Third Time’s The Charm? – Wednesday, 11th June 2014

Part I: Wanting Isn’t Enough

Another lapse in posting, another set-back and another apology from me to you. I am, truly, sorry for the gap in writing, I loved all the cards (My locker is a thing of beauty.), e-mails and texts, thank you, and I know everyone wants to know what happened this time, so…

Patients who seek help from doctors and promptly disregard or overwrite the instructions given are one of my pet peeves. I could write a Rick-worthy rant on the topic – trust! Me? I am not that person. Not at all! If the instructions are complicated, I write them down in the consulting room to make sure I have all the details correct. When I get home, I make sure I have everything in place so that I am able to comply, to the letter. So yes, since op number two, I have obeyed; I have eaten a clean diet (95% or better), have drank appropriately, have exercised gently every day (Walks of an ever-but-gradually-increasing length and tempo.), have slept well and mostly, have wanted it. Wanted it more than anything else, perhaps ever. 

Regardless, as most of you know, my body rejected the second vein/valve necessitating a third surgery. The news comes as a crushing blow – not entirely unexpected because of the blood and the pain – but I feel trounced, I feel like both the doctors and my body have let me down, I feel unsure that I have another fight in me. At this point I am not afraid of the operation not being a success but of what happens next if it is not. Three times, apparently, is my limit. The day arrives, again I check in, again I am loaded into an ambulance for the race along Highway 401 to Kingston and again I am handed over to the nurses in surgical daycare. By this point, the drip bag has always made me groggy enough that details are fuzzy at best. Today, however, I at least recognize that this doctor is different than he who operated the past two times. This gent is much older, is crustier, is smellier (Yup!), but he does have a great bedside manner. He tells me his plan and that he is confident it/he will be successful. I am too stoned to properly process all this chatter (In truth, I am fixated on the incongruity of the body odour on a surgeon. Is that the drugs, or my innate weirdness?) but, yes, I think I will be confident too.


Part II: The Same and Different

My next memory is awakening in my own bed the next morning; mouth so dry the membranes are fused together, sore as hell everywhere around my right kidney, and I can smell dried blood (We kidney patients can sniff out dried blood from twenty paces!). The first thing I am aware of is that I have to pee. Badly. Yay! Always, unfailingly, a great sign. Ablutions complete, I wander out to the den and sit down, not to read the newspapers as usual, but to con all the paperwork sent home with me. Everything at this moment feels and seems to be exactly the same as last time which, I fear, may be the bad news. The report, however, lays out an entirely different plan for me. This time we will not use the dialysis machine (Unless deemed to be a matter of life or death. I have a wee giggle at the drama of his prose.) until at least day five, and day seven if they can stretch me that long. Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot??? A week? My blood will be black sludge by then but likely I won’t care because I will be comatose! What is he thinking? His theory is that he wants the vein to set/knit better/properly before the machine’s drag/resistance tests its sturdiness. Okay, then, here we go, a week that is sure to disintegrate into a hot hematological mess!
Part III: Today

Counting Thursday past, surgery day, today is day seven. I have not been on the machine. I am not comatose. I have felt better; I have picked up (From Cameron) a wicked-bad cold (Because my blood is filthy? Probably, but I am still blaming Cam!), I have a fever (Cannot state positively whether that is kidney or cold-related.), and I am ashamed to report, I am still very, very sore at my surgical site. Not comatose. Alert. Peeing. Miraculous – for reals! I have had a couple of ultrasounds already this week so that the docs can watch the vein and valve in action. Everything seems perfect. PERFECT! Meaning tomorrow will be dialysis and I am scared shitless. What if it pulls apart again? What if the valve fails under the drag of the machine? What if the vein leaks? What if my cold virus has morphed into an infection at the site? As I sit here typing this update I am terrified of all the ‘what ifs’ because, of course, three is my limit. Because I am not sure I can manage another fight. This has to work. I Want!


Part IV: Tomorrow

It’s just another day, right? Silly to be paranoid, right? Even if there is a problem, it will probably not reveal itself on the first dialysis – it didn’t last time, nor the time before that. I will, however, feel enormous relief if everything goes well tomorrow. Sorry guys, It is hugely unlikely that there will be an update tomorrow. I am told it will be a full session once I arrive and I am always out of it when I get home. I will post again, I promise, just as soon as I am able.

Absent any camera time:

“Water Patterns” Saturation, HDR, Boost (3 steps)

“Water Patterns”
Saturation, HDR, Boost
(3 steps)


“The Want” – Sunday, 1st June 2014

The Want… It takes over the mind. It has a life of its own. It is the most important. The only.

Do you know The Want? Best exemplar are superstar wannabes. You know them – they’re easy to spot on the pages of the glossy magazines and on the red carpets – unnaturally posing as hard as they can. In these images, the women are never relaxed, never candid, never organic. The poses are always planned to reveal the best angle, the slimmest angle (are they the same?), the most beautiful curves. Tummies pulled in, tails tucked under, chins extended: Clench! Just looking at those photographs you can feel muscles squeezing for all their worth, hear hearts pounding against breast bones and smell flop sweat. Do you cringe? Do the muscles in your neck, your back, your tummy hurt thinking about the effort expended? Because The Want is hard work! For these starlets, owning a cover or a carpet is the pinnacle, and reaching the top is very, very, very hard work. The Want.

Have you experienced The Want? I have. Everyone with an acute, incurable or chronic disease (like wonky kidneys) knows The Want. Intimately. You see, the threat of another problem, another set-back, another complication forever looms and must be avoided at all costs. Those hiccups represent another missed girls’ lunch, another missed dinner, another missed show, another missed hair/nail/chiropractor/dentist/etc. appointment, another missed meeting, another missed vacation; the list is mammoth, the disappointments are crippling. This, then, is the perfect opportunity for The Want to insinuate itself, to become an obsession. Yes, I have experienced The Want. Such is the story of my life since my last visit to Presqu’ile.

My body rejected the “bionic” vein the doctors had surgically inserted; because of the infection? Perhaps. An allergic reaction to the material used to construct the vein? Perhaps. Regardless, the outcome was another trip to Kingston, a “re-do” (haven’t we all wanted one of those at one time or another?) and another, longer, more comprehensive recovery period during which time Presqu’ile était – absolument – interdit!

Today, the testing of the tensile strength of the new vein is finished and it is able to withstand the regular beating of my heart and the draw of the dialysis machine at full power. Life is good. I am also, and this is unusual for me, completely infection-free. It has been a long, arduous and frustrating fortnight but it is behind me and I am happy and I am grateful.

Writing this blog entry is not a plea for sympathy – far from it! I promise! In fact, I am gloriously thrilled with myself that I did not succumb to my demons, that not all of the time was lost to me. I did manage to get out with my camera even if only on my way to the hospital. To me, my photography means triumph, enjoyment, achievement and, most of all, joy. I have proof:

"Lornay Farm"  14th May 2014 (Cam's homestead.)

“Lornay Farm” 14th May 2014
(Cam’s homestead.)

"Flowering Almond"  17th May 2014

“Flowering Almond” 17th May 2014

Garden:  18th May 2014

Garden: 18th May 2014

Garden:  26th May 2014

Garden: 26th May 2014

"Lambing"  29th May 2014

“Lambing” 29th May 2014

"Canada Geese, Red-Winged Black Bird, Lady Amherst's Pheasant, Mother and Son" Various dates.

“Canada Geese, Red-Winged Black Bird, Lady Amherst’s Pheasant, Mother and Son”
Various dates.

I Want!