That time my kidney tried to kill me...

As I have mentioned many times before, I started writing this blog with the intention of writing every week—without fail—for a year. The goal is to improve my writing, teach myself some discipline, and maybe learn a thing or two along the way.

A couple of times, I missed my weekly Sunday deadline. It turns out that life can often get in the way. I enjoy blogging, the challenge of writing and editing a short piece of text, and then sharing it on my website for anyone to see. The problem is I’m not very good at the whole process. Drafting, editing, and publishing a post that I am happy with can often take longer than planned. Especially with work, relationships, and social commitments to contend with. But for the first 13 posts, I persevered with only a couple of late/missed weeks.

Then, since May 28th until now, I didn’t write anything. 

Nine weeks. Nothing.

What writing this blog has taught me is that you can’t predict the future. 

After my last post, I was preparing for a minor surgery on my right kidney which should have been very straight forward, in and out of hospital the same day. During the exploratory part of the operation, the surgeons discovered that there was a complication with my kidney and they couldn’t proceed. The surgery was stopped, and home I went with an appointment for a scan and a meeting with my consultant to discuss my options. Little did I realise that would not be the plan...

Two days after leaving the hospital I developed a fever which, after trying to overcome it at home for a week, put me back in the hospital for six days. I was discharged with a course of antibiotics, but as soon as they finished, the fever returned, and I was back in the hospital. 

This time it was more severe, I needed to have a drain put into my kidney through my back. It was discovered that the kidney was now completely non-functioning and was full of infectious fluid which is what kept making me sick. The kidney had to be removed, and ten days after being admitted to hospital I was discharged on antibiotics and with a collection of cool new scars and started the lengthy post-surgery recovery process.

Unfortunately, after about a week I started having the same symptoms again and was admitted to hospital for a fourth time. After more scans, it was discovered that there were two pockets of infectious fluid in my abdomen, leftover from when the kidney was removed.

I was put on first broad-spectrum, and then more focused antibiotics, and thankfully this was the last stay. I was in for five days and then had to return for several days after being discharged to receive intravenous antibiotics.


That final course ended this week and, so far, it appears it is finally done with. All that is left to do now is work on getting fit and building back my strength and weight. From the first infection until now I’ve lost over 17kg (2.7st) or nearly 20% of my weight. I went into hospital at 87.6kg (13.8st) and came out at 70.5kg (11.1st).


My weight over 2017. Guess at which point I got sick...

The odd thing is I don’t feel like I’m missing a vital organ I’ve had all my life. 

The big takeaway I have from this experience, and the thing I'm trying to keep in mind while getting fit again is that my health is a priority. I was in the hospital due to a congenital condition with my kidney, but most of the people I shared the wards with over my many stays were in there because they didn’t look after themselves. They either drank or smoked too much, didn’t exercise, or ate way too much. There was one man I shared a ward with who was over 40st—or a quarter of a ton!—but they couldn’t be sure because there weren’t scales capable of measuring him.

I’ve definitely been guilty of smoking and drinking too much in my lifetime already, as well as living to excess when time and money permitted. But my goals now are to be the exact opposite. I’ve got to look after the one kidney I have left, as well as live a healthy and active life. After spending 22 days in the hospital over 4 visits, I do not intend to return there anytime soon. It's tricky at the moment, towing the line between getting fitter and tiring myself out (which at the moment is very easy), but it is getting easier every day.. 

Tom ShermanComment