old man yoga


did my old man yoga lesson 1 again this morning. got down on the rug in the sun porch, lay flat on my back and stretched out the stiffness and kinks, then for the amusement of Emma the cat, I rose slowly back to my majestic verticality with the assistance of a wooden chair. very little creaking accompanied this maneuver and so on with my day, a day with 4 hours of dialysis. will the call for transplant be today? Will today be my last treatment at Penetang Hospital?

DSC05013 (1)
my chest line for dialysis access

never say never


After further reflection of the arguments pro and con I asked to be returned to the top of the list. Perhaps the tipping point when I calculated how many hours in dialysis.  I t works out to 720 per year. That is about 5 months working 37.5 hours per week.

And finally 5 months times 7.5 years is… well I am not going to crunch that. It is simply long enough.

Time to change up my life.

Photo of side altar monstrance at martyrs Shrine near Midland, Ontario.  I took this photo yesterday.

 

28691972426_d67f70729f_k

self portrait


The world has body image issues. I have come to some peace with mine. It is about time. I now weigh ten lbs less than in university forty years ago: 225 vs 235.  I dropped the weight I had piled on to prep for open heart surgery. I have kept it off. The chest line hanging out of my chest is for hemodialysis. Tubing connects me to a machie which cleans my blood. I go three times per week for four hours of blood cleaning. The chest lines are problematical. No swimming and artful acrobatic partial showering.  With a kidney transplant the line will go. With line gone, I will be able to swim and shower.  You can see my surgical scar where they cut my sternum to open my ribs to get at my heart. It is the vertical line centre of my chest.  I am 62. I am at the top of the transplant list after 7.5 years of dialysis. I am filled with joy at the prospect.  There will be many changes. Almost all of them will be for the better.  The end of the chest line will be huge.

DSC05013 (1)

Buzz-sawed Routine


My sister and I are experiencing near terminal meltdown and cautious joy over the now looming prospect of a kidney transplant.

She and I share accommodation in a forty six year old winterized cottage on Georgian Bay.  We had a routine that worked with dialysis. Dialysis for 7.5 years.

The gift of a kidney coming anytime is a great thing and a little crazy. After you are 45 years old, Change is the enemy even smiling, happy Change.

_DSC1890
My retired, arthritic sister Mary with part of the livestock: Grace the dog in the background left, three cats, Louise, Cadbury, Emma

For most of the first 6 years of dialysis I drove myself. Last year my balance trouble due to peripheral neuropathy and my weakening heart grew so I went from cane to walker for secure scuttling around..

I hate the walker. I love the walker.

The walker makes me feel like I can move steadily often without nervous calculation. To make it mine, I put on tape in a herringbone pattern, a smart tape selected at Staples. I had not bought tape in some time. There has been a revolution in decorative tapes.

The walker weighs 20 pounds and folds up. It fits u with a hearty lift and shove in the back seat of the car. When I drove, I fought the walker in and out of the car. then my sister took over. I hate to see her schlep it in and out of the car. I am back to doing this most of the time.

Open Heart Surgery

Last year we faced a quixotic giant. His name was open heart surgery. He might kill me.  He might make stronger. The Giant smiled and I survived and slowly I came back to a strong me.  The walker stayed under me, my indoor, bladeless lawn mower, or so I call it and tell the cats who don’t care for the confrontations much. They find ways to put up with me and my ways, walkered and otherwise. They adore my sister.

Two other boulders sit in the river I wish to pass.

My sister has arthritis affecting her right hip and knee.  She has good days and bad days. Now she he has grabbed one of my canes.  By the way she is amused at the deference and assistance she gets now as she brandishes her war club.  She was in pain before the cane and could have used help with doors and loads then.

The trouble is one last failure of mine. My right eye offers no vision. The left eye remains good, good enough to drive.  I am working on my Peter Falk impression.

My life is small; I have no wife, no children, no grand-children.  That is for the best. My life certainly upon hearing of my fate, kidney failure and dialysis.has had a cascade of bad decisions. On me they fall.  I don’t want any more to fall on her.  She worked hard for her retirement. For her enjoyment.

Gordian Knot: Transportation

We have a transportation problem to solve with transplant.  Transplant coordination is not unaware of this.  I doubt right now I can drive to downtown Toronto two or three times per week.  That is the plan initially after a three week stay  to make sure organ rejection will not be a problem. Then for several months many visits to Toronto.  It cn be handled someway. But my sis and I were taught to handle our oen live independently. Strongest teaching from our Mother who survived the Great Depression nad came from Swedish, stand on your own twofeet Vikings.

My sister san’t manage the ferocious driving. I may not be able to.  I am unused to big city driving although I drove in Toronto for years during my working days.

All this sounds logical, hinting at the emotions.

The week has been Hell.

What will change?  The three four hour dialysis treatments will be gone.  My blind right eye stays. My bad balance stays.

Losing the “Little Village”

As a seriously socially isolated senior (depends on your definition, I am 62, discount some places) who has a little “village.” I refer to the cranky dialysis patients who I get to talk to briefly in the waiting room before we are called in and our separation begins. It is mostly impossible to have a conversation with a patient during four hour treatments. Other “village” residents are the dialysis nurses. A small but significant amount of small talk. Th rub is, I lose my “village” with a transplant.

Losing this “village” came up in my realistic discussion.

The emotions of this seven and a half year trap/salvation roil, burn blast.  Often just under the surface of the skin.  This week they came out into the warming, Spring sun.

I have speculated madly/ Do I who has made such a disaster of my life deserve the gift of a kidney?

Visual Life and Fear of Blindness

I get my gift of a kidney and it works and then my left eye goes blind? Right now i don’t believe I could live blind.

I love reading and watching movies. All my life I have written. Professionally as a technical writer. Creatively as a writer of poetry, short stories and short plays. I don’t think I couid be a blind writer. I don’t think I could be blind. Would it be a sin to tka kidney gift and end my life in the face of blindness?

Failure to Connect

I have lived up here in God’s country, a transplanted Big City type but with summer residency going back to the 60s and Family roots to 1910. I have tried various groups, arts, writers, seniors, even Georgian College. I have failed to build a social network. I have no best friend. There is no one I can call up to have a serious chin wag/ Question is will kidney fix that? Not automatically. My theory is simply that my personality has grown crankier and more toxic during the time I learned kidney failure was coming. I considered it the end of my life. I considered it God’s judgement to punish me both on earth and after death.For all the sins/mistakes I had committed up to that point. Did I see the light sand try to do better? No, a true grasshopper I made many wrong decisions making my circumstance with kidney freedom facing me straitened.

Who knows after hemodialysis for a few years, eternity in Hell might be OK.

Change is a Grizzly bear

Whatever comfortable decaying, grinding down to bits routine dialysis has forced it is about to explode. It is going and we were used to it. The rushing floodwater of change in a canyon is coming at us and we are terrified. Sometimes my sister and I try to smile. But Change can be like a Leonardo gnawing grizzly bear.

 

 

Ten years


It hardly seems like 10 years. Ten years blogging with WordPress. Thank you, WordPress. Blogging is quite an adventure. Sometimes you have to ignore the silience and imagine you are talking to an old cat. Dialysis is an adventure. It is going to end soon. Open heart surgery was a helluva an adventure.

Kidney transplant from a stranger will be an adventure.

I am almost paralyzed with fear and joy.

Drop off


this morning my friend, Jamie Hunter picked me up at home and drove me to Midland for coffee. He then delivered me to the dialysis unit for my treatment. First time in seven and a half years a friend has done that. That says volumes about my cranky nature more than about anyone’s sense of charity. Until last year I usually delivered myself. Now my sis does. She got this morning off to put her feet up. This afternoon she brought me home. She is the best.

Funny old day


One  of those old chock-full days. Crammed a lot in. Medical appointment then a lunch out treat. I paid the price in the middle of the afternoon when I became seriously fatigued. I would not give in  instead I bulldozed through and found myself needing to lie down in the early evening. This kind of sudden fatigue is really part and parcel of the dialysis experience.

Part of today was helping a friend who is technologically challenged to try out the dictation function for entering text into his laptop computer. Test worked well and he was quite intrigued and I believe he will have some success using this method.

 

In fact I have used this dictation verbal dictation method to enter most of the text in this post.

Winter is your friend


There is a reason why February is the shortest month.

Low Canadian dollar means pricey groceries and super expensive holiday getaways.

For me Winter has meant sometimes slick ramp to get out. So far no disaster. The amount I am using my walker brakes could mean a brake cable adjustment sooner than expected.

 

Still trying to sort out my contracted right hand ring finger. Seems it may be a nerve problem. They are still working out the mystery.

Weight control remains steady, at or below 100 kg. Some dialysis patients come in needing to have 10 kg taken off. This is fluid. They are smaller framed than me. Yesterday I came in after two days of weekend light at 100.5 kg, a mere 1.5 over my target weight. Target weight is the weight you and your nurse aim for after dialysis. It is fluid loss.

Some ways to exercise fluid control

  1. at Home get rid of your large glasses
  2. replace them with small glasses
  3. avoid eating super salty or just salty foods, it holds fluid in your tissue where dialysis cannot reach it
  4. be aware of your drinking patterns, if you sit yakking in Tim’s and knock back three large coffees you are indulging “mindless” drinking, switch down to three small coffees or just try one
  5. do not drink from habit, drink from thirst

 

I am looking forward to Spring. Be well, be safe.

 

 

Changes


Some 12 weeks since open heart surgery, recovery perhaps slower than anticipated.

Weather this year heading into winter has been mild and snowless. Making my moving around with my walker very easy. Most winters snow comes by early November and stays until April.  The forecast is for a green Christmas. When I lived in Toromto, we often had those.

I am positively svelte. I had set a weight loss target of 100 kilograms for Christmas. I met that ten days  ago. Yesterday at dialysis I weighed out at 99.0 kilograms. That is about 217 lbs.  When I was in university I ran around at 235 lbs,

Following open heart surgery I am up and down like a roller coaster, hopeful and depressed. I try to grit my teeth and carry on moving forward. Bailing the boat as I take a break from rowing.

I am still getting used to being used to being blind from glaucoma in my right eye. Losing depth perception is an every day tricky. Going to pick up full drinking glasses is more of an a adventure.

I am trying to use my tiny social network to fight the big black dog, depression. I have been using the telephone for conversations.  Three visitors have called for face to face chin wags.  It helps.

Big change this week: reduction in number of treatments per week. Clearances have improved.  So no more four treatments of four hours. Now just Monday, Wednesday, Friday. This is huge.  It used to feel like with four treatments that all I did was go to dialysis.

Transplant list prep will continue.  Possible kidney transplant next summer.