Wagon Wheels

This is not a Wagon Wheel.

This is not a Wagon Wheel.

So I spend a lot of my time in hospital, hey I’m there now. It’s not all bad; it’s a 10 minute walk away, the nurses are relatively attractive and the vending machine still sells Wagon Wheels for 10p. 10p?! There’s No.1 NHS Accounting Fix right there; increase the price to 20p. Sure, there’ll be discontented grumbling from the shuffling catheter-wearing masses but think what the extra cash could buy. A new renal ward? A water machine in outpatients that dispenses regular coloured water, not the brown type? Or maybe it could even go towards training, to equip the cleaner with the skills to pick up that dis-coloured swab that’s been under my bed for the last 4 days.

I seem to have a lot of time to kill today. ‘Kill’– a verb I avoid in here, particularly on day one of ‘Junior Doctors stumble through a Ward Round’; their shaky speech and even shakier hands do little to reassure me as they grope around attempting to diagnose my condition, which will come back as a chest infection or imminent cardiac arrest. So as I sit here in bed, waiting for antibiotics or the Crash Team to arrive, I’ll be posting updates. As my health declines, you’ll read about the excitement and joyful anticipation of starting dialysis or the work-up to another transplant. If you read nothing, I’ve probably died, in which case please contact the Daily Mail and make up some story about how I was left naked on a gurney in the visitor’s car park for three weeks. Some posts will be retrospective; as I gaze wistfully out of this dirty window at the upturned green plastic chair filled with rain water and cigarette butts, I’ll draw on my experiences from past medical moments. Others will be in real-time, so you’ll be able to ‘feel’ the phenomenal pain of urinating for the first time after having a Stent removed, at the same time as I do. Exciting and stingy. To make this an interactive experience, you can re-enact this procedure by inserting a semi-flexible rod into your penis and urethra – if you don’t have a penis, that’s’ your problem – all the way into your bladder and then take it out again.
What else have you got to do today?

And the good news?

This blog is about the NHS and kidneys, mostly mine. I have three, two of which are the size of walnuts and getting smaller every day. On the popular UK nut size scale, the next comparison will probably be a brazil, then a hazelnut, then a pine nut and finally the consistency of ground almonds. What’s that you say? Almonds are FRUIT? That’s the kind of craziness that makes life worth living. The third kidney was my father’s. He fearlessly gave it to me in 2001, right at the point that mine pretty much gave up on filtering toxins from my blood – lazy little fuckers. Lucky timing? No, we had been working up to the inevitability of transplant since 1999, when their underperforming was first diagnosed with a prognosis of slow decline leading to the medical term ‘completely knackered’.  Now, nearly 13 years on, I’m looking at partying with the NHS surgeons once again, as my dads begins to run out of puff. It’s done sterling work, seeing off all manner of viral nasties, bacterial onslaught and toxic high-dose medications but it was never going to last forever. Of course, there’s a waiting list for a new or more accurately a part-worn used replacement. Here’s hoping that someone with a good match dies – in the nicest possible way of course – or a friend or relative steps bravely into the flickering NHS spotlight and says ‘take mine, after all you are my brother’. Hang about, the relative who says that would have to be my sister. Damn, if only I had one. Hang on, I have! And she’s going to give it a go. Good on ya Sis. Of course, it’s not entirely one-sided and altruistic, donation is a two way street. In return, I’ve bought her a ticket to see Roger Waters next month. A trade of equal measure I’m sure she’ll agree.