So I have been promising for a while to write about "The Call" , Ironically it is exactly 4 years ago to the day that I started dialysis. Who would have thought 4 years down the line I would be writing about receiving a transplant. So here goes....
24th October 2008. - 3.15pm
It was a normal day, me and Dad were out and about running a few errands, one being getting new windscreen wipers for my car! We had been into Halfords and the nice young chap was starting to fit the wipers when my phone rang. The caller display said "unknown" and I just presumed it was maybe my brother ringing from work. The I heard this voice saying "hi its Helen from the Royal we think we've found a suitable kidney for you!" After that her words just merged together and I had to pass the phone to my dad as I couldn't hold back the tears! I felt sorry for the poor lad fitting my wipers - Dad was talking seriously on the phone, taking all the information in and following the instructions, whilst I was having hysterics.
The poor lad from Halfords wondered what was happening so we felt obliged to tell him, he wished me good luck and we were on our way home, with a thousand thoughts running through our heads. It was lucky that my dad was with me and was able to drive me home as I was in no fit state.
At first I was told to go to my usual dialysis unit at Warrington but then a second phone call came telling me to go to the Royal straight away. The transplant co-ordinator was lovely to me and asked if I was ok, as she realised I was upset when I was speaking to her the first time.
So whilst my Dad drove me home, I rang my Mum who was doing what she does best - shopping. I asked her to come home as quickly as she could. Because I was crying on the phone she thought I'd had an accident in the car. But not wanting to miss a bargain or even her place in the queue, she still managed to buy 2 t-shirts in the 70% off sale! I phoned Andy (my brother) in work but he hung up on me because he was busy but he managed a quick text to ask what was up as I don't usually ring him in work. On hearing the news that I had received the phone call he immediately phoned back.
I was determined not to look scruffy when I got to the hospital so on arriving home I quickly jumped in the shower and washed, dried and even managed to straighten my hair but passed on putting the makeup on! Mum arrived home from shopping with bags in tow, Dad was in the loft getting my suitcase down (pink of course). Despite waiting over 3 years for the call nothing was prepared, my mind just went blank about what I needed to take, so I phoned good old Emily T who told me a few essentials that she found useful during her transplant journey, she was very reassuring and managed to calm me down!
At this point Mum (despite having purchased her bargains) was as white as a sheet but insisted she was fine. All things considered though we were all quite calm.
We set off for Liverpool at 4.30 sending a few texts on the way. Despite it being the Friday rush hour we arrived at the Hospital about 5.10pm and went straight to the ward where we were shown to a little room and left for an hour with no-one explaining what was happening. We expected to be rushed in and lots of hustle and bustle but it was totally the opposite. After an hour (it felt more like 5 hours) the registrar came and introduced himself and said that the bed was ready for me to have my dialysis. I was told that they would take my blood whilst I was on the machine and use it for the purposes of cross-matching and tissue typing. I was pleased about this as I'm not good at parting with blood as my veins are rubbish.
I started my dialysis treatment, so what were my Mum, Dad and I to do for the next 3 hours, what do we talk about? Guess what mum did when I was safely on the machine - she went to the hospital shop on the pretext of getting something to eat. Dad and I resorted to doing a crossword in a woman's magazine with me providing the answers while dad wrote them down (as I had my dialysis needles in my fistula in my right arm).
Andy arrived to see me. Meanwhile a different nurse came on to the night shift and introduced herself as Lucy. She was really friendly and we had a good old chat about her kids. I was then seen by the transplant surgeon who really didn't have much to say to me, never mind I thought if he is good at his job that's all that matters! Looking back now I realise he was probably just as stressed as I was! Next to come along was the anaethetist who introduced himself and filled in yet more forms.
At this point we still didn't know if the transplant would go ahead or not.We had to wait for tests to be completed and results to be checked and we were told that we would know either way at around 10.30 at the earliest. I was nearing the end of my dialysis and the next person to appear at my bedside was the registrar. He was very friendly and explained exactly what would happen during the operation. He told me that as soon as my dialysis was over I would need an ECG to check that my heart was ok as well as a chest x-ray.
I finished on the machine, my arm stopped bleeding and I had the ECG which was fine. Then yet another nurse come along and says "right it's all go! Blood tests, cross-matching and tissue typing are all ok and we are going ahead as soon as possible" He produces a sexy gown for me to wear along with netty knickers and even more sexier stockings to put on. No time for the chest x-ray, as I am told to go and have a shower and put my sexy outfit on asap. The surgeon came back and hovered by the bed while I went to the shower room. No sooner had I got out of the shower and returned to my bed that he appeared again and said"right were off" at the same time throwing all my belongings off the bed!
By now the surgeon was in such a rush that he and nurse Lucy pushed me in the bed themselves, no time to wait for porters! I said my goodbyes to my Mum, Dad and Bro, at the ward, the surgeon made it clear that they weren't getting any further, not even to the lift! I surprised myself at how calm I was, only a few tears, Lucy was great at reassuring me and gave me a big hug and a kiss as she left me in the pre-theatre room!
This is it I thought... my life is about to change....
Rare Diseases Conference 2018
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