One Year on From a Kidney Transplant

One year ago, to the day, I had a kidney transplant courtesy of my mom. She didn’t perform the operation sadly, but did donate her kidney. Which was nice, and meant I could come off dialysis, and have a more normal life (and not die young).

Anyway, although I’d been anticipating the date, the 13th March, I completely forgot about the occasion until this afternoon.

Looking back, it’s a strange mix of convoluted emotions, the rational part of my brain relays the obvious benefits mentioned above, but thinking back, my mind instead jumps to the rawer memories of pain, fear and perpetual exhaustion.

The days, weeks and months after the operation were littered with numerous hospital stays whenever my blood results didn’t quite make the mark. During these stays, I’d be subjected to ever-more gruesome scans, tests and minor operations to find out why my new kidney – although working well, wasn’t working perfectly. Whether I like it or not, this is what comes to mind, looking back. Like everyone else, it’s surprisingly easy to take my now relatively normal (I’ll need another new kidney sometime in the next 10-30 years), fit and healthy life for granted.

Perhaps, it’s only when I am fit and healthy, and back working full-time, as I am now, that it’s actually possible contemplate the time since I was diagnosed with kidney and heart failure in January 2010. Since then, my focus has always been on getting through it and looking forward.

Anyway, this has been a bit of a long and rambly post after WordPress lost my last one in the cloud. So I’ll leave it somewhere..about..here.

Public transport woes

Excellent public transport so far this morning. First, the train was 20min late and dangerously overcrowded, so I missed my connecting train to Perry Barr.

This meant catching the 51 bus instead. Whereby office printed posters said ’33 and 51 bus stop moved’ (but nor where to). On the back of said posters I found an upside down map directing me to a road I’d never heard of (although recognised when I reached it).

Over the weekend it seems, many city centre bus stops had been moved, without any passengers being told, leading to groups of commuters wandering aimlessly through town.

(Currently sat on the bus).

6 Months on from the Transplant

I haven’t blogged here for a fair while and as my new job essentially involves teaching others to blog, I thought it might be worth a quick update.

So, when we last spoke I’d just had a successful kidney transplant courtesy of my mom (her kidney that is, she didn’t perform the operation (Lazy). Thankfully the kidney is showing no signs of rejection, and I’m now back at work on a full time basis.

Having said that, between the transplant and now, I’ve had 1 additional operation, 2 biopsies, 1 MAG3 scan, 1 angiogram, countless ultrasound scans, 4 stays in hospital, 2 urinary tract infections, lots of meds and a few more scans and tests I’ve probably forgot.

Still, for all the prodding, hospital food and drugs, I now have a functioning renal system that removes the need for dialysis, and means I shouldn’t die young. Which is nice. For the above, I will of course be eternally grateful to my mom, for bravely donating her kidney, and the hospital staff at QE who did such a fantastic job patching me up, as well as Kat, friends and family for keeping me sane.

Anyway, before I begin thanking any I imaginary divine creators on my lunch break, I better sign off, right… about… here.

The Day of the Op

Now, I naturally would have written this post on the day of my transplant – Tuesday, but as I was mostly asleep on that particular day, it may not have made for the most interesting reading. Still, here’s how shit went down, as it were.

After my last night on overnight peritoneal dialysis, I was woken to Kat and her parents, who had made it down from Shrewsbury.

My mom, who was donating her kidney, went down first about 10:15, and was surprisingly quick in returning to thr ward – always a good sign of an uncomplicated operation according to the staff.

Half my concerns about the operation, if I’m honest, was not the op itself, but the tension leading up to it, the slow uncomfortable clink up the rollercoaster slope before the inevitable descent.

Yet pleasantly, it never really came. My anticipation for the anxious moments of anticipation strangely seemed to distract me. After all, I’d be asleep anyway, while my worst experiences in theaters have always been ‘minor procedures’ under local anaesthetic, where you have to make a conscious effort to think nice, relaxing thoughts. I always close my eyes, try to breathe deeply, and think of those warm, soft cuddles I have with Kat.

And that’s just what I did as I waited on a trolley for the anaesthetist to arrive and pump me full of drugs.

Just before that, while my details were being checked, I’d had an impromptu conversation about the joys of lactase enzyme pills with a junior surgeon who, like me, had discovered she was lactose intolerant. This almost got to the point where my arrival for a transplant was delayed, but I was grateful for the distraction anyway.

A cannula was inserted in my wrist, various drugs were pumped in and I quickly slid off to sleep.

The rest of the day I don’t remember that great. Although I do remember performing the obligatory Darth Vader impresssion under an Oxygen mask to Kat before she departed.

The night that followed was splintered into 1 hour bursts of sleep between nurse checks, blood tests and sips of water through a straw to quench my extremely dry mouth. Even a minute sip would prove painful for my body to process.

I’ll try and post more tomorrow about the rest of the days of my stay.

Anyway, in the meantime, to bring it up to the present a bit, all seems to going well so far, and my consultant, Dr Ball, says I may be sent home on Tuesday.

The Past Week’s Goings on – Monday

So, 5 days have slipped past since my last blog post, and its fair to say a lot has happened.

I was admitted to ward 305 at QE hospital on Monday 12th February, and on that night, connected to my dialysis machine for what may well be the last time. Earlier that day, I’d been given the very expensive and new fangled ABO treatment (see last post). I followed this by a long walk in the sun down the canal and around the leafy University of Birmingham campus – even managing to pick up a second hand Nick Hornby for a quid from the botanical gardens. As you do.

The prime objective of this expedition however, to find a pub for one last preop pint and bag of dry roasted, sadly proved unsuccessful, and I returned to hospital to meet Kat (who narrowly avoided a humiliating trip to A&E after a falling parking barrier just missed her head), and be admitted to ward 305.

The joys of ABO treatment

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As I write this, I’m plugged into an immuno suppression machine, designed to remove just the antibodies in my blood that would react with my mom’s AB blood type, when her kidney is transplanted to me.

Each treatment costs £2,000 in materials, and its only been used in the UK for under 10 years or so.

It’s fairly painless, although early in the treatment, I had a bit of a reaction. As a side effect, the machine removed too much of my body’s calcium, which made me feel sick, light headed and get pins and needles all over. Thankfully, the nurse fiddled with the machine settings, and gave me a calcium tablet, and I started feeling better.

The entire process has processed 6.3 litres of my blood, and taken about 3 hours.