Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Leaving Cert song revisited

This song was a big hit the year I was doing my Leaving Cert. Back then, all the lines seemed to sing to our excited selves as we moved on to college. Now, more than ten years later, I have tweaked it to my current situation.

If you want to remind yourself of the original, click here:

"Ladies and Gentlmen of the Transplant and General Sickness Class of 2010...
Wear sunscreen,
If I could offer you one piece of advice pre and post-transplant, sunscreen would be it
The long term benefits of sunscreen has been proven to help fend off the skin cancer that threatens you as a side effect of anti-rejection drugs,
Whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.
I will dispense this advice now...
Enjoy remembering the power and beauty of your youth; oh never mind, you already know that you did not understand the power and beauty of your youth until it was taken from you.
But trust me, you will pass many hours looking at photos from before you were sick and recalling in a way that fills you with grief just how much possibility once lay before you and how fabulous you once looked.
You are not as pale and drawn looking as you imagine.
Don’t worry about the future, you already know worrying is about as effective as trying to change blood results by chewing bubble gum.
The real trouble in your life did turn out be the last thing that ever crossed your mind; it really was the kind that blindsided you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing every day that reminds you you are still alive.
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts; don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours
Don’t waste time on being jealous of the healthy people who surround you; sometimes you’re ahead in dealing with life’s crap, sometimes you’re behind; the race is long and in the end it’s only with yourself.
Remember the compliments you received before the nicest comment became “you’re looking well, considering...”
Forget the insults and the startled looks of those who haven’t seen you in some time -
If you succeed in doing this, please tell me how
Keep your old love letters from the time when love was easy and not secondary to sickness
Don’t open your bank statements to be reminded of how your earning power was slashed the moment you became ill
Don’t feel guilty that it no longer seems important what you do with your life
The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t
Take your calcium acetate tablets if you are on dialysis
Be nice to whatever kidney function remains, you’ll miss it when it’s gone
Maybe you’ll marry someone who accepts you regardless of your condition, maybe you won’t; maybe you’ll defy the odds and your broken body will produce children, maybe you won’t; maybe your transplant will still be working at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken when you’re named the longest recorded living transplant recipient in the world
Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself too much either
The choices that are left to you now are your real chance. A little different to everybody else’s.
You must still enjoy your body, use it every way you still can...don’t hate it or be afraid of it or what other people think of the scars on it. Despite its failings, it is still the greatest instrument you will ever own.
Dance...even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room
Always read the directions on your medication, even if you don’t fully follow them
Do NOT read health magazines, they will only make you feel more poorly.
Get to know your parents and appreciate how your illness is killing them just as it is killing you.
Be nice to your siblings, they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to offer to donate an organ to you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go, but only a precious few will remember to call you up and simply ask you how you are
Work hard to bridge the gaps between their healthy lifestyle and your hospital existence, because the sicker you get, the more you will need the people you knew when you were young.
Try to go private once, but leave this behind before it makes you haughty; go public when you have to, but leave this behind before it makes you bitter.
Travel as soon as you have recovered from your transplant and you no longer have to bring a dialysis machine.
Accept certain inalienable truths
Prices of tablets will rise; politicians will waste the money that should be spent on the health service, you don’t know that you will grow old, but if you do you’ll fantasise that when you were young prices were reasonable and politicians were noble and children respected their elders
Respect your elders – even if they moan and you wonder how they can be so downhearted when they have made it to an age you may never see
Don’t come to rely on the support you receive when you’re sick
Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe illness benefit is enough to sustain you, but you’ll never know when the state will pump the guts of €50 billion into bailing out the banks and all social welfare will be cut
Don’t mess too much with your hair because future chemo and anti-rejection drugs may make it fall out
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it
Advice is a form of conversation that fills the gaps where ordinary people have no clue what to say to make you feel better.
But trust me on the sunscreen...


  1. And revel in the fact that many are reading this blog, it's giving them impulses to think about things they don't often think about, making them chuckle or draw a sudden breath.
    Know that - in virtual reality at least - your physical restrictions don't matter a damn, except as a source of inspiration for many of the gems you post there.
    And remember the great saying of John Lennon; "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." :-)

  2. Aww musha Regina. This had me laughing when I didn't expect it, and if I wasn't such a stone hearted monster I'd have been snotting all over the place for the rest of it.
    Amazing writing, I'm going back to read it again now.

  3. I did my leaving in '88. Yikes.

  4. 99 ... 88 ... 77 (that's when I did the Leaving!) Yikes indeed :-)

  5. Francis - If I had an ounce of modesty, I may have protested at being regarded as an "inspiration", but I don't, so thanks! And you were lucky enough to be young in the sixties and seventies. Far cooler than the eighties and nineties were!

    KFS - I know there's a heart in there somewhere. If there weren't, you wouldn't keep coming back to read about a dialysis patient. I'm surprised anyone read to the end of this lengthy post, so well done you for reading it twice

    Holemaster - Age is but a number and the Leavin is but a memory. Thank Christ on both counts.