During the course of one week, close to the start of the Spring term, I began to feel unexpectedly tired. I returned home for the weekend and found that I had none of my usual energy to enjoy life with my wife and children. I assumed I’d been pushing myself too hard.
I returned to work but, on Tuesday, I woke up to find my whole body felt kind of heavy. I went to work as usual. On Wednesday I woke up looking like an elephant! I could hardly walk. Something was wrong. I got a taxi to the local hospital and presented myself at A&E. I was seen immediately, which made me think that it wasn’t good news.
The doctor didn’t speak much English and my Italian was little better. I understood that they were going to admit me, to undergo some procedure. I didn’t understand the term “Nephris”. I found myself having local anaesthetic, a tube inserted below my neck and then being attached to a big blue machine with lots of wires and dials on it. I was alone and afraid.
Eventually I was able to understand that this was a dialysis machine and that my kidneys had failed, suddenly, without warning and totally. Dialysis was to become my normal, four hours, thrice weekly, for the long term. I wouldn’t be able to work, or certainly not overseas, so I had to resign my dream job. I returned to my home and family, ill, shocked, and facing an uncertain future.