Friday, March 26, 2010

The preoccupations of a mental mind

I have this tendency to get bogged down with insignificant details. I fixate on the largely irrelevant, I miss the bigger picture - if it were an original Monet, I would stare only at the etchings on the shiny frame and not at the actual water lillies - the whole house could be in disorder, with goats wandering through it, grazing on a week's worth of leftovers and I would focus all my energy on cleaning on the cutlery drawer until it's shining. Strange, I know.

I'm noticing the same tendency with my thoughts about the day/night I am called for transplant. I think about this all the time. Where I might be, what I might be doing and how I'll react when the phone rings and they say "Woo hoo. Come on down here Regina Hennelly, we have the most amazing kidney waiting for you".

What do they say I wonder? My idea of that phone exchange between myself and the nurse/doctor is based on what passes between a radio DJ and lucky Caller Number 9 who wins the all expenses paid trip to paradise. You see how my mind works and how I digress.

Anyway, the phone rings and this is it. What do I do? I have a bag of pathetic-looking pyjamas packed (another preoccupation - why don't they make and sell pyjamas that are a bit more rock 'n' roll rather than the pro-chicken/bunny rabbit/teddy bear propaganda that is plastered on all the pyjamas on sale at present? I want pyjamas that say I'm waiting for a revolution).

In that bag also is a toothbrush, toothpaste, slippers and some other toiletries to try and ensure I remain in a haze of nice smells to block out the odour of hospital while I'm holed up in Beaumont.

So that's the bag. But I'll need other things and my mind fixates on how I must remember to bring Buster (ok, he's a teddy and that is a bit girlie, but he's my hospital buddy and trust me, he's better company than some of the mental old people you come across when you're in a public ward - most of whom always seem to think I work in the hospital just because I'm under the age of 40, apparently fully in charge of my bodily functions and capable of walking at more than a step on the hour - they therefore constantly scream "Nurse" at me and ask me to get them stuff...if you're offended by this, I apologise, I don't dislike old people - in fact right now my most fervent wish is that I will live to be an OAP).

They tell me I must also remember my medication. Whatever. I'm going to a hospital, surely medication is not something they run short of. Then I wonder if I should take time to tidy up my apartment a bit before I leave...take time to change the sheets on my bed because the family will crash at my place while I'm in under the knife and recovering...Then I wonder if I'll have time for a nice shower before I leave and whether I should shave my legs, seeing as I probably won't be capable of doing this for several days after surgery and that'll just get really annoying.

Transportation is another major issue. This will be a factor if I happen to be down the country, visiting la famille when I get called. If it's just me and my mother at home, will I leave the car and maybe get the train? If I did this, would I be able to stop myself from poking the stranger sitting beside me in the carriage: "Guess where I'm going?" "No, really, guess".

If I try to drive myself, will my brain be so addled that I will be a danger to myself and others on the road? Without doubt, the first thing I'll do when I get the call is throw up. I tend to do that when I get a shock. Never, ever say "boo" to me or jump out at me. Very messy.

These are just some of my preoccupations, all centred on that message which will signal what will hopefully be the beginning of the rest of my life. Whatever minor chaos does ensue in the minutes after I am called, I do know that I will arrive at the ward in Beaumont in quick smart time - perhaps feeling a little shaky and a lot scared - but I will walk through the doors and tell them who I am and why I'm there and say "Yes, I'm ready".


  1. They can send an ambulance for you. I highly recommend it.. its great fun!!!

    Now, to be a lot less light-hearted for a minute: When you get the call, you will go to Beaumont and they will test you. And they will re-test the kidney. And they might decide that the kidney is not healthy after all. It hasn't happened me, but I've seen it happen someone else. Be prepared. It is devastating.

    Cheery though for a Friday evening! :o

  2. I'm with on the need for pajamas with attitude, btw.

  3. "No. Really. Guess."

    I've been that person.

  4. At the risk of ruining your weekend, I have to agree with Eoin both on the jammies and the testing of the kidney, but since I read your article in the Irish Times I am making an effort to mention to everyone I know about the organ donor card and maybe you should point out in one of your blogs (i did this in mine but nobody saw it yet!) that even though we all carry an organ donor card its very important to discuss this with your spouse, partner, parents, aunties, cousins, siblings, neighbours, work colleagues etc because even if people carry an organ donor card their family my not find it if and when its needed and sometimes families find the card after they have lost a family member and then they are truly sorry they didnt donate their loved ones organs. So please anybody reading this have the conversation with your extended family and ask them to have it with theirs and so forth and maybe it will make a difference to the number of organs that are donated so there will be a bigger pool of organs to go around and better chance that the a kidney offered to Regina will be both healthy and a perfect match.

    One more thing, dont forget to feed the cat before you go if you have one!


  5. Stay optimistic, and trust Buster to know what to do when it's time to go!

  6. Drive?!?!? You can't drive in! If you go under the knife, and then you're out of it for a few hours (slash days), they'll absolutely screw you on the hourly parking rate.

  7. Eoin - I had heard that about the possibility of them cancelling the transplant at the last minute and it is my worst nightmare. I know I need to be prepared for it though. Totally with you on the ambulance front!

    Radge - You've been the person poked on the train by a stranger? You're probably is you look far too friendly and approachable. Practice sullen.

    Marianne - A friend of mine is working on a background design for the blog that will have the number one needs to text for a donor card - and a reminder to people to talk to their family about their wishes. But thanks for getting that plug in there for me! PS No cat or goldfish. One less preoccupation!

    Dot Com - Buster is more of a silent partner in the whole preparation to be honest. Optimism? I'm trying!

    Niall - Good point on the parking. I'm sure the clampers wouldn't take such a weak excuse as life-saving surgery and waive my fee either!

  8. Sullen doesn't take much practice today. Poxy partying next door student people and inability to properly form a sentence tired.

  9. fig-rolls are great...with tea though..not to nice by themself...when Im hungry sometimes I eat them before the tea but its never as good...
    do you like fig-rolls ?