It seems a lifetime ago and yet simultaneously a only a second that I was standing behind lift doors as they slid opened to reveal a giant panda mural/photo poster in The Royal Free Hospital in the early hours of the 26th of August 2017.
My life on that day was to change forever, but right then I was calming myself, preparing for the worst case scenario of disappointment if the liver and I didn’t match and so to suddenly see this panda stopped me mid thought. I have always believed in signs and this was a sign. I remember first seeing pandas when my nanny when I was very small used to rake me to London Zoo. It was such a great. The penguins with their tuxedos waddling along in their own private dance routine. The giraffes, so tall and carefree looking out over us far far away, munching in a manner while very much deep in thought. And then the panda. Ming Ming would later be returned to China after unsuccessfully breeding attempts but right then, small and naive as I was all I could think of was her majestic beauty and cuteness. Of course now years later I know more of a pandas temperament but right then I just decided that pandas were my favourite animals.
Seeing the panda at TRFree gave me a feeling I struggle to explain to anyone who doesn’t know me. In my family the women at least have good gut feeling and intuition and the sight of a panda was like a sign or symbol to me not to be afraid and to simply trust in what was to be, whatever that might be.
We are 180 days later and today was a “good day”. Some are, some are more challenging. But every day makes me a little stronger and brings me a little closer to being what I imagine it is like to be normal and healthy. I will be on medication for ever but that is a small price to pay to have the opportunity of living a life more fully than the one I have left for the past 15 years. As my body slowly begins to coherently work like a machine with a replaced part suddenly wirring into life there a new possibilities on the horizon of so many things, including, maybe one day if I was in the right place, with the right person, a baby.
Right at the beginning of this wait for a new liver I found myself in the unfortunate position of being in possession of a wedding dress without a fiance. Love has never been an easy thing to find as my health has exerted so many stresses and pressures on emotional relationships. Now, however I actually have a real chance of being able to meet someone on equal terms without the stresses and strains of me being sick. Although it was sad and upsetting time in my life in a funny way the silver lining of my cloud was that my posts on social media drew attention to yet another person whose life was held in the balance as they waited for an organ transplant. Life is like that sometimes and you can be very surprised by how a negative thing can be turned into a positive one.
Today, I had the opportunity to have a panda selfie and it was wonderful to finally have an image of a healthy me and a panda. Random? Very. Did it make me happy? Very. Pandas are very rare and hard to find. Suitable organs for patients are rare and hard to find due to the shortage of them. For the organ to be suitable the donor and recipient must be of similar build and stature, with the matching blood type and correct corresponding factors in each of their bodies so that the organ can fit and will be accepted.
We failed at helping Ming Ming to breed and have babies but maybe we could succeed at changing the law to presumed consent and reducing the waiting list of those waiting for organs.
Because I’ve struggled for years with my memory due to my liver letting toxins seep through to my mind. For that reason I have taken many photos of everything I’ve come into contact with so on the morning of what might be and took this. Reassuring isn’t he or she? The last Panda I saw with my old liver.