I met another real-life transplant recipient the other night.
He is just recently resurrected and his new life is suiting him well. There were complications, which he was honest about. There was praise for David Hickey - he who makes the incision and transplants the kidneys in Beaumont - which was nice to hear. And there were positive words about how it will happen for me too.
The mother went home happy to have heard all this. I went home pensive.
What struck me most was the difference that exists between the male patient - somewhere in his fifties, married, at a point in his life that is comfortable and secure - versus the female patient, somewhere in her twenties, unmarried and at a point that is pockmarked with insecurity.
Let’s face it. I’m as vain as the next girl. I make efforts to conceal bags under my eyes and spots that may appear on my face, I use lip gloss to make my mouth look pout-perfect, I apply mascara so that my eyes look wondrously large and beguiling and I wash my hair every day so that it swishes.
I have grown used to the fact I’m a freak with a tube in my tummy and I now fret about how much worse this body image could get. I have heard rumours – bad, bad rumours – about what the anti-rejection drugs and steroids do for your appearance after transplant.
Bald and fat. These are two adjectives that may await me. Some people report hair loss from Prograf; everybody talks about how the steroids make you feel endlessly hungry, leading many to gain poundage.
I looked at this transplanted man the last night, sitting there in his pyjamas, swollen legged and one stone heavier since the donated kidney gave him back the ability to see food, desire it and enjoy it.
In my vanity, while I could appreciate the new life that sat before me, I was distracted by the cosmetic repercussions.
For this, I blame my own clear insecurities and my need to leave the house of a morning, knowing that I don't look too bad. This has been the half of the battle that I have chosen to fight, and fight well, for the last two and a half years. Never underestimate the value to your mental health of putting the fair side out.
I need people to judge my book by the cover, cos if it’s what’s on the inside that counts, then my inventory is a bit embarrassing: two diseased organs, one heart (probably enlarged due to hypertension), a tube sitting somewhere beneath my belly button, lungs that are under pressure from fluid pressing upon them 24 hours a day, and a healthy liver that’s wondering what the f**k happened to the rest of the lads.
The cover is all I have to work with.