So today is the first anniversary of a few that are coming up. A year ago today, I went to Port Laoise Accident and Emergency Department believing myself to be dehydrated. For the week before, I had been unable to keep any food or liquid down. As soon as I had eaten or drunk any, it either went straight through me or came straight back up. Either way, I was very unwell.

On arrival, Port Laoise put me on a drip, and then another one or two. Knowing what we know now, we realise that that was probably not very helpful. But at the time, it was dehydration that I was presenting with, so it was logical. Blood tests done and we found that my creatinine level was rather high – and rising!

We know now that what was happening was that my kidneys were failing due to Goodpasture Syndrome. At the time, this was not known and there were blood tests repeatedly and being sent between Tullamore Hospital, Tallaght University Hospital, and St James’s University Hospital to find out what was wrong with me. Eventually, I was transferred to Tallaght by blue light ambulance and the rest is history.

So this week, it is the beginning of the second year of this new diagnosis of kidney failure. To celebrate, I intend on bringing in a cake to the dialysis unit on Friday. Why Friday? Well it is the birthday of my dialysis support bear, Liam, who has made so many friends here as well as in Tallaght.

The picture for this post is one of the first photographs we have with me with Liam. He has changed a bit over the year. He has gained a forget-me-not badge of the Irish Kidney Association from a nurse in Tallaght back in May. He is now proudly sporting a red ribbon for HIV and AIDS awareness. And he usually has a rainbow scarf around his neck supporting LGBT Pride. All of this, and his ongoing support remind me that I have the support and love of a husband at home. That is why Andrew got Liam for me – to be there when he (Andrew) cannot. Of course Liam comes to dialysis even if Andrew does. He’s only missed one session in the year – I was travelling to the UK and didn’t have room in the bag for him!

I could have done the year without Liam. But, I am very glad that I didn’t have to. He makes life fun when on dialysis. Most nurses say ‘Hello, Liam’, and I am pretty certain that the medical students we met in the spring will not have forgotten about the forty-year-old with the teddy. I wonder who else will meet him in the years to come.