Assuming for a moment that my absence on here was noticed by – ooh, let’s be generous, two people – they may have interpreted it in many interesting ways; the most likely of which is that my broken, sagging body had finally been handed over to the military doctors, who were now rebuilding me using parts from a class 2 nuclear submarine and an Asda shopping trolley they found in the canal (I’ve always wanted wheels) to create a unstoppable Super Soldier and Shopping machine.
Sadly, this isn’t what happened. But it is what you dream about if your temperature is 102c and you fall asleep watching Van Damme films on Channel Five.
In truth, I’ve had some dark days and more are ahead. My recent blood tests have shown that all the things I want to be high are low and all the things that really need to stay down low, are high. There are some other things staying in the middle but they’re not mine, I’m just looking after them for a friend while his shed is built.
So over the next few weeks, these posts may become even more infrequent as I am either ‘prepped’ for dialysis or readied for transplant. Dialysis, you may already know, is a process where the blood is syphoned from the body, ‘cleaned’ in a machine and returned to the body, free from all the toxins and waste products that are building up because my lazy kidney can’t be bothered to do its own cleaning. As the level of toxins rise, the patient becomes increasingly lethargic, nauseous and dizzy and generally feels the same as the two-thirds of eviscerated pigeon looks, that’s stuck in the bush outside my window.
However, as my sister is still in the running for sharing her organs with her brother – and what could sound more natural and beautiful than that? – I may avoid dialysis altogether, along with the anticipated excitement of reading up-lifting NHS information leaflets about detrimental complications and long-term survival rates. I’d also avoid having a Fistula, a procedure required to facilitate dialysis, where a surgically modified blood vessel is created by connecting an artery to a vein. And in my opinion, that’s not so many steps away from grafting an Asda shopping trolley onto my body.
However, problems arise and transplanted organs can be rejected and of course, don’t ever last a lifetime. So ultimately, it is highly unlikely I’ll avoid dialysis forever and scary dark days will roll over me again. However, even when everything is at its bleakest and hope is entirely obscured, the smallest blink of sunshine can, just for a moment, stick its tongue out at the dark.
I needed to have a chest x-ray, to rule out an infection and was in the Radiology waiting room, with about 15 other people. It was silent; muffled coughs and an occasional whispered request for a tissue or a mint but that was pretty much it. The Radiology unit is in the same building as Oncology, so you never expect the mood to be party-like. Every day, people are given tragic, life-changing news in these rooms and as I sat down, a doctor was speaking to a woman in hushed tones about her unconfirmed scan results that needed further investigation. It all sounded pretty bleak.
An elderly chap, probably in his 80’s with an amazing beard and an immaculate tweed coat, shuffled his muddy green boots from reception to one of the chairs and sat down with a large sigh. After a couple of minutes, he slowly and shakily reached inside his coat pocket and pulled out a mobile. Putting on the thickest pair of glasses I’ve ever seen, he switched it on. Everything remained silent for another minute. And then, with an eruption of sound, he started playing a very loud game. Boing! Boing! ZaaaP! Boing! Boing! Boing! ZaaaP! I looked at him concentrating fiercely, as he fought heroically to position the falling coloured balls into the correct order and thought it was quite funny. But nobody else seemed to. They just kept flicking through antiquarian copies of National Geographic or looking at their feet. That was until I looked at the woman opposite me, who had spoken with the doctor and we exchanged a weak smile, before looking away. But then we caught each other’s glance again and both smiled before she looked at the man and his game and had to put her hand to her mouth to stifle a small laugh. But because everyone else was being so quiet, that just made me laugh a bit too, which led to her laughing more and me laughing even louder. Soon, we were both laughing uncontrollably and seeing everybody else still sitting silently, trying not to look at the crazy laughing people, made us laugh even harder and we just kept laughing, for what seemed like a very long time. It was a ridiculously funny moment.
And for that moment, she had forgotten her scan results and I had forgotten all about dialysis.