27 Mar 2023

Jo’s story #lifeonthelist

My name is Jo and I’m45 years old, here’s some of my story..
I’m currently waiting for a kidney transplant and I’m on HD home dialysis 3 times a week for roughly 5 hours each session.
I was diagnosed with kidney failure in 1998 whilst pregnant with my daughter Keira, I had lived with regular kidney infections as a young teen that went undetected due to moving away for college and work and ended up in Ireland where I met my future husband.
I fell pregnant and while having some tests, they found irregularities in my results. I then got pre-eclampsia and following scans they noticed scarring to both kidneys and that one was large whilst the other was very small. The consultants told me it was down to reflux of the urine going back up into the kidneys.
5 years later I was on the road to end stage kidney failure and training to come home with my machine and all the supplies that come with it. I was advised that home dialysis was
the best option for me as I rode horses and PD would not suit me as well.
I found dialysis very difficult to begin with. I was in my late twenties with a young child, trying to work and look after our family horses and a house. I really struggled with depression
but had lots of help from my partner Mick and my mum. I resented going on my machine and I often ended up crying but I knew I had to do it.
I chose home dialysis as it’s more flexible and fitted around my lifestyle but I found it hard.
I missed out on holidays as I didn’t want to go to a strange foreign hospital; I know some people don’t mind this but it wasn’t for me.
I have been lucky to receive a gift of life twice via live donors. My first was donated by Mum,Karen, and this lasted approximately 8 years; I sadly lost it due to a kidney infection. The
transplant had a rocky start. I had mouth ulcers, low platelets and Mum had to have part of her already small kidney removed, I was asked whilst Mum was in surgery if Iwanted to proceed. It was a definite yes from me. 5 days later Mum was home. 2 days later I was back home too.
After losing my Mum’s kidney I was so upset, but miracles can happen! Mick was also a match and within months I was receiving his donor kidney. I was back to fighting fit and
at my heathiest, my life was back on track,working a job I enjoyed, going to the gym and even having our holiday of a life time to New Zealand. After 18 months my body rejected
that kidney due to T-cell rejection. I put it down to struggling to keep food down after a stomach band (fitted 10 years previously) and which I believe caused my body to not have
the right doses of my medication which is vital to keeping a healthy kidney.
Devastatingly I was looking at dialysis again, opting again for the home option. This time round, being a bit older, wiser and different family circumstances I’m happier and not
finding it as hard. I have a routine of getting up at 5am and doing my session then I still have some of the day to myself.
I try to live a happy positive life and I always remind myself there is worse off than me out there. I’m lucky to receive this life saving treatment from our wonderful NHS, and the
continued support (on the odd day I may moan) from my family and friends.
I suffer from low iron regularly and this is the most debilitating part I find. I struggle to hold down a job as every day is different one day I’m feeling good the next I struggle to do the
mundane jobs we have in life.
I have also had a cancerous tumour removed from my neck which was a worry and pretty scary but 3 years on and it’s looking great with no recurring problems.
I live a happy life and am currently a mentor on a Facebook page which I find is nice to chat and help others, trying to spread some positivity where ever I go.
I finally tied the knot to my ever-suffering partner Mick after 25 years in July 2022 and our day was perfect. Sadly I lost my lovely Dad, Don, 5 days before but the day had to go on
as he would have wanted it to. The donations from his funeral went to Kidneys for Life. As a family we have raised over £11,000 from organizing horse shows, parties, lost friends
and families’ funerals, friends fund raising and donation tins in the family business. We are proud to help such a worthy charity.
My family cannot thank MRI and the staff enough for all their hard work, saving people’s lives and making dreams come true.
Let’s hope that kidneys will be for life eventually.
Stay happy and positive.
From me #lifeonthelist, Jo