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Showing posts from 2010
1:27, too much to drink and just seen my penultimate friend out the door...the final one is upstairs nailing my housemate. I should really go to bed and get five hours sleep before I have to get up for my last day at work, pre-Christmas break; the mess from our raucous festive party can wait until tomorrow at least.

But before I retire, just this to share: I collected my youngest brother from the airport today, and the relief that he was able to land on British soil before Christmas Day was the only present I require. As long as my father can arrive in a similar timely fashion my Yule will be perfect. The unconditional love I am endowed with by a selection of my friends and family has sustained me these last three years and it is only by having endured the hardship of kidney failure that I have understood the importance of it. Christmas is tricky because it is around this period that I began dialysis - for the second time in my life - three years ago. I am about to start my fourth yea…

Festive planning

It's only bloody Christmas AGAIN - it feels like it's only been a year since we were last celebrating, and then there was the one before that, and at least five before that one...and with every passing year Christmas starts that little bit earlier. This year, I'll be looking to get my Turkey in mid-August to beat the back-to-school rush. However, nothing can diminish the glee I take in Christmas

I am particularly excited for this one. The last few Christmas's have been overshadowed by things like the collapse of my career, or the searing pain from a recently inserted catheter, but this Yuletide is going to be different. Obviously I'm still on dialysis, but at Christmas I 'forget' about my high potassium level and eat as much chocolate as I can cram into my mouth before I have a heart attack -  and by 'Christmas', I obviously mean 'December', so I am certain to start the New Year 1/2 stone heavier with shocking blood work, but the alarm on …

To Swede or not to Swede

Sometimes, living with this condition feels like I am dragging a heavy suitcase behind me wherever I go. Tonight, tired after the day's session and run down by the dark evenings and cold weather (although I think that may apply to everyone) my luggage feels just that little bit more cumbersome. I am due to go to Stockholm this weekend to celebrate Anna's birthday and I am suffering from indecision, for I fear the metaphorical luggage I shall be bringing with me will exceed the plane's acceptable weight limit. I am not bemoaning my situation or whining about the injustice of it all - I do not feel it is unfair. Having renal failure does not negate me from being able to go on what will no doubt be a fun trip away; indeed, I am incredibly fortunate that I am healthy enough to consider the prospect; to have friends who want me there and that I can afford it (just)...yet, I am fretting. It's one weekend away, but leaving the country, even for 42 hours, is such a sheer depa…
I must have been the only teacher in Christendom (for "teacher" read: lowly teaching assistant)not forward to half term. I was kind of dreading it, in fact. Sure, I could sleep in until mid-morning and my clothes would be safe from paint and sticky hands for an entire week, but as the holiday approached, my anxiety grew: five days without (*dramatic pause*) routine.

Routine. I cling to it like a leech because I've found I can just about manage dialysis as long as EVERYTHING STAYS EXACTLY THE SAME FOREVER. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I wake up, I go to work, I go to hospital, I stagger home, I eat and I sleep; on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I wake and go to work, I arrive home and write, I go to the gym and get on with my live sex show on th...er, I have dinner and an early night. Without work, my carefully constructed regime is in tatters and all I have to orientate my week are the sessions at the hospital and, though I do enjoy my M and S sandwich, I don't reli…

Best laid plans

Having spent much of the last three years being either introspective or retrospective and sometimes a hybrid of the two ("What was I doing wrong last week?") I feel it is high time to start looking forward. I have developed a (not unjustified) phobia of making plans because the ones I do make never quite pan out as expected: my plan to graduate, get a job and live happily ever after, for instance, has been disrupted by the abrupt terminus of my kidney function. Once that had happened, my rigid dialysis regime meant that any plans that didn't revolve around an afternoon at the hospital were a dead end.

I resented it for a while - I felt it cruelly unfair that I couldn't arrange a holiday, but then I realised what an obnoxious dick I was and that not being able to get burnt and drunk over a week in Turkey is not exactly a violation of my human rights. In fact, the only significant impact my medical inertia has had on anything is my career. I tried working full time: i…

The little things

I calculate it has been roughly six weeks since I wrote last, which I realise translates as an eternity in the blogosphere. The gap correlates with my having gone back to work after the summer holidays and consequently being too tired and short of time to contemplate the goings on in my life, then attempt to articulate them in amusing vignettes. In addition, all my spare time (when I have not been asleep or hungover) has been dedicated to The Book. It has paid off in part because I now have an opus of approximately 55,000 words, most of them trite, but there on the virtual page of my pre-historic lap-top never the less. Perhaps if I had a brand new lap-top I would get more written: I had to give up writing in Starbucks, what with the shame of my old clunking Mac and all; I would ask for a Christmas cash injection towards an update if only I wasn't so desperate for Laura Mericer products. Still, if the worst dilemma in my life is currently that my expensive computer embarrasses me …

Stranger than fiction

Most people measure their successes through conventional social barometers: a pay rise, say, or aesthetically pleasing children. Not me - no no. To define myself in such staid, traditional terms would expose me as severely lacking anyway. This is not to say I have not achieved: this week, for instance, I finished watching the entire series of "ER". It has taken me months, it has been boring at times, but on Friday, I did it. All fifteen series of it.

I would never have managed such an impressive feat had it not been for dialysis. How else would I have found twelve hours per week to devote to DVD watching? Work or socialising or other such superfluous nuisances would have gotten in the way if I didn't have to be at the hospital. The element of sadism involved in watching a hospital drama whilst in hospital has not escaped me, but there is schadenfreude in watching someone have an arm ripped off in a horrific tractor accident whilst sitting snugly in a south London NHS h…

The three of us in this relationship

The winds have certainly changed, from a mild breeze that made the hot, sticky days of July bearable, to blustery, damp gales that seem to have heralded the arrival of autumn when it really still ought to be summer. Perhaps this explains what has happened to me this week. Perhaps it is the shift in the winds, or maybe Jupiter has moved into my thirty-ninth maisonette, but over the last seven days I have miraculously - inexplicably - developed some sort of...irresistible sexual allure.

Over the years, I have had an average amount of luck with the opposite sex. A few long term relationships; a handful of undulating flings and plenty of casual encounters to keep my morale and the numbers up. I am nothing spectacular to look at; indeed, until I turned sixteen, I was quite repulsive to look at, having as I did the baffling belief that rocking a combination of short ginger hair, bad skin and puppy fat swaddled in ill-fitting flamable fabric was an acceptable way of presenting myself to the …

One armed-bandit

Yesterday, I began to feel better. I had survived Friday's dialysis session, or at least a close approximation of it; still, it was a great relief to find the fistula works well, though I am not looking forward to Monday now that I have run out of skin-numbing Emla cream.

Having surgery is an un-nerving experience. Upon coming round, you are forced to turn detective to try and explain the array of bizarre sensations you are now experiencing. It is exactly the same as waking up after a particularly heavy night of drinking to find yourself in an unfamiliar bed, inexplicably wearing a West Ham strip and cuddled up to a traffic cone; it obviously happened, you were definitely there and yet you have no conscious knowledge of what went on and now have a myriad of questions that need answers. For a mere forty five minutes, I exited the conscious world and was at the mercy of the surgeons who, fortunately, I trusted to competently repair my fistula and not shave off my eyebrows. Yet withi…

Post-op

I have now been officially plicated. Things got off to a shaky start on Monday when I arrived at dialysis only to be told my appointment at the pre-assessment clinic, the one I had been told to ignore, was now. Fortunately it was only across the hall; unfortunately, it was in the Transplant Clinic, so my joy at my upcoming operation was tempered by sitting down amongst all the glowing post-transplant patients with their stupid working kidneys - smug bastards.

I had a mercifully short wait before a boy of all of about twelve popped his head round the door and asked me to follow him down the corridor to a consultation room. He was not, in fact, on work experience; he was (or so he claimed) on the surgical team. He was barely older than me; he could have been one of my mates. When he asked me if I had any questions, I resisted the urge to query how old he was and instead voiced my inherent fear about the possibility of waking-up mid-operation...now who was the immature one.

I was presuma…

Going under

It's probably not normal to be so excited at the prospect of a day in hospital and a spot of light surgery - I am obviously becoming a sycophant to the disease; the operation to have my ghastly fistula plicated has been set for this coming Wednesday. My lovely surgeon JT will cut out roughly a third of the hideous thing and sew it back together - the hope being that it is greatly reduced and still functioning when he has finished. There is a risk that the fistula will be damaged beyond repair during the surgery, in which case JT will have to create another one somewhere else and in the meantime I shall be forced to have another neckline - a Autumn/Winter '10 necessity for any sartorially forward renal patient. But any risk is far out weighed by being able to wear t-shirts again.

The surgery has been scheduled for 11 am which means hopefully it will be some time that day; even if I am wheeled down before the day is out, I shall still need a precise confluence of circumstances t…

Consistency of One

For a Gemini who ostensibly gets bored easily, I do not like change. In fact, I like things to stay the same. You know where you are when things stay the same; routine and stability will keep you cosseted from the unwelcome surprises of this world, like unexpected bills and charity pop-up shops manned by Stella McCartney.

Much as I loathe it, you can always count on the steadfast nature of dialysis. Always the same: needles go in, fluid comes off, needles come out and BAM! you’re done….yes sir, always the same. As day follows night, so dialysis follows Sunday. And Tuesday. And Thursday. It will remain a permanent fixture in my calendar until that hallowed day when I get a new kidney, lest I should become a very permanent fixture in the nearest north London cemetery. I have come to rely on the sharp pang of the needles, the biscuits and ice chips at ten to four and the creeping lethargy that blossoms in the final hour; this is how I cope with dialysis. Yeah, sure, it is pretty rubbish…

Things that go bump....

"Your bump," said one of my pupils last week, "is really, really (deep breath) really, really, really big." She is not wrong. In fistula terms, mine is certainly huge: a bulging, pulsating, tortuous monstrosity that snakes right the way from the crook of my left arm up to my shoulder. Unfortunately, I am now so accustomed to the sight of it that I have concluded a cardigan sleeve is enough to render it invisible; I am like a child covering my eyes in the belief that when I can't see the world, the world can't see me. Consequently, I am always taken aback when people point and stare (or make insouciant comments, as the kiddies are wont to do). However, with the onset of summer and the temperature rising, disguising it under layers of clothing is becoming untenable and I can't pretend it isn't an issue anymore. I have two options: expose it and draw an array of looks that range from the mildly curious to the outright appalled, or keep my unseasonable…

The bitter end

Before I begin, I should point out that I do know I have nobody to blame other than myself. Perhaps the French...no, mainly me.

It was the pear cider that did it. On Saturday afternoon, Coops and I sat in Soho Square amongst a plethora of very good looking young men drinking pear cider and soaking up the sunshine. As soon as they remove your buggered kidney, the doctors teach you two things:
 1) alcohol is de-hydrating and will make you thirsty
 2) the sun is de-hydrating and will make you thirsty.

Having imbibed a couple of ciders, I subsequently sweated it out in the staggering afternoon heat and proceeded to make-up for the shortfall by gulping down too much water (plus, over the course of the weekend, a glass of wine, a three course meal and McDonalds' cheeseburger).

As a consequence of all this gluttony, I squelched into dialysis this afternoon three kilos over my dry weight. Tipping the scales at 51.8kg came as no surprise: I could feel the fluid and I saw it in my cheeks; …

The Cold War

I'm ill, but if that seems like a self-evident statement on a blog about living with renal failure, note that I am not alluding to the fact I have no kidneys; kidney failure doesn't count as ill until I want to park in a disabled parking space. What I mean is, I have a cold.

I have not had a cold for ages. Ironically enough, before I started dialysis - when I still had a functioning transplanted kidney and was ostensibly healthy - I used to get colds all the damn time. In order to stop my immune system identifying my new kidney as a foreign body and attacking it, I was taking a handful of immunosuppressant drugs, and whilst they provided a certain level of protection to the kidney, they also meant that I was at the mercy of whatever germs happened to be filtering through the nearest AC vent at any given time. Colds really went to town on me back then: the worst ones were closer to flu, put me out of action for days and took weeks to work their way out of my system. However, si…

The winds of change

I did it: I turned twenty-four. Actually, all I did was wake up and assume the role of a twenty-four year old, but I have now been living at this age for almost five days. The fact was cemented by twenty-eight five year olds signing Happy Birthday to me as I stood at the edge of the circle-time carpet grinning like the village idiot. Regular readers might have noted that previously I have mentioned the thirty children that comprise my class, and hence might be perplexed as to why only twenty-eight joined in the chorus: in explanation, Samira is away with chicken pox and Arif wasn't singing because he doesn't like me.

My birthday itself was delightful and even Friday dialysis was exponentially brightened by surprise cameo appearances from both my Mum and Maisy. By the time my father and his partner joined the fray it was practically standing room only. Sitting in my garden on a warm summer's evening, eating food from Marks and Spencer's and drinking Kopperberg with my…

Happy Returns

As landmarks go, I'm fairly certain that a 24th birthday does not rank very highly. When I reach that grand old age tomorrow, I won't be able to do anything legally that I couldn't today and neither will I begin to fret that I haven't had a wedding/baby/botox consultation. In truth, I doubt I'll feel much different at all. However, as beige as the Big Two-Four is, to me, it still carries a certain heft, because it will be my third birthday on dialysis.

Fuck - downer, huh? Just when you thought this blog entry was going to be about the exciting things I'm going to do for my birthday (steel yourselves, they're coming). Like most people, I anticipate my birthday with an almost orgasmic fervor and feel it very much to be the most important day of the year. The only other event I get (nearly) as excited about is Christmas. Now, for those of you graduates out there, you may have noticed that my birthday falls in June, the sixth month of - and precisely half way …

Batman and...Rosy?

It occurred to me the other day: you know who I'm like? I'm like Batman. Since going back to work, I have been living a double life. I haven't told anyone at work about any of the kidney stuff and bar the kiddies' incessant questioning about my scars and the "bump" in my arm, there is no reason for anyone to know. My working day ends at 1, so I finish school and go on to the hospital with no-one any the wiser - and that's how I like it. Firstly, my illness in no way impinges on my ability to do my job and secondly, when people find out...they kind of look at me funny.

So at school, I'm Bruce Wayne: benevolent, charming, discreet (admittedly, he was a lot richer than I am). Come 1:30, however, when I arrive at the hospital, I'm Batman, ready to begin my secret life of dialysis. The similarities between us are multiple. We both drive a car: Batman has the Batmobile, and I have a four year-old silver Ford KA. We both have to conceal our secret lives …

These worrisome Times

I am being punished for being right wing and Middle Class. It was bound to happen at some point, and today it finally did. Not only have the Tory's been forced to dilute their sensible tax cut provisions and "schools revolution" with wooly, half-baked Lib Dem policy, now The Times has turned against me too.

Sunday is often my favourite day of the week. If I am not hungover from the previous night's drinking, or swollen to the size of a mud hut - from the previous night's drinking - I like nothing better than to go out for breakfast with Maisy, maybe go for a run and then settle down on the sofa and work my way through the papers. On Saturday, it is always The Guardian. I tell people I read The Guardian in spite of my aforementioned right-ish tendencies because I like to get a balanced overview of the news. The real reason is that I really like The Guardian magazine. As The Guardian is not published on Sunday (bloody Socialists, no work ethic) it is always The Tim…