Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Kidney donation, part 11

Today's a milestone.

Had a phone call this morning from Suzanne from the transplant team down in Swansea. She's been busy looking at dates and has proposed 19th February for the operation. This thing is gonna happen! With this in mind she's hoping to arrange for Jamie and I to meet the independent assessor in the week beginning 21st January. The assessor has to have their decision in, that all is ok legally, at least 10 days before the operation. She's also hoping to take bloods (I believe for a final cross check with Jamie's) on that day, when I'll be travelling down to South Wales. The bloods have to be taken within 6 weeks of the operation.

This afternoon I had an email from Janet in Manchester confirming the above and she has already said they can fit in with 19th February. My operation will be performed in the morning in Manchester, Jamie's that same afternoon in Cardiff, my kidney having shot down the motorway on blues and twos.

So all is looking good but subject to final confirmation. I meet with the transplant surgeon in Manchester on 12th December.

I feel today's the right time to share some thoughts with you all.

I made the offer of a kidney to my friend Jamie having discovered he was on dialysis three times a week. With Jamie's agreement I decided to blog about the process. It would be easy to think I was doing this to draw attention to myself, inviting accolades for my action. This isn't the case though. My desire, really, is to raise awareness of the plight of those suffering from chronic kidney disease and the effect this has on their lives. Jamie has been deprived of the ability to enjoy outdoor pursuits like cycling and hillwalking. He's unable to drive long distances and can't venture far from his dialysis centre in Swansea. It's also true that the dialysis is merely keeping him alive, not healthy. He needs a new kidney. Without someone like me offering a kidney he'd have to wait, in a long queue, for someone to die.

Each time I post on here and Twitter I receive lots of positive comments and praise. I've been called a hero. I'm not. I'm just an ordinary guy trying to help. It's not unusual for me. Close friends will, I hope, recognise my willingness to help folk, usually in a very small way. I hope this kindness has a ripple effect, prompting others to do likewise.

I spent 27 years of my life as a mountain rescue volunteer. I loved the idea of helping folk I didn't know, giving assistance without reward. But here's the thing. There is a reward, but it's hard to explain, because it's a feeling, a sensation you get, having done some good. 

It won't surprise you to hear that Jamie's thanked me more than once for my actions. It's completely understandable. I'd do the same. I can only try to reassure him that I'm happy to help and he doesn't have to express his thanks. I'll get my reward when I can share the outdoors with Jamie again. When we can sweat and toil up a hill together, or maybe flog up a climb on bikes. That shared experience will be a joy.

I feel like I'm rambling. My thoughts are a little clumsy. I hope you get the drift of my feelings. 

So, to end for today, I ask just this. Can you help someone as you pass along the way? Can you too be a good Samaritan? It may not be giving someone a kidney but the smallest acts of kindness can bring light to the life of the receiver. 

Be kind to others. There cannot be too much love in the world.


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

Monday, 26 November 2018

It's Greg's, not Gregg's...

We're pitched in the van at Galliber Farm, near Long Marton, not far from Appleby in Westmorland where Islay was born. Dale's arrived just after us and Gordon's tent is already pitched. He's gone to t'pub for dinner. It's dark. Around 6:30pm. James and Mike are due around 10.

Our plan is, tomorrow, to walk up to Greg's Hut, a bothy close to the summit of Cross Fell along the old corpse road from Kirkland to Garrigill. Another in a continuing theme of Ghost Camps. Blame Chrissie...

By 10 we're all assembled in the van, sipping beverages.

Come morning we have a lazy start. 

By 11am we're away, on a plod along the road towards Kirkland, where the bridleway up t'ill begins.

The sun is shining. We're each carrying 2kg of coal and plenty of insulation. We know there's bin snow on t'tops.We're hoping to socialise in the warmth of the hut before retiring to tents.

The track steepens. The sun disappears as we cross into the snow line.

I'm suffering with the weight but chivvied along by the kindness and consideration of my friends. With hindsight, I may not have been the only one struggling but I'm the one who vocalises it. Never could keep my gob shut.

In time, the hut appears as a welcome sight in the gloom.

As soon as we're inside, James sets to work on the stove and the fire begins to crackle.

No-one can work up any enthusiasm for tent erection. The ground around is not the best anyway. Instead, we organise our kit, lay out mats and sleeping bags on the sleeping platform and begin making brews.

First out of our sacs are the dogs' Woof Bags. As soon as they see them on the end of the platform they're in and snuggled down. It's been a tough walk up for them both, carrying their panniers.

In contrast to the final slog to the hut, the atmosphere is cosy and convivial and we spend the evening laughing, eating and supping whisky...and some vodka we found left on a shelf.

Plenty of spirits see us through the evening...

Part way through the evening we hear someone at the door. It's a young bikepacker, Sam, en route from Peebles to Penrith. We welcome him in, make sure there's space for him to sleep too and he's soon attempting to dry very wet shoes by the stove.

It's a truly memorable evening, spent in great company. Strangely it's the first night I've spent in a bothy. I frequently camp near them but prefer my tent. I've always said if I was ever in a group I'd consider sleeping in one...and here we are. It's a first too for Pebbles and Islay and we're proud of how settled they are in their beds. They bark when Sam enters, but only briefly. They're soon snuggled down again.

The night is not so cold. We all seem to sleep quite well, given the inevitable toilet excursions through the night. Pebbles' snoring is the source of much hilarity (we're well used to it) but it seems she has a rival in one member of our group.

Morning is dank and gloomy again.

We breakfast around a freshly lit stove before packing.

James, Mike and Gordon want to head up to the summit of Cross Fell and descend by a different route. With the dogs we're happy to avoid more snow so head down by our ascent route. Dale joins us.

As we stop for lunch, Islay poses proudly with her panniers.

And after a long trudge along the road we're back at the site shortly before the rest of our group.

The evening's spent consuming chilli, beer and cake, interspersed with daft attempts at humour. A damn fine end to a short trip. 

Friends are worth more than gold...

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Kidney donation, part 10

The story rumbles on...a bit like Brexit.

It's been over 6 weeks since my last visit to Manchester Royal Infirmary. The day after that last trip I had a 24 hour blood pressure monitor fitted at my GP surgery and the results were fine. It seems, like many others, I suffer from "white coat syndrome" meaning I react, without even realising it, to my blood pressure being taken by a health professional. Oh well.

The six week wait was the normal queue for a CT scanner. They're clearly in constant demand. So today I had a CT scan of my abdomen along with an X ray of the same. During the scan I was injected with a fluid dye, via a canula, to show up the blood vessels which serve my kidneys. This will enable the transplant surgeons to make a final decision as to which kidney to use.

After these two procedures I went in search of my transplant co-ordinator, Janet. I managed to find her for a five minute chat where she was able to tell me the nephrologist, Dr.P., has now referred me to the transplant surgeons. We're now in the final stages of this long journey. Next up will be a meeting with the surgeons for a final run through with me before fixing a date for the operation. Janet still thinks we're on track for this to happen in January. 

Once the date is fixed, Jamie and I will both meet the independent assessor to make the necessary legal checks ensuring no payment is being made for the donation. There's no hold up here though, because this meeting will only be set up once we have a date for the operation.

I was pleased to be able to phone my friend Jamie this afternoon with these positive updates.

The waiting continues but I feel we're getting close to a conclusion now. It can't come too soon. Jamie has had a number of dialysis sessions where he's suffered from a serious drop in his blood pressure. Not good.

On a more positive note, it was great to meet up with Jamie a couple of weeks ago when he came up to Manchester for the day. We had a most enjoyable visit to the Imperial war Museum North. Not the best quality photo, but it's the spirit of it that matters.

Thanks for reading. Please keep you fingers crossed for us. I hope you enjoy this pic of me, prepped for my scan today. Smile!

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