Friday, 9 January 2009

A Friend, A Loss, A Lesson

A friend died recently. Not a close friend by any means but none the less a person who I probably knew better than many of those who saw her regularly. We were in hospital together five years ago, both having suffered a blood clot that had led to our bowels decaying inside us. It’s a condition experience by very few (thankfully) and thus rather unusual that we were both admitted at more or less the same time. Over the course of several months as in-patients, with our beds next to each other, we were taught how to deal with the major changes that would be necessary to continue to lead anything close to a normal life. We were very different personalities but even so, we developed a bond that was different to what I’ve had with anybody else. We shared something that, unless you have to live with this, you simply can’t truly understand. We shared our innermost thoughts and feelings, sometimes things we just wouldn’t normally talk about. Nothing was taboo.

One of the problems with being an IV feeder is that our immune systems are seriously compromised. A simple bug that most people can shake off in a matter or days - weeks at the most - can kill us. If that bug gets into the feeding line it can then get a foothold in the heart (the line goes into the subclavian artery) and from that point on there isn’t too much hope of survival. This is what happened to my friend.

She had the bug that was going around before Christmas. The same bug as I came back from Malta with. She was given anti-biotics and all seemed to be well but after a four or five days she started to feel poorly again. Her husband took her to their local hospital where she deteriorated quickly. She was then sent to the specialist unit in Manchester (where we first met) where her feeding line was removed but unfortunately it was too late for her. The virus had gone to her heart and although she was put on a heart machine, it didn’t help as other organs then started to shut down. First her kidneys, then her lungs. She died during the night. It all happened very quickly.

Her death has really brought it home to me just how lucky I’ve been. I’ve had two infections in my feeding line but both times they’ve caught it quick enough and I’ve pulled through. My heart hasn’t been damaged.

I’m still struggling with the aftermath of ‘the bug’ myself. It's left me feeling very weak and it’s taking a long time for me to regain any decent amount of stamina. But I’m alive. And for that I’m grateful.

One thing I’ve learned from this - and this is something that her husband said to me - was that avoiding doing what you want to do and never pushing yourself further than you should is no guarantee that you’ll last any longer. It’s better to go being glad that you did the things you did than regretting the things that you didn’t.

Sharon J xx


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Grow Ur Own said...

I am sorry that you lost your friend. It really does bring home the realities of your condition and how precious life is.

My father has had a heart condition for many years, and due to an infection we nearly lost him some time ago. After several weeks in hospital and a great deal of care he was fortunate enough to come home.

However he is as stubborn as an ox and refuses to let it beat him. He will not let it stop him doing things he is capable of doing and pushing himself, sometimes further than he should.

His motto is life is for living, not sitting there waiting for death to come and take you. Fear of that something can go wrong is just as debilitating as the condition itself.

A positive attitude, like that of my dad's and your's is a powerful thing to have, and I am sure that it will keep you both with us for a long time to come x

Richard said...

It's very sad. I don't think she ever really got a handle on her condition but they were a devoted couple and her husband and I spent a lot of time chatting as well as sharing the odd late night curry in the day room. No more parties.

Whatever our differences, Sharon, please look after yourself so that you can enjoy the things you don't want to put off.

Sharon J said...

@ Grow Ur Own. Your dad is so right, life IS for living, there'd be no point in being here otherwise. And yes, fear is debilitating - luckily, I've never been one to fear much, not in that respect, anyhow. And mark my words, we'll have many a night yet where we put the world to rights before I hand in my cards :)

@ Richard. Thank you. I'm not planning on leaving just yet. But maybe there are parties on the other side. I certainly hope so :)

Laura said...

Life is definitley precious Sharon and the shame is that we usually realise this after something awful happens.

You must take care of yourself but live your life as well.

Canadian Saver said...

Oh I am sorry to hear about your friend's passing, Sharon. Definitely a lesson learned there, yes! You seem to be doing really well with the enjoying life part :-)

Take care!

Margaret's Ramblings said...

That is so sad. Please take care of yourself Sharon. And I agree, when it is time for me to join that party on the other side I want to be able to say, 'I'm glad I did, not I wish I had'.

Catz said...

Sharon I am so very sorry to hear about your friend! A double whammy if you will when she had the same health issues as yourself (((hugs))) A wake up call to enjoy our lives and live each day with graditude and hope. Please look after yourself.

Frugal Trenches said...

I'm so sorry Sharon, for you, your friend and her family. I think her husband has wise words. I'll be thinking of you all.


Jennifer said...

Sorry to hear about your friend Sharon.


Chris said...

Hi Sharon,

So sorry to hear about your friend and I know from my own situation how close some friends from times like this can be.

Thinking of her family and yourself and others whose had a special person as part of their life.

We can all only do as much as we can to look after ourselves and we can affect the way our bodies react to the treatment regimes the "experts" prescribe for us.

treasure the special memories.

Take care.


livingmyrichlife said...

I'm sorry for your loss. I can imagine how close to home that must be for you.

I liked your last comment though. Life is precious. We need to make every moment count.

aromatic said...

Such sad news.... It certainly makes us all realise that life should be lived and enjoyed as much as possible. I think we are all guilty of feeling sorry for ourselves at times and letting problems weigh us down far too much. Life is too short and your friends husband speaks a lot of sense!!
Love Jane xxxx
p.s... thank you for your recent comments on my blog and a belated Happy New Year to you and your family!! xxx