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Showing posts from 2011

Expect the unexpected

I was in my hospital gown. Back home, my bedroom was tidy, my Christmas shopping was sorted and The Chef's present was wrapped, all in advance of my being one arm down after the operation. My blood pressure was 111/70 (that's good), my pyjamas tucked safely in my bag and a tin of soup was waiting for me at home. I had spoken to my surgeon, signed the consent form and chuckled wryly as he drew an arrow on my left arm to remind him - in case the giant, pulsating bulge of my fistula didn't register - which of my limbs to slice open. And I was preparing to go down to theatre...when my blood results came back, and revealed that my potassium level was 6.2, making surgery too dangerous as my heart might inconveniently stop beating.

I wish I could say I couldn't believe it, but I could, all too easily. I have spent the last month making a stink about my blood pressure lest it prove too extreme for surgery, only to be foiled at the very last minute by high potassium; the irony…

The Golden Hour (or should that be Shower...?)

The only thing worse than having to go to dialysis is not being able to leave once you have finished. I treated myself to a tube journey home today, for after having completed my obligatory four hours of sluicing, my arm refused to stop bleeding after the top needle was removed and it continued to leak for a further good, solid, 60 minutes.

After the first fifteen I became so disheartened I could no longer focus on the last episode of Frozen Planet playing on my laptop, so I got up to weigh myself - and then I started to cry. All I wanted to do was go home and eat tuna stir fry in front of Masterchef - The Professionals but here I was, stuck in the unit that was now all but deserted bar myself, some nurses and the cheerfully rotund cleaning lady with the dented afro. If this scene wasn't pitiful enough, I had to keep my offending left arm straight and with my right hand occupied with stemming the blood flow, I was unable to wipe away the tears that were now streaming down my face …

The Joy of Squits

Sometimes, kidney failure can be shitty - and I don't mean that metaphorically. Oh, how I wish I did. Mostly, my body can hold onto excess fluid with aplomb; I may be a little squishy around the edges but otherwise the extra blubber sits contentedly about my person until the machine sucks it all away. However, on occasion, and for reasons I have yet to determine, my body enters what I like to think of fondly as Excretion Mode. Like a surly teenager or a public sector worker, my body decides it no longer wants to abide by the status quo and starts to expel all that within it which it finds unpleasant. Yesterday was one such occasion, so I spent the morning alternately sleeping and shitting my guts out. I was forced to take the day off work to do this, as my school frowns upon both of these activities on its premises.

I resigned myself long ago to this aspect of kidney failure, one of the less savoury in its repertoire. I can think of more enjoyable ways to spend my time, but I'…

Saturday night

It's Saturday night and me, my laptop and several chocolate coin wrappers are on the sofa in front of The X Factor. This may will be a pleasurable way to spend an evening, but I shouldn't be here; I should be at Siobhan and Kat's house, with Fiona, getting ready to go out dancing in Fulham because Saturday night is party night. Unfortunately, Saturday afternoon is a dialysis afternoon and it was all I could do to get home let alone don my wet look leggings and get on the dance floor.

I have spent a good proportion of this evening trying to let go of the sadness, envy and self-pity that I have experienced as a result of missing out on tonight's festivities. It's pathetic - I'm pathetic. It's just a night out, there will be plenty more I am sure, but seeing a photo of my three friends looking giggly and gorgeous about to head out reduced me to tears. Getting dressed up, getting drunk and getting my groove on alongside my girlfriends used to be my favourite th…

The end of the line

There’s a guy on my unit who, mostly, I hate. He is loud, obnoxious, casually racist and – by far his worst trait – he sometimes tries to talk to me. On Saturday, however, I couldn’t help but feel for him: he arrived for dialysis to find his fistula had stopped working. You can judge the severity of situations here at Hospital Heights by how quickly the doctor arrives to see you, so when two of them arrived after a mere hour and a half, it was clear for all to see that this was serious.

Dialysis patients rely on a functioning fistula the same way Jordan relies on publicity: we would quite literally expire without it. Forget waiting the three days it would take to schedule a spot of fistula-fixing surgery; not dialysing, though an immensely appealing option, is not a realistic one. I’ve heard of patients missing the odd session here and there, and some are more tolerant than others of doing so (for the record, I am not tolerant; I need dialysis like a junkie needs crack. I am a dialys…

The Chef Cometh

A rare treat for you: an entry written directly from my hospital chair. Having spent an hour reading Melanie Klein, I am on a roll and though the appeal of Masterchef: The Professionals is very great, I can knock out a blog post and still have two and a half hours left tethered to the machine - ample time to get through two episodes of Masterchef and still get in a bit of Frozen Planet.

The Chef rang me yesterday just as I was finishing work and buttoning up T’s coat (she has a new one which is hilariously two sizes too big for her and adorned with buttons that we have both concluded are “tricky”). He was ringing to confirm our plans for the next two days, and when we got round to today’s agenda he said, “I’m going climbing so I thought I’d just meet you at the hospital and we can go back to yours together.”

Ostensibly, this arrangement has several benefits:
1. I can show The Chef my new coat, which I love (although there’s a strong possibility he will not)
2. He can carry my very he…

The fun of the unfair

As I sat in class this week trying to imagine what it's like to travel down the birth canal, I wondered whether it might not be time to look for a new job. There's no substantive reason as to why I should: I don't hate my job - I would even go as far as saying some days are quite amenable and as my Masters course stipulates I need to be working with children, overall it isn't a bad gig. The problem with my job is that it isn't my dream job, although in 25 years I haven't been able to come up with a conclusive definition of what such a job might be, so right out of the gate actually doing it could be tricky.

It'a my kidney failure's fault, you see - but then I do tend to mostly blame everything on my kidney failure, from my bad hair day to my inability to cook an edible thai broth, and it is most definitely the reason why I cannot reverse park. If only I hadn't gone into kidney failure, I would absolutely definitely be a world renowned songwriter by …

The Transplant Divide

The blog is back up and running! Good news I'm sure for the 11 of you who are regular readers. Why, you might ask (though probably not)? Well, I feel creatively stifled, I need an artistic outlet; some funny shit has happened that might prove be mildly amusing and I am trying to write an essay and am therefore desperately seeking to procrastinate.

In the four or so months since I last wrote, I have become involved in a minor capacity with the new Young Adult clinic at hospital that has been specifically engineered for transplant patients between the ages of 16 and 20 (ish). I was tasked with creating a Facebook page, which I duly did, and then attending one of the clinics to meet said young patients and tell them all about it.

Apathetic does not begin to describe their reaction. As a dialysis patient, I was far inferior to them and their smug working kidneys; in terms of renal hierarchy, transplant patients are at the top, lead by those who have had their graft for over a decade; …

I never post, and when I do...

I realise it has been a very long time since I last blogged: six months to be a little more exact. In this time, I have started a relationship; signed up for a half marathon; gone blonde and turned twenty-five. Not exactly life changing stuff.

It is depressing, in fact, just how little has changed and the more time that I spend on dialysis, the more desperate I am for change to come. The last six months should have been the happiest of recent years, and there have certainly been numerous highlights. But the longer I spend on The List, the harder I am finding it to cope. The longer one waits, the more tangible a transplant becomes because us Veterans are given preference. But far from inspiring hope that I reaching my goal, I feel panic that I might not even be half way through. I might be a quarter way through. What if the call never comes?

It doesn't help that I went back to work today after a week off for half term. I do not hate my job, but it makes me feel utterly worthless. I…

Dialysis is hard - or am I just overly sensitive?

As she removed my needles at the end of today's session, Nurse Josie confirmed with me that I knew what do should my fistula start bleeding again.

"Put pressure on it," I said (I've seen Casualty).

"That's right," she said. "Or ring 999, if it won't stop."

I smiled. "I don't think it will ever get quite that bad."

"Oh, you'd be surprised - we've had patients who's fistulas have blown when they rolled on their arm in their sleep and they've just bled all night. Not to scare you or anything," she added. I rolled down my sleeve. Carefully.

This alarming conversation served to: 1. Freak the bejeezus out of me and 2. Make me very grateful that my fistula has given me a pretty easy ride. It's mammoth proportions are certainly an issue, but it has worked well for two and a half years I have used it and even performed admirably a mere day after surgery last year.

Ah, but there's always a But. A few m…

A Happy New Year...?

So far, 2011 is going well. It got off to a good start: I was dressed as Pamela Anderson, under the influence of various toxins and surrounded by friends - surely all the components necessary to ring in the new year. After Party No. 1, I jumped in a taxi and sped over to Party No. 2 which made me feel frightfully hardcore. The latter was hosted by an old flame and I was intrigued to find the embers still a'glow, though by 3 am my only interest was in getting back home to eat Kettle Chips and fall into (my own) bed. Yesterday was spent on Joanne's sofa watching Harry Potter and eating pizza and today Maisy and I have been taking down the Christmas decorations and compounding our melancholy by gorging on leftover mince pies.

Last year may have been the Year of the Tiger, but I very much hope that 2011 will be the Year of the Kidney even if it does leave the Chinese disgruntled and confused. As we counted down to midnight on Friday, I was quietly aware that I was heading into my…