Wednesday, 30 May 2018

My journey as a potential living kidney transplant donor, part 3

The first hurdle.

This afternoon I got the result of testing for my blood group. It's O, which is excellent news since that group is compatible with all other blood groups. So, no matter what Jamie's group, we'll be ok.

I phoned Suzanne to let her know but she's on holiday until Monday. I left a message though and I've no doubt she'll get back to me. In the meantime, I'll pick up a printed report from my GP surgery tomorrow and will email it to her.

Needless to say, I've already let Jamie know that little piece of good news.

Another step along the way...

To read the whole story go to my kidney donation page which you can access on the left side of this blog.

Friday, 25 May 2018

My journey as a potential living kidney transplant donor, part 2

Small steps.

This morning I had a blood sample taken by one of the nurses at my GP's surgery. The nurse wasn't familiar with the process re transplants but decided to use a practice form as well as the one sent by Suzanne. My little drop of blood will be sent to a local lab to ascertain my blood group and I'm to check in a week with the surgery. I'll get a printed report which I can send to Suzanne.

Hancock fans will be relieved to hear I didn't have to give an armful.

I cycled back home, over a steep hill, into a headwind and reminded myself that it wasn't as tough as enduring dialysis three times a week. Jamie is, in fact, an inspiration to me; retaining his sense of humour and stoicism through his illness. Amongst other things I'm hoping this thought might help me through any difficulties on my ride across France.

At home, the information pack from Suzanne had arrived. I began reading some of the stuff over lunch. In a list of questions was one not included in the questionnaire I'd completed the other day. Had I ever had Lyme Disease? Well, yes, in 2014 when I'd had a bulls-eye rash around one knee. This being a classic sign of the condition, my GP prescribed antibiotics, which meant no alcohol right through the Christmas of that year. Oh dear! But that's not as bad as dialysis three times a week, eh?

I phoned Suzanne. She was unsure, but doubtful this was a contraindication. She'd need to check with the consultant nephrologist (kidney specialist). We had pleasant chat though and it seems, once the blood test is done, I'll have a phone consultation with her re the whole process. Shortly after this I'll be passed over to the Living Donor Transplant Co-ordinator local to me who'll oversee the rest of the testing process. It was also mentioned that, if all goes well, Jamie and I will be interviewed by an independent assessor appointed by the Human Transplant Authority who will check all is in order legally. This will take place either local to me or in South Wales but we both need to attend, so one of us will need to travel. But that's a long way away right now. And when I returned from walking the dogs just now I found an email from Suzanne reassuring me that the Lyme Disease wasn't a problem. Phew! Talk about ups and downs.

Following yesterday's post (click older posts below this to find it) I've received lots of compliments. I've been very touched by these but I'm really not fishing for praise in writing. Rather, I'm hoping to raise awareness of the effects of chronic kidney disease and, in particular, the concept and process of becoming a living kidney donor. I'm grateful for the lovely comments though. Thanks to you all.

Watch here for the next update. You can get that in a number of ways. If you follow me on Twitter you'll see a Tweet linking to each blog post. You can, if you wish, follow by email, typing your email address in the box on the left side of my blog; in which case you'll get an email alert for each new post. If you're a Blogger user you can follow my blog by using the button below the pictures relating to my existing followers, again on the left side of my blog.

Have a couple of gratuitous pup pics to make you smile...

...then spare a thought in your busy day for my friend Jamie and others like him.

To read the whole story go to my kidney donation page which you can access on the left side of this blog.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

My journey as a potential living kidney transplant donor, part 1

I'm off on a big journey in a coupla weeks (see here) but this week I made the decision to embark on an even more significant journey.

My friend Jamie is suffering with chronic kidney disease. This has reached the stage where, for months now, he's been taking a trip three times a week to be hooked up to a dialysis machine at Morriston Hospital, near his home in South Wales. The process each time takes three hours but that doesn't include the waiting time before Jamie is connected to the machine, nor his travelling time each day. In short, on each of the three visits, Jamie's day is pretty much done. Thank God though for the efforts of the team at the hospital, without which I can't imagine Jamie's plight.

I first met Jamie over two years ago. He contacted me via Twitter for some help with outdoor kit. At the time he was beginning Mountain Leader training. Jamie came over to our home in the Peak District a couple of times. On his second visit we enjoyed a short backpack together, which you can read about here. Both Chrissie and I hit it off with Jamie as soon as we met him. I was struck by his openness, sincerity and kindness. Jamie does a lot of work helping charities, especially Chron's and Colitis UK. Be assured, Jamie is one of the good guys.

Here's a couple pics of Jamie enjoying the outdoors with me back in 2016.  Our aim is to be out there again together, soon.

Since that trip in 2016 I haven't seen Jamie, but we've kept in contact as I've sadly, watched his health fail from a distance. As soon as I realised Jamie was on dialysis I began to wonder if I could offer him one of my kidneys. I knew nowt about the process but, on Monday this week, I spent some time researching it on the internet. After an hour or so, I shared the thoughts with Chrissie. I'd not mentioned it to her before, so she was surprised but, as ever, being the epitome of kindness, supportive. I grasped the bull by the horns and contacted Jamie, by direct message on Twitter. I felt too emotional to phone him. And, within 24 hours, I was in contact with Suzanne, the Renal Live Donor coordinator at Morriston Hospital.

This morning I had a lovely chat with my friend Jamie. He was in the dialysis unit, waiting. We shared some thoughts and I checked with him that he was happy for me to blog about this journey and for me to refer to him by name. Both Jamie and I are of the same mind. Anything that can be done to raise awareness of the effects of chronic kidney disease and the concept of a live donor transplant is fine by both of us. Hence my writing. In my book, if we can help persuade just one more person to embark on such a journey it'll be a job well done.

I'm not gonna detail the stuff about live donor transplants cos it's all here on the NHS website. Read it at your leisure. All I'll say is, most of us have two kidneys...but we only need one of 'em. What I would like to do is take you on this journey with me. I'll try my best to give you a step-by-step walk through the process as it happens to me.

I hope for a good outcome. I'm looking forward to a series of tests to make sure:
a. I'm a compatible donor for Jamie and
b. I, and especially my kidneys, are in good enough health for a transplant to take place.

Two other key bits of info here:
1. You can donate a kidney without specifying a donor. It's known as being a non-directed altruistic kidney donor and
2. If I don't match Jamie but everything else is ok, Jamie and I can be paired with another donor and recipient who have the same problem and effectively, swap donors. In that case, the end result is the same. Jamie gets his transplant AND a bonus - someone else does too!

So, the start of my journey.

Having contacted Suzanne by email and phone on Wednesday, she sent me a health questionnaire which I've completed and returned. She also, with my permission, contacted my GP who will also be sent a questionnaire. Today, I received a package in the post to get a blood sample locally. I have an appointment with a nurse tomorrow at my GP surgery for this and the results will be sent to Suzanne.

Jamie and I only know that the process of testing will take "months". And of course I'm in France for 5 weeks, when little can happen. But join me, if you will, by following my blog for further updates. Warning, you may have to put up with my lesser journey across France along the way. I hope it might make you smile.

Best wishes to my friend Jamie.

To read the whole story go to my kidney donation page which you can access on the left side of this blog.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Cycling, camping, fettling, getting hot...and thinking a lot.

This trip was planned for May...but it snowed...again.

So here we go, me an' Dale, on the hottest weekend in the history of Geoff...on bikes loaded up to the gunwhales...up the steepest of Peak Districty infinity and beyond.

I'm taking much of the kit I'll be using in France (see here) so my beautiful Thorn and Dale's lovely Sonder MTB are heavy. Leaving Hayfield we plod up Highgate Road before tackling the climb up to Rushup Edge.

We pause at the top to congratulate ourselves...

...then skim down to the Cafe Adventure in Hope, for refreshments. They have the finest of refreshments.

From there, we wind our way to a secret location where we camp, for the night.

This is meant to be a shakedown trip pre-France. I've adjusted the gears in the past week and all seems fine save for the chain's willingness to come off the inside of the chain wheels. At camp I tweak the low limiter screw, with fingers crossed.

In the morning we enjoy a blissful ride down a rough track by some secret reservoirs.

Video by Dale

Stopping again at Cafe Adventure, we leave to battle long uphilly bits from Bradwell to Tideswell, then from there via more uphilly bits and a nice, bowling, downhilly bit, to our campsite in Flagg. Here we stop, erect wet tents (did I forget to tell you how wet Hilleberg Enans get in nice, dry, warm weather, despite leaving the door fully open all night long? Well they do, they get very, very, very wet)...and chill, in the sun.

Photo by Dale

Pleasingly, my chain hasn't fallen off to where it shouldn't be today and I swell with pride at having mastered another of the mysteries of bicycle maintenance.

It's hot though, and I wonder at the prospect of every afternoon in France being hot like this, with no shade...anywhere. I begin to consider buying a tarpy thing to rig some shade on a campsite, twixt bike and tent.

Also, my new Sony phone is not charging from my dynamo as I ride. Dale and I have meaningful discussions about this and many other important issues of the day.

We are forced to got to the pub (by an unseen, unknown entity) where we continue solving all the world's a stroke.

Photo by Dale

Morning brings more sun...but more wet Enans!

We munch the laziest of breakfasts before setting out for Buxton and a final cafe stop.

We make a final climb up Long Hill, stopping at the top for a breather...

...before an exhilarating swoosh down t'other side.

And our trip ends with a gentle pootle along the canal into New Mills...

...and the Sett Valley Trail back to Hayfield.

A truly wonderful weekend of cycling in the sun.

Over lunch, we check the charging of my phone from the dynamo, with the bike on my maintenance stand, and find neither mine nor Chrissie's identical one will take a charge. Dale's will. But, with Dale's expert electronic input I decide to concentrate instead on topping up the charge on my Anker Powercore whilst riding, using this to charge my phone and satnav in the evening.

And, with a little persuasion from Chrissie, I order a simple, lightweight tarp, provision of shade for the use of. Oh...and a new pair of light, Keen sandals.

Life is good.

Many thanks to the fine folk who've so far sponsored me by donating to Cancer Research UK. If you'd like to do so, please follow the link at the beginning of this post. 

Chrissie is off on the TGO Challenge in a couple of days. I wish her and all the other participants a fine, safe and enjoyable crossing.