Well, here I am. The one place I never wanted to be again, but the place I always knew I would return to. Dialysis is once again part of my life.
I’m making it sound much more dramatic than it really is. All I’m doing is sitting on a bed, MacBook open, cup of tea on the side and listening to music. There are worse ways to spend a morning!
On arrival at the Jack Pryor Unit, I was greeted with a face whose name I couldn’t remember. “Joe Brown?” he asked. “That’s me” I replied. It turns out that he, Paul, was a Renal assistant at the West Norwich hospital, where I used to dialyse way back in 1999 as a mere child of 15. As we were speaking I remembered that he was a transplant recipient himself, and he told me that his current kidney – his third transplanted one – has been going strong for almost fifteen years. There’s hope for us all yet.
I entered the room where I’d be dialysing, one of the smaller rooms they have here, containing just four machines. The two gentleman on machines opposite me both greeted me with a nod and a smile and I settled onto the bed for a blood pressure check. It was, maybe unsurprisingly, a little high, but the Renal nurse – Dios – put it down to the fact that I was about to have two needles put into my arm and kept there for three and a half hours.
On that subject, it came as a massive relief that my fistula (people who know me will know this as my lumpy right arm) still seems to be working absolutely brilliantly. A fistula is kind of an inflated vein in my arm, made by connecting an artery to a vein in order to enable it to have needles inserted on a regular basis. The alternative to a fistula is to have a line inserted into an artery somewhere on your body, usually the neck, which is there permanently and used to connect the tubes to. Not pleasant at all. And so for my fistula to still be performing perfectly was a great relief, not bad for a ten-year-old graft that hasn’t been used for five years.
It all seems to be going very smoothly so far. It’s my first session, and so for a couple of weeks I’m expecting to feel fine after a nice blood cleanse. I know that sometimes it’ll take it out of me and I’ll feel rubbish after a session, but to be honest – this isn’t so bad.
Looking at the bigger picture, I have a wife who loves me, two gorgeous boys who think I’m a superhero (I don’t know how they came to that conclusion), and a job I love. I’m a very lucky man. This dialysis lark is going to have to get used to fitting in with my life, not the other way round.
Hmmm, time for a nap I think. 1hr 40mins to go…