Breakdown

There are some of you who know I was a successful rally driver. Cars are a part of my life which bring me great pleasure. Don’t make the mistake of thinking I am speed obsessed; my enjoyment comes from an appreciation of design, advancing technology: and memories of a time when the competition was bought me a large amount of pleasure. My father worked with me during my rallying days, and on balance, this memory brings the most pleasure.

The ownership of a quality car also brings great pleasure to anyone who enjoys driving. Now, being a Scotsman, I am a little careful with my money! I see sense in owning a car which will hold, or possibly increase in value. Some time ago an opportunity came to buy a rare and collectible motorcar for a sensible price. I am not writing the car was purchased ‘for a song’ far from it, the combination of condition, history, and its previous ownership resulted in my decision to purchase the vehicle.

Each year I travel to France on a business trip. In our work, the minerals we trade, have to be personally selected, and therefore, Carol and I chose to travel to a trade show in Alsace. Do not mistake, the trip for a holiday, the journey is 700+ miles, and the heat at the event is stifling. In fact, it was so hot at the show this year; I found myself having to take great care of my well-being.

The journey is an opportunity to take my classic car out for a decent run. Long stretches of clear motorways and the final 160 kilometers of twisting mountain roads, bring me great enjoyment. And on this journey, a problem occurred. Two hundred miles from the destination, the oil warning light came on as I was driving. I stopped at the service station and dipped the sump. No problem, the levels were fine. The car is extensively serviced, and although a high-performance vehicle, it is never driven to excess.

The next two hundred miles were driven carefully and as I drove the car, many years of mechanical engineering passed through my mind. What could be the causes? Well, the first thing to accept is the light comes on because the sensor is detecting low pressure. Therefore, there is a sequence of possible problems to consider. And there was another consideration; the warning light was intermittent, an intermittent warning is often ignored. In my mind I went through a list of possible failures or faults: Sensor failure, damaged or blocked oil cooler, or the worse of problems, a £1000 oil pump failure. This replacement is a big job, as the oil pump is deep within the engine and to change it is a major transplant.

At the nearest town to my accommodation, a VW and Audi trained mechanic suggested the problem was a damaged or failed oil sensor. He recommended the car was returned to the U.K by recovery. I decided this was the right option, although deep within my psyche, I ‘knew’ the problem was not serious. The A.A recovery system is fantastic. “We’ll get your car to an Audi dealer in Colmar, and if the cost to repair the problem is over a certain price, the car will be returned to the U.K for repair.” A couple of days later, the diagnosis was “10,000 euros to fix it; we’ll take your car home”.

Imagine the feeling, 10,000 euros to repair the car. Audi Colmar had diagnosed the oil pump as failing. And deep inside, with years of mechanical engineering experience, my inner being still said ‘Campbell, oil pumps work, or they do not, it is not the oil pump’ – My car was loaded onto the delivery truck, and ten days or so later it appeared outside my home.

As already mentioned the car is well maintained, and it was decided to remove the sump and pressure test the oil pump and the oil delivery system. Inside the engine the metal has become a light golden colour, it is immaculate. There is no indication of excessive oil heat, and after testing the garage confirm the pump is fine. The diagnosis and analysis continue, and eventually, the fault is discovered, a ten thousand to one chance, the oil filter membrane has for some reason collapsed, and the flow of blood of the engine is restricted. A thirty-pound consumable is the simple cause of the problem. In truth, I was not surprised, right from the beginning my inner-being and forty+ years of mechanical engineering told me the issue was not one of great concern.

The experience reminded me of my transplant. An illness leads me to a consultant who dismissed my chances and informed me my condition was beyond help (the Colmar garage). I knew there was a way to return to health and trusted a whole string of people to get me to the surgery (the A.A). I had surgery, and a solution was found (replacement oil filter). I am alive and well.

There is more to the comparison. The lesson is this, if you feel unwell, do not ignore the intermittent warnings (oil lamp). Even if your inner-being suggests, the symptoms are not serious, seek to advise from professionals. Listen to what is being described, and if you need a second opinion, seek one out. Trust your instincts and trust the medical professionals who will work tirelessly to keep you well. There will be some who will make mistakes, do not dwell on this, it is the positive aspects which are important.

My car is now in storage ready for the new year and more adventures. Drama over, a story told and perhaps a lesson for all of us to consider. We can learn from many facets of our life’s journey, in fact, the person who says “What can I learn from this?” will always have the advantage over the one who looks to blame others. It would be easy to say the Colmar dealership or the unsympathetic consultant was wrong and be chastised.

It is simpler to know and accept; people make mistakes, that is the way of life. All that is past is known, all which is ahead is unknown. Learn from your experiences and take advantage of the good experiences.

Live life Well

Campbell

Campbell’s Mission

Campbell talks about transplants and those who do not follow the aftercare rules. This video provides a deep insight into Cam’s thoughts about life and the reason to live. He comments on financial difficulties during illness. His commentary is varied and candid, it like being part of a good conversation. Well worth ten minutes, get a cup of coffee, a biscuit, and sit back and enjoy the moment.

I hope you enjoy the interview – I will be writing about my talk at the LizianEvents Well Being Event at Newark 16&17 September in my next post.

The Vow of Life

Campbell Wallace
Campbell Wallace

A few weeks ago, I returned to the transplant unit from my check up. It is a great feeling to know my body functions are excellent. When the consultant lowers the dose of the medications, we become aware the prognosis is good. There is a strict regime and upwards of twenty differing meds a day. In fact, the anti rejection and other drugs are a life long and essential legacy of the transplant. The fact is without the daily intake, the rejection of my organs is not an ‘if’ it is a ‘when’ and once the body begins the rejection process, it is like a boulder rolling down a hill. If the transplant team are not on the case within hours, the outcome, in the long-term is often fatal.

The process of rejection is not kind; it begin’s with a rise in body temperature, nausea and uncontrollable sickness. Full blown flu like symptoms follow, and the body will eventually enter into a coma. The implication is if we do not keep up with the med’s and stick to diet routines, problems are waiting to manifest. Regular blood tests and check-ups are essential to keep ahead of the changes in body functions. And as already written, I keep close to the timetable for daily medication and visits to the transplant team are never postponed. If there is any doubt about my health, the twenty-four-hour help line is here 365 days a year.

The rule is; listen to the experts, follow their plan and ‘feel’ your body. I am acutely aware, of how my body feels, the rise and fall in temperature and general aspects of my well-being. Any doubt; I ask, and by the way, I do not mean look the symptoms on the internet. If there is an issue, it will be considered by my aftercare team. There are times for concern, for example – Last month I was in France and the day was incredibly hot, by mid afternoon, there was a feeling of weakness and nausea. It would have been easy to push past the threshold and continue with the day. As I sat in the shade: My thoughts returned to days when the heat would have made no difference. I needed to remind myself, although for ninety-eight percent of the time I feel healthy. There are times to ‘hold back’ and review the situation. On this day there was no way I was going to push the limit. Carol and my friends left me to my own devices, a litre of water and a relaxing afternoon, all returned to normal. I experienced a warning and no way would I ignore the discomfort. It is uncharted territory, and I was not going to push the limits.

It is essential to follow the guidelines and take the medication. Yes, there are days when the obligation becomes tedious, although my excellent memory soon realigns the slight frustration. Ten or fifteen seconds back into the time when my old lungs could not exchange the CO2 for oxygen is enough to see the light of day. Remember, once the blood is saturated with CO2, we suffocate, the feeling is beyond explanation. My goodness, the memory of the heart beating twice as fast as normal to help with the respiratory exchange. Inability to rest because my lungs were saturated and few respites from the symptoms, the reality of situation immediately returns to acute awareness.

During my last major check up, I realised the magnitude of the transplant process and the essential after care. The sadness of the news two of my fellow transplant patients had entered their final sleep. And one was being looked after by the intensive care team because his body was rejecting the organs; it is a difficult moment. It ‘s hard when people you have grown to know and enter into an exclusive relationship with, return to sickness. The news hardened my resolve to write this essay.

During a conversation with my consultant, I’m amazed, or is it dismayed to discover; one of the reasons for relapse is a failure to keep up with the medication regime. Not only this, there are heart and lung recipients who decide to smoke again. And, some patients return to excessive alcohol abuse. A sane person’s mind enters into shut down mode, thinking about the madness of the self-neglect. What must the transplant patient who neglects his gift be thinking about? (Incidentally, this is no reference to the patients mentioned above).

I am not a moralist; people can do as they choose with their bodies. Smoke, drink or become a drug addict, the trio is part of the society we live within. Fortunately, most who people drink do so on a social level, and smoking tobacco is on the decline. Drug abuse is not something I have great knowledge of, although from a quick search on the internet; the outcome of addiction is often fatal. Misuse of all three, seems to cause major issues with health and family troubles. This observation is as far as my comments reach. The important factor is most people who abuse their lives, do so with their own body and organs.

The recipient of a donors organ is obligated to a different set of moral rules. As an ambassador of the donor registry, I am tasked to ask people to consider entering onto the register. The few who abuse their gift of life, trouble potential donors and me. I would ask you how you would feel if you have not smoked and the recipient returns to tobacco? Or a transplant patient drinks to excess? Both are (to my mind) a shameful lack of respect for the donor and their family.

In the same way, the transplant patient, who fails to follow the aftercare regime disrespects their donor. There is not one day, not a one; when I do not give thanks to my donor and his family. The gift they bequeathed to me is my life. And I will do all which is needed to honour my donor, by caring for my gift of life. It is not possible to consider this in any other way. During the last few years, I have considered many aspects of transplant and the donor system in my country. It is fair to comment the legality, procedure and aftercare are as good as any the world over. We cannot enforce a patient (he will always be a patient – requiring meds and check-ups) to follow the system. Although, we can make them think carefully about the responsibility and obligation to ALL of the people involved in the procedure. The moment the gift of life is neglected becomes the moment every one of the people involved is let down.

You do not receive a ‘Second Chance’ of living to decide to neglect the gift and get away with abusing the new beginning. We must remember, the health and continuation of the transplant system are assured by the acts of each recipient. We must never be seen to abuse our gift or ignore the donors family. Every day we live is a day known, seen and enjoyed because of our surgery. The day you think or say: ’I cannot be bothered’ or ‘I’ll have the extra drink’ or ‘One cigarette will not matter’ is the day to be reminded of the wait in the pre-op room and the promises which spin through one’s mind. There can be few patients who do not pray: ‘See me through this Lord.’ The seconds before the anaesthetic takes it effect, the thought of those you may never see again enters the mind.

The very few who abuse the donor’s gift, should return to those moments and renew the marriage vow of life.

‘Live Life Now’
Campbell Wallace