As a recipient of a double lung transplant, Andrew wants to make the most of this new opportunity at life, even in self-isolation

It is a strange new world, there is a new normal and most people are all now living a new life.

I have cystic fibrosis and had a double lung transplant in May 2017 and all of us who have had transplants have already experienced living a new life. Mine has been amazing, something of a miracle. I owe so much to so many, namely the doctors, nurse and all the staff at both the Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals, and also the young girl in her early 20’s and her family for agreeing to donate her lungs. This new opportunity at life simply cannot be wasted.

I enjoyed reading both Amy’s and Sophie’s blogs, both of whom expressed strong views about their feeling of responsibility to themselves, their families, their friends and the NHS to self-isolate. They are 100% correct, for we are the 1%, we are high risk, quite simply we have no option. As Sophie wrote, we have already had our second chance at life, we cannot take any more chances.

As I tap away, the sun is shining and the birds tweet, even more than me! A glorious idyllic scene yet who would know what’s really happening in the world? For all the terrible news we watch and listen to every day, those of us that self-isolate now live in something of a bubble. We watch the news footage of ICU units and our memories come flooding back of our own days in such environments and we pray that those we see on the television survive. It is dramatic, intense and moving. We understand and can empathise and we have huge admiration for those who work in such environments.

Meanwhile back in our bubble, days merge into one other, weeks pass without change and almost six weeks later, I wonder where has the time gone? I am very lucky. I am very healthy and I am able to work from home. I miss the day to day contact and banter, but we survive on emails, calls and zoom video conference meetings. It is fascinating seeing work colleagues inside their own homes and what they have chosen to wear for these calls – one looked like he was all set for a big night out!

We have also discovered that two of us in our team have grown beards, me being one of them! Well, why not, I don’t see anyone these days and in all my 51 years this is something that I have never tried before. As these photos evidence, it has not been a huge success!

Friends go shopping for us and deliver food and drugs to the door, just perfect! “Hello Fresh” delivers food too, as does ‘the local’. I am very fortunate, for this really is not a hardship, it is just different. It is also a real opportunity to work on my fitness too. Pre-transplant I took the opportunity to invest in a treadmill and exercise bike, my only forms of exercise back in those days with the oxygen machine sat alongside me as I did my best to try to cycle and walk. These days I’m smashing my PB’s regularly, a life and a world away.

Social life has also taken on a whole new meaning and new technology has been an absolute wonder. In addition to zoom, we have regular chats with friends and family on Houseparty and Teams, but please, no more quizzes! I have been known to dress up on occasions too for a friend’s online birthday party, albeit perhaps a little too scary! Modern technology has probably saved us all in many ways. All the usual forums take a pounding from the iPhone with a massive increase in WhatsApp traffic yet not all the supposed ‘funnies’ are funny! Be careful, I think that there need to be rules – time is still precious!

There are joys and delights in the giving and receiving of messages – ‘keeping in touch’ is a big mantra, it helps us all get through in these unprecedented times. In addition, we can create our own pleasures.  A late breakfast in the garden reading the newspaper feels like such a luxury, even if the sports section is full of stories about events being cancelled. Also, listening to Spotify shuffles whilst exercising can be inspiring, uplifting and motivating. We all need a dose of all three to help keep us going whilst we wait for the world to change.

Life is like we have never known before. For those of us who have had transplants, we already have a new life, which we must cherish and do all we can to survive. Let’s just hope that as many of the rest of the population as possible are able to as well.   

If Andrew's blog had you thinking about your own experience shielding from COVID-19, get in touch, we’d love to share it!