Friday, January 01, 2010
2009 becomes 2010
It's 1.ooam on January 1st. Mum and Dad have gone to bed. I have a left over glass of bubbly, a few nuts, some chocs and rubbish on the TV and am full of hope for a wonderful 2010. I'm really enjoying the feeling, one of those moments to hold onto. This is the first time in 4 years that I can really see a new year in and wonder what excitement and opportunities it will hold for the children and I, rather than just wonder if Wills will make it though the year, how much time we'll be away from the girls in hospital, how many days we'll be home together.. Of course, there will likely be some health scares for Wills this year but, overall, things are good. This time last year, we were still in Birmingham recovering from his transplant and it was the end of February before we were home. The year before, Wills was really ill in Chelsea and Westminster and, again, we weren't home until February (and then home very little throughout the whole of 2008). A lot of people are reflecting back on the whole decade today but, for me, the years before Wills is like another lifetime. I have memories, good and bad. There are things to look back on and learn from but I am such a different person now. It's not until you see first hand how fragile life can suddenly become that you really learn to appreciate what you have and make the best of it. While 2009 has been a journey for Wills back to health, or I should say really to a health that he had never had before, for me it's been a journey to work out what I will do with the rest of mine. With 3 years out of life looking after William in hospital, I have had to rebuild everything; my career, social life, even family life and it's still very much work in progress.
At the end of 2009, I have three amazing children who I am so proud of and who have a lot going for them in 2010. I have fantastic friends, many of them people I have met and come to love since William's transplants, some old friends who have been with me through the thick of it all and some old friends I had lost contact with and am getting to know again. I am looking forward to having more time for my family friends in 2010.
Career wise, 2009 has been an exciting journey of discovery. I have always wanted to write and my ambitions there are being realised. I've had several features published in magazines and am about to send my first novel to a scout to have a look at and, hopefully, work towards finding a publisher. A big surprise to me in 2009 was photography and how that took off. The Gifts of Life exhibition may have postponed for 2010 but the images are there and many have been used in local and national papers. The other huge development career wise has been the PR and media work, with Live Life The Give Life, promoting organ donation. This is all something that just developed and snow balled. Save Jess grew from just a few tweets and resulted in loads of celebrity support, over 5 million people reached through twitter, loads of media coverage, a text to Natalie Imbruglia that resulted in her, Ed Byrne, The Yeah You's and Glen Wool playing a gig to help us raise awareness and, ultimately, an invitation from Sarah Brown to the Downing Tweet Christmas Party. This time last year, I would never have dreamt any of that would happen.
One of the best things about the PR work is getting to hear all the inspirational stories people share with me. People waiting for transplants, people who have new lives because of their gifts and people that were brave enough to say yes when their loved ones were put in the position to become organ donors. It's all incredibly humbling. I am so passionate about these stories and get such a buzz when an editor wants to run them because I know how much that means to those whose stories they are. Several people have told me how this work keeps them going while waiting and gives them hope to cling to. This means the world to me. To be able to really make a difference to other people's lives like that is a real privilege. A report has just come out to show that organ donor awareness campaigns are leading to sharp increases in people signing the organ donor register and that the percentage of people on the register has risen from 27% to 28%. That's great but it's a baby step. There is still so much more to so.
So, what are my goals for 2010? Above all else, I want to to be there for my family and friends. There is still a lot of lost time to make up.
Other than that, well there is a lot to build on from the things I've achieved in 2009. It has been a bit of a whirlwind and, with a Christmas and New Year media campaign, there hasn't been space to reflect back on it all yet. Save Jess will continue and will be used to highlight other stories of people waiting for a transplant who are desperate and running out of time. Save Jess-tival was organised in 2 weeks!! If that can be achieved in 2 weeks, I am wondering what can be achieved in a year and have my thinking cap on...I am now working with Live Life Then Give life on specific projects, which is fantastic, and I will explain more about that later in the month. I'm meeting the transplant tsar, Chris Rudge, in a couple of weeks to discuss the work I've been doing and some of his plans. I'm sure that will result in more ideas for things I can do to help see the day when the 96% of the population who support organ donation are on the register and no-one has to die waiting because a suitable donor can't be found. I've seen that happen to too many people now, and most of them children. Children's organ donation is something I particularly want to discuss with Chris. Campaigns at the moment are all about signing the register for yourself and it's a very different thing to think about what you would do if your child were to die suddenly. I as told that only 25 children donate organs a year and that William had only 4 chances a year to get his transplant, and would be in competition for those chances with anyone else with the same match. Thankfully, he did get his chance but others I know were not so lucky.
Outside the campaigning, I want to build on the writing by doing more features, getting a publisher for the novel and getting more established as a novelist and feature writer. Holly and I are about to start a new project, documenting the year in the life of the Shooting Star Children's Hospice in Hampton. This will involve photography and writing and I'm really looking forward to getting started next week. I'll blog more about that in the coming days.
All in all, 2010 promises to be an amazing year. I'll carry on discovering more about my new skills and experiences and how they can be put to good use. At the moment, I'm freelancing on things which is great as it gives plenty of opportunities to do lots of things and I can work around William's health and hospital appointments etc. I hope I'll keep getting enough work to pay the mortgage and bills and feed, clothe and entertain the children. Maybe 2010 will bring me a big break, who know. What I do know is that William's donor not only saved his life but has given me a whole new one that I'm only just beginning to explore.