I walked out of the hospital into the blazing sunshine. 31 degrees of sunshine, loaded up, with an NHS shopping bag full to bursting, with the next months concoction of drugs and nutrition drinks that I would need to consume in the days ahead of my surgery.
My mind is whizzing, I feel like I’ve just stepped off of the upside down, super fast, new ride at the theme park, it feels as though everything around me is moving and I’m stood motionless, trying to catch up with the rest of society whizzing by me. I’ve been like this for weeks now. I have moments, sometimes hours, that life feels relatively normal, but for the most part I feel like life is carrying on all around me, passing me by. I’m lost in myself, in my thoughts, and in the fear and uncertainty of my future.
I have 16 different types of drugs and drinks to take, at different times, on different days, coedine, augmentin, ciproflixacin, trimethoprim, pre-op drinks and fortisip compact drinks. I feel bewildered that this is happening to me, that this is now my life, that the once healthy version of me is a distant memory, that she has been replaced with someone so sickly and I absolutely hate it.
I slowly make my way over to my car, aware that my face has mascara streaks trailing from my eyes down to my chin, people are staring and I can tell that they are wondering who must have died to have made this lady so upset. But no one has died, just my future really. My heart feels like it’s been placed in a nutribullet. I want to get on a plane, fuck off out of here and drink myself into the sort of oblivion that renders me incapable of thinking about all of the bullshit.
Putting the bag into the passenger seat of my car the uncontrollable sobbing starts. I look down to avoid eye contact with the man that is getting out the car next to me. I need to get my shit together, I think to myself, I look like a nutter.
I’m 34, I’m a go-getting, feisty Office Manager, currently in the throws of breaking free from the world of PAYE, and trying to go it alone as a Consultant PM/OM.
Unfortunately my plan has been halted, dead in its God-damned tracks.
I have CKD, aka Chronic Kidney Disease. It started out as Acute Pyleonephritis, progressed slowly (but exceptionally painfully) into Chronic Pylenophritis with a benign renal tumour, and now my right Kidney is about as useful as a chocolate ashtray on a motorbike, and I’m about to have a Radical Nephrectomy (kidney removal), and my adrenal gland may also be in for the chop too ! Oh well, as long as I’m ‘appy, eh ?
Ten weeks ago I returned to my job in the Westend, as a Business Office Manager, following being hospitalised with kidney stones and another kidney infection. Whilst my line manager was about as irritating as a dose of thrush, everything else about my job was perfect. I’d worked tirelessly setting up our Westend office pretty much singlehandedly from scratch and had recruited and trained an amazing team. It was my baby, my second home. Aside from working in medicine, this was the only other job I had ever had that I could honestly say I loved. The project had been completed and pretty much on time, I just had the job of running the place now.
Sadly I had to deliver the news to my boss (Thrush/Ginger Nuts) that although I was fit to work, I had an operation on my bladder and a Marcaine Infusion the following week to ease my kidney pain, and then I would be having surgery to remove my kidney in 12 weeks time. The day after my cheery announcement he made me redundant, no need for my role anymore, the project was complete and his EA was now going to run the office I’d broke my back setting up. “Fuck you ginger nuts” was my only thought as I handed over my company laptop and iPhone, “Fuck you immensely “.
With my “negotiation” skills I’d managed to secure enough of a notice period payout to tide me over for two, maybe three, months, but then I would be having surgery and unable to work for up to ten weeks. The train journey home was panic stricken to say the least, as the reality of the situation hit home and I realised I was positively drowning in the brown stuff !
I’m resourceful, I like to think I can find a solution to almost any problem and I’m pretty versatile, I can even tile a bathroom if push comes to shove. But this situation was a tricky one. Following the bladder surgery I started searching for work. Not wanting to secure another perm role with surgery in the coming months I decided to hunt for temp work. Should be easy, no problem, I cockily thought. At my level holidays aren’t usually covered by a temp, it’s absorbed into the business, leaving maternity contracts as the only option, but they are usually asking you to commit to a minimum of 6 months, which I couldn’t do.
The following week the surgical admissions team confirmed my date for surgery as 29th September. With only 6 weeks to go I would struggle to interview and secure and start anything. I needed a new game plan.
Essentially the weeks passed and nothing arose on the horizon job wise! My emotions swung like a pendulum between “Fuuuuuuuuck” and “she made me strong, I’ve got this, I’m gonna be ok, of course I am”. Limiting my alcohol intake ahead of surgery now seemed futile, if the kidney was being cut out of me then I may as well send it out in style. I poured a large glass of my favourite redstuff and sat in the garden with my laptop, which may I add was rather shit in comparison to my work one which had been snatched out of my mitts some weeks prior. “Fuck you even more Ginger Nuts” !
With my archaic lappy (that’s louder than my washing machine on full spin when firing up) I designed my company logo, set up my website, drew up templates and a business plan for my Office Management Consultancy business. I set up social media accounts and went about making contacts and getting endorsements and recommendations from colleagues and directors that I had worked with. I spent days with my head in the laptop researching and designing. Now she is ready to go. The aim being that once I’m recovered I will be able to take on my first OM contract flying solo without the likes of Ginger Nuts breathing down my neck.
Que: Announcement of NHS junior doctor strikes en mass !
Confirmation soon followed that my worst fears were realised, my operation had been cancelled. Double Fuuuuuuuuuck ! The delay of my operation is multifaceted in the area of Fuuuuuuuuckedness !
A) My savings would only be able to carry me through till mid October, delay of my operation means no fucking money
B) My recovery will now be ending around Christmass time, aka no work prospects for some weeks post recovery, aka no fucking money
C) I’m risking more scaring of my kidney and more infections and maybe even renal failure
D) I’m not the most patient of bunnies
E) Further strikes in Oct and Nov could mean my operation is cancelled again
The entire situation has left me more unsettled than Katie & Pete’s marriage. I’m a crab, cancerian through and through. I don’t do unsettled, I do secure, plans, lists, dates in the diary, not this limbo shit !
The only date in the diary unchanged, rather surprisingly, was my Pre-op anaesthetic assessment. Pretty pointless given they are supposed to be conducted two weeks pre surgery and surgery had now been cancelled. I attended anyway with my only aim being to walk out of there with a new date. Yeah about that…
Five hours of tests and forms and lectures on risks of nephrectomies, discussions about possible outcomes, wound management, pregnancies, diet, nutrition, me sobbing, call to the admissions team, me more sobbing and I still walked out of the hospital without a date. The Marcaine Infusion has worked, the nurse advised me that I have a nasty kidney infection, which I wasn’t aware off, because my pain receptors hav been killed off arounD my kidney, yes I’ve been in moderate discomfort, but nothing in comparison to kidney infection pain, and I wasn’t even aware I had an infection. Today however the fever, night sweats, haematuria and vomiting started, but no kidney pain. I’m now on heavy drugs again.
This Radical Nephrectomy needs to be bloody radical, I tell you, I’m expecting to come out of there with some super power or something, singing and dancing, doing the caterpillar perhaps?
All joking and witty comments aside, hitting rock bottom can only mean one thing, you’ve gotta go up at some point. Surgery is going to be tough, but it’s hopefully going to be life changing for me. I’m going to be well, rid of this disease and I honestly can’t wait for that. To be smiley, happy me, with my own business. It’s forced my hand to go it alone, to put one of my much talked about plans into action. It’s shown me how truly amazing my friends are and how lucky I am. It has made me sit up and value my health and to not take anything for granted and its reminds me that I can get through absolutely anything.
Here’s to the exceedingly Radical Nephrectomy ! Let’s hope it lives up to its name eh?