Slow down

Last night my wife ran a bath for me. I was just finishing some work and wanted to have a relaxing, wind down and a bit of a soak. As I was getting in, my mind was still on whatever bit of work I had been dealing with, some programming challenge that I was thinking through. The water was hot, too hot, the type of temperature my wife likes her bath to be.

“Bloody hell” I realised about at the point when I was almost fully in. “That’s way too hot” I gasped and ran the cold in. I had slowly eased myself in without my brain registering the heat until it was too late, I was already full committed as it were.

Later, I was out walking somewhere. Normally, I walk pretty quick, I have always been the sort of person in a hurry. Whether walking, working, writing, everything is full on, intense, focused and done with the optimum methods in mind.

I forced myself to slow down, to walk with a a measured pace. I started to think about the phrase “Live every day like it was your last”. Maybe because Dad had been round earlier, and it is a miracle he is still alive almost a decade after his heart attack and triple bypass operation. If I lived every day like my last, we would be broke tomorrow!

Occasionally I have thoughts like this though. I realise that I am working too hard, moving too fast, my eyes and thoughts focused on the destination, not really appreciating the journey itself.

We all get like that I suspect. Life just happens to us. Stuff gets thrown at us. We deal with it. We rush around, particularly with the pace of modern life, and this doesn’t give us time to appreciate the things around us.

So take a moment today. Pause what you are doing. It will still be there when you hit play again. Look and think about the things around you. Take a little time to appreciate them.

Hiatus…changes….and I slipped

When I started this blog, I intended to blog about the process of donating a kidney to my sister. As time went on, I found myself blogging about different things that life presented me with. I started to record my thoughts and feelings which isn’t something I would normally publicly air, though this medium provides a degree of anonymity. And as part of the living donor process, I blogged about my research on giving up smoking, along with the daily happenings as I gave up after nearly 30 years of smoking every day. This latter part had to happen really. I was up to between 30 and 40 a day and had began to feel short of breath when climbing stairs and other similar activities.

Over the last four or five days, I’ve took a hiatus from blogging. After finding out that I could not donate and sharing the news with my family, I had something of a downward spiral. But life goes on. Chin up as my Dad used to say when we were kids. Her preparation for dialisys will continue and there are a few possible donors.

I had a few cigarettes too. Perhaps this was a little dumb, but I found myself craving a smoke even more that when I initially gave up. That caught me unawares, after nearly five weeks I hadn’t anticipated that. So over the course of a day I smoked three. Less than half of three actually. Part way through each one, I asked myself what was I doing. They werent particularly nice, or foul, and certainly werent making me feel any better. That was a few days ago now, so I am back on the wagon so to speak.

I did some research for my sis. She doesn’t use the internet and had a question about whether someone close to her would be in a position to donate. So I read alot of things about being a living donor. Stuff I had purposefully avoided in the past. Which included the risk and chances of different illnesses happening to the donor. I hadn’t been completely blind to them. At my initial session at the donor clinic the nurse went through all the different risks, some of them were surprisingly high, but it was information overload and frankly, I didnt want to know the percentages. I’d made the decision and had to trust that they new what they were doing, that they wouldn’t be proceeding if the risks became untenable. During my research the night before last, the thing that stood out for me was the chance of a stroke or heart related problem. The NHS page states 1.8%. That seems pretty high. And it makes sense of why they are not willing to proceed with my donation.

This blog will continue. As my sister begins dialysis and searches for another donor, I will record what I can here, along with other thoughts. I do want to thank everyone for their kind wishes, it is been heartwarming and uplifting to receive them.

Chin up.

The Living Years

I had some bad news yesterday. I’m not ready to share it yet. I have some conversations that need to happen first.

This morning, I am still feeling somewhat reflective and introspective. I tend to listen to 80s music when I am in this mood. And I came across this classic on YouTube. It always reminds me of my old man.

In my early 20’s my Dad and I fell out. I held lots of resentment over how he had been when we were kids. I don’t verbalise such things. But they remained hidden, lurking between the surface of every interaction we had. It was inevitable. We fell out big style.

And I didn’t speak to him for a number of years. He planned to remarry and I didnt get an invite. Eventually we moved past it, kind of, but we both held resentments. I moved far away. We saw each other infrequently. Time moved on. Over a decade on. Sometimes a year or more would pass between us even talking. It had been something like two years since we spoke when I got a call to say he had had a heart attack. All bets were off. I jumped in the car, collected the wife, drove across the country to see him.

You have to admire doctors, surgeons and the rest of the medical profession. They tore open his chest, smashed several ribs in their haste to get to his heart, and spent eight hours with him on the table. He was out of surgery when I arrived. High on morphine, drifting in and out. More family turned up. Rows ensued between them. Jeez. He’s in intensive care, tottering on the edge and they cannot put their differences aside. That pissed me off. Yet it was also a reality check for me too.

He survived. And still does to this day. We have set aside our differences. We don’t talk about the things that happened in the past. He has his regrets and I have mine. Occasionally in our conversations, we might stray close to the subjects of the past, we catch each other’s eyes and move on. Or I give him a gentle reality check. We all must take responsibility for our own actions. But those actions are in the past and there isn’t anything that can change that.

We understand each other. My resentments, they were merited, but there is no point to them. All they did was eat away at me. And truth be told, when we weren’t talking or getting along, I missed the grouchy old bastard.

Life it too short for resentments and regrets. Every day could be your last. Make the absolute most of it. While you still can.

Register to be a donor

Years ago, I picked up on of those flimsy paper organ donor cards that used to be left laid around in doctor’s waiting rooms. I duly filled it in and kept it in my wallet until it fell to bits. Until recently I haven’t given it much thought.

I’ve been reading about organ donation in the UK recently for obvious reasons. I tend to steer clear of the yucky stuff, I really really do not want to know the mechanics of what will happen when the surgeon takes the knife or scalpel to me. After all, I will be under anesthetic and completely out of it. Unless something like that film Awake happens. Hmmmpf. Best not think about that!

Anyhow, as part of my search, I came across the NHS sign up site for donating organs after you die (the link is here http://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/ukt/default.asp). It is a surprisingly well laid out site and it is incredibly quick and easy to sign up so you can donate. Let’s face it, if you or someone you love needed an organ, you wouldn’t hesitate in taking one that had been donated would you? And you won’t feel a thing if you donate. After all, you will be dead.

Go do it and make sure those closest to you know of your wishes so they don’t override them when the worst does happen to you. Go. Now. Right now. You can read the rest of this post later, if at all. What was the link again? Here you go – http://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/ukt/default.asp

If you have now registered, well done! Make sure you tell your family about it. Encourage them to sign up too.

I unticked the box for eyes. Sorry all you blind folk, but when I do eventually pop my clogs, my family may want an open coffin. It would just look odd if the undertaker had to pop mirrored shades on my face to hide my empty eye sockets.