Pushing it

My head has been a bit all over the place these last few days. I took a call from the Living Donor team. They had assessed my MRI scan results since my recent hospitalisation and concluded that they’re not willing to proceed with the transplant.

So having passed all the tests, a tiny blood vessel in my neck burst, restricting blood flow to my head, dramatically increasing the risk of a stroke or worse if I am placed under general anaesthetic. It would be pushing things too far. In some ways, I knew this was a possibility. In other’s, I had denied that this would be the outcome. I was hedging and hoping, the power of positive thinking, to get the right outcome. Sadly that wasn’t the result. I didn’t tell my sister straight away. I needed an evening to wrap my head around it.

She is in shock I think right now. She had already missed her dialysis prep appointments, I think she was trying to avoid that particular reality as we were both focusing on the transplant. Now she really does need to focus on the dialysis. When I was last there, we took a walk, her boyfriend and I got ahead of everyone, he said that if the donor centre found that I wasn’t a match, then he would put himself forward. Time to step up laddie.

Mum was in shock too I think. I had played down my illness a little as I didn’t want to worry anyone. She was at my sister’s and wasn’t seeing it first hand. Dad was supportive and on his way home from his big summer trip.

I took the bike out yesterday. I needed it. Really needed it. Probably gave it a bit more than I would normally. Pushing it closer to the edge. Sometimes, you just have to get these things out of your system. Riding a motorbike is many things. Dangerous. Exposed. But also somehow it frees you. It is just you, the bike and the elements. Everyone and everywhere there are constant threats. And yet, it is compelling to step down a gear and pop the throttle open and skim past the traffic, easing between them and the oncoming traffic.

I came upon an artic – articulated lorry – on the approach to a roundabout. Easing off, I skimmed the roundabout and prepared to slip by on the outside. Just before I wound open the throttle, I noticed movement of the rear door. I backed off a touch and it swung in a slow pendulum to pretty much where my head would have been if I hadn’t spotted it opening.

Oops.

I hung back, it swung wide open, then bounced on it’s hinges and began a slow journey back to where it belonged as the driver straightened up out of the roundabout. I dropped a gear and swung past, gesticulating with my left hand as I went past the cab of the truck. I think the driver was still oblivious. He probably thought I was just (another?) belligerent biker.

Sometimes, I need these things. Not the swinging artic door close to my head. But the feeling of being on the edge, of being alive. Maybe that’s the pull of riding.

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Register to be a donor

Years ago, I picked up on of those flimsy paper organ donor cards that used to be left laid around in doctor’s waiting rooms. I duly filled it in and kept it in my wallet until it fell to bits. Until recently I haven’t given it much thought.

I’ve been reading about organ donation in the UK recently for obvious reasons. I tend to steer clear of the yucky stuff, I really really do not want to know the mechanics of what will happen when the surgeon takes the knife or scalpel to me. After all, I will be under anesthetic and completely out of it. Unless something like that film Awake happens. Hmmmpf. Best not think about that!

Anyhow, as part of my search, I came across the NHS sign up site for donating organs after you die (the link is here http://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/ukt/default.asp). It is a surprisingly well laid out site and it is incredibly quick and easy to sign up so you can donate. Let’s face it, if you or someone you love needed an organ, you wouldn’t hesitate in taking one that had been donated would you? And you won’t feel a thing if you donate. After all, you will be dead.

Go do it and make sure those closest to you know of your wishes so they don’t override them when the worst does happen to you. Go. Now. Right now. You can read the rest of this post later, if at all. What was the link again? Here you go – http://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/ukt/default.asp

If you have now registered, well done! Make sure you tell your family about it. Encourage them to sign up too.

I unticked the box for eyes. Sorry all you blind folk, but when I do eventually pop my clogs, my family may want an open coffin. It would just look odd if the undertaker had to pop mirrored shades on my face to hide my empty eye sockets.

Second visit – day 2

Day two was never going to be as simple as day one. The instructions were to have nothing to eat or drink after midnight before the first appointment. Sleeping on my sisters floor wasnt comfortable and it was a fitful night for both me and the wife.

First up was a glucose blood test. Followed by urine then a trip to radiology for a pipe to be inserted into my arm, along with three doses of radioactive dye. When the radiologist said…”you may feel a hot flush, metallic taste in your mouth and you may feel like you have wet yourself” somehow didnt seem particularly reassuring. After a series of scans, I was allowed to eat….cooked breakfast, yay….and then spent most of the day killing time, wandering around the hospital, returning once an hour for further blood tests – they were clearly testing the kidney function of a 7 or 8 hour period.

Towards the end of the day, there was some more radioactive dye and then a gamma radiation scan. Unfortunately, I didnt come out like the hulk!

The wife was feeling increasingly ill and I felt pretty drained so we went back to my sisters place for a rest, something to eat and to wait for rush hour to ease off.

We set off back home around 6.30, and made a quick pit stop in a layby so the wife could throw up. She really wasnt feeling too good. Fortunately, we had a quilt with us, so she curled up in the back, all cocoon like for most of the journey home.

Speaking to the doctor about giving up smoking

Having smoked pretty much since I was 15, this giving up lark could be a big issue for me. I am trying to push aside any negative thoughts and focus on the positives, as well as the fact that if I dont, I cannot give my sister a kidney.

I spoke with my doctor about it, he recommended giving up gradually, but also gave me the Smoking Cessation Clinic number. I have some points to make on this Doc…should you be reading:

If you research it on the internet the consensus is don’t attempt to do it gradually. Someone posted a blog which seemed to capture the sense of it….if you really hate someone and they smoke, convince them to cut down, to give up very gradually, that way they will the longest period of suffering nicotine craving and they are unlikely to overcome the addiction.

The second point is that the cessation clinic number is really the NHS National Smoking helpline. So you call up, speak to a lovely lady, who asks you a barrage of questions and it takes about ten minutes. At the end of which, she has recorded all the information she needs for the NHS statistics and she says, now you need to call a local number to speak to the real cessation clinic people. Doh. That just gives a smoker another hoop to not jump through. I wonder how many give up giving up at that point, before they have even started. I know it was some weeks from me calling that number before I called the local one, and I have some real motivation for doing this.