I looked at the man sitting on the other side of the desk. Forties perhaps, tired looking and definitely not enjoying what he’d just said to me. Five minutes ago I’d known him only as a name on a piece of paper with an appointment in his haematology clinic. As I’d been a name to him with a little back story. I felt sorry for him. Truly I did because after working with the kidney donor team for almost nine months, he, the complete stranger had the job of shutting the door on what I’d hoped to do.
They say that when you receive bad news you hang on to a couple of words and delete the rest. What I hung on to was medication and monitoring, which I’ll explain about in a moment. To his credit he stopped there, merely adding they had to prescribe aspirin for me immediately. He wanted me to read the information in the pack he gave me and come back in two weeks. Then he’d talk everything through with me again and introduce me to their specialist nurse.
Why had that happened NOW?
I left the clinic pack in hand and thought well that’s interesting. I wonder why that’s happened at this point in my life. Trying to walk a spiritual path I know there are no accidents, no random events without some deeper meaning.
It had been a curious three weeks waiting to see him. Not even sure if there was anything wrong with me. Only accepting the surgeon’s reasoning that he couldn’t go ahead with the operation till they’d checked for the cause of the elevated platelet level. Not dangerously elevated. He said had I been seriously ill with kidney failure he’d have carried out the kidney removal. But in the circumstances, etc etc.
So I had no fears for myself. No, oh what if I have this or that. The thing about blood is how little I understood about its workings. I couldn’t project any illness because I had no idea what I might possibly, maybe have. After all I’d sailed through all the stages of assessment to be a donor. Arrived at the day of admittance to hospital. What really did I have to fear?
How had I failed someone?
What consumed me during those three weeks was what the projected recipient and their family might be suffering. I had no idea where the kidney would go; I’d become an altruistic donor. But once the match is found, that shifts the process into high gear. Legally as a donor you have the right to withdraw up to the administration of the anaesthetic. But come on, how could I have done that merely on a whim. The surgeon had the responsibility to make sure; any withdrawal was in his hands not mine and he made the right call. Of course and how blessed was I that they found out what I had. But my soul wept for the recipient and it took a long time to make peace with that.
On the bus home I read the information and picked up a detail that I used in the weeks following to joke and downplay what had happened to me. The genetic mutation causing the overproduction of platelet cells was described as rare. I told people that naturally I wouldn’t have a common mutation, would I?
Now I’ll return to the medication and monitoring and why that lured me to a false sense of how I could manage this new situation. I was found to have osteoporosis after I broke my arm over ten years ago. That is managed with medication and monitoring; to date has caused me no problems or worry after the first few months.
I thought I could deal with my new condition, a managed cancer, my unpronounceable Essential Thrombocythemia in the same way.
Hah! In the next period I found out differently.
For anyone interested in the details of this group of cancers, MPN Voice is an excellent clear site.