Kidney Transplant Part 2: Day 0 to Day 3.  

Dead Kidney Season

Waking Up Post OP

Wake up. Oxygen mask on. Can’t breathe. I rip it off and the nurse comes in.

‘Ryan you must keep it on.’ All I can here are beeps. So many in this nest
they’re a hum.

‘Put it back. Please. We need you to breathe.’

The voice makes a fair point but sounds blunted and all I can see is blurred
hair. She leaves and I look around the dull edges of the room. A green clock.
Curtains and a TV. Then the tubes. Jesus. Every time I try and move I’m tied
down like Gulliver. These tiny tube people. What do they want with me, these
bastard?  I try to move again and they
tug at me. I’m caught. Try not to panic. But I am panicking. I escape
the mask again. Quietly this time. The scarecrow’s gone and I don’t want her
back. Just take a deep breathe. Breathe. Do not panic. You’re safe here.
Brain is rolling back into reality, sharpening the room back into focus. The
clock looks different. The beeping spaced out now. Escape the mask again. You
are safe here.
Do this on repeat for a few hours that might have been
minutes, days. Comotosed. Transplanted.

Day 1

Kate and Mum visit in the morning. I am so goosed on Fentanyl my voice is
wasted and slow and I’m talking nonsense, like those early mornings in kitchens
when the light starts coming in. This time, though, I’m conscious of my slow
reverie. Everything is slow motion and I’m in a bubble. The opioid lighting me
a campfire and taking care of me now. I click the button and let it in with
each breathe. A haze of yesterdays run past and I watch them and they can’t see
me. I click the Fentanyl drip again and slip away.

Day 2

It’s the vomiting that does it. That and the clumsiest care worker of all
time. Kate visited again in the morning and I got out of bed for the first
time. Good to move. Helps avoid deep vein thrombosis and pneumonia
catching on, the morning doctor said. Starting to notice how nice the room is.
How lucky I am this whole fiasco happened in the UK. You hear a lot of
criticism of the NHS, in between patronizing bouts of formaldehyde clapping
engineered by those castrated, custard freaks in government. But if you can
find me a better renal ward anywhere in the world private or socially funded
I’d be surprised.

Anyway, it was DAY 2 and I slid my legs out of bed with good intentions but almost
immediately the puke sweats started. The same as always. Sweet saliva in your
mouth and a rash of sweat coming on like the warm still air before a storm. The
brutal puking storm.

I filled four cardboard bowls of green sick. That first wretch convulsing my
stomach, squeezing the stitches across my stomach to bursting point. At least
the first vomit showers of the storm are gone and things clear up. A few brave
birds sing. Kate smiles. Then the downpour starts up for real. Every gutting
wretch agonizing. Puke firing into the bowl. The pain ripping along my abdomen
and down over my bladder. Kate no longer smiling. The girl in the grey scrubs
looks in and then disappears the like a kid accidentally walking in on her parents
getting greasy.

Back in bed and the nurse comes in with a Heparin shot (Blood thinner). An
injection of cold fire like wasp stings straight into your arm. It gets easier
after that first one. You get them every morning to ease the flow of blood
through the shiny new kidney. I drink some water in my chair and look at Kate
sitting across the room, which is like a nice single room in a three star
hotel. All the channels you haven’t watched since you lived at home. Dave.
GoldTV. E4 and ITV 3. Nice bed. Strange bit of art that involves a Japanese
Carp the size of Mount Fuji bursting out of a lake. It’s smiling at first, but
every time the Fentanyl haze clears away the carp’s sinister agenda becomes
clear. I notice the clock has changed from Green to Pink. This makes me feel
quite paranoid. I drink more water. Stupid Fish. Stupid Clock. Mum arrives
later, and that’s when the hallucinations started. I shut my eyes but the room
and the people in it are still there, nurses and doctors from earlier mill
about, black and red on my eyelids, moving around the room. Then the black and
red people disappeared and started to change forms to horrible, twisted clowns.
They seeped from the edges slowly then jumped across my eyeline. Smiling with razor
sharp teeth and eyes of every mistake you’ve ever made. And the problem was
when I opened my eyes to escape them I was covered in tubes. The machines
beeping. A catheter in your penis. A long red blood line sticking directly into
your new kidney. The fluid drip and the fentanyl drip plugged into your left
hand. Heat monitor stickers attached all over your chest. Blood pressure
monitor on your right arm. And that fucking fish staring you down. And who
changed the colour of the clock? And why does it still say 1:15am? (turned out
it was actually broken)  Time has stopped
and I want to get off. No escape even if you shut your eyes. Nowhere to hide.
It’s either clowns or a plastic spiderweb shitshow.

I try to sleep that night and finally drift off at 6am until 8am. I watch a
lot of The Good, The & The Rugby podcast videos. By day 4 I was dreaming
about James Haskell.

Day 3

Huge improvement. Less pain so I decide to stay off the gooseneck painkiller
I’m hooked into. Decide a bit of pain is better than evil clowns and
Machiavellian marine life. I chat and laugh all morning with Kate. She stays
all day. What a woman. Just doing her crossword, listening to country songs.
When I shut my eyes now it feels like Sunday mornings instead of a late lunch
with the Insane Clown Posse. This is when I really start missing my daughter. This
is already the longest I’ve ever not seen her. More sleep that night, thank god.
More Rugby podcasts now my phone thinks I love them. I keep watching despite
knowing nothing about rugby, wondering what Mike Tindall really does on the
show apart from breathe loudly. Apparently they still drink a lot, these rugby

A quick note on the Care Staff on day 2. You have nurses that come in
through the day wearing navy Blue, being lovely and giving you drugs. Then you
have the care staff in grey that help to make beds, fill up water bottles and
generally be really nice. However, like all workplaces, you get a few that work
in ‘their own ways.’ Good grief. One had a vendetta against my catheter.
Picking it up. Walking around with it while I’m screaming, unable to move and
wondering how I got into this mess with my dick attached to Mrs Ratched, like a
sleeping dog being pulled into the furnace.

‘Please leave that.’

So she picks it up again and goes walking off on some pilgrimage of pain and
suffering. I was glad when she changed her shift. Later on Day 3 I have to go
to the loo and this manic Spaniard comes in who attempts to move me like I’m
debris on an F1 track. Rapido. Brutal. I’m sure I could hear someone down the
hall playing electric Spanish Guitar on fast forward. Some psychopath dressed
in Flamenco Black with his foot up on another poor bastard’s hospital bed,
attacking his fret board. I asked my friend to ‘calm down’ and actually he turned
out to be a bit of a legend, but only after I’d nearly had all my tubes ripped
out like bleeding strawberry laces on the assembly hall floor.

Next Up: Days 4 to 7. All of which make that initial period of pain worth it
a million times over.