i pulled dur­ing dial­y­sis!

michelle com­mons, 37, from Leighon-sea, hated hav­ing dial­y­sis ses­sions. But there was one sur­pris­ing con­so­la­tion

Pick Me Up! - - FRONT PAGE -

Know­ing some­one else in the same boat made me feel nor­mal

Hur­ry­ing along the cor­ri­dor, I glanced down at my watch. 5.30pm.

No! I thought. He’s prob­a­bly left al­ready. But as I rushed into the Dial­y­sis unit at Basil­don Univer­sity Hospi­tal, my heart did a lit­tle skip.

He’s still here!

I didn’t know his name, but I knew ev­ery tat­too on the mus­cu­lar fore­arms of the buff, bearded guy who was now pulling his coat on to leave.

For a se­cond, our eyes met, and Mr Hot­tie gave a nod, which I re­turned. Our way of ac­knowl­edg­ing what we were both go­ing through.

We were both dial­y­sis pa­tients, and three times a week we’d both come to the unit for treat­ment.

Aged 3, I’d been di­ag­nosed with di­a­betes. And so had started a life of in­sulin in­jec­tions and blood­sugar mon­i­tor­ing.

Over the years, I’d got used to it, man­ag­ing to live a nor­mal life. But then in March 2011, aged just 30, I’d suf­fered a heart at­tack.

‘A com­pli­ca­tion of di­a­betes,’ my doc­tor ex­plained to me.

I’d been put on med­i­ca­tion, and I was mon­i­tored reg­u­larly, but

I’d had two more heart at­tacks over the next four years. I had a quadru­ple by­pass in June 2015. It had saved my life. But in No­vem­ber 2016, came more bad news… ‘The med­i­ca­tion has dam­aged your kid­neys and pan­creas,’ a spe­cial­ist had ex­plained to me.

My kid­ney func­tion had dropped to just five per cent.

My only hope of sur­vival? Dial­y­sis and a dou­ble or­gan trans­plant.

So while my mates were find­ing love, start­ing fam­i­lies or hav­ing fun, I’d been hooked to a dial­y­sis ma­chine at home.

But even that was fraught with prob­lems, as I’d kept get­ting in­fec­tions.

So now, three nights ev­ery week af­ter I fin­ished work in a re­cruit­ment agency, I had to go to the hospi­tal for dial­y­sis.

But when I went for my first ses­sion in May 2017, there was one con­so­la­tion. Mr Hot­tie! He’d been leav­ing just as I ar­rived, and smiled as I held the door open for him.

With rip­pling mus­cles and tat­toos snaking up his arms and neck, he was sex on legs!

‘And he’s hav­ing dial­y­sis, too,’ I re­alised.

All the other peo­ple in the wait­ing room were elderly. Know­ing that some­one else my age was in the same boat as me made me feel more nor­mal.

Over time, our nods be­came hel­los.

Then, one day in Septem­ber 2017, Mr Hot­tie was still in the wait­ing room when I ar­rived.

I don’t re­mem­ber who broke the ice, but as we chat­ted I dis­cov­ered that his name was Steve Jarvis.

‘So you’re wait­ing for a trans­plant, too?’ he asked. ‘Afraid so,’ I nod­ded. We quickly re­alised we had loads in com­mon.

Like me, Steve, 33, lived in Es­sex. He also had type 1 di­a­betes. Sight prob­lems meant he’d had to give up his van-driv­ing job. Also like me, he needed a kid­ney and pan­creas trans­plant.

‘It’s nice to meet some­one who un­der­stands,’ I smiled. ‘My fam­ily and friends are amaz­ing, but you’re liv­ing the same life as me.’

He nod­ded in agree­ment. Next time I saw him in the wait­ing room, he suggested set­ting up a What­sapp group for all the dial­y­sis pa­tients.

‘Great idea!’ I grinned, giv­ing Steve my phone num­ber

Kiss­ing in the rain...it was like a scene from a slushy film

be­fore he headed off.

Then, as my dial­y­sis ses­sion be­gan, my phone bleeped. Hey, it’s Steve…

‘That was quick!’ I thought. We mes­saged for the en­tire three hours of my treat­ment – about our lives, our ill­ness.

The next day, I got but­ter­flies when Steve asked if he could sit with me dur­ing my dial­y­sis, even though his treat­ment had fin­ished.

‘Of course,’ I smiled.

The nurses thought it was adorable!

From then on, we’d chat non-stop at hospi­tal and mes­sage con­stantly while we were apart.

‘I’d love a night out that didn’t in­volve in­jec­tions and hospi­tal vend­ing ma­chines,’ I sighed in De­cem­ber 2017.

‘I’d like to take you to my favourite Ital­ian restau­rant,’ he smiled shyly.

‘Yes, please,’ I grinned. Days later, I slipped into my slinki­est black dress and made my way to La Ro­man­tica restau­rant in Rayleigh, Es­sex.

Steve was wait­ing in a smart shirt and jeans.

‘You look amaz­ing,’ he said. No hospi­tal gowns in sight! The can­dlelit ta­ble and ro­man­tic mu­sic were worlds away from the Dial­y­sis ward.

‘I asked the nurses if you were sin­gle when I first saw you,’ Steve blushed.

‘Well, I fan­cied you at first sight, too,’ I gig­gled.

‘But you never did set up that What­sapp group!’

‘It was a ploy to get your num­ber,’ he snig­gered. The smoothie! Kiss­ing in the rain af­ter our meal, it was like a scene from a slushy film.

From that mo­ment, we were a cou­ple. Steve lived with his par­ents near my flat in Rayleigh but spent most nights at mine.

And every­one at the hospi­tal re­alised what was go­ing on when Steve switched to even­ing dial­y­sis ses­sions. Although some had al­ready guessed…

‘We saw you snog­ging out­side the ward weeks ago,’ one nurse laughed. Busted! Soon, we took an­other step. ‘Why don’t you move in with me?’ I said in Jan­uary 2018.

Yes, it was quick. But we were so happy.

In March 2018, Steve got a call from the hospi­tal. A donor match had been found for him – but our hopes were dashed when the or­gans were deemed un­suit­able.

We’d both had one false alarm each al­ready.

‘This is an emo­tional roller­coaster,’ I said tear­fully. ‘Stay pos­i­tive,’ Steve soothed. Sure enough, on 30 April 2018, the hospi­tal called. They’d found me a match.

‘Let’s get you there,’ Steve grinned. We raced to Guy’s Hospi­tal in Lon­don.

It was all a blur, but Steve stayed with me un­til the last mo­ment, as I was wheeled to theatre for a dou­ble trans­plant.

Thank­fully, the nine-hour op­er­a­tion was a suc­cess.

‘You made it,’ Steve grinned, not leav­ing my bed­side.

Back home af­ter six days, I felt so lucky. But my heart ached for the donor’s griev­ing fam­ily. Their loss had saved me.

On 16 May 2018 Steve got his call, too. I felt gut­ted that I was too frag­ile to ac­com­pany him to hospi­tal.

‘You’ll be with me in spirit,’ he smiled.

His fam­ily sent me up­dates dur­ing his 10-hour dou­ble trans­plant at Guy’s Hospi­tal.

Wor­ry­ingly, he suf­fered breath­ing com­pli­ca­tions and was hooked to a ventilator.

I was des­per­ate to be there – and the next day, I made it.

‘I can’t bear the thought of los­ing him,’ I wept, see­ing Mr Hot­tie ly­ing there, vul­ner­a­ble.

Thank­fully, Steve slowly im­proved and was al­lowed home af­ter eight days.

Since then, we both feel great and are free from di­a­betes, which means we have loads more en­ergy and no longer need in­sulin in­jec­tions.

We’re so grate­ful to our donors and their fam­i­lies.

And our doc­tors were amazed – they’ve never done trans­plants on a cou­ple be­fore.

Now Steve and I are like any other cou­ple. En­joy­ing nights out, plan­ning our fu­ture.

When we were both ill, we never thought we’d find ro­mance. But we met need­ing new kid­neys and ended up steal­ing each other’s hearts.

My hospi­tal hot­tie!

Steve in Guy’s Hospi­tal af­ter his surgery

I had my trans­plant there, too

Me and Mr Hot­tie!

A cheeky snap in the Dial­y­sis unit!

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