Category: Personal

2016: That’s Quite Enough of That, Thank You!

Victorian Christmas cardI don’t know about you, but I am very glad this year is almost over.

Personally, it has been incredibly tough – but I am glad to say that the depression that nearly knocked me out entirely at the beginning of the year has mostly lifted, and I am almost fully back on my feet again after breaking my ankle and badly damaging the ligaments (although I still need a crutch to get around!).

I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the NHS staff who have treated me so well this year; from the ambulance crew who picked me up from the pavement and got me to Chelsea & Westminster hospital, the amazing A&E team there who got me sorted so quickly, and the physiotherapist at West Middlesex hospital who is currently getting me up and walking properly again, to my fantastic GP, the astute psychotherapist who got me thinking, and the community mental health team who have monitored my progress on these new meds with care and attention.

All these people are incredible, and their kindness and skill make me even more grateful for the NHS.

Also incredible are my family and friends (online and off), who have put up with a lot and have stuck by me nonetheless. Thanks to them for doing my shopping, brewing endless cups of tea, driving me places, making me laugh, reminding me to do my physio exercises, sending me great music and lovely messages, listening to me vent…. They know who they are – and they all rock.

And thanks to you, my dear, patient readers. For the first time ever, I have not posted anything on Another Kind Of Mind for many months, which is most unlike me and shows just how unwell I have been. I hope to get back to blogging regularly again in the new year – I have much I want to talk about. In the meantime, I’m planning to get a couple of Christmassy posts up over the next few days (if I can find the time), because Christmas isn’t Christmas round these parts without them! If you’re missing the usual festive fun, you can find links to all my previous seasonal posts here. Enjoy!

Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas to you all – and here’s to a better 2017 all round…

claire

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June Update

Hello my dear, patient readers.

My ankle. Stylish, no?

My ankle. Stylish, no?

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted for quite some time.

I apologise for this. Sometimes life just gets in the way – and sometimes, like this time, it’s a matter of having to battle the serious ill health that occasionally pops up and completely floors me, this time resulting in a change of medication which is currently knocking me out in a most interesting fashion.

And just to make matters worse, I now also have a broken ankle!

My ankle is still very painful and I’m on some rather spacey painkillers too (which is only adding to the fun…), but I have been looked after wonderfully by all the medical staff who have treated me so far (yay for the NHS!), and by my fabulous family and friends, both online and off.

It is frustrating to be pretty immobile and unable to do many of the things I take for granted (including writing), and I’ve turned into a bit of a Dalek when it comes to the stairs – but at least I have a cast-iron excuse to lie on the sofa and binge watch Euro 2016 when it starts later this week!

As a result of all this medical mayhem (ahem) I may not be able to post much over the next few months, but I have put together a selection of bits and pieces that I hope you will enjoy – including some more choice vintage selections from the BFI film archive to be going on with.

I was also thinking that it might be nice to have a few guest posts from a few cool and groovy people while I’m laid up. If you are interested in contributing something, please get in touch (you can leave a comment here or tweet me).

Can you help Eve find her donor family?

I’d like you to meet my old friend Eve. She’s awesome. We’ve known each other since our college days in the mid-1990s, when we were introduced by a mutual friend. We’ve had a lot of fun together over the years (usually involving loud music and much giggling!) and she has been a great support to me through some difficult times. Now it’s my turn to try and help her.

You see, for the last 26 years, Eve has only been alive thanks to one remarkable, selfless act on the part of a family of complete strangers. She had been seriously ill and needed a new heart and lungs – and, on 6th June 1988, a set of organs were found and transplanted, having been donated by the grieving family of a young boy who was tragically killed in an accident.

Twenty six years later, Eve is still with us, and, as a result of this family’s incredible generosity at such a terrible time, she’s lived a full and active life, as she describes on her blog:

I’ve been to university, I’ve travelled, I learned to drive, I have fallen in and out of love. I’ve had a career. I bought a house. I have a cat! None of this would have been possible without you, or without your lad.

Back in 1988, transplant patients in Britain were told very little about the person whose organs they had receieved and contact was not encouraged (things are, I believe, very different these days), but Eve would now very much like to say thank you to the unknown family who gave her another chance – despite having very little information to go on, as she writes:

‘Thank you’ is probably the biggest understatement of the century. You have no idea how ‘thank you’ really just does not cut it, until you have been there! However, I have wanted to write that letter for years, but I never really knew how to go about it, especially as so much time has passed. There aren’t just the emotional issues, but also practical things to consider; my donor family could have moved and the transplant co-ordinator may not be able to pass on the letter. What if my letter caused upset, instead of bringing comfort? The last thing I want to do is cause more distress to a family who made the ultimate gift-giving decision, but I know I have to do it. There is a mum and dad (maybe brothers or sisters) out there whose son is still here, 26 years later. With this in mind, I am attempting to make my gratitude known – maybe social media can help to make this happen.

And maybe it can. Which is where you come in. Can you help Eve say thank you to this amazing family? You’ll find all the information she knows about her donor family and the circumstances surrounding the transplant below. And due to the circumstances, there are a lot of ‘mights’ and ‘possiblys’ – but if anything at all strikes you as familiar or if you have any possible leads (or ideas for next steps), please get in touch.

  • The donor was a 10 year old boy from Reading in Berkshire, or the surrounding area.
  • He died as a result of a road accident of some kind.
  • He almost certainly died on Monday 6th June 1988, the day Eve received the transplant (organs are only usable for transplantation for a very brief period after the donor’s death).
  • The accident probably happened some time on Monday 6th June 1988 – due to the timing of Eve’s call into hospital (see her blog), it most likely happened in the afternoon and possibly on this young lad’s way home from school.
  • However, it is also entirely possible that the accident happened a week or so earlier and he spent the intervening time in hospital before passing away.

Does any of this sound familiar? Do you or did you live in the Reading area? Does this sound like someone you knew? Do you know who this young lad was? Do you or did you know his family? Do you know someone who does or might?

A few days after Eve’s transplant, a woman was interviewed about organ transplants and the need for donors for a TV news report on the subject because she had sadly lost her young son several days earlier. Certain aspects of this interview make Eve suspect that this might possibly have been her donor’s mum. Here’s a partial description of this lady (which may not be 100% accurate):

  • She was somewhere between 30 and 45 years old.
  • She had what looked like dark, possibly brown, hair.
  • Her hair appeared to be fairly short, possibly in a jaw-length bob or a pixie cut.
  • She had a slim face and possibly a slim figure.

Could this be you? Or someone you know? Were you interviewed on TV about the need for more organ donors in early June 1988? Do you know someone who was? This may or may not be a clue to the family’s identity, but it’s worth a try…

I’ll finish up with Eve’s own words explaining exactly why she wants to say thank you to this family for their life-giving act of generosity:

If you are reading this, please know that your decision was the right one. I have lived a good life, with many friends and family. I am loved and I do love.

I am eternally grateful to you and your family; it was down to you that my mum and dad did not lose me. It was because of your son that I have lived my life. It is because of your son that I am looking forward to my 40th birthday, next year. He has run with me for the last 26 years at a steady rate of 90bpm. He has drawn in air for me, 16 times per minute, hour by hour, day by day. Firemen, nurses and doctors save people all the time, he has saved me one beat at a time, one drawing in of a breath at a time, for the last 26 years. It is an understatement that I call him a hero.

So, if you know anything at all that might help Eve identify this family (or even think you might), please get in touch.

If you have any ideas or suggestions for next steps, please get in touch.

You can leave a comment here – I moderate all incoming comments (which means they do not automatically appear on a post and are only published if/when I decide to publish them), so if you have any information and want to post it without it appearing in the comments section here, please do so and I will ensure it is not published. You can also contact me via Twitter.

Eve also moderates comments over at her blog, so you can leave a message there too if you have any information. You can find her on Twitter here.

Any information you provide here will be strictly confidential and only passed on to Eve.

Please note that no individuals will be approached unless they give their permission. Eve is very aware that even after 26 years this must still be a sensitive issue for those involved, and the family will not be bothered should they prefer not to be in contact.

Please feel free to reblog this post or tweet about it or share it on other social media – and help Eve say thank you.

I’m Only Sleeping, Part 2

“I wanted to walk through the empty streets and feel something constant under my feet/But all the news reports recommended that I stay indoors….” – The Postal Service, ‘(Give Up) We Will Become Silhouettes’

More weird dreams last night. I’m beginning to vaguely worry about my brain. This time, I was in London again, and this time it bore an uncanny and confused resemblance to the opening sequence of Danny Boyle’s superb 28 Days Later – empty and desolate and creepy, for no obvious reason that I could immediately ascertain. I could almost hear my voice echoing across the deserted city as I called out, increasingly panicked, for anyone else who might be lurking in that silent urban wasteland. Nobody answered.

It’s strange how my dreams are becoming more and more filmic – the silent city cut to a house (where? I don’t know), an ordinary suburban terraced house, nothing immediately or conventionally scary, but eerily similar to the one I grew up in. I was pacing through the mostly empty rooms, looking for something I couldn’t find, something unidentified. And there was someone else in there with me, although I could never figure out who (or what?) as they never let me see them, staying a few frustrating steps ahead of me. I knew they were there though, I could somehow hear them pacing about too, pushing open doors that creaked ominously in that horror movie cliche kind of way, scuttling across bare floorboards. You know, like that classic, frustrating dream trope where what you want is right in front of you, but just, just out of your reach….

And then it got truly bizarre. Somehow, I realised the object I was looking for was out in the back garden. And I realised what it was and what I had to do with it. Half-buried in a flowerbed was a familiar-looking object of near-universal fear, made almost comic by its cartoon-like appearance – a nuclear bomb. And I had to detonate it. For some unexplained reason (typical dream illogic), I had no option in this matter. Somehow, I found the detonator, and – at the second attempt – the horrible thing exploded, and everything instantly became like those brain-searing images of Hiroshima after the Enola Gay had paid it a visit back in 1945. Everything, that is, except the house and me, both of which were still standing – and I was, for some odd reason, running around closing all the windows.

It was at that disturbing point that I woke up, distinctly confused and rather shaken. I know that dreams are supposed to be one’s subconscious sorting through recent events, and that bad dreams like this can often be the brain’s way of processing trauma (something, it is true, that has featured in my life this year) – but why a nuclear bomb? I’ve been a CND type almost all my life; detonating an atom bomb goes against everything I believe in, which is perhaps why my brain selected it as a negative metaphor? The whole bloody thing made me feel like some comic book supervillain, like I was in a Batman strip or something – a Facebook survey result says that if I were a Batman villain, I’d be Harley Quinn, but if that’s the case then who is my beloved Joker?? Perhaps it was him I was stalking through the house?

Who knows? Because I sure don’t….

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I’m Only Sleeping…

So now I’m even bloody dreaming about politics.

I woke, bolt upright, just before five this morning. My head was buzzing with fractured partial images of bumblebees and masked anarchists trying to get me to sign petitions and compost toilets and chasing journalists down Whitehall and being followed by a well-known restaurant critic through Parliament Square.

Bizarre, I know, but most of these images do make a weird kind of sense in the context of the last few months of my life. Except for the restaurant critic (although he may have appeared in my dream because I was reading one of his columns in the paper yesterday). And the chasing journalists bit. That bit I do not understand.

And there was even a fully-formed paragraph in my head which seems to have appeared there while I was asleep. Very odd. So I got up and wrote it down (not that it made much sense when I actually did get up this morning).

I don’t usually remember my dreams at all, but lately they have been particularly vivid and memorable. And profoundly unpleasant. This one makes for a pleasantly strange change, whatever it means.

I wonder what my brain is trying to tell me?

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