When I was first asked to write this piece I was wondering how an earth I would fit 3 years of my life into one page but I’ll give it a try.
It all started just after Christmas in 2004. I was taken ill suddenly and was rushed into hospital. Various blood tests and injections took place and eventually a scan of my kidneys which showed they had shrunk and were no longer doing the job they were supposed to. I was told I had End Stage Renal Failure (ESRF) and needed to go on dialysis immediately and I would remain on this for the foreseeable future (3x a week) until a suitable donor kidney was found for a transplant. This came as a huge shock for both me and my family and we were all facing an uncertain future.
So 3 years on we are still facing that uncertain future - I am still on dialysis 3 x a week for 3 hours at a time and I’m still waiting for that phone call saying the transplant is going to take place. My mum went through the tests to see if she could become a donor for me but she wasn’t suitable. My family have been so supportive throughout this and I can’t thank them enough.
Having dialysis means I have to stick to a strict fluid restriction of 500mls per day and a special diet (low in phosphate, sodium and potassium) and also have to take various tablets each day. The dialysis itself is restrictive, time-consuming and has unpleasant side-effects. I have low energy levels, tire easily and suffer almost constant nausea. The actual haemodialysis itself takes its toll, it involves two needles inserted into my fistula which is a surgically enlarged vein (located in my upper arm).This provides access to the bloodstream for haemodialysis. The fistula buzzes all the time which is a good thing as this means the blood is flowing through it freely.
Haemodialysis removes waste products from the blood by passing it out of the body, through a filtering system called a dialyser and returning it, cleaned, to the body as well as removing fluid from my body (another job the kidneys should do) It leaves me feeling wiped out and very often light headed however it’s the only thing that can keep me alive unless I get a transplant.
It’s not all doom and gloom. I have met so many great people because of my situation, my fellow dialysis patients and of course the nurses who do an amazing job of looking after me and essentially keeping me alive. I try not to let all this get in the way of everyday life. I am enjoying my Early Childhood studies degree although I sometimes struggle fitting the work load in with my hospital visits however the lecturers have been sympathetic regarding my attendance. My social life is not that of a normal student but I can’t complain, I have understanding friends who are very supportive.
I am also proud to be an ambassador for the Live Life Then Give Life charity who do amazing work by promoting organ donation by putting on various events and selling cool T-shirts with catchy slogans on such as “I’d give you one”. (http://www.livelifethengivelife.co.uk/)
I would love to have my health and freedom back. I’ve got so much I want to do with my life but without a kidney transplant I just don’t know what the future will hold. I just have to keep hoping that one day I’ll receive the greatest gift of all – the Gift of Life. That call could come next week, next month or even in 5 years time! Over 8000 people in the
So it’s a waiting game for me now, for that phone call that will transform my life.
To read more about my everyday life as a dialysis patient and life on the waiting list you can read my blog at http://lifeondialysis--waitingforthecall.blogspot.com/
http://www.uktransplant.org.uk/ or ring 0845 60 60 400