Thursday, 5 June 2014
Not very long ago a doctor asked me what the scar on my back was from. The answer was a the removal of half of my right lung when I was 16. I had suffered for several years from bronchiectasis. It's a very debilitating disease allowed to get a hold, in my case, by cross country running and playing football all winter when I had bronchitis. I went to a school where a note from your parents did not excuse you from any school physical activities.
The doctor seemed quite perplexed and made a rather odd remark but I didn't think anything more about it. Until, that is, a few months ago when I was watching Seven Sharp a TVNZ programme akin to the UK's One Show when it showed this footage of Esther-Jordan Muriwai: a name which, until that moment, had meant nothing to me.
Today I was about to write my Thankful Thursday post and mention my bronchiectasis. I decided to see how Esther-Jordan was. I was taken aback to discover that she died yesterday - my birthday. The anniversary of our son, Andy's death and of the father of one of my closest friends.
The TVNZ news article reads:
Inspiring young woman Esther Jordan Muriwai - Source: Te Karere
Young Māori woman’s legacy lives on
For 14 years Esther Jordan Muriwai was in and out of hospital battling a respiratory disease called bronchiectasis. Last night her battle came to a heart-rending end, she was 24. Having founded the Bronchiectasis Foundation and the Northland Bronchiectasis Support Group, Esther dreamed to help the few in NZ who are suffering from the same illness that took her life.
Until that programme made me look more closely at the disease I had lived for over 50 years in blissful ignorance of how near I had come to being in a similar situation. I had worked in the hospital but until I saw that programme I had only come across one other person with the disease and he was operated on on the same day as I was. He died a few days later.
I, on the other hand, have never had the slightest sign of any respiratory problems since I was discharged from hospital with a clean bill of health all those years ago.
Since the original programme I have become aware, however, of the extent of the disease in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands' communities. I have also developed an admiration for the positive attitude and hard work that Esther-Jordan has put into bronchiectasis awareness and support to sufferers and their families.
I shall continue with my Thankful Thursday post separately but I shall also be thankful for the life and work and positive attitude that Esther-Jordan has brought to this world.