The Gift of Life - My Story Journal 2

Here goes for the next instalment of my journal in the run up to my donation.  Writing is something that does not come naturally to me, so I’ve been wondering long and hard what to write about.   Then I read a poem by Paul Carlin from Lurgan called “Time”.   This got me thinking about time and how it seems to fly past so quickly, or drag, depending on my perception at any given moment.   Since I’ve been given a date for my donation, I’ve been focusing on that. Time for me,  on one hand races ahead while it simultaneously drags.  In terms of my work the year seems to be flying by, there just isn’t enough time to get everything done that needs to be done before rehab. In relation to my operation date,  time seems to have slowed down almost to a snails pace.  I think it must  be the fact that after a year and all the appointments I can actually see the finishing line.  It is just a relativity short time away,  about 4 weeks at this stage, yet because I want it to happen yesterday the days seem to drag. A week is like a month, where in reality time is constant no matter my perspective or self-deception on the subject. Hopefully we will get there eventually.

As I’ve said, just about a year ago I filled in the forms to start the whole process.  Normally my year, like most peoples consists of staging posts, Christmas, Easter, birthday’s, summer hols etc.  Except in the year gone past,  my staging posts have been appointments at the City Hospital, interview with Dr Courtney, cardiac appointment, one day assessment, appointment with Mr McDaid the surgeon, etc.  This is where perspective comes in. Looking back the year has flown by, appointments were regular.

No sooner had I attended  one than another envelope marked Belfast City Hospital landed with a thud on the hall mat.  Each allowing the process to move forward, one small step by one small step, To the staff and those involved day to day with the process, I am sure this as routine, matter of fact even, but to me,  the novice it was all new and exciting, with a massive payoff at the end in terms of personal fulfilment, and an ability through the excellent transplant team at the City Hospital to enable someone to regain there independence, with what I hope is little more than some inconvenience on my part.

While on the subject of appointments, in the first t part of my journal I passed quickly over what was the stand out appointment attended, hoping to revisit it, so no time like the present. That appointment has to be the ‘one day assessment.’

At 7am on a bright September morning I arrived at the day ward on level 11, top of the City Hospital, early as usual for a 7:30 appointment. I would be there until 4.30.  From this vantage point I had an eagle’s eye view of the sprawling city below slowly coming to life as the traffic increased minute by minute.     At 7.45am, Aideen and Nicola the organ donation co-ordinators swung into action, half an hour later and about vials of blood lighter, Nicola explained in detail the arrangements for the day.  Not having been in the Tower Block before, little did I know that by 4.30 I could easily have conducted tours of the building.  It seemed  there wasn’t a department I hadn’t visited. Up and down and around and around. The day just flew. Yet another example of my self-deception in terms of time.

I do remember one thing especially.  As Nicola took me for a CT scan I suddenly felt guilty.  We were running slightly late, the waiting room was packed, with some very ill patients, and there I was strong, healthy walking into the dept and straight to the front of the queue.  I knew we needed to catch up on the itinerary but still it didn’t sit well with me at all, but again I had no control so I had to do what Iwas told, keeping in mind why I was there in the first place. A few tests later and yet another tour of the Tower and I was finally leaving the City hospital, happy that I had jumped a major hurdle that day.  I reasoned that they would not have used up all those vital NHS resources on me unless there was a realistic chance that i was going to be able to move forward in the process. Really, for the first time I dared hope that would be the case.  The day was exhausting, with the results of all those tests being reassuring for both myself and the recipient of my kidney.

The poem entitled “Time ” which  I referenced at the outset is one from a book of  poetry called “On Writing A Poem.” I received a signed copy from the author, Paul Carlin. My intention was to keep it  and read it during my recovery, however I made the mistake of starting it and couldn’t put it down. Poetry is something I enjoy reading and will revisit this particular work again and again.

Time is a precious commodity for us all, but for someone awaiting an organ transplant, which could improve their quality of life or indeed save their life, it’s critical that every second of every day must be made to count for both them and their family.

For me, time is something I have taken for granted. I’ve never really thought about it very much until prompted by Paul’s poem.  I work to deadlines, hour by hour, my day regimented, planned out, start here, finish there. Time is just a marker, start time, tea time, lunch time, home time. No time for me to stop and smell the roses. For those who’s time is critical or limited, I can imagine a very different attitude to such a precious thing.

Since embarking on this whole process I’ve spoken to some wonderful people, Linda Mc Cready (my hero) who i managed to meet once, and Sean Mullan, who I haven’t managed to meet but did manage to arrange a 10 minute phone call with that stretched to an hour. Both have donated a kidney, and inspired me to keep moving forward. To my friend Gregory who received a heart transplant, and who has, along with his two children helped me promote Organ Donation.  I’ve also heard people on dialysis being interviewed. They need no lessons on appreciating time.

That’s a lesson I’ve learned. Forget about perception and self deception in terms of time. Just take the time to smell the roses.



Time passes slowly.

Time passes speedily.

Time stands still: such is our perception.

A clock ticks its Newtonian measure mathematically,

Yet, sun and shadow mark their marriage subliminally,

Seasons blend and blur nature’s rhythm imperceptibly.

Einstein’s ‘t’ is never constant, speaking relatively,

And the human mind imprints life’s memory instantly,

Whilst the chromosomal imperative divides continually.

Time passes slowly

Time passes speedily

Time stands still: such is self-deception.

April 2014


reproduced by kind permission of Paul Carlin, from his collection “On Writing A Poem”

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