Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Bubbly pee and a funny taste...

I may need to change the title of this blog, as one thing is looking like dominating my life for the forseeable future. When I was around 20, my mother was diagnosed with an hereditary condition called "Polycystic Kidneys". After a while she went onto kidney dialysis, and then had a transplant. At the time, it was suggested that her kids were checked out, to see whether we also had the condition. So I wandered up the road to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, and was injected with some kind of dye, and given a scan. Lo and behold, there they were - little dots in my kidneys, which were actually small cysts.

That was that. Something over a year ago, I noticed that my pee was getting very 'bubbly' and went to the Doc. (Incidentally, at last summer's Edinburgh Fringe, I remember feeling that beer just didn't seem inviting anymore - more about that later.) That kicked into motion a somewhat gradual, creaking, process, which ended up with me being referred to the urology and then the renal unit at Guys and St Thomas's Hospital, and being given blood tests. These show a creatinine level of 916 (normal is 80-122), and Urea of 36.1 (2.5-7.5). Apparently these are some kind of proteins (the cause of the frothy urine, perhaps?). After I saw these results, I dug around on the web, and found a 'kidney function calculator' which suggested that with this values, I was well into 'end stage renal failure' and that immediate expert intervention was required.*

Well since then, it would seem that the system has been liberally greased, as it ain't creaky any more! Various people have sprung into action, and have been getting in touch, organising appointments and trying to prepare me for the fact that i need to start kidney dialysis myself - perhaps tomorrow!

When I got home on Monday night, I felt very tight chested, and generally feeling not great. Sleeping was difficult, not least because I kept having to get up and go to the loo, with a mouth like a desert rat's lair (dry and horrible). When I woke up at 6am, it was just as bad, if not worse, and my worried girlfriend called for help. A pair of paramedics arrived, and decided that I should be checked out, so it was into the back of an ambulance, and off to the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead. After being fed pure oxygen, and given drugs to reduce my blood pressure, I felt great - but was kept in all day in the cardiac unit, in the cardiac unit. Eventually they worked out that I hadn't had a heart attack - not even a mild one - and that organ (at least) was given a clean bill of health.

There's obviously a great deal more to come in this little saga. It's looking like I'm going to have to be attached to a dialysis machine for 4 hours, 3 times a week, very soon, perhaps starting tomorrow - so there should be plenty of time to write!

* I've gone into so much detail here, in the hope that it might be useful to someone, somewhere, sometime! When I searched the web for reasons for 'bubbly urine' I didn't find very much. A bit of early warning would have been useful!


At 9:46 am, Blogger Gareth J M Saunders said...

Much love and many prayers for you Andy. I've also got Polycystic Kidney Disease, as do my brother and sister -- we got it from my dad. We have the Autosomal Dominant variety that has a simple 50/50 chance of being passed on ... and all three of us were unfortunate enough to be on the dominant side of the 50/50.

Thankfully we were diagnosed early, in 1997, and have been seeing renal doctors every 6 - 12 months to keep things monitored. My creatinine levels have only fluctuated between 100 and 122 in five years, so I was quite alarmed to read how high yours is.

Thanks for blogging about this, as I'm sure it will be of help to others -- that's why I've blogged about it and fertility problems on mine.

Much love, Gareth x


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