Dear Potential Live Kidney Donor,

During your trawls of the Internet searching for information you will have stumbled across some amazingly brilliant people with brilliantly amazing anecdotes to match.  Google searches will have thrown up such snippets as ‘back at work in nine days!’ and ‘I was only a little bit sore afterwards!’ and ‘playing golf within two weeks!’ and ‘went back to work in two weeks!’ and ‘home the next day!’ and …

Piffle.  I think it’s only fair that I balance these brilliantly amazing anecdotes with PAIN!!! because folks, I had lots of it.  I shan’t lie.

My experience with pain (and hospitals) is somewhat limited.  Emotional pain?  Oh, I’m a veteran!  Physical pain? Nah, not so much.  At the age of six I whizzed around a corner on my trusty bicycle and promptly fell off.  These were the days before helmets and so I ended up at the hospital with concussion and a beautiful black eye.  Or was it two black eyes?  I remember not; I was only six. An x-ray revealed that I had a fractured skull.  A second x-ray revealed that the first x-ray had been telling fibs.  My Mummy declared it a miracle!  They kept me in for two days.  As a Doc Marten wearing seventeen year old I tripped down the stairs, from the very top to the very bottom.  I didn’t break my neck, but I did break my wrist.  My Mummy declared it a miracle!  In my early twenties I slipped on a patch of ice and fractured my elbow.  Eleven months later I slipped on a different patch of ice and fractured my other elbow.  My Mummy simply called me clumsy.

However, I don’t remember any of these events as being particularly painful.  The only other two times I can remember being in chronic pain was back in 2004 when I had an issue with my wisdom teeth and towards the end of 2009 when I suffered for over a week with Mesenteric Adenitis, which mimics appendicitis.  I would say that the Mesenteric Adenitis episode was the worst pain I have ever experienced, in my life.

Until the last few weeks.

Before we tootled off to the hospital I didn’t even think about the possibility that I might be in a lot of pain afterwards.  I’d been told that I’d be inundated with pain relief and perhaps this gave me a false sense of security.  Reading of the experiences of other people probably added to that.  I expected it at the beginning.  It was supposed to hurt … I knew this because every few hours the nurses would ask their scale of 1-10 pain question.  I could cope with pain if it was supposed to be there for the first few days, even if it made movement of any kind feel as though my belly was being sliced with barbed wire wrapped lovingly round newly sharpened knives which had then been dipped in a nasty acid.

The journey home from the hospital was terrible, perhaps because of my stupidity in not insisting on a wheelchair to get me to the car.  That first weekend is a blur of PAIN!!! and picking up the KidneyKake and PAIN!!! and visiting Blokey (only once) and PAIN!!! and Mummy putting my socks on for me and PAIN!!!

You get the general gist.

I was in PAIN!!! for three weeks, darling potential live kidney donor.  I was impressed that I managed to get to the interview just two weeks post-op (dosed up on however many painkillers).  That day left me feeling completely and utterly exhausted.  Even now at three and a half weeks post-op I don’t think I have the energy to return to work (not that I can because I don’t have a job, but if I did have one …)  I can’t wear too tight clothing round my waist still because after a short while it becomes uncomfortable.  I can’t sit in one position for too long because it becomes uncomfortable.  I can happily walk around town for a mile or so, but the inside-wound gets a little irked if I attempt much more than that. I can tell you that compared to this time last week I feel heaps better and imagine that this time next week I’ll probably be laughing at my inability to cope with the PAIN!!! and itching to get back to my non-existent job.

Perhaps I’m just a wuss. When I read of those people who have only had to cope with being ‘a little bit sore’ and who’ve managed to get back to work (and to digress, why would you even want to? Milk it!!) in days I become incredibly deflated.  I know I did a wonderful thing; I see that every single day when I look at my husband and notice his increased energy and happiness and horny-ness (haha, I think not … do you know how much PAIN!!! I’m in!) But to discover that you’re more feeble and weak than other people is demoralising and sad.  I can’t jump up and down and squeal, Yay! Look at me! I’m so fabulous and it was the easiest thing I EVER did!! because it wasn’t; it was the hardest and most painful experience of my life to date and I don’t feel fabulous for doing it.  I cried, a lot.

I wrote you this letter, sweet potential live kidney donor, because I need you to know that it isn’t always as wonderful and perfect as the glossy magazine articles, and the front-page spreads on the local free paper, and the donors in their web forums would have you believe.  You might be as unlucky as me.  You might even be unluckier.  I trust and sincerely hope that you’ll be able to donate and then jump onto the ‘only a little bit sore’ bandwagon, but I want you to be aware that this might not be the case.

And please don’t let this put you off … Would I do it again knowing that I might be in so much PAIN!!! afterwards?

Um … YES!!! A couple of weeks of feeling as though your belly is being sliced with barbed wire wrapped lovingly round newly sharpened knives, which have then been dipped in a nasty acid, is worth it (and bearable) when it gives someone back as near as perfect a life as they deserve, with NO DIALYSIS!!! What a daft question, silly.

Potential donor, I wish you every success and a fairly pain-free recovery.  And don’t forget to stock up on the painkillers before you go to hospital …

With love,

KatieF x



  1. I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t be in pain after such an operation! You have to wonder if the folks who say they were right back to work and such wrote that soon after or years after their surgery! Perhaps they simply forgot how bad it was!
    I wouldn’t worry about it! You are you and they are themselves so you’ll experience it the way you do, not the way they did. (<–Kudos if you can make sense of that!)

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