I’ve just been for a biopsy of my kidneys. They leak protein and operate at an efficiency of about 30%. This puts me on the verge of stage 4 chronic kidney disease, CKD. I jokingly remark that they leak so much protein I could make a meringue with my pee.
CKD was diagnosed over six years ago, at which time the specialist seemed content to medicate and get it under control. I hovered in what was classed as stage 3 for years. More recently, however, following a few tests it was decided to find out why my kidneys were failing. This seems to be because I am edging towards stage 4. I show no sign of being diabetic, though I have been advised to behave as if I were since the diagnosis.
Hence the biopsy. I am 67 years old, and living alone in a caravan with literally no one around who can drive me to hospital, pick me up afterwards, and monitor me for 12 hours. This meant I had to stay in overnight for observation.
It all seemed to go well. The procedure was uncomfortable, and felt a little strange under local anaesthetic. The difficult part for me, however, was the obligatory 6 hours lying motionless flat on my back afterwards. It is a position I find uncomfortable. I have always slept on my side since I developed sleep apnoea. had my phone, so I facebooked and took photos of my feet and the ceiling.
I am pretty good at detecting bullshit, and recognising sincerity. My years spent interviewing in the enforcement period of my career, no doubt. So I can tell when people genuinely care.
The care I received at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital was outstanding. I saw how busy the nurses, orderlies and doctors were, and their unfailing kindness and courtesy, even in the face of querulous complaints such as from the old codger in the bed opposite on the ward. I noted also the significant proportion of immigrant medical staff without whom the system would collapse.
So fuck Pauline Hanson and her ilk.
Late in the evening a nice young Asian nurse came round to my bed, took my blood pressure, checked my puncture site, then plopped down in a chair and told me she had to ask me some questions. She confided she was so exhausted she was glad to sit for a few minutes. The questions ranged from straight details of name, date of birth and country of origin, to medical history and my personal circumstances. Where did I live? Was there anyone to support me? Did I need someone? How did I manage preparing food and performing bodily functions, showering and so forth. Then “Do you know where you are?”
I looked soulfully into her eyes and asked in a confused old man voice ” Is this your house? Are you my mummy?”
I love it when nurses laugh heartily.
We discussed living alone, preparing and eating food. She confessed she lived alone too and survived on instant noodles. I hazarded a guess she was Korean and asked why she was not enjoying the cuisine of her country which I had tried and liked. She said she could not afford the ingredients and anyway, it was too much trouble when one lives alone. It was I then who launched into a lecture on the importance of a healthy diet, with lots of vegetables, concluding with the suggestion that maybe it was I who should refer her to a dietician.
She was clearly enjoying the conversation as much as I, and we chatted on about food, life and work until finally she reluctantly got up to finish off a few duties before the end of her shift. I thanked her and told her she was one of the beautiful people who had made my visit to hospital a pleasant experience. She told me she enjoyed our chat.
I have to confess I have fallen in love with almost every nurse who has lain her gentle hands on me.
Bless them all.
The machine that goes”ping!”