Three weeks in, my friends.
Now that the pain is passing, and that I only feel the occasional sharp stab; now that I can walk for ten minutes without being breathless as a result of being on a ventilator on that special, special day; now that the staples have been removed, and the scar is healing nicely; with all these baby steps, I can catch glimpses of how life is going to be.
Let me tell you, it is beyond wonderful.
For those in the know, my creatinine now stands at 77 (down from 860 pre-op); my blood pressure is coming in at about 110/65 all on its own, without medication; I am only required to attend one appointment per week at the hospital where the transplant happened.
I am quite enjoying frequent visits from the ghosts of evenings and nights past. Quick visits in the form of the reminders that were built into my brain for more than two and half years. Moments of 'I must' that delightfully give way to moments of 'oh, that's right, I don't have to anymore'. They make me smile.
It will take a while to become accustomed to how things are now, and deal fully with how things were. What happened, what I went through. In truth, I didn't really deal with the nightmare while stuck in the middle of it.
But look at me! I am well! I have a kidney that works, and I am drinking 4 litres a day, and am going to the bathroom constantly, and I am eating what I want! It is amazing, and it is worthy of exclamation marks.
If there are any downsides, they are of my own making. I am unnerved by the simplicity of everything now. I have gone from needing 9 hours of treatment at night...from having to take a tablet every time I ate, a blood pressure tablet every day, several other tablets at night...from several daily three-minute handwashes with Hibiscrub...from having to set up a machine every evening, and change dressings on my tummy after every shower...to this...
I now take a few drugs at 10am, and another few at 10pm. That's it. It has left me with a constant nag at the back of my mind. Like the feeling of having possibly forgotten to turn the cooker off or lock the back door when you leave for a holiday.
It seems so easy, too easy. I guess it's understandable when your body is transformed from high maintenance to almost zero maintenance in the space of a few hours.
For so long, I knew how to be sick. Now I have to learn to be well again, to enjoy this good health, rather than exist under the shadow of the disease that killed my own kidneys.
I use the word 'learn' deliberately. There has been a shock to my system with all this that I had not factored in, in all my forward wishing and planning for life post-transplant. It is the shock of the boundaries suddenly having been removed. It must be how convicts feel upon release after a long stretch inside.
All of us who are in situations where we are hostages, whether through our own actions or our own misfortune, we develop a form of Stockholm Syndrome. Not a love, or even a like for the force holding us captive. But there is comfort in what is familiar, even if it is unpleasant. A comfort in the known.
The unknown is terrifying. I had one meltdown a few days after leaving hospital, where I convinced myself the kidney wasn't working. The newness of my body made me uneasy to the point of a self-induced, and self-propelling bout of hysteria. I didn't know how I should feel, what was normal.
I cried like I haven't cried in a long time, but is was a release I needed. I hadn't acknowledged how wound up I was, the pressure that this transplant brought to bear. For years, I had placed all my bets on this surgery working out. Now I was home, and all that pent-up hope was overwhelmed by the actuality of the event having happened, and now here we were. Just the two of us.
It's like meeting a fella in Coppers on a Friday, and emigrating with him the following Friday.
It will pass. It is passing. Every day, I feel more confident in myself. I feel this kidney as an ally, a friendly force that is rooting for me, just as I for it. I find myself placing my hand on it throughout the day. It lies just under my skin almost in the middle of my tummy, something which some will inevitably find weird and possibly freaky, but I take solace from it being so present, so obvious. It is there, and it feels right.
It will look after me, so long as I look after it.