Jerry’s Story

One thing this experience has taught: me keeping a good attitude is vital – perhaps literally vital. Cim has always had a good attitude – she always said she “had diabetes”; she was definitely not a diabetic. When we heard that Cim needed a transplant, it was quite hard to take, but despite the apparent injustice of it, we knew it was our best option and what we had to do. I knew I needed to play a part. I had to take my driving test for a start, as Cim wasn’t allowed to driver after the op. and if I didn’t it would mean endless hours of hospital transportation in the weeks after the transplant as she went for check-ups.

Jerry headshot

Finding out that I couldn’t be a donor for Cim was a setback until Jonas offered, but I must admit, it was something of a relief at the time. What I could do though was make their journey as comfortable as possible.

Actually there is another thing I learnt: whoever takes care of the “patient” needs taking care of. I don’t feel sorry for myself nor do I equate what I experienced to what Cim and Jonas went through, but as anyone knows who has seen the health of a loved one deteriorate, it takes a lot of energy to be the carer. It’s not something I begrudged for a second, but I so appreciated my friends taking me out for a beer or writing emails of support.

Dialysis meant our lives changed, but we were determined not to be slaves to it. I love cooking and we love food, but you are restricted, so we adapted. We worked as normal, went out when we could, and kept up appearances of a normal life as much as possible. I think there was only one thing we missed because Cim wouldn’t have been able to do a dialysis exchange.

There were a couple of things I didn’t see in the lead up to the transplant: the gradual decline in Cim’s well-being and how much the whole process took out of me. I only realised how bad she’d been when I saw the difference in her so quickly after the transplant. I only realised how much I’d been holding myself together when the first attempt at to go to surgery had to be postponed because of an error by the ward staff. Hell hath no fury like a husband’s unfulfilled expectations.

Second time lucky, though and such a relief to know that it worked for both of them. The staff at St. George’s were fantastic and made up for their earlier error with fixing travel arrangements for Jonas so that he could be with his family at Christmas, and generally treating him like the hero he is.

It’s not over even when it’s over; there are the checkups, which are every day at first, and as things go well, they go to twice a week and once a week and so on. We set milestones: once a month, every other month and it was great to pass them and appreciate the “achievement”.

Progress often gets a bad name, but as one of my email buddies observed, I’m so glad I live in an age where this kind of procedure is routine. And most of all, it’s so great to see Cim as Cim again, and for that Jonas, you deserve the best life has to offer.

3 Responses

  1. Hi Jerry and Cim,

    First time I’ve visited your website: very impressive and very moving. Will be back and will be telling others about it.

    Looking forward to seeing you this evening!

    Tony xx

  2. Jerry,Cim :

    I am happy for you and hope that you stay in good health for a long, long life.

    Many thanks to Jonas for his generosity.

    A little more than 16 years ago, my wife was diagnosed with having a bad kidney (it was holding a lot of water and had very big stones) when she was pregnant. She almost lost the kidney function during pregnancy due to the pressure from the baby, but thank God, she was able to give birth and then went to have surgery on that kidney 2 weeks later. Fortunately and almost miracoulsly, she recovered completely and didn’t lost her kidney.
    That was the end of our dream of a big family, since the only truly bad outcome was that she was told not to get pregnant again…

    We still have to do a thorough check on her kidneys every year, but the one damaged has stayed healthy and it almost completely recovered the normal shape it should have, while before surgery, it was almost like a ballon…

    P. S. Sorry I missed you in Buenos Aires in March,

    Your friend,

    Jesús Tapia

  3. Hi Jerry – came across your website from a link on Friends Reunited. Good for you both – well done for all your achievements. I don’t know whether you remember me from Bishopshalt. I think a bunch of us met up for a drink back in the 80s in London, after I bumped into Mike Aboud at the Hayward Gallery. I think my little brother, Lou Smith used to hang out with your little brother ? ( he is, as I speak, with his partner in labour, expecting his 4th child anytime soon..)

    My grannie died of kidney failure and I’ve just found out so did my great grandfather, so it’s in my family too. It’s good to know that there can be positive outcomes with modern technology and an optimistic attitude. After sharing the care of my Dad (with Parkinson’s Disease), and Mum (stroke) with my 2 brothers, I know what caring is like, even if it’s absolutely the right thing to do and you really want to do it.

    Anyway look after yourself. Hope all goes well for you and your family.
    All the best,
    Steph

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