Kidney Donation Update – Clock Watching

Well, the day’s getting closer. I’m writing this on Saturday night and surgery will be first thing on Thursday morning. Or at least I have to be at the hospital first thing (7am), when they’ll actually take me into surgery I’m not sure. I’ve been told but, like a lot of things I get told, it just drifts like tumbleweed through my mind and disappears out the other side.

Waiting is an odd experience. A couple of days before I went into quarantine/shielding I went for a quiet pint with myself to try and clear my head and think through the whole process and these final steps. Can’t say I’m feeling overly confused or lost in it all, in fact day to day it just seems like a mundane process – like planning/going to work only less arduous. But there are still some thoughts pushing to be heard. Or questions looking for answers rather.

One of the main things that confuses me is the scale of it all. Personally it doesn’t feel like a very big thing to be doing. As I said, it’s a practical process, there’s nothing in it that feels particularly profound or special. At times I can see it as something grander and that’s nice, there’s certainly some pride to be found in that, but those moments are fairly rare because, to be honest, I don’t look for them much. Seems a bit, well, smug I suppose, or self-aggrandising. A bit of which is probably allowed, but still. Where I do see the scale is when I think of the person on the receiving end.

I went in to the hospital the other day for some final tests, to get a run down from the transplant nurse and to meet a surgeon, although not mine unfortunately. It was a fairly boring day, the surgeon I was supposed to meet, the one who’ll be cutting me up, was delayed, instead I got a junior surgeon who didn’t have much to say. The guy who took my dozen or so blood samples cocked it up to the point where they had to get an older woman who knew her business to take over (always go for the older woman in a hospital, she will know the way). I also ate a crap sandwich in the canteen. One interesting thing did happen though.

The transplant nurse spoke to us as a group, myself and two other donors who were getting a general run down on events to come. We chatted a little bit before hand and then we all had to introduce ourselves too. Was a first for me, talking face to face with donors. Unlike me though they were both donating to family and that’s… a hell of a thing. People tend to be impressed by an Altruistic donor (someone who donates to a stranger) but their path is, I think, far harder than my own. One woman especially was donating to her 6 year old son who’d been diagnosed, from birth, with kidney issues. Granted there’s far less of a choice in that than I have, in fact I doubt she saw in choice in her own sacrifice at all and the joy/comfort to come from it must be pretty profound as she’ll get to watch him grow up healthier and happier than he ever could without that kidney. But consider the sheer weight of this process for both of them. The fear of the transplant being rejected, the worries about the recovery, being isolated from each other in separate parts of the hospital, the debt owed even on top of giving that kid life. That’s a really big thing. And for my recipient I guess it’s no less grand but maybe it is less so for me.

That’s not a bad thing either, sure it’s a blessing in a lot of ways. I’d despair at being so close up to an experience as big as that, I infinitely prefer being a step removed and safe(r) from the worries and stresses of it. But seeing at least a glimpse of those involved in transplants, it makes you wonder just how big a thing you’re doing for that stranger out there. Ultimately it’s not a question that needs answering but still, sticks in your mind.

Anyway, quarantine. It’s going fine so far. I’ve always been very good at occupying myself and, while I go a bit funny without human contact, it’s not in a way that I don’t kind of enjoy. Plus work still needs doing, the flat still needs cleaning, the garden clearing – there’s all sorts of stuff I can procrastinate my way out of doing so it’s much the same as usual really. Albeit a little bit more solitary.

It’s also a glimpse of what’s to come after my recovery, although not a very clear one. I’ve another 2 weeks of shielding to do after the surgery and then ages signed off of work (12 weeks or so). I’ll be able to do a lot less by then but I’ve got ideas on things I can do – write, draw, prepare for my upcoming Masters (got onto a Masters course btw!). How realistic those plans are I don’t know, can only guess at how I’ll feel really. As to the surgery itself? Thought of it makes me queasy to be honest. Getting sliced up, catheter up in my junk, having nurses actively focusing on when I’m going to have a shit. Doesn’t bare thinking about really, which is why I mostly haven’t thought about it. No point in doing so as far as I can tell, dwelling on it all doesn’t make it any less necessary after all.

So, 4 more days and off we go.

P.S. Definitely not recommending living donation for anyone (unless they want to do it) but you can register for normal, after-death donation here or to give blood here – which you should definitely do if you can.

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