Wednesday, October 29, 2008

17/10/08 - TX Day!

After a night of seriously restless sleep I was awoken by the nurse talking to Oli at around 7am. He was to go down to the operating theatre at around half past, but beforehand we both had to have a dose of IV antibiotics - just to prevent any infection in and immediately after the surgery. Oli went first and after about 3 minutes started to itch his head furiously saying it was the worst itching he'd ever endured, he then pointed out his right hand was swelling up. The nurse immediately went to fetch a doctor, meanwhile another nurse started me up on the exact same antibiotics. Sure enough my head began to itch - it felt like millions of little bugs were running over my scalp - not exactly the most pleasant feeling - and my right hand also bizarrely started to swell. The Doctor arrived and stopped the antibiotics straight away and murmured something about it being a dodgy batch....not exactly a great start to the day!

It was then time for Oli to walk the green mile to the theatre. I think although he was a little nervous I was quite a lot more so and also so overcome with what an incredible thing he was doing. I tearfully gave him a massive hug and wished him all the luck in the world, and then he was gone.

About half an hour after Oli left, my surgeon arrived at my bed and explained that he had been called to do an urgent bowel reconstruction and would we mind if the other transplant surgeon performed the operation. Of course, I said this was absolutely fine. I would have been perfectly happy with either of the surgeons as they both have fantastic reputations and are lovely people. Prof Hakim was our surgeon in the end and he's the world president of the International College of Surgeons, and the surgical director of the West London Transplant Unit - I was in the hands of a celebrity in the medical world!

What then followed was possibly the longest two hours of my life...I even actually started pacing round the ward in my gown clutching a pillow. Not a good look.

When I was finally called to go down to theatre, I was terrified. It was an incredibly surreal feeling going through the theatre doors knowing that when I next went out of them my life would be changed forever.My Mum waiting for me to come out of surgery.

A lovely anesthetist then put me to sleep - and then the next thing I remember is opening my eyes in recovery with a nurse waving a big bag of wee at me happily saying "It's working! You're peeing for England!" Hoorah! I then asked how Oli was doing and they assured me that he was absolutely fine and had gone back up to the ward. I was so relieved that the operation had been a success!

I've only had one dose of general anesthetic before and when I awoke I remember feeling terrible....really groggy and I drifted in and out of sleep for the next 24 hours. But this was completely different. It's kind of hard to explain to someone that hasn't experienced kidney failure but I'll give it a go. It was almost as if before the operation my head was kind of foggy, I couldn't concentrate on anything for long and walked round in a daze a lot of the time. Suddenly everything felt clear, everything looked brighter, more real and colours more vivid and as I discovered later on things smelt better and best of all tasted better! I also noticed straight away that it wasn't an effort to move my arms or legs anymore. All of these things I hadn't even realised weren't normal when I was on dialysis, I knew my limbs felt heavy and I remember thinking on many occasions how much easier it would be if I didn't have to 'carry' my arms around. After the operation straight away it wasn't an effort to move anymore, it just felt....easy.

Oli's Dad and my Mum chat to me as I come out of surgery.

Oli recovering after the op.

The nurse also showed me my scar whilst I was in my four hour stint in recovery. 54 staples - Impressive! My flatmate took this photo immediately after the operation. The surgeons had put tegaderm (like a sticky clingfilm) so they could monitor it for any bleeds.

I was then wheeled back up the ward and on the way I saw my anxious family, boyfriend and flatmate all waiting. I gave a little wave and then was whizzed off in to the high dependency ward in a bed next to a very sleepy Oli. As I lay in bed that night I realised just how many tubes I was hooked up to - a catheter, my tessio line (used to administer meds), an ECG machine for my heart, 3 cannulas in my hands, blood pressure cuff, oxygen nasal specs and the best thing of all my self administrative pain killers - I was given a little button to press every time I wanted more...ah how I loved that. They ended up getting rid of it when I wasn't looking the next day as I was a bit click happy. Spoilsports.

I took this myself on the evening of the transplant. Everyone remarked on how much pinker I looked straight away which was fantastic! I look a little puffy as they constantly pumped me full of fluid to getting Kasper 2 to work his hardest straight away.

I fell asleep exhausted after the most nerve wracking, scary but also absolutely amazing day of my life.

Monday, October 27, 2008

1 Day Pre TX 16/10/08- Oli arrives and last dialysis!

Oli arrived bright and early today ready for his pre transplant tests. Actually seeing Oli in the hospital with his suitcase seemed to make everything more real and I felt even more excited and almost in shock at what an amazing thing Oli was about to do...I literally couldn't quite believe or take in what was happening.
I also had my last dialysis session - but not wanting to tempt fate and say a 'tearful' goodbye to my blood sucking friend I tried to keep it as low key as possible but when seven of my family and friends turned up and crammed in to the tiny room that didn't exactly happen! So whilst I munched on a supper of 'renal' chips and chicken nuggets which tasted like damp pieces of rubber (mmmm) everyone chatted and oooed and ahhhed at the machine that has been keeping me alive for the past 5 years.

Next up Oli had a cannula inserted by a rather enthusiastic Junior Doctor who decided to put it in the crease of his arm and not in to his hand. So poor Oli had to sleep with his arm outstretched whilst a little machine pumped him full of fluid ready for the op the next morning.

We also had visits from the surgeon and his assistant, who drew a bit of a comedy arrow on Oli pointing to the kidney....just in case someone tried to remove his arm instead, I guess.

The surgeon's assistant put my mind at ease a little bit when he described the operation as 'low risk' as Oli is a 'good match'. No one had ever said these words to me - I actually had no idea that he was as good match as he was. Makes it even more of a miracle really as in the 5 years I have been waiting for a kidney on the UK Transplant list only 3 'good matches' have come up, and I have been about 350th in the queue for it. (UK Transplant after my 'dress rehearsal' a few months ago were kind enough to give me these figures.)

Another restless sleep followed with a doctor waking me up at 4am to tell me my potassium was high before dialysis that day (thanks, that’s what dialysis is for, isn’t it?). We were only hours away from the big TX…

Sunday, October 26, 2008

2 Days Pre TX - 15/10/08- waiting, waiting and more waiting

So here comes a series of blogs which are going to explain what exactly went on between the four walls of Hammersmith Hospital in the week I was there... enjoy!

I can't say anything profound about the first day in the hospital, apart from that there was a lot of waiting. Waiting for a bed, waiting for tests, waiting for Oli to arrive and waiting for the actual operation itself!

I'd forgotton all about the joyous little ways of how hospitals work -blood tests at 3am, weigh in at 6am and various other little visits in the night coupled with my extreme nervousness and utter excitement did not provide a good nights sleep...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

home james

Another super-speedy post just to say that I am home from the hospital and everything is still going swimmingly. Kasper is behaving beautifully and is a true pro at his new job. Oli, although a little sore, is also at home with me recovering nicely.

I will post a proper account of everything that has actually gone on in the past week as soon as I head is swimming with thoughts at the moment and it all seems a little hard just to condense in to a few little paragraphs. (So be prepared for some serious rambling...) Oh and I also took a shed load of photos, as did my Dad and Oli so those will be going up soon too. Until then! 

Monday, October 20, 2008


Just a quick note to let you all know that the op went fantastically for me and Oli, and I'll update you all on the details very soon.  Thanks very much for all your support; we both really appreciate it.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The big switch is looming ahead...

Just a quick post to say I Heart 'I Heart Guts' even more here to find out why. Gotta love Kasper.

'Final' cross match tests came through today - results were negative which is all good. Am trying to keep myself busy at all times at the moment, if I don't have anything to do for any amount of time I find myself pondering over a million 'what ifs...' but deep down I know there is no point in even thinking like this and as my dialysis buddy Terre says I should just be prepared for anything and everything.

I stole the image above from Jen's blog. Thought it was very apt!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

i heart guts, innocent veg pots and 13 days to go


Last weekend Oli came to stay for a weekend filled with picnics, Scrabble and a damn good steak and with him came the 2nd best present ever - meet Kasper the Kidney! Oli purchased him from my new favourite website; I Heart Guts . Check it out - all the organs a girl could ever want. 

Talking of kidneys, my transplant is scheduled for 13 days time! Yep, it's not long now and I am officially majorly excited. I think in the couple of days before the operation this excitement will be soon transformed in to extreme nervousness. But for now I am busying myself as much as possible - seeing as many friends as I can and wrapping up my last couple of of weeks at work. And pondering about what DVDs to take in my transplant bound suitcase...

In other news remember I mentioned a photography project I did for innocent a while back? Well here's the finished product - out on a Veg Pot near you! Click here to see a full res version  of the 'Pac Man' photo we took. 

Oh and it's also Oli's birthday today - Happy Birthday Ol!