Sharing the Love

Have you ever seen the UK TV series “Call the Midwife”? (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0118t80) If so you may remember the episode when our favourite midwife, Chummy (played by the wonderful Miranda Hart http://mirandahart.com) was desperately poorly after having given birth to her own precious baby.  The nuns, through their love and concern for her, crocheted a beautiful blanket over which they prayed silent prayers of healing within every square.  Upon completion, they tenderly laid the prayer blanket over Chummy as she lay close to death and sat alongside her through the darkest of nights. Those prayers were heard and answered and Chummy survived much to joy of her adoring fans.

Chummy and her blanket
Chummy and her blanket

This episode aired during the time I was waiting for my transplant and getting increasingly worse. I was so moved by what I saw.  The idea of being literally covered in a blanket of prayer was an incredibly powerful image and spoke straight to my aching heart and soul. “Absolutely loved Chummy’s blanket!” I wrote on Facebook. Just that, a throwaway line or so I believed at the time. But unbeknown to me, my lovely friend Stephanie, picked up on it and decided to act. She contacted church friends who could crochet and knit and asked them to make squares so that I too could have my very own prayer blanket.  I was totally unaware (and it takes a lot to get past me!) until I was presented with a beautiful blanket at our Easter Sunday service in 2013 (Blimey, almost 3 years ago! Where does time go?) And it was huge! Word had spread and not just my friends, but complete strangers had contributed. Adding their own prayers for healing, blessings, peace, love for me and for my family. I was completely overwhelmed and almost , but not quite, speechless. (Speechless, in hindsight wouldn’t have been a bad thing as I gushed out some kind of  words of thanks that would have rivalled a Kate Winslet Oscar speech)

That beautiful prayer blanket, made by beautiful people, has been in daily use in our home since.  On the days I was too ill to move, it cocoonned me, surrounding me with God’s love and promises and hope. My boys and even our dogs have chosen to rest on it or under it and whilst I was in surgery for 13 hours having my transplant, Colin slept under it whilst waiting for the call from the hospital to say all had gone well. A powerful gift, truly treasured.

And the story doesn’t end there, it grows, it gets bigger. It has become a ministry within our church. Stephanie started to receive requests from people wanting a blanket for their loved ones and many more blankets have now been made and handed out to people who are sick, dying or in need of comfort. Made by incredible people, with incredible hearts, using creative ways to reflect and share the love and heart of an incredible God.

Kind of apt to share this on Valentine’s Day, don’t you think?

It's huge!
My blanket. It’s huge!

Posted from Radcliffe, England, United Kingdom.

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The Darkest Day

I was born in the North West of England which invariably gave me the right to claim the “great Northern sense of humour” that this part of the world is renowned for. It has come in handy, proved itself to be both necessary and useful. Myself and siblings didn’t have a great childhood (that’s for telling another day – maybe) but boy did we laugh! We became masters, turning sadness and tragedy into humorous accounts – pure comedy gold.
When I was diagnosed with IPF and given 3 years to live, I knew I had a choice; did I want to spend my time asking why me, sitting in a corner crying, or did I want to finish my life well, to continue to smile and to joke? I chose the latter – it was in my Northern blood.
And by the grace of God for most of the time during my illness I was able to do that. But one day, back in May 2013, it all became too much. I didn’t want to die. I loved life, I had dreams and plans that death was threatening to snatch from me. I was frightened. I call it my Darkest Day and wrote:

“Today is a bad day.
A day when I am feeling overwhelmed by this illness, by the absurdity of having a disease that is rare, incurable, an illness that is more common in men over sixty – a fact which normally makes me smile but on a bad day, this day just makes me wonder how? why?
Today is a day when the burden feels too heavy to carry.
We say God never gives us more than we can cope with but today I know he has me mixed up with someone else. I am not the person He thinks I am. I am tiny, I am weak. Today is a day I cannot do this.
Today is a day when I lose sight of hope, when I strain to hear the words, ‘everything will be ok’ and am met with silence.
Today is a day that I am lost in the tunnel, I cannot see the light at the end. Today is a dark day.
Today is a day that I stare too long into the faces of my boys, soaking in their smiles, their eyes, listen to their laughter and silently scream please don’t take me from them, let me stay. Today is a day that I beg.
Today is a day when the tears come too quickly.
Today is a sad day.”

My boys. The reason I fought so hard to keep breathing.
My boys. The reason I fought so hard to keep breathing.

1 thought on “The Darkest Day

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A scary welcome from 2016

So sorry I haven’t posted for a while, thanks for your patience. I was very poorly starting Christmas Eve and spent a week in hospital from 3 January with a new strain of gastric influenza and pneumonia. It was pretty scary, I was almost certain at one point that I wasn’t going to recover, but I was cared for by a wonderful medical team and prayed for by many wonderful friends.
Colin and myself had booked a long weekend away to our favourite place and I was anxious that I wouldn’t be home in time. But thankfully I was and had a fabulous time.
I hope you enjoy these photos. I am so grateful to have been able to take them. Once again forever grateful to my donor and family for such a selfless gift.
(And yes I cried once again when I looked at the view!)

Room with a view
Room with a view

image image image image image image image image

Bed time
Bed time

Just back from an extra hospital visit to make sure all is well and it’s great news, no lasting damage and all is as should be. (That’s got to be worth a wahoo!)
Please continue to lose sheep and share with your friends. Organ donation makes such an incredible difference. Many thanks x

Posted from Rochdale, England, United Kingdom.

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Christmas Gift

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Christmas Eve two years ago found me preparing* for what I thought would probably be my last Christmas(*sleeping a lot and occasionally waking to boss the guys around)
Normally we would invite family round for Christmas dinner, lots of noise and a bit of chaos, but that year I wanted it to be just the four of us. Almost a year on the transplant list, without a single call and deteriorating day by day, I knew time with my lovely husband and sons was limited and I wanted to soak up every single second with them that I could. It was a different Christmas Day that year. There was secret tears and unspoken fears but there was also joy, peace and the echo of a whisper of hope that refused to be silenced; of a God given promise of breath, of life.
I received my call a week later on New Year’s Day at 5.20am A stranger had left me a gift, her family found courage in their darkest hour to allow that gift to be given, an amazing medical team assured that gift was received. On behalf of my family and myself I thank them once again.
As I am able to celebrate yet another Christmas, somewhere my donor family are remembering and hurting and I am so sorry for their pain and I pray, that through that pain they can hear their own whispers of hope; for a day when their pain will not be as sharp, when their memories will bring smiles not tears.
Christmas time is special but can also be so hard for many.
I pray you all know joy, peace and hope this Christmas and I thank you for your help and support over these past few months of losing and finding sheep. Please spare a thought for all those still waiting for their call and for those families brave enough to have given the precious gift of life this year.

Posted from Rochdale, England, United Kingdom.

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A December Day

So I went to the hospital for my four monthly check up. This entails blood tests, chest X-ray and lung function tests. All went well, no change needed to meds, lung function had increased and I saw a new consultant who seems just as lovely as the other medical team. Looking at my X-ray, the new consultant pointed to it and commented, ” Do you know, if  it wasn’t for that wire holding your chest together, you’d never know that these were transplanted lungs.”  Result! I feel so blessed and so grateful to my incredible donor and medical team. I don’t have to go back for another four months.

In other news, I’m preparing for Christmas. This is my Eweltide Tree – see what I did there? 😉
imageEweltide

 

Posted from Rochdale, England, United Kingdom.

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The Birthday Girl

Yesterday 22nd November was my birthday. This is how I felt:

Today is my birthday.
I’ve never made a big thing of my own birthdays, quite happy to let them slip by – if people remember fantastic, if not I don’t mind. I get a bit flustered by being the centre of attention (I know, who’d have thought that then?!) and sometimes the thought of getting another year older made me sad.
BUT. NOT. ANYMORE!
Today is MY BIRTHDAY! I’ve made it, I’ve reached another one. I AM GETTING OLDER! I wasn’t expected to – but I have. Thanks to the amazing gift of an incredible stranger, I get to share another day with my beautiful family and friends, to receive cards, presents and birthday wishes, to be sung to and to sing.
And then into the midst of these thoughts and celebrations comes the gentle reminder that there is a family out there who don’t get to do this for their loved one, anymore; who don’t get to sing or buy presents or flowers for their mum and I’m not sure how to feel about it – it’s the bitter to my sweet. So all I can do is once again offer my thanks, prayers and thoughts to my donor family. And the repeated promise that she will never be forgotten or taken for granted, she will be remembered, thanked, talked about. She is in my every breath.
Today is my birthday.

I'm with my boys, I'm with my troops, yeah!
My birthday- I’m with my boys, I’m with my troops, yeah!

Posted from Rochdale, England, United Kingdom.

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Lost and Found Sheep – Photo Gallery

To have your very own sheep added to our gallery please email their photo to:

foundalostsheep@gmail.com along with details of where found or lost.

We’d love to see them!

Peggy Ewe, Peggy Ewe who how my heart yarns for you!
Peggy Ewe, Peggy Ewe who how my heart yarns for you!
For the lovely Janet Beaumont, whose call never came. RIP lovely friend.
For the lovely Janet Beaumont, whose call never came. RIP lovely friend.

Posted from Radcliffe, England, United Kingdom.

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Dr Ewe

Dr Who sheep and Tardis

I love Dr Who and I’m loving the latest UK series (it’s as though that whole nasty business with Amy Pond never happened) I grew up as many did on Daleks, The Master, Davros, frilly shirts, long scarfs, K9, wobbly scenery and jelly babies. In fact the very first Dr Who episode aired the day after I was born (which means I was born the day President JF Kennedy was assassinated. So between them, the president and the Doctor, my entrance into the world was overshadowed from the start!)
So, I’ve made a Dr Ewe in honour of the world’s (universe’s?) favourite time TimeLord. (Ok Ok, I know a ewe is female but let’s not split er wool – it’s the Dr accept it*) I’ve chosen this particular Dr, not because he’s my favourite, but because, well he wears a fez and as we all know fezzes are cool. Oh and the bow tie too, let’s not forget that.
Which means I now get to have a dream come true as I become the Dr’s assistant and together we will travel through time and space** helping to promote organ donation.

*A kind of quote from the latest Dr, not me being bossy
**Not strictly true.

Posted from Radcliffe, England, United Kingdom.

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Lost GREEN Sheep for IPF week

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Have you found one of our fabulous GREEN sheep? They’re on a special mission during the week 5th-11th October 2015 to help promote awareness of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis is the life threatening illness I had which resulted in me needing a double lung transplant. To find out more about this devastating illness and read and hear personal stories please go to www.blf.org.uk

If you have found any of our sheep, it would be fantastic if you could post a photo on here, we’d love to see and find out where they were found.  We have a lot of anxious ‘parents’ waiting to hear news of their lost little ones! Or click on our FB link and post a photo there if you prefer (oh that’s kind of a poem!)

Posted from Rochdale, England, United Kingdom.