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Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Campaigner or Complainer?

Having made this blog public, I'm now rather self-conscious. I'd been hiding behind a 'I'm just as good as the Jones'' front but I just blew it in 24 hours. oops

It has made me look objectively at my musings and I've realised I sound like Moaning Myrtle. I am making kidney transplants, and organ donation out to be a bad thing. I am not encouraging donation. I'm probably terrifying potential recipients. I'm likely upsetting my dad.

I don't want to lie. But it's unfair, and unbalanced of me to use this as a groaning board. When I cycle on a velib around Paris, go to parties, head out for dinners, dangle my feet over the Seine, feeling like I could be Mrs Jones/Mme Bertrand (maybe better than her even), I don't write about it. And that's not fair.

Given that it's the 14th Feb, I wanted to tell you a heartening story that's happened to me since September 2009. First though:
Happy Valentines Day

An old lady, probably in her 80s or 90s, sat in the bed opposite me in my Hammersmith ward last year. I don't know her name. (It's odd, but I really like old people. They have figured their stuff out. Unless they've turned cranky, which in itself is probably just honest, they're usually always kind, because they know that kind is good, unarguably so, so why not shout about it). She had come in for emergency dialysis. She hooked herself up to the machine, which looks like this (right) for those who haven't seen one before. Your blood goes out to the machine in one tube with a whirring noise, gets filtered and heads back to home all clean through another.

She sat there for the 3 hours that it took, and then she lay, quietly there and we had a natter. She had been on and off dialysis for 8 years and was scared of the operation, so hadn't pushed for it even though her son had offered his kidney. She was tired. Dialysis tires you out. We talked, she was very kind (you see?). Her face had rivers of smiles etched all over it. If you find someone you connect with in a kidney ward, even if they're decades older than you, it's very hard not to feel like you're deeply invested in them. Odd, inexplicable probably, but true. 

I got back to my book after a while (Love in the time of cholera - my docs kept encouraging me to read something a bit more uplifting....) and I noticed that she was crying. I HATE seeing old people cry. I gave her a hug, frail that she was, and her shoulders relaxed. I wanted to bundle her up and do puzzles together in my flat, eating baked potatoes and playing cards, but she might have asked to move wards if I'd suggested that so I came up with a better plan. 

(Don't know who this is, but it's pretty bang on)
I gave her my massive whoopa (Made that word up. It works) headphones, and my Apple Mac and set her up watching 'The African Queen'. She seemed very bemused at the technology, but turned the volume up to the max so the whole ward could hear it and sat back in her bed. A few minutes later, it felt like raining gold when I peeked up and saw her giggling to herself at the film. Her shoulders were actually jiggling up and down, she was so loving the movie and the romance between Humprey Bogart & Katharine Hepburn that never gets tired.

Now, though it seems like a sad story, tell me that doesn't make you feel warm inside. It most certainly warms the cockles. And just before the 14th Feb comes to an end too. 

I treasure that memory and I wouldn't have it, nor plenty others like it, if I hadn't been plonked in the strange situation that I'm in. 

ps. my shingles has got one heck of a lot better thanks to tramadol and 2 other pain killers, and time. My back looks like a horror movie in a gruesomely exciting way but I won't upload a photo of it for fear of losing one of my two followers of this blog (one of which is me).
pps. My creatinine has dropped to 181. Big smiley face. 
ppps. I had to spend Valentine's Evening in a Gp ward to check out my shingles rash. Slightly drooping smiles on my face. 
lastly  I realise I'm now publishing this the day after Valentine's Day due to nasty GP waiting hours (and they say the NHS is bad). But every day is the 14th, as says Outkast, right? So let's all be jolly, everywhere, all the time.  I'm a campaigner after all. That's right. x


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