Am very proud of myself today, as thanks to a small amount of determination combined with huge lashings of desire to buy pretty new things plus an overly zealous mother to fuel it all, I went on my first shopping excursion today, yay! I was really quite nervous. Lungs are having a fair bit of trouble coping still, so whereas before I would just use 2litres of oxygen I am often having to whack my O2 up to as high as 8litres to calm little lungs down (clearly they have become far to diva like in their ways). This factor makes me a tad nervous to go anywhere too far from my concentrator, as the tiny portable cylinders I have don’t last very long at all, plus it takes no end of blood sweat and tears to actually coax the company to give you more than 3 at a time. It is those damn “what-ifs” which can creep in if you aren’t careful; what if I get really breathless and can’t run my cylinder as high as my machine to give me some relief? What if we get stuck somewhere due to traffic/roadworks/landslide/carnival procession or similar and my O2 begins to run low? Not so much of a problem when the O2 is simply perking me up and making breathing easier but at the moment breathing doesn’t just become slightly hard work, but rather almost impossible without the support.
Luckily the desire for pretty things has been building slowly but consistently over the last week or so, until (as I predicted and hoped it would) it significantly surpassed anxiety caused by the what-ifs. Feeling quite good lung wise and emboldened by thoughts of beautiful shoes, me Abby and my mother set off in the car and parked down a quiet road thanks to my little blue badge (I still get such strange looks when we pull up in a disabled bay, which I take as a compliment as the nasal specs clearly aren’t that prominent for people to be scowling at me as I wave merrily back at them). Even with the promise of shiny new things, it took quite a lot of push mentally to actually go, as it is just so much easier to put it off indefinitely; oh I am not quite feeling up to it, plus it will tire me out, etc etc. The sun was out and the sky a gorgeous deep blue as we set off with me in Denzel (my wheelchair) towards the shopping centre. It is all such a strange sensation still, cars roaring past, people pushing and chatting loudly, rushing around going about their daily business. I felt like a five year old as not only was I quite nervous, I was acutely aware of how helpless I am and completely reliant on someone else - normally I can at least maneuver Denzel around a bit on my own using my arms but I cant do that at the moment. Being out and about in the town again was strange, but nice, nice to be reintroducing myself back to normality. Also every time I face something I feel nervous about it boosters me with confidence, as I feel the nerves gradually subside, and I can add that as another accomplishment in the “Emily 1, CF 0” game which I am determined to keep playing. Tiny accomplishments are the way forward.
We headed straight for H&M as my mother most sensibly reasoned that just incase I want to return home after 10 minutes we should start with our favourite shop. I found some gorgeous bits and pieces (sensible trousers which I did need canceling out the beautiful but not quite so necessary tops, necklace and earrings also purchased). I wouldn’t say I was on edge all the time, rather having to work quite hard not to be, and not to keep thinking about breathing and potential breathing related problems. For example when looking for sensible trousers, my right lung got bored and decided to amuse itself by creating random stabbing pains in the top lobe, roughly where my 4th collapse was. Repressing the overwhelming urge to panic I decided to try and work out the new price of items which were labeled with markings such as “70% off”. This distraction technique worked a treat (predominantly because that is maths sadly beyond my capabilities) and the panic subsided leaving just the stabby pains, which on realizing I wasn’t about to rush home shrieking also began to die down. It is nerve-wracking and it is hard, but what frightens me more is the idea that my teeny battered lungs will prevent me from doing the things I love, and I will not let that happen, not yet. Emily 1, CF 0.
Brimming with new confidence and pleasure at having convinced lungs to temporarily comply, I demanded that we wheel in the direction of a shoe shop, and purchased the most beautiful shoes in the whole world ever (also known as glorious-but-completely-impractical-not-to-mention-unnecessary shoes). Thank god for Denzel, because I can’t walk in them. I have decided that they will become permanently attached to my feet and I shall refuse to take them off, even when in hospital. I have included a picture here for your delight and delectation, also because the money funding this shopping spree was kindly raised by some wonderful friends and family who attended a concert organized as a fundraiser for me when I was in hospital. So as well as boring things such as reimbursing family for some of the car parking fees accumulated (Chelsea & Westminster council took over £1000 from my family in car parking costs over the 11 weeks) here’s the evidence that your money is going on slightly more attractive vital necessities, which are so very essential for life. Hurrah for fabulous shoes!