A new lease of life

Preparing yourself for a major operation is a big task. Not just in the sense of making various arrangements with work, family, relatives, friends, doctors, hospitals; but also with oneself. The mental preparation is something that you just do, it ticks over in your head. I am now at the time of writing this blog entry only two weeks away from undergoing some pretty amazing surgery. A live kidney transplant, our surgeon will be taking a kidney from my Dad as the donor and transplanting it into me. This incredible young surgeon has performed somewhere near 200 of these operations over the past few years. Its routine, they have already mapped the two of us patients out, like a road atlas and already know where to go in, what to aim for and how best to go about doing it. Its mind bogglingly amazing. Its miraculous science.

To think that in the year I was born (1972) none of this would have been thought of, people with kidney disease had to put up with dialysis machines or worse. Then came the very early transplants where organs were donated by cadaveric means, in other words the misfortune of someone’s death led to the regeneration of someone else’s life. I truly believe many more people should carry donor cards with them, after all in the event of your death, you don’t need your organs any more. So many more lives could be saved. This led to the pioneering surgical exploration that proved that a living, healthy person could donate a kidney to somebody who was in dire need of a new one. Since then many more transplants are carried out every year, I have learnt that a staggering number of people in this country do have similar problems to me in varying degrees of severity.

Why am I writing about something that’s perhaps quite personal?

Why not?

I hope that my scribings will be of interest to other people who are going through a similar experience and to raise awareness of what has been coined “The Silent Killer”. Kidney disease can of course be fatal, the same as any other organ failure. The problem is there are precious few warning signs. I for one didn’t wake up one morning feeling ill and in fact I still don’t feel ill now. That is because in many ways I am one of the lucky people, my condition was diagnosed early when I had my blood pressure checked during a random check-up. I had various tests including an MRI scan, chest x-rays, blood tests, urine tests and a biopsy pinpointed what they suspected. I have a condition called FSGS or to use its full name – Focal Segmental Glomeru Schlerosis (hope I spelt that right Doc!). This in simple terms means that I have a lot of scarring around my kidney tissue, the stuff that makes up the organ as a whole. This has a detrimental effect on their ability to filter blood and as a result, protein levels etc rise. Medication can for a period of time control this along with a controlled diet.

So for a few years I have kept myself as lean and as fit as possible. I have made some sacrifices such as giving up some foods I love, cutting out beer and other alcoholic drinks (although I still drink wines sometimes). Weight is critical as the surgeon can quite literally postpone plans if neither patient is in a fit state to operate on.

In the future, once this is all over, I shall return to writing about photography and other such things and very soon I will have 6-8 weeks off at home to recover. Which means plenty of time to write!

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