Bonsoir mes Chers Lecteurs! Ca va?
Okay – that is the extent of my written French. I am a fluent speaker, and by fluent I mean some brie and a bottle of vin rouge and I think I am Coco Chanel when I probably sound like the policeman from Allo Allo:
The reason for all this French chat is that this weekend I, along with 5 other skaters and our coach, went to Paris for a competition! Yes, me – Sophie Fox, in France, in Lycra. Quelle horreur!
I didn’t skate as well as I should have, my dress was far too short, and the gorgeous waiter in the nice restaurant was more interested in my friend Nick than me. Il joue pour l’autre équipe as they say.
Oh and I managed to acquire the nickname Bridget. The reasons are obvious and you know how I feel about this but in time honoured tradition of nicknames, the more I protested the more they said it. I ended the weekend being serenaded onto the plane by the lot of them singing the effing theme tune. I swear if I wasn’t such a nice person (ahem), I could have slapped them, coach included. Merde.
Crushing romantic disappointment, and eternal singledom aside, I had an amazing weekend!
I suppose I probably should tell you what happened this week. This is not only because my dad wants me to continually write about him but because I think it is important that people know what is going on. I know everyone has issues in their lives at the moment but if it is true that we are all only 6 degrees away from Kevin Bacon then statistically one of you will know someone who knows someone who might be going through the same thing.
Very long story short, my dad has been diagnosed with IPF, it is a progressive lung condition, the only cure for which is a lung transplant. I would Google IPF but if I am totally honest with you, I am a bit scared to read any further into it, feel free to do so in your own time but do not talk to me about it.
Like a fat guy on a Slip n Slide I would rather approach this whole situation with naïve optimism than be faced with the actual mortifying truth.
Anyway, Tuesday night came, and dad got a phone call. A donor lung was available. They had to inform us that this lung belonged to a heavy long-term smoker and they needed to tell us this to give us the option of refusing the transplant.
This was difficult.
The only way I could describe it would be, as I do most of the time, to equate it with food. If you have ever eaten at Yo Sushi you will know what I mean. The plates come round on a conveyor belt and you select which ones you want based on the colour of the bowl. In my experience no matter how many green ones you get it still ends up costing a blimmin fortune but I digress.
The problem I have with Yo Sushi is that I want food immediately but I also want the nicest food possible. Food envy is a huge problem in my life. And in this situation you only get one bowl. One. You have to decide very quickly what to eat and simply live with the consequences.
What if these lungs were the vegetable dumpling (purple plate) of lungs? Yes they are nice and you wouldn’t turn them away but it’s not exactly what you had in mind when you came out for dinner.
What if after this it was just that weird egg thing and edamame beans (green plates, not worth bothering with unless needed to prevent actual starvation)? Would you take the vegetable dumpling or sit there hungry hoping for a chicken katsu curry (pink plate – everyone’s favourite) to come along?
I may have stretched the metaphor a bit thin but you understand the decision process.
It is also important to note that if we go out for dinner as a family we move tables on average three times before we find one my mum is happy with. Goldilocks is a better decision maker.
After talking it through (a lot) we decided as a family not to accept the transplant. Go Team Fox! It transpired that it wouldn’t have gone ahead anyway but what it did do was bring it home to us that this was no longer an abstract concept. These decisions would have to be made and we had to cross our fingers and pray for the katsu!
Sounds stressful? It got worse.
The following day, another call comes in. Another donor lung has been found. I say found but I promise you I do not underestimate the sacrifices made by the donor. As we were hoping for good news, we were all acutely aware that there was a family on the other end of the line that was going through unimaginable pain. I do not pretend to know what that is like and I can only write about my experiences so apologies if this sounds too blunt.
We hot-foot it straight to hospital, they go through the consent process (terrifying by the way) and explain how it works. Simple enough.
My dad then made a pigs ear of shaving his legs and chest – for a man with a handbag you’d think he would be more metrosexual but no, poor guy looked like a Jackson Pollack painting. And we waited and waited.
I amused myself by watching the Food network, my all-time favourite TV channel. Back to back episodes of Cake Boss – yes please! I also managed to sneak in an episode of Home and Away which I haven’t seen in forever. Alf’s house has burned down and Irene was up for murder. Summer Bay clearly hasn’t got any safer to live in since the 90s.
After a long wait and a wasted wander to try and find a vending machine, we were told that sadly the donor lungs had too much infection and that the transplant couldn’t go ahead.
We went home, emotionally drained, disappointed, relieved, and with slightly less body hair.
I forgot to mention, that in the glowing light of the beautiful Manchester sunset my mum told me I had a really long chin hair which needed sorting. Never one to miss an opportunity is our Sandy Fox!
Anyway, that is where we are now. Same lungs, same problems – although I have booked an appointment to trim my beard, and my dad is dealing with some conspicuous regrowth.
Having gone through this crazy 24 hours has made it all the more real how important and how incredible it is that people are willing to donate their organs. I understand it is not something everyone is able to do and it is a personal choice but for me it is simple: Would I accept a donated organ if I needed it? Yes I bloody well would. There is therefore no logical reason why I wouldn’t be as willing to donate.
In the words of the motivational speaker, survivor of the blonde afro, and all round icon Justin Timberlake:
“I’m bringing sexy back”
No, wait I meant
“What goes around comes back around”
p.s. in case you haven’t heard me moaning about it enough, I am running the Manchester Marathon next Sunday for the British Lung Foundation. If you have any spare pennies please donate. There is a strong chance I’ll end up doing a Poola Radcliffe but more on that next week!