Transplant Time

(as promised, ‘the kidney is working; we are well and I have just had the greatest pee of my life!’ – 14th December 2016.)

So December had arrived and everybody was anticipating the 25th of December, Christmas day, but not me. December 14th was to be my Christmas day. The day when my loving partner Andy would give me the best Christmas present imaginable, a good – but slightly used *one careful owner!*, kidney. So whilst others rushed around buying gifts, attending parties and consuming heroic quantities of delicious Christmassy food – I had my mind fixed firmly on just one thing – the impending day that would *hopefully* change my life.

One of my biggest fears – in the lead-up to transplant, among many, was that I would not have the emotional capacity to go through with the transplant. I had very many wobbly moments where I felt the whole thing was just impossible. I could not imagine packing for the hospital; getting the car to go to the hospital – everything seemed terrifying. I didn’t want to go through with it and – more importantly – I did not want to put my partner through it. However, I was quickly and firmly told by Andy that he was getting rid of that kidney and – if I did not take it – he would give it to somebody else!

There were some days where I just wanted to get on with it – and others where I just wanted to burry my head in the sand – a desert preferably! I recalled, with great frequency, having my dialysis line inserted, when – I am not proud to say – I was a hysterical mess. The transplant would make the line insertion look like child’s play – and I was convinced I would freak out and the whole thing would have to be called off. Throw in my overwhelming fear of needles and you have a recipe for a very tearful disaster!

Then Sunday 11th December arrived – a day that would fix my mind firmly on going through with that transplant, no matter what. December 11th I got the flu. I was so ill with it – I could barely move – but my only thought was, ‘please, this transplant must go ahead’. The fear that it may not happen made me realise that the new kidney was the thing I wanted most in the world and I would go through anything for it. Fortunately my flu had gone by Monday evening *a miracle in itself* and we were soon on admission day, December 13th *unlucky for some* – but not for us.

Contrary to my worries and fears – I can honestly say that I felt very little trepidation. The mind is an incredible thing. I do believe that in times of great fear or peril – it has the ability to shut itself down to an extent, so as to preserve the body and allow what needs to be done, to be done. My fear of needles had completely vanished, which was a very good thing indeed, as there were a lot of needles in my future!

The preparation day (T – 1) went by relatively quickly and without fuss. Final tests were done and the doctors ensured they knew where to cut; by drawing on us with felt-tipped pens! A slight, worrying hitch occurred when the hospital FORGOT that I absolutely must have dialysis before transplant. This meant me having, only two hours, emergency dialysis in the middle of the night before transplant. I was so tired by the morning; I’m not sure anaesthesia was necessary!

So ‘transplant time’ had arrived and Andy was taken away from me at 8am for his nephrectomy – and I had three hours to wait, worry and contemplate – the bit I was dreading the most. I simply lay down, listened to some comedy and thought about Andy. When, a few hours later, I heard he was okay, I sighed with relief and it was now my turn.

As I was wheeled through the chilly hospital corridors, snuggled in my blankets, towards the operating theatres – I kept my fingers firmly crossed the whole way; desperately hoping that the new kidney would work. After waiting for a while in a reception area – it was now time for me to ‘go under’. Having confirmed my name and date of birth for the last time, the game was now on! Being put to sleep was an interesting – and not unpleasant experience. I was firstly covered in, what I can only describe, as a giant deflated lilo. Warm air was then pumped under this lilo-like thing and within seconds I felt very snugly and warm indeed. The needle was placed in the back of my hand and the oxygen mask placed over my face. I remember taking the mask in my right hand and being coached through breathing deeply and calmly into the mask. After a short amount of time, I was enveloped in a misty fog, I felt a great feeling of euphoria and the next thing I knew – I was waking up on the recovery ward.

When I came round, my immediate feeling was one of pure elation, because I knew it had worked. Despite me insisting that they MUST tell me whether it had worked or not, as soon as I awoke, I knew that it had. I can’t really explain how I knew – but my body knew. For one thing, I was absolutely desperate for the toilet – more desperate than I have ever been in my life. After being assured that I had a catheter in – I was told that the feeling was so strong, because the kidney was not only working, but working extremely hard. So, with this in mind, I could let go of my fears and my pee! …and with the kidney producing over 500ml of fluid an hour – I most definitely did let go of my pee!