For the last year I feel my life has been on pause. We found out last year that my father in law had chronic kidney failure. This alone was a shock to everyone. Alan had been very fit and healthy all his life, he taught half ofWaterford to swim, he regularly canoed, (more about this later!), and was always out walking gardening swimming- I’m exhausted just making the list.
Back to the story- his consultant had been looking after him so well for years, but the time had come for the dreaded D- Dialysis.
Kidney dialysis is something we have all heard of but is foggy in its intricacies. The Irish Kidney Association Website was our first point of call. For us it involved Alan going into Waterford Regional Hospital 3 times a week for 4 hours. He got “plugged in” as my daughter use to say, and come back to us refreshed and ready.
Having such an active lifestyle it was a shock to suddenly have to be so restrained every couple of days. Don’t get me wrong- dialysis is pretty miraculous. Sue and Alan investigated home dialysis but it was decided that we were so local toWaterfordthat it made more sense that he continue with the dialysis there. The dialysis on Alan was done through a central line. This in itself caused a few headaches and restrictions; he couldn’t get it wet- which meant no swimming- his great love, also a central line is quite a serious thing due to the fact that it goes straight into your bloodstream at the jugular, so keeping it clean while gardening with a shirt off was an issue!
How did this affect his life? Well primarily it affected all our lives, more than I ever thought. Our lives revolved around his dialysis times. Everything had to be checked with the diary. Even something as a family dinner was sometimes a logistical nightmare. Sue and Alan both love to travel, the dialysis meant that he either had to have very short trips, or organise dialysis elsewhere in the country. This was a headache for the dialysis unit, who were absolutely wonderful and never complained! As every time he returned toWaterfordhe had to be put on an isolation machine due to the probability of cross infection.
With Alan & Sue’s son and daughter being the other side of the world meant he could not see those grandchildren inAustraliaandNew Zealandas travelling that far on dialysis is not an option. Applicants on the transplant list are not supposed to leave the country- not even their normal place of residence without notifyingBeaumont. This concerned me so much that one weekend- with Alan and Sue in Kerry- I woke Nigel and made him promise that wherever his Dad was in the country he would get him to Beaumont in the 2 ½ hours. He said yes of course, but this logistic was always at the back of our minds.