From dialysis to half-marathon
I first became aware that something was wrong after a '˜Well Man' check at the local clinic and there was a report of blood in my urine.
There were checks on my bladder and urine tracks, but nothing was found, so I was referred to the renal department at the Freeman. This occurred in about 2000 and I was informed I had a renal problem.
My mother’s 90th birthday was in 2004 and I met a second cousin who had the same problem, which tends to indicate my particular problem could be hereditary.
I attended the department of nephrology. A biopsy was performed on both my kidneys and a diagnosis of Berger’s Disease was given, chronic kidney disease.
My next question to the consultant was ‘How long have I got?’ I might well have asked ‘how long is a piece of string’. I thought I was getting tired because I was ageing, but my blood was not being filtered properly hence the functions of my body were not getting the nutrients and oxygen it required.
As the condition progressed I became slower and had to sit down to let my body recuperate. This did not stop me being active although it took much more effort.
I was given various pills and a diet to follow with low potassium, such as no bananas and coffee. My local clinic took blood samples and referred them to the Freeman at regular intervals which saved a 120-mile round trip. But in 2011, I was referred back to the Freeman and regular visits gradually became closer together.
I also had angina and I was referred to the cardiology department in 2012 and had three stents inserted.
It was after 12 months that I was in a position to have a tube insert into my stomach called a Tenckhoff catheter insertion. This was completed in February 2016, and a week later I was on peritoneal dialysis. It took about three months to become active again and I went on several five to seven-mile walks, thanks to Ride and Stride.
After four months, I could not be limited to my locality, so I tried dialysis in our caravan for three nights. Encouraged, we had several more holidays in the caravan, for a week at a time. I could dialyse at night and enjoy my surroundings during the day.
This gave me the taste for adventure, so next we headed to Holland via the DFDS ferry from Newcastle. I dialysed both ways on the ferry and in the hotel. Encouraged, my next trip was sailing in my friend’s yacht in the south of France and along the Costa Brava. This trip took a lot more organising.
In November, I was called as a matching kidney had become available. I now feel 20 years younger and several people have told me so. It has taken about six months to recovery from the operation, but I felt sufficiently well to complete the Great North Run in September.
So having consulted the consultant, I entered through the Tyneside Kidney Patients Association (TKPA) and have raised about £1,500 for them. It took me 3hours 55min 56 seconds to complete the run.
The confidence I have gained through putting myself up to this challenge has been enormous. I would like to thank everybody who has sponsored or helped in any way. I hope it will help people who have a kidney problem and encourage others to donate their organs.