Betty vs Booking Adventures

So we’re now in June and it feels like the year is running away with us already. We’ve been to Venice, I’ve had my 33rd birthday, my gorgeous sister has gotten married and now we’re counting down to our next holiday. Luckily, my levels have stabilised, albeit at a lower level, but stable is stable and that means my diary is getting booked up with trips away and days out. I’ve got to make the most of it hey, travel whilst I can, see the world whilst I can and enjoy being dialysis free whilst I can. I think some people think we live a life of leisure, away enjoying ourselves all of the time. The thing is we suffered for a long time to get where we are, and knowing it’ll all come crashing down one day again motivates you to live for the moment. They don’t see me on the days when I can’t get out of bed, the days I can’t walk right as the dialysis I did has wrecked my bones, the days my blood pressure is so all over the place I daren’t go out. A lawyer once predicted how long I’d live for. Knowing that number means I’m going to cram as much living into my life as possible. Yes me and my hubby enjoy lavish holidays and nice meals out, but you know what, we deserve to enjoy these things whilst I’m well enough to appreciate them. We have to spend time together doing ‘normal things’ before the time comes to hook me up to that ruddy machine and our life again revolves around hospital trips and doctors. At the moment we live our lives by counting down the days to our next adventure. And it’s a fabulous thing to be able to do that. 

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Betty vs Blood Trouble

It’s has been a difficult few months transplant wise. Betty the kidney has been unhappy since the last hiccup with the gout drugs. She loved being on very few meds but as soon as they were started again my levels went nuts. I’ve been having blood tests almost weekly since November with a little break over Christmas. My urea levels were crazy and my creatinine jumped. My function dropped to 18% at its lowest. At 10% they start you on dialysis again.
Cue nightmares about dialysis needles and difficult days trying to drink as much fluid as possible. Constant nagging about drinking by my family, worrying about food I’m eating that may exacerbate the problem, worried my increased weight will be putting strain on Betty, stressing as I’ve been too exhausted to exercise. Ugh. I’ve been stressing myself out as well as those around me, giving myself headaches and generally making myself miserable.
So then it was time for another blood test, the dreaded post Christmas binge blood test. Usually this is the time of year when sugars, cholesterol and potassium levels are elevated. Anyway, bloods taken, the inevitable nervous wait for results and an angry phone call later as they are taking so long, and I receive a copy of my results whilst at work.
I cried. My levels had improved. I cried with relief. My function had gone back up to 24%. I cried when I got home. My creatinine had come down to within my normal range. Other than me being incredibly anaemic Betty the kidney was ok. As in not failing. As in I just need to drink more, a lot more. Phew. I’ll be injecting myself with aranesp for the foreseeable to hopefully raise my haemoglobin levels and thus give me more energy and less headaches but phew. A big phew. The biggest relaxing sigh ever with no more crying as that’s a waste of fluid and well, I need as much of that as I can get!

Happy new year everybody, may your 2018 be happy and healthy. #GoBetty

 

Betty vs Bone Marrow

First thing to say is that Betty the kidney is fine. All is well in that regard. There has however been a slight hiccup in another area, all caused by a med to make my toe feel better. Typical.
It started a few months ago when I complained of pain in my big toe joint, cue a unexpected diagnosis of gout. I thought only old ladies get gout but no it seems youngish ladies do too. I had to have a blood test to check my Uric acid levels, then forgot all about it especially as my toe got better.
Then a few weeks later a GP I’d never met rang to say my levels were out of whack and that he’d prescribed Allopurinol, a well know, widely taken gout medication. Fine I thought, what’s another tablet.
Now I’m a tired person, I go to bed tired, wake up tired, live tired. Always exhausted, never a let up. So anaemia was never something I’d much notice.
Come last week, I had my three monthly bloods done. I hate waiting for the results, it’s like waiting for a kidney all over again. A few hours later a doctor from the hospital rings, causing instant panic and almost brown pants. My first question is obviously ‘what’s wrong with the kidney?’ which I think should have been his first port of call, to tell me it was fine. But no he starts prattling on about my blood count, I had to practically shout at this poor guy to tell me if the kidney was ok. It was, so now whatever was wrong I knew I could deal with it. He explains my white count is too low, and they think I’m too immunosupressed. Ok, didn’t know that was a thing. So I stop one of my immuno meds and carry on. Come the end of the week I tootle off to see my transplant doctor thinking all is well, just a slight med alteration.
Well no, it would never be that simple with me would it. My white count is so dangerously low it’s clear my bone marrow has stopped working because of the high immuno med levels. WTH. Just the mention of bone marrow meant it was serious. It had even stopped making red cells. Maybe that was why I was so tired recently? Anyway, after more brown trouser moments I mention the allopurinol. He wasn’t impressed, turns out that drug should never be given with the meds I’m on, and he is going to write an angry letter to my GP. He has stopped most of my meds now until my levels recover and has told me I should stay in the house and not go out! That ruined a planned weekend out but I’m still going to work. My boss was very understanding luckily and has left me on my usual quieter shifts where I don’t actually come in contact with that many people. Otherwise, I’m stuck in. No contact with people in case they have germs. Slathering myself in alcohol gel and not picking up dog poop. Fun fun. I’ve been baking to alleviate the boredom so now I’m getting fat instead, and spending lots of money online.
So I’ve another few days before I’m in for more blood tests, then seeing the transplant fella again. Fingers crossed my levels are improving coz at this rate I’m going to be a skint whale by the end of the month. Great for Halloween though 😆🎃 🐋

Betty vs Time

I’ve been thinking a lot about time recently. About how little of it we all actually have. About how it’s the only thing we will all run out of. About how so many of us waste so much of it on petty things, on silly things. On holding grudges, on worrying and on being afraid. Life is so incredibly precious whilst also being so incredibly short. Some people live to be elderly and yet have not enjoyed a full life, whilst some die young after living at break neck speed. I have nearly died on numerous occasions but only now as I get older, see my friends getting married and having children do I see how rapidly it all goes. I remember my school days like they were yesterday and yet that was now twenty years ago and I’m suddenly in my thirties, probably half way through my life. My little transplant is now three years old and that too has gone extremely quickly. I’m acutely aware that I should be living life to its fullest, if not for me, then for my donor.
Time will catch up with us all eventually and so we have to do the things we want whilst we can and are able. I know I am likely to die young(ish)because of CKD and I made my peace with that a long while ago, I know I probably won’t have children and I know I will be back on dialysis one day. So I know I must enjoy my time on this earth whilst I can. Maybe I am more aware because my time has nearly been cut short before but seeing people squander it is frustrating.
You never know when your time will be up, so kiss your loved ones, accept that job offer, go on that holiday and buy those expensive shoes. We all live on a rock that’s just floating in space after all, so that thing you’re wasting time over is probably not even that important is it?

Betty Vs Benefits

I’m sat here today watching another rerun of TopGear on Dave thinking ,what on earth am I going to do with myself?’. I worked weekends from January to early April, got exhausted from the travelling, got some disappointing blood results and left. I lost my DLA and was denied PIP by a point last year and so I applied for Job Seekers next. Apparently as I haven’t paid any national insurance for the last decade (you know, whilst I was busy being seriously ill) I am not entitled to any help. That kind of screws disabled people over doesn’t it. Way to make me feel useless!
So now I’m busy hunting for a part time job where I can sit down, that isn’t too far away and won’t kill me. It’s so disheartening knowing I tried so hard at university, twice, only to end up hunting down a minimum wage job that I can’t even find as my work experience is limited. I’m definitely an expert on hospitals, needles, recovering from horrendous operations and being a patient, but I don’t think that looks so good on a CV.
I enjoyed working, it made me feel sort of normal ish again even if it was knackering and I had to take my pills in front of people. It made me feel like I was contributing, even if it was only in a small way.
Now I’m a couch potato again, endlessly searching job sites and getting nowhere. I’m still going to see my personal trainer, I even lost some weight, but the motivation has to come from somewhere and if I’m feeling low I don’t work half as hard. I think I’m just generally fed up, bored, and tired as I always am. It’s my birthday in a few weeks so fingers crossed things pick up. I’m off into Liverpool with a friend tomorrow to meet one of my favourite authors, Jo Nesbo, so at least that will be fun. Got to stay positive and all that, me and Betty will get there eventually.

Betty vs Being ‘Normal’

Wow it’s February already. Since our big holiday, life has mainly revolved about being as ‘normal’ as we can. Whatever that means. Christmas was fun, new year was a bit grim as we all had colds, but since then we both have new jobs and have been doing regular things with nothing much exciting in between. We’ve booked a few little trips to break up the year and I’m even seeing a personal trainer. My baby sister is getting married next year so I’ve a hen do to plan and a dress to fit into. It’s killing me but I’m going to try and stick to it. Picture me doing weights, and then try not to wet yourself laughing! All the while making loads of cakes for people!
Other than that, Betty is behaving and life goes on. I get to have a fun filled cystoscopy next week, before we enjoy a family night out for Steves birthday a few days later. Hopefully I’d have recovered from having a stranger stick a camera up there 😳 . It was supposed to be on Valentine’s Day so at least it’s been postponed. Wouldn’t have made for a very romantic day would it.
Anyway I’m meeting an editor about turning my holiday diary into a book this week. I think it’ll be like a travel journal, just from a transplant patients point of view. Any tips about what people would like from a book like this would be gratefully received. I’m not sure where to start other than typing the whole thing up! Cheers guys!

Betty’s Big Adventure 2016

What can I say about the last three months other than wow. I always wanted to travel to faraway places but I never imagined they’d be so beautiful, so inspiring. Steve and myself have in all honesty just had the best time that we’ve had since I got poorly all those years ago.
We have seen Mt Fuji in Japan, baby Humpbacks in Australia, met the lovely people of Fiji, flew to the top of Fox glacier in New Zealand and stayed at the Ritz in Singapore. Now imagine all the amazing things we did in between then add in glorious sunshine, a few parrots an earthquake and a trip to Hobbiton.
We took ten thousand photos, nine hours of video, and I bought so many souvenirs that I had to leave some clothes behind (haha not really!). We ate out every day which has resulted in a little extra padding for warmth this winter so most of them don’t fit me anymore anyway.
We met some brilliant people, including a few famous ones that I won’t name. A few I hope will be friends for life that we can visit again. We learnt new languages, ate new food, experienced different cultures and it was all spectacular.
I also kept a daily diary which I’m hopefully going to turn into a book that’ll inspire other patients, and show them that being a patient doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your dreams.
Anyway, thanks go to everyone who’s got me here, the doctors, nurses, friends and of course family. This was an adventure we will never forget, and now we have Christmas (and job hunting 😩) to enjoy now we’re home. Oh and my blood results today were stable too yay! #GoBetty 🎄🎄