Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Kidney function test

It was another early morning rise to have the last crucial test done, the kidney function test. The upside was that I got to travel to London with my lovely wife Natasja, who went all the way to the hospital with me, where I met my good friend Pieter, who kept me company the entire day. What a blessing to have such wonderful people in my life.

In short, my kidney function is being tested to make sure that they can both survive and function properly on their own inside Pieter and I. They have to be able to operate at a minimum efficiency of 80% before a transplant will be considered.

This test measures the glomerular filtration rate (GFR). It assesses the ability of the kidneys to ‘clear’ the blood of a substance. A small amount of a harmless radioactive tracer is
injected into a vein and blood samples are taken at intervals over a number of hours to measure the clearance of the radioactive tracer through the kidneys.

We arrived at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, Queen Elizabeth II wings just after 9am. I greeted Pieter, and said goodbye to Natasja, and Pieter and I went on to the reception of Nuclear Medicine Department. How scary are those words?! Nuclear Medicine! It sound like something from a Sci-fi movie.

There were a few patients ahead of me, and I was seen at 9:45am by a lovely nurse named Jo. She took my weight and height, and directed me to dreaded chair for the injection. I know it's not as bad as it sounds, and Jo did explain it to me, but it's still not nice being injected voluntarily with a radioactive material!

 Fortunately I didn't feel a thing and had no reaction to the injection. Once the radioactive material was injected, a saline solution was injected to clear the needle for disposal. Jo told me to come back in three hours for my first blood sample of 7ml to be taken. Four samples are taken in total, at hours 3, 4, 5 & 6.

With 3 hours to spend, Pieter and I went for a walk, and ended up have a drink and a snack at EAT in the recently completed One New Change shopping centre. As usual we ended up relaxing in conversation for about and hour and a half, when we left to visit Natasja at work only 10 minutes away. There we had another relaxing time in their canteen, before heading off for my first blood sample to be taken.

 The needle was inserted into my hand instead of my arm because it needed to remain there until the last sample was taken, which included the white "tap" you can see in the picture below. My hand was wrapped in bandages to prevent any movement or damage to the needle. My body did not like this foreign object at all, and there was a slight burning sensation for the first hour, but then it went away and I forgot about it. After every blood sample taken, saline solution was injected into the vein to stop the blood from clotting around the needle. This was all painless, with only a slight cold sensation.

 After this first sample Pieter and I met Natasja at St. Paul's Cathedral just down the road for lunch. She's so lovely and caring, and bought us sandwiches, drinks and a tub of strawberries and cream! Just what the doctor ordered! The time seemed to fly by and Pieter and I returned to the hospital for more blood samples. During the breaks between the last 3 samples we sat in a little park close by and just enjoyed the quiet surroundings and each other's company.

Before we knew it, it was all over. Thanks again Pieter for keeping me company, even though you were feeling a bit poorly from last night's dialysis. It was very comforting having you there, and a great way to pass the time.

I just wish you would've listened to me, and not made me mad with all the radiation still left in me! You knew what would happen, I warned you! AAARRGGHHHH!!! Now you have to deal with the HULK!!!

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