Around about this time tomorrow Jan will be going down to the operating theatre to receive a spanking new kidney from her best friend Liz.
Meeting them both just three days before the transplant there was a definite feeling of nervous excitement in the air. Jan has suffered from polycystic kidney disease for her whole life and has been on peritoneal dialysis for the past five months so naturally she can't wait to feel well again and no longer have the nights tied to a machine keeping her alive.
I met Jan and Liz at Jan's home in Epsom, and they kindly treated me to lunch (with the most yummy scones, strawberries and cornish clotted cream..yum yum) and we had a really good chat about our experiences with dialysis and transplants. Jan's bedroom was full up with Baxter boxes (PD equipment) which brought back many memories for me. The amount of equipment that is needed to do peritoneal dialysis is immense. I used this method of dialysis for three years and every two weeks the Baxter van would toot it's little horn and then proceed to fill a room in my house full of boxes. In these boxes went fluid bags, drainage bags, cassettes for the machine, alchowipes, tegaderm...I could go on and on and on...
I spotted the PD machine next to Jan's bed straight away and was faced with flashbacks of nights struggling to get it to work...whilst I was on PD I seemed to just look at a machine and it would break! I lost count of the many times that the New York Baxter office would be faced with my paniced squeaks from London over the phone. But in a matter of hours they always kindly dropped a new one off, which would no doubt decide it didn't like me and break again within weeks.* I also found myself instinctively picking up bits of equipment and feeling like I should be setting the machine up which was a strange feeling. Somehow I don't think the skills to set the machine up will ever leave me...
I'm going to be thinking of Jan and Liz a lot this week. My fingers and toes are crossed that everything goes well. I'm sure it will do. I'll be photographing them both after the transplant, so look out for the 'after' pictures soon, with a heroic Liz and a happy healthier Jan.
A bit of Photoshop tampering here...not something I usually like to do but thought it was quite appropriate!?
*I'm sure I just had bad luck with PD machines as I don't think it is very common to go through as many as I did.