Here and There

Down here and up there

Down here and up there

Yesterday was a day I’ll never forget: I completed a horrid course of IV treatment to combat my cystic fibrosis (CF)* and then attended the funeral of a dear friend…

I’ve just undergone a three-week course of IV treatment, my first in 19 months. It’s been tough to revert back to being the ‘sick boy’ again. I stayed with my mum in Southampton for the first half of the treatment and then spent the rest of it back in London with Katie and Felix.

Having the exhausting and time-consuming IV drips three times a day alongside the rest of my usual medication equates to me only getting about three hours free of drugs during my waking hours. My illness really takes charge during these sessions.

While I was in Southampton, Martin Sleet, long-time friend from Southampton and former London house-mate, sadly died of leukaemia, 15 months since it was diagnosed. Martin was a helpful and forthright chap, with a passion for wildlife, particularly in the Ocean, and Southampton Football Club.

One of his enduring talents was the unique ability to eat a shocking amount of mustard on a cheeseburger. One might say that he had food with his mustard!

Martin had an obdurate approach to his suffering and endured endless stays in hospital, which sapped him both physically and mentally. It was in the hospital that my twin brother, Jez, and I last saw Martin, a week prior to his death. On the morning of his sad passing, I visited his parents to pay our condolences.

Dusk you and me
On the day of Martin’s death, as the remains of a sunny September day were turning into night, I went for a walk on Southampton Common. It felt appropriate to walk on the same park land which Martin would have frequented on numerous occasions, either socialising with our local group of friends or walking his family dog.

I needed to feel close to Martin, even though he wasn’t actually visible.

I went straight to the fallen tree, now covered in overgrowth, which myself, Jez, Chris, Ant and Martin used as a muster (and mustard) point before riotous nights out as callow youths.

Later on my walk, I stood transfixed at the Ornamental Lake, where I felt a light breeze on my face, and the juxta-position between the warmth and cold of my body depending on whether the sun was covered by clouds.

I studied the reflection of those clouds in the water, witnessed a woodpecker gliding from tree to tree and I saw some crested newts bob up and down to the surface, like Martin used to do with his scuba diving. Then to my astonishment I saw the beautiful and rare sight of a kingfisher bird on a tree overhanging the lake. In a whoosh of blue, it darted down into the water to grab its prey before flying off to some near-by trees.

It was a telling and thought-provoking moment – all this beauty on earth which Martin would have cherished, but sadly will never view again.

His death makes no sense and isn’t just. Cancer said to him, “I choose you Martin Sleet!”

Correspondingly, why have some of my wonderful CF friends and so many others, often under the age of 30, died of CF while I’m still here?

When will CF bellow to me, “I choose you Tim Wotton!”

Martin has gone to a place free of pain and suffering. For 44 years, he was here on earth, now he’s there, somewhere which I hope is heaven. I am still here and he is there. I’m lucky to still breathe this air and see all the beauty that surrounds me.

It’s chilling to reflect that during my IV’s and all that it brings with the extra burden of treatment, where I feel completely owned by CF, I do feel marginally closer to being there than being here.

The last few weeks have taught me so much. I’ve learnt once again to respect the living and honour the dead. It’s also reinforced my cast-iron belief that life can be short so must be appreciated to the full. Life is beautiful. Do not waste it. Treasure it while you’re still here…

Martin Giles Sleet. RIP my dear chap.

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.
Tim

Tim Wotton (author of Award-Winning CF Memoir)

* Cystic Fibrosis is one of the UK’s most common life threatening inherited diseases, affecting over 10,000 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.

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About Tim Wotton

I live with my lovely wife (Katie) and spirited ten-year old son (Felix) in Morden, Surrey; working full-time as an internal communications specialist in the Oil & Gas sector. I have played sport, particularly hockey, tennis all my life and now regularly go to the gym. Cystic fibrosis has been a huge factor in my life, but not one that overshadows it. I have always had great support from my loving family - parents Margaret and Douglas (RIP), elder brother Chris and my twin brother Jez. I have many rich life insights based on knowing I have a reduced life expectancy and battling against the odds for over 44 years. My eyes and heart have been opened by my health struggle. I feel empowered to share my life lessons to help anyone with health and life issues to overcome. My passions include Paul Smith clothes, dress shirts (believing that it's enlightening to dress like it's your last day on earth), Alfa Romeo cars, spicey food, Harlequins and England rugby, Southampton FC, Wimbledon village and common, Dorset, seascapes, sunsets and military history. I am available for public speaking on this subject matter and can be contacted via timwottonAThotmailDOTcom. I have written a book 'How have I cheated death?' based on my euphoric countdown year to 40 which was published in 2014 and won the 2015 'Best Achievement' Award at the UK People's Book Prize. It is available via e-book, audiobook and paperback at Amazon and to order from UK bookstores. Go to the relevant sites below or in the UK go to a WH SMITH, Waterstones or Foyles bookstore and give them my name, book title and this ISBN number (9781849637190). It’s also available via GARDNER’S, BERTRAM’S, AUSTINMACAULEY.COM, BLACKWELL’S, PLAY.COM, AMAZON.CO.UK AND AMAZON.COM
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22 Responses to Here and There

  1. jeannebarnett says:

    Hi Tim,

    This is so beautifully written! Thank you…I know soon there will be great places to post it on CysticFibrosis.com as we welcome our new site, designed by Fabio Gratton.

    I have some “here and there” mostly taking place in the UK… I would love to share with you. Do you have a time and space sometime next week for a zoom conference with me?

    Salt and Light,

    Jeanne

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Dear Jeanne, thanks for your kind words and the offer to share my blog on your new-look site. I can’t wait to see it…
      Yes, I’m always keen to chat to you. Please reach out to me on email to arrange a convenient time to zoom.

      Best wishes
      Tim

  2. Vic says:

    Great tribute, Tim. Sorry that you had to endure so much during the IV treatment. You set a standard that would be very difficult to emulate. Well done! Vic

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Thanks Vic. Necessity is the mother of all invention. I’ve worked out after all these years of suffering how to cope (most of the time!).

      Hope to catch you soon
      LOL
      Tim

  3. Sarah says:

    A lovely reminder of how much beauty there is to see if only we take the time to be present, regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. I can’t imagine the tough time you’ve been through but your approach & attitude is an inspiration.

    Here’s to living to the full while we’re here!

    Sarah

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Dear Sarah, I’m deeply touched that you took time to comment and that my story and words resonated so personally with you.

      Let’s chew the fat in the office soon…

      Best wishes#
      Tim

  4. Tricia Ross says:

    So sorry to hear about the death of your friends. Keep going strong.

  5. Joanna Macgovern says:

    That’s a lovely post Timmy and very poignant to me at the moment as I wait for news of my beloved aunt’s passing. She has terminal cancer and is in the last hours/days now drugged up on morphine. My cousins text me with how she is as I can’t be with her.

    I hope you are gradually recovering from your IV treatment. You are the bravest person I know.

    Lots of love Jo xx

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Dearest Jo, I was humbled reading your kind note, both about your poor aunt and also your touching sentiment about me.
      I am getting over the IV and loss of Martin day by day…
      Hope to catch up with you Andy and Igor one day soon.
      LOL
      Tim xx

  6. Victoria Jones says:

    As ever beautifully put…. And it feels very poignant as our little boy with cf is just coming to terms with his gran’s (my mum) diagnosis of cancer….. A difficulty road we are travelling onl.l but your post as ever is inspirational…. we had a two stay for ivs in July.. So know how grotty that is.. Well done you… Keep strong and keep writing….we need your posts!! Xx

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Hi Victoria,
      Thanks for writing in. It sounds like you’re going through a tough time yourself. So sorry to hear about your mum’s diagnosis (hope it’s treatable) and your son’s recent IV’s.
      Thanks also for encouraging me to keep on sharing my story, it means a lot.
      Best wishes
      Tim

  7. Nicola Lythgoe says:

    Hi,
    I just had to say what a beautiful post – sat at work on this cold dark Friday morning with a tear in my eye….
    I hope my darling daughter lives as full a life as you x

    Nicola Lythgoe
    Regional Parts Controller
    Briggs Equipment UK Limited
    Orbital Way, Cannock, Staffordshire, WS11 8XW

    T: 01543 430362 |M: none
    http://www.briggsequipment.co.uk

    Passionate People. Powerful Solutions.

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Hi Nicola,
      Bless you for your kind words. CF is clearly no picnic but there are some helpful drugs atm that can help us lead fuller lives. I cannot stress the importance of exercise for your daughter, as meds is one part but keeping her lungs active is also crucial.
      Please send my best wishes to her…

      Kind Rgds
      Tim

  8. irene says:

    Hang in there, Tim. I am sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. But please, don’ t start to feel guilty that you’ re still here. Cherish the moments, as you describe, cherish your family and friends and live! People that love you are so happy you are alive and kicking. i am. Don’ t let death or the IV treatments get to you, please! Take care, bigh hug!

    • Tim Wotton says:

      Dear Irene, thanks for your heart-felt messages, which mean a lot to me and spur me on to keep on keeping on. As important as knowing when you’re feeling content, I think it’s helpful to know when and why you’re feeling upset. Both moments need to be understood to help us be more grounded.

      Hope to catch up with you soon
      Best
      Tim

  9. What a beautiful tribute to your friend, Tim.
    Stay strong.
    All the best. X

  10. jez wotton says:

    Beautiful & poignant words Tim, as per usual!

    But if i may, I would like to pay my own personal tribute to Martin who i knew since kindergarten.
    I sat next to Martin in all my classes when we were at Greggs School.I remember we went on a cycling holiday to the Isle Of White when we were 16, in a youth hostel I fell off the top bunk in a deep sleep & Martin heard the crash & helped me back into my bunk – & told me about my little tumble in the morning, as I was oblivious!

    We would volunteer to do the smaller Scoreboard at Hampshire County Cricket club so we could watch the games for free or just chuck the only membership pass over the low wall for each other to gain free entrance. On our first ‘lads holiday’ a year or so later we camped in the IOW & Martin & I thought we were really clever trashing Tickle & Ant’s tent on our last night but then woke the following morning to find our own tent had been ransacked.

    When we both lived in London – Southfields, Fulham & Putney, Martin helped me smuggle a mistreated black cat called ‘Sugar’ to our new house in Girdwood Road. Celebrating one of our birthday’s, a whole load of us spent the day at a hospitality box at the Oval watching cricket followed by seeing Jack Dee in concert in the evening – both Martin & my favourite comedian.

    Martin & i travelled by TGV to St. Claire in the south of france for a holiday staying at Tickle’s Mum & Dad’s villa. I always remember fondly playing cards on the journey down, stopping off at bar’s on the way when waiting for a connection .

    As everyone knows, Martin was also a massive Southampton FC fan & was like the Oracle for any facts, figures & stats about the team. He was either overwhelmingly optimistic (“Saints have got what it takes to get into Europe!”) or crushingly down on the players (” we’re getting relegated all the way down to the ‘mister clutch’ southern conference, Jez!)” But he was always great company at the Dell or St.Mary’s & even joined me at HMV when Matt Le Tissier did a London store signing for his ‘Unbelievable’ video. In fact, when we lived together in the mid 90’s we each owned a vhs video recorder & my one could play tapes but not record & Martin’s would sometimes switch itself off in the middle of a playback & we called them ‘Beasant & Grobbaler’ in mock tribute to Saint’s two hapless goalkeepers at the time – I mention this because if Martin’s reading this, I know he would have a knowing smile on his face!

    So Martin, thanks for all the good times, thanks for your generosity, thanks for always asking me how my wife Julie is, even if you hadn’t seen her for ages & when you were very ill in hospital, thanks for making the hottest mustard pepper & chilli meals this side of Mexico, but most of all thanks for your loyalty & being there for a mate!

    R.I.P Sleety

  11. Alice says:

    A beautiful piece Tim. Really profound and thought provoking. Life is short. We must live it to the full. With love, Alice xx

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