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Showing posts from February, 2010

Dialysis: will cure what ales you

It is a rare day that I am eager to get to dialysis, but today is one of those days: I am hungover. Having felt fine earlier this morning, I now have the shakes and a hint of nausea, compounded by dizziness and the general malaise associated with mild alcohol poisoning.

During the worst hangovers of my university days, I often lay prone, moaning softly, and lusted after the ability to somehow clean out my system and rapidly expel all the murky toxins. Dialysis, take a bow. In a couple of hours, my blood will be filtered, cleaned and returned to me; I will feel as though I never had a drink and be thinner and healthier as well.

It's all Andy's fault. He bought the bottle of wine home to accompany the stir-fry I made (of which half ended up on the floor) and after a couple of glasses it made sense to finish off the vodka from last weekend. It was Andy, too, who suggested just going out for a quiet drink to cap the night off...one turned into four and we stumbled back in - afte…

The Hospital Survival Guide

Last week, the Daily Mail featured a "Hospital Survival Guide". At first glance, I thought this might be the paper's attempt at shrugging off its doomsday, cynical persona and re-inventing itself as the warm, caring periodical - the daily that just wants to look after of you. Then, I read it. The extended title was: "The ingenious tricks that can save you from superbugs and other hospital disasters" and I realised the Daily Mail was not trying to shrug off anything; it was as right-wing as always and just as intent on convincing its readers that New Labour was sneakily trying to kill you and if the psychotic-paedophile-IV drug user doesn't get you, the NHS will.

It came as little surprise that its top tips for surviving a trip to hospital were a mix of basic common sense and ludicrous, impracticable scare-mongering. It starts innocuously enough, warning us of the dangers of contracting MRSA and c.difficile. Ok, so far, so obvious. Reading on, we see we are …
For someone so secular, I sure do love those Christian celebrations. Christmas: so spectacular it has its own entire season, and with the presents, carols and novelty-sized Toblerones... what's not to like? Then comes Easter, when we thank God for Green & Blacks. Nestled in between: Easter's hick cousin, Shrove Tuesday.

Poor old Shrove Tuesday, only famous for the pancakes. I am not a huge fan of the griddled batter snack per se, but I revel in finally having an excuse to openly spoon Nutella straight from the jar. My lack-lustre approach to both Christianity and pancakes means that Shrove Tuesday usually passes me by - if no money passes hands, well, it just doesn't seem worth it. This year, however, the day when we celebrate pancakes - and Jesus...doing something - has stirred something in me. Or maybe I just ate too much Nutella...

Shrove Tuesday also marks the beginning of Lent. I only have one friend who I know rigorously adheres to self-imposed abstinence: wond…

The failure of kidney failure

Kidney "failure": there is a clue in there somewhere. From time to time, it feels like the failure of my renal organs has seeped into my bloodstream and slowly morphed me into a big, fat loser; after all, I couldn't even manage to keep my own body parts functioning. What an idiot. Whilst the majority of my friends are a good year into their careers - or at least fully qualified to pursue one - this dumb-ass disease means I haven't been able to keep a job for longer than a year and apparently my sixth-form "Socialite of the Year" award does not rank highly amongst the qualifications most employers look for - ditto Captain of the Cheerleading Squad.

My inability to maintain my own health means I am constantly trying to compensate in other ways. At the naissance of my teaching career, I decided I was not going to just be any old, run-of-the-mill teacher, no Sir; I was going to be Teacher of the Year! That was going to be me in an ill-fitting evening gown, re…

Back to the start

In my lame attempt to turn this blog into a mildly amusing and coherent book, I have been forced to spend a considerable amount of time combing back over the events of the last couple of years. In truth, I find reflecting dull and arduous, but if I will insist on trying to write pithy, urbane anecdotes about my current situation, I should really provide some linear explanation as to how I got here in the first place.

This is not my first brush with kidney failure. This first bout hit me like a tsunami (too soon? really? even now?) when I was nine and the (mercifully) truncated version is that after eighteen months of dialysis, my mother generously offered up a kidney, which worked wonderfully for ten years. I started dialysis for the second time in January 2008, but the kidney had begun to fail before that.

I was chatting with Gerodie Mark the other night about the Durahm Bubble. For those souls who did not attend Durham University, the idea of the Durham Bubble (or "Dubble&quo…

Working Girl

I have an upcoming interview this week - to officially leave my old job. It is a job interview in reverse. Up until the start of January, I was an English teacher in a "challenging" secondary school in Bermondsey, and - for the most part - I loved my job. Taking the decision to leave was not one I relished and I still miss my work and my colleagues immensely.

When I began in my role, I was absolutely determined to make dialysis fit around the job. Finally, I had a chance to be just like everyone else: get up; traipse to work; work like a bitch; manically eat lunch at your desk whilst trying to do five other things; work some more; traipse home; eat; TV; bed. I could not wait.

Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. My primary motivation in going back to work was to finally force dialysis into the shadows of my day-to-day existence and push something positive and productive (not to mention more lucrative than sitting on my arse watching re-runs of Top Gear) to the fore-front. I…

A little help from my friends

Dialysis is, by its very nature, a fairly solitary exercise. It is not really an activity you can engage in with your friends, like going to Alton Towers or having sex, unless all of your friends happen to be in end-stage renal failure as well (in which case you are a social retard and don't deserve any real friends). When at hospital, I aim to be as reclusive as one can be when surrounded by a ward full of dialysing patients and assorted doctors, nurses, cleaners, porters, visitors...I am not the gregarious, outgoing, lovable munchkin I am in my every day existence, though that may be hard to believe. I am the Scrooge of Astley Cooper ward. I am the SAS of dialysis: I get in, I get the job done, I get out and I try not to die in the process. I set my facial expression to Do Not Disturb and essentially try to forget I am stuck in this ghastly place with these awful people.

Over the years, I have in fact enjoyed the company of friends during dialysis sessions. Actually, "enjo…

A pointed issue

For someone who has had quite a lot of experience in and around hospitals, I am not a very good patient. In fact I am incredibly impatient. I get bored and grouchy and I start to wriggle. I have mild OCD tendencies and hate being surrounded by dirt, or ill people, or ill people coughing up dirty things. I like my own space and privacy and to sleep in my own bed with my Bear. I don't like being woken up at 6:30 am after having already been disturbed two hours earlier by Ethel falling out of bed for the third time. I despise the food and the constant noise, and the relentless boredom drives me crazy. There is something that makes me dislike hospital more than all these incessant niggles combined, however, and unfortunately the two are symbiotic: I am afraid of needles. And, yes, to a lesser (and weirder extent) tea, but mostly needles. And hospital means needles.

It must have come as something of a surprise, therefore, when two years I decided what I really, really wanted most in th…

Hospi-style

I have long since given up on making an effort with my appearance when I go to the hospital. When it comes to dialysis, comfort trumps style every time and I have not managed to work out how to amalgamate the two, hence things tend to get a little...casual. If I didn't have to get on the tube to get there in the first place I would probably not even bother getting changed out of my pyjamas. It's not like there is anyone I am trying to impress: most of the guys on my unit are only eligible because their equally elderly wives have died and I draw the line at hitting on widowed octogenarians, no matter how lean times currently may be. This is assuming, of course, that they are not blind and/or asleep. Where, or where, are the gorgeous young doctors? If they exist, I certainly have never, in all my time spent at that wretched hospital, come across them.

When I arrived for dialysis last week, I spotted a sign just inside the door advertising a beauty products sale down on the groun…