I feel embarrassed when people say that they find me inspirational, or that they admire my courage. I don't feel as though I deserve this sort of praise, and I certainly don't feel brave, or even anything out of the ordinary.
Having said that, I'm thrilled to be able to reach out to people in a similar situation (or not), and have made some great friends through this interweb malarky.
When I see my own story in print, reading back through this blog, through my medical folder, or speaking to friends and family about some of the events of the past, it does seem almost too much to bear. Certainly, taken all at once, it sounds impossible that anyone could go through these things and come out the other side, relatively unscathed.
What this doesn't include is the many good days that I have that make the difficult stuff fade into the background. I have been out of hospital for over four weeks now (not including the three A&E visits when we were trying to work out if my line was infected, or if I was allergic to one of my IV medications). It's not that I forget the bad things - after all, I have scars, tubes and a house full of medical kit to remind me, but there are so many things that balance out the bad things.
Each of us assigns 'weight' to the things that happen in our lives. I try to assign as little weight as possible to hospital admissions, procedures, surgery, and other things that are Not Fun, and assign much greater weight to the Good Things in life.
Of course there are times when I am absolutely overwhelmed by the things that are Not Fun. So much so that life can feel a bit miserable. But these days pass. They may feel long and impossibly hard, but they pass.
And the Good Things? These may be things that many of you wouldn't notice, and that certainly wouldn't brighten your day, but I need these things - to notice them and register them as important in my memory so that the balance of events in my life tilts towards the positive.
I wouldn't describe myself as a natural optimist (Optimists live longer than pessimists - "Serves them right" say the pessimists), but I don't want to waste this life by focusing on the negatives. There are enough bad things without making them worse by dwelling on them!
If someone read back all the difficult things that I have been through in the last couple of years, I would agree that I would need a huge amount of courage to get through such ordeals. The reality is that I don't go through it all in one go. I have time to catch my breath, gather my thoughts, and have some fun before heading back unto the breach (dear friends). I suppose it's a form of denial or dissociation. I push the difficult things to the back of my mind, focus on the happy times and good people, and get on with life - one moment at a time.
Remember this when life seems too much to bear. Each of us has our own burdens to carry, but focus on the happy moments: strawberries warm from the sun, the weight of a sleeping cat and the warmth of her contented dribble, a favourite song on the radio, the smell of cake fresh from the oven. Individually they may seem small in comparison to everything that's wrong with the world, but as I practise more and more, I find that they matter more and life seems better as a result.