Celebrating Life, Lungs and Second Chances!

“If you’re reading this…
Congratulations, you’re alive.
If that’s not something to smile about,
then I don’t know what is.” 
Chad Sugg

A little while ago I received an invitation in my email. It’s for a party this weekend to celebrate something extraordinary. Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of my dear friend Carly-Jay Metcalfe‘s double lung transplant. Carly has Cystic Fibrosis. At the time of her transplant things were dire and she’d been given just a week to live. Suddenly she was gifted life again through organ donation.

So this weekend we’re celebrating her Transplanniversary with a quiet little gig for family and friends. Of course we will all be thinking about Carly’s donor and her family too, because while we are celebrating Carly’s life we are all aware that one family lost their loved one and donated organs which enabled our gorgeous girl to be saved.

Carly-Jay, or Carls as we call her in our household (Aunty Carls to our dogs – she is Godmother to Rufous!) is one of my dearest friends for so many reasons. She loves books and writing and good coffee and mugs of tea as much as I do. She has a wicked sense of humour and one of the biggest hearts I know. And she and I are both in the second-chance-at-life club and the socially unreliable club. Illness often means we break dates with one another. It’s just how it is.

That’s me on the left: almost blind, drug-bloated and rocking an eye patch and dark glasses after I lost 70% of my vision in one eye and 90% in the other as a result of life-saving medications for an acute hospital-acquired superbug bladder infection – the same infection that recurred and nearly killed me last year. Carly insisted on taking me out for breakfast AND cut up my food for me, put my coffee cup in my hand and was my human seeing-eye-dog. We were practising me being blind because it was predicted I would stay that way. Carls kept me entertained with rollicking descriptions of everyone around us and hardly bumped me into any furniture at all. What a treasure she is! (And yes, I eventually got most of my vision back, luckily!)

Carly having blood taken from her foot, because we both belong to the crappy over-used veins club!

Carls and I live with chronic and progressive degenerative illnesses (hers is Cystic Fibrosis and mine is Late Stage Lyme Disease with Lyme Carditis). We share the same kind of normal – living with often unseen aspects of disability (not that we think of ourselves as disabled – more ‘unabled’ when poor health puts limits on us) that impact us and our families. Modern and alternative medicine keep us alive, upright and functioning, but sh*t still keeps going pear-shaped for us, and our health is a very up-and-down road. Carls isn’t just a friend. She has been my live-in nurse and helper on more than one occasion after I have come home from hospital, or have struggled with treatment for one thing or another. I’ve been her cheer squad when it’s all been a bit horrendous for her too.

It’s good to have someone to talk to who gets what I am going through, and who can share a laugh with me over such awesome topics as incontinence, fatigue and crappy veins. That’s what friends are for, right?

I’m so looking forward to Carly’s party on the weekend. (I have a few catering surprises for her too, in honour of another friend we lost suddenly to illness some years ago, but stay tuned for those as they need to stay secret for now!) One of the most powerful things Carly’s taught me is to rock your scars and own your wounds, and both of us subscribe to the philosophy of celebrating the everyday, and laughing, no matter how bad things get. So we’ll be doing lots of laughing and celebrating come Saturday. With snacks. And loved ones. She’s still here. I’m still here. That’s worth celebrating!

Life is beautiful, and every breath is a gift. For all of us.
Sending all my love to you, Nicole   xx

PS: Just a little reminder. When you die you won’t need your organs anymore, but someone else might. Please consider becoming an organ donor and have that chat with your family and friends.

My beautiful friend, Carly!

12 thoughts on “Celebrating Life, Lungs and Second Chances!

  1. I am so filled with joy and happiness that you two found each other. Having met Carls pre transplant she made an impact on me back then and she was a most special soul and years after would always thinks of her and her feisty nature (as well as her awesome mum). Then to be blessed to cross paths again with her post has been a joy. As well of course as crossing paths and meeting you. The world truly is wondrous even with all the crappy health stuff <3 <3 <3

    Partay hard and dance baaaaaaaaaaaad BOTH of you xoxoxox

  2. So much to celebrate! Thrilled that you’re in each other’s lives… it makes a difference when someone “gets it”! Sisters -you’re doing it for yourselves and others! Thanks for being YOU, Nicole. Thrilled for you and Carls. Love to you both. xoxoxo

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