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Showing posts from January, 2010

Renal attraction

Over the weekend, I found myself in a bar chatting to an attractive young gentleman who was, as it turns out, a medical student. He explained he was destined to become a GP - so George Clooney he was not -but it definitely gave us something to talk about.

When I meet people in the medical profession, it quickly becomes apparent that I have some (albeit limited and kidney specific) medical knowledge. I can't help myself: which hospital do you work at? Aah, Kings, yes I know Kings. What do you specialise in? Nephrology you say? Well funny you should mention that...

Inevitably, the person with whom I am chatting wants to know why, firstly, I am so dull and asking such inane questions, and secondly - do I know a lot about hospitals? (read: do you have a disease? An infectious disease?). I do not look typically what you might consider "ill": still have all my hair; all limbs present; no tubes hanging out of anything, so I am something of a puzzle. People - and this applies t…

The Transplant Games

I cannot wait for the Olympics. Though they are still two years away, London is gearing up for them and the excitement is genuinely palpable. In 2012, London will be transformed: the influx of tourists and interest from around the world will re-energise the city and create a sense of pride amongst jaded and lethargic Londoners. I am not ashamed to admit that I shed a few tears as I watched London win the bid - it was that M People song, it gets me every time. As David Beckham beamed, I glowed inside. As Kelly Holmes punched the air in delight, so, too, did I quietly clench my fist in triumph.

I had long since given up hope of ever competing in the Olympics myself. I remember being all of five years old and watching the womens' gymnastics in awe; as those tiny, lycra-clad nymphs swung, jumped, tossed and tumbled in and around the apparatus I thought to myself, that could be me, one day - taking gold for my country because I could jump in the air the best. At 23, and with no gymnas…

Sex and the kidney

"I love reading your blog," Ellie said to me as we strolled through Canary Wharf during her lunch break, "it's just like Sex and The City. You're Carrie Bradshaw." Thanks for the compliment Ellie, but Carrie and I are polar opposites. She - rich, me - poor. She - dressed in Prada, me - a mess in Primark; her body is tanned, and toned from years of ballet; my body is pale and podgy from years of "dancing" on podiums after too many vodka red bulls. In order to earn my moniker, I need to focus on those things we do have in common. Firstly, she's a writer and...hey! I want to be a writer! She writes about sex! I write about...kidney failure. So...if I could just find some way of combining sex and kidney failure...

Fortunately, I have found that sex and kidney failure are fairly easy bed fellows. During my first bout of the illness, I had dialysis over night, every night - not very conducive to a successful sex life (is that a catheter in your stom…
There are several ways to get your hands on a new kidney, if you are so inclined. The easiest is to simply ask someone you know, preferably a family member as they are - obviously - more inclined to be a better match and also more inclined to say yes. Unfortunately, my own family are a tapped-out resource. My mother has already given me one, selfishly depriving me of one now - bloody typical. My father couldn't, nor could my younger brother, and my older brother...well, let's just say he's off my Christmas Card list. So, with my family out of the running, I turned to my clutch of friends, all young and healthy, with two juicy kidneys apiece...tried that too (Godbless you Anna) but that turned out to be a dead-end as well.

The next option is to simply wait and hope for icy weather and reckless young men on motorbikes. This takes a long time, and now spring is coming.

So, without having the money (or the inclination, frankly) to go to Pakistan and buy one off the black market…

The glass is half-full

For someone who is supposed to be on a fluid restriction, I certainly manage to drink a lot. On Sunday morning, I awoke around the 10 am mark with the latest in a long line of Sunday morning hangovers and a familiar feeling of dread; not at how much money I'd spent (too much) or who I'd inadvertently managed to sleep with this time (still in my bed, knew who he was, tick, tick) but at how much fluid I had consumed during the previous night.

When I went back onto dialysis two years ago, my doctor came to see me during ward rounds. "Now Rosy, you will have to go back on a fluid and diet restriction," he said.
"Give it to me straight, Doc," I said, bravely, weak from pain but still somehow managing to look slim and pretty, "how much can I have?"
"I would say around...600 mls," he said cheerfully, before trotting off to tell the old lady in the bed opposite she was probably going to die. To give you some idea of scale, one can of coke is 3…

Waiting for my calling

I am Colin Farrell. Admittedly, on the face of it, we don't have that much in common. Him: Irish, male, attractive, internationally renowned actor, millionaire; me: short, plump, ginger, unemployed bum...but more specifically, I am Colin Farrell in "Phonebooth". Just like Colin, the outcome of my life depends on whether or not I answer a specific phone call. If you want to be pedantic, yes, there are some basic differences: he has a psychopathic maniac aiming a rifle at his head and threatening to kill his loved ones. Granted, I don't have that. There is, however, a kidney in it for me - and that is as important to me as not having his head blown off is to Colin.

It used to be the case that I would not go anywhere without my phone. I'd take it to the gym, to the toilet; I set it on a loud profile and placed it on my pillow when I slept and I recklessly refused to turn it off in the cinema, because that is just how far I am prepared to go. I was so anxious not t…

A weighty issue

I shall tell you the same thing I told my French pen-pal (circa. 1996) when explaining why I wouldn't be accompanying the rest of my class on a visit to Paris: "Je n'ai pas les reins". The excuse of having no kidneys is one that still holds up today and one that I continue to use shamelessly - especially when it comes to lying to myself about my weight.

For those of you with no particular scientific bent (I include myself in this bracket), the kidneys filter out the toxins in your system and process them into urine, which you excrete naturally. Having no kidneys means that the toxins gradually build up and begin to poison the body. Similarly, any fluid consumed through eating and drinking remains in the body, which begins to swell, creating the appearance that the patient is putting on weight. Essentially they are, but it is fluid, not fat, and it is removed during dialysis. Between sessions, I can put on anything from 1 - 4 kilos which I miraculously loose as soon a…

Miss Dialysis 2010

It is a sad fact that if my hospital were ever to hold a "Miss Dialysis" contest, I don't think I would win. In my own head, of course, I am the clear front-runner: I have age on my side for one thing (I am the youngest on my unit by a good...ooh...forty years); I am also continent and still have all my hair. Many a time I have sashayed in on my own, functioning legs, no doubt drawing admiring glances from the male patients (the awake, non-blind ones) and male nurses (the non-gay ones) and exuding youth, vitality...and health...

...but that's the problem. I just look too bloody healthy. Any contender for "Miss Dialysis 2010" would have almost certainly have to embody some element of dialysis-ness; in order, for instance, to win Miss Puerto-Rico, it is surely more helpful to be a bronzed and leggy Latino goddess than it is to be a pale, dumpy shelf-stacker with an Estuary twang. And so it is with the coveted "Miss Dialysis" title: one must look th…
In the past, I have been known to make such bold statements as: "Nothing is more important to me than getting a transplant". However, with the start of Celebrity Big Brother this week, this is clearly absurd. Celebrity Big Brother is definitely more important to me than having a transplant. I have been a serious BB miser since the early years: the show has seemed tired and forced, with the housemates becoming increasingly ridiculous and the whole thing smacking of a cash-cow endeavour. This years offering, however, has seen me shamelessly backtrack. I have a tendency to get quite obsessive about bizarre things (Refreshers, certain people, The Olympics) and I am now regrettably stuck in the CBB quagmire.

This has led me to thinking about all the other things that are obviously more important to me that having a life-saving kidney transplant. Why has it taken me until now to realise their value? Why have I spent so much time needlessly blinkered by the desperate desire for a…

Snow business like this kidney business

Snow: renal failure's arch nemesis. Though probably not in Norway, where they can actually handle snowfall. Today's Times reports on how the country is desperately dealing with the "situation" now that we have...ooh, a good two or three inches of snow on the ground; dialysis patients fall into the same category as those undergoing radiotherapy in terms of the need for treatment. Last year, I trekked across the icy wilderness of North London on foot with only my Uggs, my ipod and a Tracker for salvation (much like Shackleton, I would imagine) to get to the hospital. Only to find the Northern Line was running.

I am fortunate in that I can just about miss one session. For the last two years I have been on dialysis, I have missed four sessions: once to meet a "friend" who was in town literally for that afternoon; once for my grandfather's funeral; once because I couldn't be bothered (and possibly because there was an episode of Gilmore Girls I wanted to…
I have been putting much thought into how to make a blog about waiting seem interesting. Dialysis, in itself, is not that exciting (unless, of course, you are in the thrall of Prison Break, series 1 during sessions). It it a strange paradox that the dialysis which I loathe is actually the most interesting part of this whole process. Ever seen the movie Jarhead? Being on the organ donation waiting list is much like that. Without the Scud missiles.

A typical dialysis session might run thus:
1. Waddle in. Yesterday I was carrying an extra 2 kilos of fluid, evident in my podgy toddler-just-awoken-from-nap face.
2. Steer past the collection of incoherent/incontintent old people who are coughing, moaning or (mercifully) sleeping.
3. Remind myself I am not like them.
4. Sort out the machine. Weigh myself. Take my blood pressure. Take my temperature. Prepare a sterile trolley. Plug in my laptop. Search out a Prison Break DVD.
5. Brace myself as one of the kindly Phillipino nurses inserts two giant…

Great, just what London needs...

....another unemployed, freelance writer with a pipe dream and no kidneys. I am 23, an ex-teacher, living in London, (currently) watching Never Mind the Buzzcocks and yes, yes...ok...I'm writing a blog because I want to write professionally. By which I mean, I want to sit on my sofa eating Party Rings and get paid for it.

The reason I'm lucky enough to be able to pursue writing as a career is because I am currently on heamodialysis, awaiting a kidney. Apparently having four hour sessions of dialysis three times a week isn't particularly conducive to a career in...well, anything, as it turns out. If, by reading this blog, you are inspired to sign up to the national donor list, all the better; but this blog is not intended to be dogmatic. 8055 people are currently awaiting an organ transplant in the UK, but organ failure (kidney, in my own case) is a tough sell: we 8055 losers (couldn't even make their own body parts work...dicks) rely on you other 51,991,945 (is that mi…