one street away from each other so we met up and became friends. She wasn't living here when she died, but back with her parents. Life had been tough for her, but things were coming together and she was becoming more settled ... then she collapsed in her bedroom at her parents' house and died without warning. Previously undiagnosed sarcoidosis. Caused a sudden heart attack. It was New Year ...

... And this year both Emma and Andrea, fellow brittle asthmatics, both around about my age, both wonderfully lovely people always giving themselves to their friends. Always thinking of others despite their own limitations. Both very, very missed ... and of course Andrea died only five days after my own most recent fight for my life began ...

Facing your own mortality makes you think about the fragility of life and its temporary nature. It also makes you think about all the people who've given a bit of themselves to you, and who you've given a bit of yourself to, and then who've died. You keep the bit of them that they've given you, and you keep their memory, but the loss of that friend, that member of your family, is permanent and the grief goes on. Each death raises the memory of those before. Each person was special. Each of them have left a unique hole in my life.

5 comments:

Grumpy Old Ken said...

A very deep, reflective post. I have no answers I wish I had) except that we all go the same way eventually. Keep fighting and treasure the good days.
Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I also have brittle asthma and have one or two very close calls the last one this july, it is hard to think sometimes about what has happend to you, I do understand that but sometimes it just pops into your head and then it is better to face up to it and then begin to move on. I have had professional help with this in the past and it has made a difference. Hang in there!

B said...

becky - i just wanted to actually leave a comment here. it's nothing more profound than *hugs* and i look forward to seeing you again soon. if you need to chat about this with me (i know you have loads of people but the offer is there) then give me a ring and i'll pop round for that cuppa. take care xxx

BeckyG said...

Thank you all for your comments and your support. I know it can be very difficult to comment on things like this - the subject of death - so a special thank you for taking the time to do so and offer support.

Anon, facing your mortality is never easy, however many times you do so. I think it's somehow made even more pertenent when it's highlighted by the death of someone you know and love. I suppose this post was some reflection on that and also on the extent of the losses of so many amazingly wonderful and lovely people, and in such a short space of time ... and all so young. It's complex ...

B, it'd be great if you want to come round for that cuppa some time. I get back home on Wednesday night so sometime after that would be lovely :o)

Becky.

living_with_ba said...

I feel your pain, I lost three very dear friends this year, one last december, then another before Christmas and then our dear Emma, makes you realise just how bad our conditions are. Hope you're doing better.