This isn’t a post about weightloss but I’ll start with the stats anyway, because they’re impressive this week.
This week I lost 6 pounds. That’s nearly half a stone in a week. Crazy that it can still happen to fast so long into the process. So my new total lost is 10 stone 6 pounds (146 pounds or 66.2 kilos).
The reason I lost so much this week is that I basically didn’t eat anything on Wednesday or Thursday and I ate almost nothing on Friday.
Warning: I wouldn’t recommend eating while reading this post. I am, as usual, overly honest and overly descriptive of my medical symptoms.
I wasn’t eating this week because I was sick. This is a problem I’ve written about before. It started last November, when I had two weeklong periods of pissing blood. Yup. My piss was thick, smelly and coffee-coloured. Peeing was painful and after the loo, I felt not as if I’d been passing liquid, my entire groin felt raw, as if I’d been pissing sandpaper.
I went to my lovely GP, a handsome young man who touched my penis and made sympathetic noises and with whom I therefore fell in love. He decided it was probably an infection and put me on antibiotics and told me to drink more water.
I really am very bad at staying hydrated. I can’t remember ever drinking water for years at a time. For instance, I don’t think I ever drank water when I was at university. I drank Diet Coke and milk and Carlsberg and Southern Comfort with Red Bull and WKD and Smirnoff Ice but I have no recollection of ever drinking water during those four years.
In my post-operative life I don’t drink any fizzy drinks or alcohol, and I don’t like coffee. Literally my only source of hydration now is water. And I’ve been trying so hard. I was used to a life where I just peed twice a day, once in the morning and again before bed. But now my doctor was telling me this wasn’t enough. So I got myself up to drinking 1.5 litres of water and a third trip to the loo every day.
Everything went fine for about two months and then in February I started pissing blood again. The pain was worse this time. I went home from work sick. I made another appointment with the doctor for the following morning. That night was the most painful of my life. I got a stabbing pain in my lower back and started vomiting from the pain. I sweated and moaned and didn’t sleep a wink. Peeing was horrendously sore.
I felt a little bit better by the time I was due to go to the doctor. My appointment was for 11:50. I’m not the most punctual person in the world. I arrived at 12:01. The receptionist wouldn’t let me see the doctor. She said that the ten-minute grace period had elapsed. I was gobsmacked. If an appointment is at 11:50, surely it’s expected to go on until at least 12:00 so if there is a “grace period” then it should start at 12:00 because from 11:50 to 12:00 is my allotted time and then if I arrive at 11:55 I’ve arrived in time for my appointment. Anyway, I was eleven minutes late, so I was sent to Clapham Junction where there’s a drop-in clinic.
I shakily sat on the train and went to the drop-in clinic where I saw a doctor after about a two-hour wait.
He was perfectly nice, but dismissive in the way that doctors are. He dismissed the idea of an infection, saying men don’t tend to get UTIs. He told me to get an STI test. I told him I was unlikely to have an STI. He made an appointment for me anyway. I had been googling and I was fairly sure I had a kidney stone and this was the cause of the problem. He dismissed this and said that kidney stones are very painful. I assured him that the previous night had been the worst pain of my life. He didn’t believe me. He asked me to give him a urine sample. I explained that I’d already peed that day and would be unlikely to be able to produce anything. He didn’t believe me. (Doctors never believe anything I say.) I went and tried and couldn’t pee. I’ve always been jealous of those who can pee on command. He dismissed me, telling me to bring some pee to my GP when I could.
Tests showed nothing very much. They confirmed the presence of blood in my urine. I had a little too much uric acid in my blood. There was a lot of protein in one urine test, but not in the next. There was no sign of infection. They booked a urinary tract ultrasound for me on 8th May.
I obediently had my STI test. I was very early for my test and was seated near reception. I watched numerous patients being turned away for being late for their appointments. No one who was turned away had an English accent. Some were African, some Eastern European, one other was Irish. It’s just something about English culture I’ll never understand. In general, I find London to be so much more compassionate than Ireland. You’re much more likely to see people in London engaging in conversation with the homeless than in Dublin, where I’ve witnessed teenagers and businessmen shout abuse at homeless people more than once. I also find customer service here to be much friendlier than at home, and I just find London an awful lot more tolerant than Ireland in general. The exception is the English’s ruthless obsession with punctuality, applied without any sense of compassion. I hate it.
Anyway, I love an STI test. It always makes me feel so deviant and adult and London-y. They gave me a Hepatitis A vaccination. Hep A isn’t sexually transmitted, it’s faecally borne and is usually caught when eating food prepared by someone who hasn’t washed their hands. But the British government has decided to give free vaccines for it to gay men because we are literally more likely to eat other people’s shit. I’m so proud of my people.
I did all the tests, including the one where I stick a super long cotton bud up my bumhole and rotate it 10 times. Straight guys don’t do that bit either.
I’m clean. STI-free.
Kidney stones were still the only obvious reason for my symptoms. I just had to wait for my ultrasound in May.
This week I felt fine. It was my last week at work and I had lots of plans. I took Tuesday off as I had one more day of annual leave left. I didn’t want to take it off. I was already sad at the thought of leaving and I didn’t want to miss any more time there.
On Wednesday, I had three days left at work. I felt a bit dodgy in the morning, but I put it down to tiredness. I went into work and at 9:15, our weekly staff meeting started. As soon as I sat down, I knew I felt wrong. Within 5 minutes, I’d left the meeting and thrown up in the bin in our office. I recognised the pain while I vomited. It was in my lower back again. My kidneys were back to punish me again.
I left work. I vomited again outside Sainsbury’s. I got on a bus home and got out outside the Imperial War Museum to throw up again and finally threw up the rest of my stomach contents on the walk up the street to my house.
I have never been in so much pain. Ever. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t read or browse the internet or watch tv or even listen to music. I writhed and moaned and occasionally screamed. It was horrible.
The pain alternated between stabby and achey and eventually around midnight, I painfully peed out a bloody mess and everything began to calm down.
On Thursday morning, I felt better, but still in pain, and I texted to say I’d be coming into work. My colleague texted me back to tell me to go and see a doctor. I didn’t take her seriously until I started getting out of bed and as soon as I straightened my body out I realised that there was no way I’d manage a whole day at work. I phoned my doctor and made an appointment for that afternoon and crumpled back into bed.
The doctor was very nice. He didn’t examine my penis, but I liked him nonetheless. He told me it did sound like kidney stones alright and sent me for more blood tests and asked for urine which I couldn’t produce immediately, but managed to get to him later in the day.
That night I began to feel alive again. OK. It was Friday morning. I had one day left at the job I loved. Time to go in, clear my inbox, do a good thorough handover with my successors. (I’m literally getting replaced by three people, which is gratifying.) And then, most importantly, I had my going away drinks.
It didn’t work out the way I’d planned. At about 12:15 I got a phone call from my GP’s surgery. They told me that my blood test results were back and I needed to do to A&E immediately. Apparently one of the kidney tests essentially showed that I had no kidney function. It’s meant to be a number above 70. In February my reading was 111. On Thursday it showed 36. I told the doctor I was feeling fine. She said it didn’t matter and ordered me to go to A&E anyway.
I told my colleagues I’d try to be back for 2:30 when I was due to meet a trainee, but they all knew I wouldn’t be back.
The hospital was lovely. Very new and very comfortable. They did blood tests within ten minutes of my arrival. And I was examined by two doctors another ten minutes later. Maybe I would be out soon. Then we had to wait for results and wait for me to produce a urine sample. I managed to get one out after drinking a litre of water and waiting three quarters of an hour. Three quarters of an hour with a nurse coming up to me every five minutes asking for my pee.
The blood test results were fine but my pee was super bloody.
I was sent for a CT scan. I waited hours for the results. At 4:00, I emailed everyone at work, putting off my going away drinks for another time. At 4:55, I gave up on going back to work ever again and sadly took off my tie and my lanyard.
Eventually, I was told that I’d been right for months. Yes. I do have kidney stones. My left kidney was inflamed and had clearly had a stone recently (my guess is until about midnight on Wednesday.) And there’s another stone in my right kidney, waiting to inflict its own pain.
They let me out, after making an appointment for me with the kidney stone clinic and ordering me to come back to A&E for the next stone and not stay at home without any painkillers again.
It was now nearly 7:00. I walked to the local pub round the corner from work. My going away drinks had been going on in my absence.
I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a noise as loud as the cheer I was greeted with. In fairness, they had all been drinking for two hours at this stage.
They lined up in the pub and sang “If you leave me now” to me and I did start crying but not embarrassingly badly. I can’t believe I’m leaving somewhere that I love so much with people who I love so much.
They bought me vouchers for London theatre because they know me well but also because you get way better presents when neither alcohol nor chocolate are options. I cried again as I hugged them all goodbye and again on the bus home as I read their card.
It was a damp squib of a last week. I only actually managed to work one day this week. I’m still writing my handover notes and clearing my inbox and theoretically I finished two days ago. And I’m heartbroken to be leaving my original London home but delighted that even if I couldn’t mark my leaving properly, my colleagues did. I went home on Friday feeling both valued and loved. It was a perfect ending.