Kidney Transplant Part 3: Day 4 – 6

Dead Kidney Season

Day 4

The day they removed the drain. The first tube to go. Liberation. The blood red tube taking off the blood red blood left around the new kidney, pooling up, gone now.

The feeling of it coming out is strange. The slippery tube gently being pulled out of your side, where it’s been living in the deep deep deep, way down there, for the past four days. Like a reverse biopsy without the huge needle beforehand. And up, up, up it comes and you’re lying there waiting for the elevator to get to your floor when it goes DING. Then GARGLE. The blood bubbles like a cartoon swamp and goes back down below. For some reason it was at this point, with the nurse crouching over me pressing a swab over the little hole, that I burst out laughing. Then she caught the giggle and it creased her face up before she started looking over to me, shaking her head, then laughing again and holding the swab tight against my side. Oh what fun we had! And it’s only getting better. The rumour on the ward is that the damn catheter will come out tomorrow. Apparently for female patients the catheter is not as uncomfortable, but I’ve got a beluga whale sharing the bed with me, beached and upset.

Day 5

For some reason the trainee nurse in her grey lilac scrubs has stayed in the room. I’m laying there while the other nurse in Blue starts the catheter extraction process. She attaches a plunger syringe that looks like a football pump into the catheter and deflates the balloon inside you that stops the catheter slipping out. Now deflated, she starts to slide it out. It is not a feeling you can really compare to a huge amount of things. It doesn’t really hurt but it definitely doesn’t feel right. Like that rumble drill thing they use at dentists or finding out later that she was your cousin. And all the time this is happening, the trainee nurse is standing in the corner laughing. Really laughing. Watching the whole ceremony wither her hands tightly clamped together. She knows, of course, that if she lets them free there’s no controlling what she might do. What she’s capable of. I catch her looking at me for a flash. Some sadistic nervous twitch that comes out when she’s really having fun. This is where she belongs. I can feel it. And she knows now more than ever. We both know, as well, that some day she’ll make the Evening News.


‘She was such a lovely person’, colleagues said. ‘Before all the murdering.’

When the catheter came out I let out a laugh of my own.  A pure bubble of relief floating up out of the room. We all watched it, the three of us. Me and the nurse smiled at each other. The trainee nurse watched us, visibly confused.

From here everything got better. Finally able to move. Away from the horrible tubular tether connected between my legs. Released from this strange sci-fi umbilical cord of doom. Free now, and relieved. And also weeing out about 400 ml every 20 minutes. That’s a lot when you think the average bladder completely full is 300ml.

Constipation Station

The brutal stomach contractions are also worth a special mention. Jesus H Christ. Your bowels haven’t woken up from the operation yet, so the gasses turn over in your stomach like the chains on a ferry, gradually, round and round, harsh and slow, with brutal tension. You can feel each bubble of gas squeeze its way through the crowd, ‘sorry, sorry’ the same way you and your mates did trying to get to the front of your first gig. Then they subside and you breathe before the music starts again. They rush forward. It follows, then, as all the great philosophers start, that the first poo after surgery is a spiritual and profound moment. The bubbles scrape around the bowel like wall of death riders, tensing the abdominal wall with its scar.  Everything pulling and pushing and then finally, finally pure emotion. The room is dark when you come back into it. Eyes open. Old muscles remember old jobs. Praise, Praise, Praise.

After 6 days there’s only one tube left. The drip that pumps fluid into my left hand, replenishing the body after all the wee comes out. The doctor says the kidney is going well. Running up through the percentages. Already in the 60 percent range and heading forwards. The last time it was this high was more than two years ago. It’s May now. At Christmas it was 3 percent. The Christmas before 12 percent. I have written about how this all came about somewhere else on this website. How I understand it anyway. And will get back onto that strange story once I’ve got this one out of my head.

Last few nights in hospital spent peeing a lot. More than five litres a night. That’s two bottles of Frosty Jack, which has and always will be too much. All into the cardboard tub. The drip keeps me replenished. I’m feeling good but have to stay in hospital so they can keep the fluids going in. These days are comfortable. The hardest part is understanding how they want you to stop peeing so much but also insisting you have to drink at least four litres of water each day to stay ‘wet’. Its counterintuitive but then so is someone cutting you open to keep you alive.

By Day 7 I am home….but not for long.

Follow Dead Kidney Season