When something you really want feels unobtainable, I find it helpful to visualise it in my mind and start believing I already have it. I put this into practice during the pandemic with great results…
I had two significant ‘wants’ over the last four months.
The first desire, caused by the pandemic, forced me to leave my wife Katie and 13 year old son Felix behind in London to shield with my mum in Southampton, due to my chronic lung condition cystic fibrosis* and my wife being a nurse and the threat that posed.
Katie had to play the single parent role while running a hospital department on her own and getting up at dawn to beg supermarkets to let her in to get food for them both. I know tears regularly flowed with her tough plight.
Felix was separated from me which produced some anxiety almost as if he was already grieving. He often had to get himself up and off to school on his own because Katie was at the hospital.
From my perspective, I was blessed to be living with my mum who is amazing in emergency situations and luckily we get on extremely well. But even she and I couldn’t have envisaged having to be shielding together from March to August. But for the majority of this time, it wasn’t at all certain when and how I could ever return home.
As the lockdown eased slightly, I did meet up with Katie and Felix but we had to keep a distance and I wore my mask most of the time. One hug with them was all I wanted and on one meet-up we did finally manage it by putting a rain jacket in-between us and we held each other tight and cried our hearts out. To my dying days, I shall never forget how huge those hugs felt to me.
The second desire was to improve my failing health. A virus (not sure what it was) back in late December had knocked my lungs for six. I had been recovering ever since but I was still struggling and suffering every day.
I found a local school playing field to do my shuttle runs to keep up some fitness but they were excruciating for my lungs.
Hovering over me all this year has been the option of a ‘wonder’ drug called Kaftrio which was not yet available to the CF community in the UK and all the indications were that this drug wouldn’t be made accessible till 2021. I was utterly desperate for this drug to give me a much-needed health boost and to help me come out of shielding but it seemed a long way off just as I needed it the most.
So during my time in Southampton the outlook looked pretty bleak both for my return home and of starting this amazing drug. It would have been all too easy to drift into a pit of worry and depression…
I decided not to worry but imagine I already had both these wants in my life.
As well as the importance of physical exercise every day, I have also been practicing mental ‘exercise’ in the form of daily stillness, quiet and meditation in my mum’s back garden.
During this ‘mental work-out’ surrounded by the wonder of nature, I started to imagine being back with my family and hugging them.
I also could see myself taking this Kaftrio drug and I said thanks for the benefits it was bringing me for my lung function, energy levels, exercise ability and positivity.
With each mental projection, I would smile as if it was actually happening as I could see it in my mind’s eye. As I saw it, I could believe it was true.
What was the outcome?
I did this daily practice for at least two months however desperately low I was feeling.
On 8 August, I finally returned home when shielding in the UK paused and some of the pandemic restrictions were lifted. Since then we have had a lovely family holiday on the Isle of Wight. We hug whenever possible.
The UK government made a deal for people with CF to receive Kaftrio and the European medical agency recently granted the license for UK doctors to prescribe it for me and thousands like me. I will be starting this drug in the next two weeks and hopefully reap the benefits. I will keep you posted on a separate blog post.
Never forget – don’t give up hope when things are desperate and out of reach. Have patience as miracles don’t happen instantly. See it. Believe it. Seeing is believing…
I will keep you posted on my life-affirming moments, trials and tribulations as and when they happen. Please keep reading and sharing my blog and sign-up (on the right hand side tab) if you have not already done so.
Yours cup half full.
* Cystic Fibrosis is one of the UK’s most common life threatening inherited diseases, affecting over 10,500 people. The condition affects the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system, by clogging them with thick sticky mucus. This makes it hard to breathe and digest food. Each week, five babies are born with the condition, however, each week, three young lives are also lost to it. There is currently no cure for CF. However, existing gene therapy trials in the UK are bringing people with the illness closer to a form of cure but CF is not that well known and would benefit from more public donations. For more information and to find out more view the CF Trust Website.