Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Angels

Life has been really challenging recently but with Angels for friends & celestial Angels guiding me on this journey I have managed to find the spirit to keep going. I have been immersed in a waterfall of emotions & been so blessed to experience so many heartwarming emotions in the last seven days.
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Shrove Tuesday is a term used in the UK & a number of other countries for the day preceding the first day of the Christian season of fasting and prayer called Lent. The festival is widely associated with the eating of foods such as pancakes, and often known simply as Pancake Day, originally because these used up ingredients such as fat and eggs, the consumption of which was traditionally restricted during Lent. I love Pancakes. The ones my dear Mum makes are my favourite meal.
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I may perhaps be slightly biased but I am convinced my Mum makes the best pancakes in the world. We only have them once or twice a year. This year was our first Pancake Day as Mother & daughter. My Mum is slightly old fashioned in her outlook regarding cooking & had been very reluctant to allow Dad or I to help her. She used to stress about “Pancake day” & run around determined to do everything herself. This year she took down the barriers & welcomed me in to her secret pancake cooking world. We had such fun & I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity to share such a day with my beloved Mum & Dad.
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Tuesday evening, a dear friend who had just undergone major surgery on her vertebrae which could have resulted in her being completely paralysed phoned me to save me from worrying about her. I had arranged to visit her in hospital on the Wednesday when I was due to be volunteering but fortunately her surgery had gone so well she was able to come home early. She had shown the most incredible courage & spirit. She is a really inspirational true friend. I was determined to go along to my art class for the first time this year, to support the teacher who is a very kind friend. Sadly her Mum had passed away only last week. She too showed incredible courage to take the class. She wanted to try to keep busy & did not want to let anyone down. How selfless she had been. Her beloved Mum would have been so proud of her.
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Wednesday was the best day at work I have ever had in my life. It was so uplifting, life affirming & humbling. Working with some of the brave patients & watching in total admiration & respect as the Angels, the wonderful nurses, working in the children’s outpatients, went about their incredible duties. They had the most wonderful motherly instincts for each & every child & guardian who came through the doors. They were so kind, so compassionate so utterly caring. This was the NHS at its best. The staff were so in tune with the needs of their patients. Nothing was too much trouble. Everything was explained to try to put the children & their parents at ease.
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The health & safety rules mean many of the girly pleasures I have so enjoyed are forbidden. You must have bare lower arms. No jewelry, no nail polish, no rings, bracelets, piercings or wrist watches. As they are rules which help prevent infections it is a minor sacrifice, well worth adhering to.
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During the morning I was privileged to meet the most amazing young patient. She was only ten years old & had already had major transplant surgery. She had to use a wheelchair & due to the treatment she had received been unable to grow normally. Her restricted growth had caused her to appear physically more like a child half her age. She was unfortunately an all too frequent visitor to the hospital. When ever she had to attend hospital she always enjoyed counting all the money that had been kindly donated in the charity collection box. She was so grown up for her age, so alive & so determined to get on with her young life. While we were chatting it gave her Dad time to relax a little. She mentioned she had recently met a well known film star. I expected her to enthuse about her experience but far from being overawed by him she was actually disappointed. He had appeared to be very patronising & talked down to her. He had assumed because of her outward appearance that she was just a child. She was so down to earth about this unfortunate experience. For one so young she was incredibly wise. With my very limited life experiences with children she may well have been politely warning me not to behave in a similar fashion. I hope I never ever judge anyone by their appearance & always treat them with the respect they deserve.
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I spent the day doing what ever I could to help out. Sometimes I had to do basic admin duties. Sometimes helping patients with directions, or just making their experience a little less stressful. I wished I could do more to help but was just so grateful for the whole heart warming experience.
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Towards the end of the day I was asked to check through some donated video’s & Teddy Bears that had been donated to make sure they were in a suitable condition to be sold to raise funds for the children. Any that were unsuitable or warn out were to be thrown out. The videos were all appropriate & only a couple were slightly worn out. I did not enjoy the responsibility of being the Simone Cowell of the Teddy Bear Auditions. Thankfully every one of the Teddy bears were fit & well, as I could never have voted for anyone of them to be sent to the Teddy Bears graveyard. I have a Teddy Bear of my own who I love dearly, he is in the photo top right of this post. Little does he know but one day soon he may find himself volunteering to be a "Pat dog" with me at the hospital. Teddy's are such great therapy!
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I was made to feel valued as part of the team, by the busy nurses. who were doing all the very important work. I felt so humble & so blessed to have experienced such a magical day.
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During one evening of what had been such an enlightening week I was saddened to find not all Angels are angelic. The Angels forum I belong to, which is a support group from which I have been so fortunate to find like minded compassionate friends, had been poisoned by a small but very selfish intolerant gaggle of heartless creatures.
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Thursday I took my Mum to her hairdressers & did the first part of the weekly shop. On the way home she insisted I checked my post to see if I had received any news about my appeal regarding the NHS funding of my GRS. This has cast a shadow over all our lives but together we have kept going. Every time the postman comes I wonder what news he will bring.
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Mums intuition was right there was a letter from the NHS trust on my mat. Once the shopping was put away we went up to my old bedroom at my parents home as we had done so many times before in crisis. My dear Mum came & sat alongside me clutching her Rosary. We said our prayers together. Tears were already streaming down my face. My future lay inside this envelope. At least that is what it felt like. As I opened it, I was aware of my Mum holding me tightly to comfort me. Our bond was closer than ever, our love unquestioned. The letter proved to be a cruel anticlimax as it contained only a duplicate copy of the appeal letter that had been written by my consultant & not the outcome. I have been fighting with the return of my depression & I could easily have slipped backwards. I so hope I can give up self pity & feeling depressed for Lent!
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Saturday I managed to attend a volunteer training day at the local tourist attraction I have helped out at for many years. Sunday I worked as a volunteer with another lovely friend helping to collect nearly £500 selling tombola tickets to be used to help raise awareness for endangered Cheetahs. My hard working kind friend co ordinates the tombola which has helped raise over £58,000 for charitable causes in the last year. She works tirelessly for wildlife conservation for which we both share a great passion.
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During parts of the last seven days I have really struggled with my emotions. I have cried too much & slept too little but I am trying with all my heart to keep going while I still can.
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Everything does seem to happen for a reason. What the letter from the NHS Trust did do, was make me fully appreciate what wonderful experiences I do have, rather than what I have never had. My Mum & Dads unconditional love & support are so precious to me. My friends incredible spirit & those of the patients & nurses I have been so blessed to experience, have made the last seven days a truly remarkable week.
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I can thoroughly recommend volunteer work, further details for UK opportunities can be found on http://www.do-it.org.uk/
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My heart has been truly touched by Angels.
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May your week be full of peace & happiness.
Love
Debbie

7 comments:

LucyTolliday said...

There will always be false angels you are a real one. I remember from my visits to see family and my own experience as a child the important role played by volunteers to the betterment of patents.

LucyTolliday said...

My fingers are very crossed for you that when the decision arrives its good news
Lucy :)

Loris Lane said...

Oh Debbie, your post is beautiful; you are such a wonderful lady. I want with all my heart for that letter to say the right thing for you and look forward to hearing good news.

alan said...

With all the good and wonderful things you do for so many I can't help but think Karma will smile on you and make things go the way they should!

As Lucy says, there are angels and posers; you are definitely the former!

Sometimes tears are like a safety valve that let us get rid of things we have no other way to deal with. Like all things, they have their time for use!

alan

Anji said...

The bond between a mother and her daughter is a really special one.

After all that has happened you can still count your blessings. You are the Angel!

Debbie K said...

Bless you, dear Lucy, Loris, Alan & Anji. You & all our friends are like Angels to me. You kind words lift my spirits.
You all make such a big difference to me.
Love
Debbie

Josephine said...

A late post here Debbie...hope your week was good. You're making such big powerful strides. I think of you often. Fingers crossed about that appeal...you are fighting honey, you are doing the right things...