And so I had my first call. Yup, my first call for lungs. You have various scenarios played out in your mind as to how the call will happen, what you'll do, what you'll say and how it will evolve. The truth is, and despite thinking, concentrating and contemplating the call for 9 months, nothing plays out as planned.
So I was watching 'Breaking Bad', a fine series that i'm gradually making my way through. I was just about to go to bed when the phone rang. It was 12.50am, so I knew straight away who it was and probably what the call was about. It was one of the Newcastle Freeman's Transplant Coordinators.
'Hi, is that Anders?' (Coordinator)
'Just realised we haven't spoken for a while, thought we'd just see how you're doing'. (Coordinator)
The transplant coordinator was extremely laid back, almost seeming like she had just phoned for a chit chat cos she was bored and nothing was going on. So after about 5 minutes of general chat about what I'd been up to, I asked ,
'So, I take it you're phoning cos you have some lungs for me?'. (Anders)
'Well there are a few things happening at the moment. Anyway, don't worry, just go back to bed and we'll give you a call if anything happens'. (Co-ordinator)
I was told they would probably know more by 3am, but that there was no certainty in that. As you can imagine the suggestion that I should 'go back to bed', was one that was never going to be fulfilled. I realised when I got off the phone I was shaking a little. It had been that call I'd be waiting for, it had come, they were thinking of me and lungs might be available. However, there was no certainty in any of this, was this 'A CALL'? I had no idea. Having discussed the transplant process with others who have been through it, it appears you get a call saying an ambulance it on its way to collect you and then you're on your way. This was however a very different call, it was a, 'hmmm....we might....maybe...have something for you...or we might not'.
So once off the phone I phoned the relevant people that were going to go to Newcastle with me. I think I called my Mum first, but she was down in Southend and was without a car. My initial thoughts, not knowing how the call would unravel, was that she wouldn't make it to Newcastle in time. Therefore, I knew my brother would probably be driving down and potentially taking my dad. I however phoned my friend Elaine before I called my brother and my Dad. To all of them I stated, 'I've had a call, it doesn't mean i'm going to Newcastle, we just have to wait and see what happens and so stay where you are cos nothing may happen'. By the the time I called my brother it was 50 minutes after I received the first call. I obviously spoke to Elaine and my mum for a wee while, and to the transplant coordinator for a wee while. I also called my friend Lisa who was also waiting, as I knew she would be awake as she has a stupid sleeping pattern and I knew she'd be interested. My mind was buzzing and I was thinking 'who can I talk to, who can I speak to about this?'. So whilst I told my family and Elaine not to go anywhere and stay in their homes, it was because I didn't want to cause fuss, not because I wouldn't have minded the company, not because I didn't want someone around. Anyway, about 40 minutes after I spoke to my brother I could hear keys at the door, my brother had turned up. He had driven up from his home in Ayrshire just to sit with me until we heard news. About 10 minutes after that someone knocked on my door, my dad too had decided to ignore me and turned up at my door. I told them it wouldn't be until 3am at the earliest I'd know anything. So we sat in my front room, I put on Blackadder on Netflix. Blackadder is like an old familiar comfort blanket. I know the script inside out, I don't need to concentrate on it, but it's light and it makes me laugh. During University I was watching on an endless circuit Blackadder, Alan Partridge, Father Ted and Star Wars. If I'm watching any of them then the world is in order and everything is ok. Calm is what I needed and calm is what Blackadder provided.
So 3am came, no call. I waited until 3.40 and then tried to ring back, but I failed. I couldn't get through. By 4am there was still no call. At this point I was thinking that the lungs had gone somewhere else. My thoughts were that I was initially a possibility, but someone else needed them more and was now receiving them. No doubt I would receive a call in due course, but for now they would be dealing with the transplant and I'd get a call later telling me the lungs had gone elsewhere. I wasn't disappointed, I knew the enormity of what may lay ahead of me. I also knew I had the capability to wait for lungs, not everyone waiting has that. It was nice to know they were thinking of me, sometimes you wonder.
So at 4pm I decided to 'go to bed', but did I sleep? No, of course I didn't. Until they call and confirm what's happening your brain is contemplating what the near future might bring. So I lay there in my bed, my brother in the front room trying to sleep on one sofa and my father successfully sleeping and snoring on another sofa. If I couldn't sleep from thoughts, I certainly couldn't sleep from the snoring of my father. So I lay there, my cat Boris had come to keep me company. Then 5am and the phone rings, I grab it, it was right next to my bed, I had laid it there so I could just reach out and snatch it. Once again I knew who it was and I thought I knew what she was going to say, but I was wrong. I had expected the lungs to have gone elsewhere, it was four hours after the initial call and so what were the chances these lungs were for me? Little I thought. I thought wrong. 'Anders, I've sent an ambulance to collect you'. The Coordinator said a lot more than that, I just didn't take it in, I just thought, 'right, we've got to do this'. What she said may have been important, but I didn't get any other message other than, 'these lungs are for you!'.