On the second day of Christmas…

2 xmas

Are you happy in your skin? What’s that mean? You maybe are, many aren’t. Even if you are happy or proud of the colour of your skin someone else’s blindness or prejudice can cause such pain and damage that lives can be wrecked over it. People – people – looked down on as something less than enough, surplus to requirements, for the shade of their skin.

Maisie, one of Birmingham’s Courageous Heroes (Birmingham Children’s Hospital Transplant Games team) told us, “When I received my transplant my donor gave to me – skin that wasn’t yellowy.”
“When I received my transplant my donor gave to me – the chance to be symptom free.”

One of the symptoms of liver disease, and liver failure, is jaundice. The whites of your eyes grow a yellowish tinge. Sometimes it deepens, then not only in your eyes but in your skin. You start to take a yellowish tinge that can deepen significantly, even adding shades of green into the mix. It’s all about the level of bilirubin in your blood and how successfully your liver is cleaning it out – or not. The Children’s Liver Disease Foundation host Big Yellow Friday every March, reminding people to look for and pay attention to early signs of prolonged jaundice (more than two weeks) in children. It’s an important symptom, a clue to trouble that may need fixing because, for some, it can lead to the transplant list and a wait.

Meanwhile, you’re yellow. Not just on weekdays, or in poor light, but all the time. A visible symptom you carry around. It looks right back at you from the mirror every morning. You might get used to it, a bit. Until the shop assistant looks and laughs, “Are you supposed to be that colour?” Then the embarrassment all round as they realise it’s not a bad dose of fake tan but a sign that something is wrong inside. They’ll tell their friends later that day about how awkward they felt, and maybe even laugh it away. You carry it home. You feel rotten anyway so you stay in the house. You still need your friends but you’re watching and listening carefully for clues of their discomfort, trying to live as though it’s all OK. You’re still yourself, you’re just being coloured-in a bit differently. All the same, you choose not to look in the mirror before going to bed, waiting, waiting, for a call to come. It gets harder to sleep.

“When I received my transplant my donor gave to me – skin that wasn’t yellowy.”
“When I received my transplant my donor gave to me – the chance to be symptom free.”

Even within hours of a transplant the change can begin. Within days, when all goes well, you can be symptom free. Back to the colour you were supposed to be. That’s all. Your own colour. Not anything spectacular, just normal. Back to you. Your own normal shade of whatever you should be, which is pretty spectacular in itself. And the chance to feel, to know, how important, how beautiful it can be to be comfortable in your own skin. Just as we should be. No more, no less.
“On the second day of Christmas my donor gave to me… my natural colour.” Reason enough to be grateful. And proud.