In my late 30’s I made a life changing decision, I was going to find someone to love. I had tried going to pubs and bars for years and never had much luck in finding anything other than one night stands. So late one lonely Saturday evening I created a profile of on a dating site. It started well enough with lots of chats with new and interesting people and then moved on to one or two dates, but one evening I got a wink for a beautiful welsh lady that would change my life forever. I winked back and I open to the to love & happiness, joy, heartbreak and pain beyond anything I could have imaged.
On our first date we agreed to meet for coffee at the bottom of Grafton street, I was nervous this being only my second blind date ever, Marie and I had emailed, texted and eventually chatted on the phone this was our first face to face meeting and there was always the fear Marie would see me and just keep walking. I remember standing outside weir & sons jewelers looking up the Grafton street and seeing Marie head bobbing through the crowd I new it was her right away because see look as nervous as I felt. It was a warm sunny day and the streets were busy so we found a near by bar ordered tea and a coffee and we started to chat, I can’t say it was love at first sight, but the coffee turned to lunch which then to dinner and then to drinks and a night out, Marie even got to meet two of my best friends. while they when to the bar to get some drinks for us we stole a kiss. After that first date we saw each almost every day and talked to one another every even and every night before we went to bed and Marie is the only women I have Kiss since that night, I think we can agree that was one hell of a Kiss.
Every couple who are planning a life together eventual has the conversation. It usually goes like to this “were are we going” , ” what’s the next steps” , ” Do you what kids” . When you meeting in your mid 30’s these question happen sooner rather than later and we both new what our answers would be. If you don’t know before you start a relationship you should figure this out ASAP. For both of us it was “I like to get married at some point” & ” Yes I would like a family”. We knew we were going as a couple after the conversation and we could start building our life together, we had a planned. One of my regrets now is that we didn’t just start our family and forget about plans and picking the right time.
I proposed to Marie on Christmas day. We had been talking about getting engaged for a while but I wanted to surprise Marie. So I pick out the ring in early November and hide it until Christmas, my brilliant plan was to hide the ring inside another of Maries Christmas presents. I picked the biggest present because I figured Marie would open it first, as with most of my plans it didn’t quite work out, Marie opened everything else and was going to leave the big present until later in the day. It took me about 20 minute of hints about opening the last present before she opened it and I think she knew something was up by the time the wrapping paper came off. when I think back on the day now I realized I was not even a bit nervous I knew she would say yes, it the most confident I have every been.
Getting Married was the easiest thing I ever did, I just stood there are said yes a lot Marie on the other hand had so much work to do to get everything organized and as always there were many many many lists. But with the help of Marie best friends her mum we had an amazing day and Marie looked so beautiful. I look back at our wedding album pictures and I am still blown away with how lovely Marie looked on that day. Please note I was so nervous the hotels wedding planner had to give me a large vodka to keep me calm. The registrar that married us was lovely lovely women but had the smallest lisp which meant the for most of the ceremony Marie was fighting of very bad case of the giggles, she failed at least twice during ceremony to hold it in but we got through the I do’s without laughing to much. Our first dance was to David Grey(Shine) & Snow patrol(Chasing cars) we drank a little to much wine, beer and vodka, but we have lovely meal and danced the night away with family and friends.
We Hit a Bump in the Road
A couple of months after Marie and I were married Marie came home from work feeling a bit off. That evening we were going to bed and Marie asked me to check her ankles she thought they were a bit swollen, I had a look and she was right and I noticed a rash. After little nagging on my part Marie agreed to go to our local GP the next day. I remember getting the call in work it was the first time I heard Marie upset over the phone and went home right away. Our GP had trained in the Renal department of St Vincent’s hospital and recognized the sign of a severe kidney condition right away and reach out to her old team to get Marie into see the renal team with a few days. A parent had brought a child into the creche were Marie worked with streptococcal throat which manage to get to Marie kidney and cause severe damage. The Renal team put Marie on some drugs in an attempt to save her kidneys.
Paris & kidney Failure
Marie had been on the medication that were supposed to save her kidneys and kill the virus causing the issue for 7 weeks and had eleven more to go. But our first wedding anniversary was coming so after clearing with the doctors and in a fit of romance I booked a weekend away in Paris, in the Hotel DE La Paix tour Eiffel a short walk from the metro and the Eiffel tower. We had an amazing time and Marie looked like a Parisian with perfectly coordinated outfits with matching scarfs, hats and gloves we spend hours in the louvre, had crepes in the park beside the Eiffel tower. We went on a boat trip to Notre-Dame Cathedral has dinner by the seine. It the happiest I had seen Marie since we had gotten married all weekend she had the best smiles and was just excited all the time. On the evening we had gone to be early for our flight the next day and Marie start to fell very very unwell. At time I wanted to bring her to the local hospital be Marie insisted we get home to the renal team ASAP. At this point in my life these were the worst 8 hours of my life get Marie on to the plane required me to almost carry her up the steps and by the time we got back to Dublin she was so sick we went straight to St Vincent’s A&E department Marie was rushed inside and i need see her for 8 hours. When I was finally allow into see her I found in a hospital bed tilted upside down because they were a concerned Marie blood pressure was so low her heart was in danger, at this point the doctor told us both her kidney had failed and she would need dialysis and a transplant. Marie Smiled and not worry we will get though this and told damn right we would there was no returns clause in the married vows and we began our 4 year dialysis & transplant journey.
Living with Kidney Failure
Kidney Failure is complex condition to manage, step one they put in a perma-cath line which is a plastic tube which is insert into an arterial line mostly in you neck. They will then connect an in and out line to a dialysis Machine and laterally pump your blood through the machine which contain a filter which cleans the blood and removes excess fluid. But dialysis is very hard on the body especially you circulatory system which means after a period of time about 10 years dialysis will not longer be a option for your and transplants is your only hope. Dialysis took Marie 3 hours 3 time per week and left her exhausted, and on dialysis days you normally can’t drive for safety reasons so your have to be brought there and back by someone. Then there’s the diet restrictions, more fluid in the more they more they take out at dialysis time so you have to measure all ingoing fluid and keep to a max per you body type so not 5 cups of tea or wine or beer, the no beans(including coffee), chocolate or cheese or a bunch of other common food. If you get on the transplant list you have to lose weight and keep your BMI correct for your height and body type. The perma-cath line is a direct line into you body for any bacteria or virus so it must be kept clean and dry at all times so showing is an adventure. Then there the emotional toll the fear of infection the tiredness and the sense of time running out, Marie did this every day for over 3 years.
Transplant Time & The Amazing Brother
After a number of years on the transplant list, we began to struggle Marie was starting to lose hope and was afraid we would run out of time. We were not able to travel outside of the country due the need for dialyses every 2 days and Marie for it really difficult to visit family and friends in the UK and holidays were not an option at all. But the constants fear of infection via perma-cath line and the tiredness really began to ware Marie down and there were days when she was so unhappy and just sad. I was planning to donation but I have the wrong blood type so kidney rejection risk was to high then one day up steps Marie’s amazing brother and says enough is enough lets get me tested and see if I can give you one of my Kidneys. I can’t under estimate how big a deal this was, Marie Brother gave a piece of himself to save his sister and transformed her life. This in not an easy task you cant just say let do it and off you go, Marie Brother had to get multiple test which required flights from the UK and a phycological review to ensure he was doing this of his own free will and he understood the risks. The this whole approval processes took a year before the operation could be scheduled. Just to you and idea here are the statistic from 2019 for living kidney donors the last none Covid year.
Transplant Statistics 2019
249 transplants in total Kidneys 153 – (25 living/128 deceased)
Living donors give the patent the best chance, with lower reject risks but are they are more complex because you need 2 surgeons and two operating theaters. Marie and and brother surgery went really well and both recovered well. weird fact they don’t take out your old kidneys the just splice in the new one in Marie case she could feel it if she pushed in the right spot.
Recover was hard and Marie was in pain but the hardest part as the fear that her body would reject the kidney and it gave her sleep night for a long time and every twinge or slight pain would make her very nervous. but once we god through this part of the journey both our lives were transformed and we began to plan for the future. But we never forgot the generous gift from Marie brother and Marie protected the kidney every day.
Post Transplant Changes
I share my first kiss with Marie on the 7th July 2007 and it was amazing because it opened the door to 14 year’s worth of Love and Happiness and 11 years of marriage, and it thought me that love, and happiness can be infinite with the right person. The fear of losing the love of your life to kidney failure, makes everything about them even more amazing their smile, their laugh their kiss you see in new light.
We were determined never to miss a chance to love each other more, and it was just doing the simplest of things for one another that made love each other more and made us infinitely happier. For me it was when I woke up and went to my computer to start work and there would be a note telling me that Marie loved me and not to work too hard, if had to travel for work to America I would find notes in my suitcase hidden in my socks telling me she missed me. For Marie I would set out Marie breakfast things and hiding notes under the teacup telling how much I loved her or buying her birthday 3 card instead of one because I loved her 3 as much as everyone else.
These are the little things we did for one another every day that would make us both fall a little more in love with one another and make us a little happier every day.
There is a expression “life gets in the way” after getting through Marie Kidney failure I understand it wasn’t an expression is was an excuse.
The loss of our Son Aidan
After Marie Kidney transplant, our thoughts turn to starting a family. We had to wait a while to ensure there was no risk to Marie health. But after months of trying we went to fertility clinic to get the checked out, and we found out we would need help to have a baby so Marie and I started IVF together. If your not familiar with IVF processes its weeks of medication which includes painful injections into the tummy and at the end of the process eggs are collected. Marie put herself through all of this without any complaint’s but at the end of the process we were successfully and Marie was pregnant and off we went to hollies street maternity hospital. We got through the 13 week scan without any issue and all appeared to be going well but subsequent scans showed that Aidan was not growing as expected and after one hospital visit were we taken into a side room were we were told that Aidan was not growing and we should to prepare for the worst. For the next few months we would have to go into hollies street(Wednesday morning) to get a scan and wait for bad news, its was one of the worst time of both our lives and even now I hate Wednesday. But Aidan kept fighting and he would have made to full term but Marie developed septicemia and we have make a choice Aidan was within the window were is lungs were developed enough to give him a changes of life, so that what we did Marie was admitted to hospital and was give medication to fight the septicemia and when the consultant thought Marie was in danger Aidan was delivered and take to the NICU and put on life support right away. Aidan was the smallest babe boy born in hollies street at the time and was only 436 grams and he could fit into my two hands if he stretched his little legs out. The hospital asked if we could pilot a scheme called angel cam which allowed family and friends to see Aidan while in NICU without have to risk visits and to allow mums to bond and watch there babies in the NICU. Marie did use it in the evening but nothing on earth would stop her from holding her babe boy including 8 flight of stairs because the lift were broken all the time in the hospital, So Marie help by me and a nurse would climb the stairs ever day to see Aidan before she was discharged home.
Marie was sent home after 7 days and on the morning of day 8 day the NICU consultant called us to inform us that Aidan had developed a tear in his bowls and that there was nothing he could do to save Aidan we were told should get to the hospital ASAP, and a few hours later our beautiful brave boy died in our arms. In tribute to his memory friends and family raised enough money to buy an new angel cam which was name after our angel.
I do not have the words to describe the pain of losing a babe, it is a permanent scar on my soul and the world was never as beautiful or happy after Aidan was gone. Aidan loss could and nearly broke both of us, but the love we had for one another got us through the worst days of our lives.
Love and future Plans
ust decided to make a list for our future. Item number was continue to love each other as much as possible we have shut down a lot our feeling during the months a After Aidan passing Marie and I were at cross roads in our life together. Marie was will to try IVF again but it was to great a risk with little or no hope of success and with more heartbreak the most likely outcome. We discussed it and I would rather a life time of just me and Marie rather than a very slime chance of a family but at the cost of her life. So we did some grief counseling to try and help us though the worst of the pain and day by day we took care of one another and loved each other as much as we were able to, and over time we felt a little bit more able to deal with the world. One evening Marie was make a list of things she needed to do for the coming week and we just decided to make a list for our future. Item number was continue to love each other as much as possible we have shut down a lot our feeling during the months after Aidan passing and we need to get back being able to show love to one another without feel like we were doing something wrong, Marie need a new job , we really really need a good holiday, we had also become distant from our friends so we need see more of them and finally we wanted to explore adoption and surrogacy as way to have a family.
A New Job “Cheese Please”
chatted about the options and it has to be something near by (Hours driving into work was not an option) and a few hours a week and something working with people. One day Marie came and told me about jobs going in Sheridan’s Cheese Mongers, I remember Marie and I having conversation about applying for the job and her doubt and concerns that she wouldn’t know enough and artisan cheese etc. and I told her that cheese was one of her favorite foods and she more about cheese than most people I knew and I was sure there would be training. So Marie went for a trial day and loved it she took the job and began a new career as a Cheese Monger. Marie has a number of different job but outside of child care Sheridan’s was the one she loved most, it was meeting people , work lots of different people from all backgrounds and she got to learn and try artisans cheese, pasta and became quite the foodie. I had not seen her so happy for a long time. Marie attention to detail, her endless list and here style and her passion for people made her great at her new job. Marie as made a team lead for one of there busiest counter and eventually helped manage Sheridan’s concession stands in multiple stores. One of best thing about her time in Sheridan’s was the great friends she made. Marie also turned me into a cheese and pasta snob no more easy single for me.
The amazing places we got to see together”
After Marie we settled into her new job we decided to see some of the world both near and far way. We had trips to London, Oxford, Florida, and weekend breaks in The Cliff house hotel Ardmore and Powerscourt hotel Enniskerry.
The Cliff House
Lock Down in Sandyford
increase in the number of divorces in Ireland. But for Marie and I, it was different story while we were worried and stressed about COVID we were never happier because we got to spend more time together than ever before. During COVID I started working from home but Marie job in food retail meant she couldn’t work from home so we had to take lots of precautions because COVID and kidney transplants usually ended very badly for the person with the transplant . So Marie would work for a short period of time and then we would go into full isolation when the infection rates spiked up, but when the risk got to high we just agreed to say in isolation until we were both vaccinated. But even with the lock down and the period in isolation Marie still managed the Sheridan’s concessions and even opened a new concession in the Dunnes in the beacon (Marie did an amazing job in the beacon) I was so proud of Marie, she was scared of catching COVID as the risks were so much higher for her but she still did her job. During the months long full lockdown Marie and I got to spend every day together, I can’t tell how much fun we had together most days we had breakfast together which was a treat because Marie always was in work much earlier than me. Marie was of course always trying to keep busy and always looking after me and everyone else but what I remember most was how much love we felt for one another, maybe it was that we the fear of losing one another to COVID but it every moment felt precious and appreciated Marie in a new way and the more time I spent with her the more deeply I fell in love with her. While I was figuring this out Marie busy designed and amazing new office, which we built together, she made a full list of all the improvements we needed to do to the house, She planned our post COVID holidays organized have the most amazing Birthday party and a wonderful Christmas together. This sound a bit crazy to say in the middle of a pandemic, Its was the happiest time of my life because I got to spend very day with the woman I loved. But life is very cruel and hard and the happiness we felt as about to cut painfully short.
Fun with Birthday balloons
The Nightmare Days Begin
At the start year Marie & I were still in lockdown, Marie was anxious to get back to work but was nervous about the potential COVID risks. But we had a lovely Christmas and for the new year we had put together a plan for the coming year, we had a list of things to get done around the house and holidays to arrange, we were in this weird state of bliss were everything was perfect, we were happy and in love and the grief from Aidan passing while not gone it was not overwhelming us on a daily bases. We had a plan for the rest of our lives. We going to get Marie vaccinated because she was on at risk list due to her transplant, then I would get vaccinated and then the work could list could begin. Oh and did I mention being in love I mention it again because its important and because in February we were 11 years married 14 year together. I absolutely romanced the living daylight out if my wife for two week just because i could, there were presents at was fancy dinners and cake afternoon tea was booked for post COVID times and most of all there was love and lots of it I must have kissed Marie 100 times a day just to see what the limits of kissing you wife per day were. Please note there are no limits, my lips got tired be Marie got feed up being kissed.
There was one small issue in our lives, every so often Marie we feel sick after eating and her appetite was off, then we started to this more often and when went to our GP and it looked like Marie had an Infection so we started antibiotics and waited. After the next check up nearly 14 days later Marie kidney function was starting to be impacted and it was decide that it might be sepsis and Marie need to go into hospital for IV antibiotics. Unfortunately the COVID numbers were high and the hospitals were lock down to visitors so I couldn’t visit Marie while she was in hospital. But Marie being the bravest woman I knew just got on with it, we called and video chatted texted multiple times every day and as always Marie made some new friends on teh ward and the doctor did more and more tests and they tried new antibiotics and Marie got a little worst every day. I was getting angry concerned and pissed off and I could get hold a doctor to get a answer to my questions so after 8 weeks I had reached my limit and demanded that I be let in to see Marie and I would take any precaution necessary to make it happen because at this point the infection had spread to Marie lungs and she need oxygen. These first visits on the renal ward were a nightmare the first two time I went in they took away for a MSR scan just as I got to the ward.
I curse COVID for many reason, but most of all because it kept me from my wife side for 8 long weeks when she needed me and because it slowed down the diagnosis of the non Hodgkin’s lymphoma that was in Marie Bowels causing the issue all along. I cant describe the pain the terror and rage I felt when I found out the diagnosis. As long as I live I will never understand why if this was a risk for kidney patients it was not the first thing the hospital tested for. We had to wait a few days for a pic scan to confirm the diagnosis but within a few day Marie was transferred to St Anne cancer ward and had started chemotherapy. The only good news was I was allowed to visit Marie every day by appointment only, the first time I saw her saw Marie beautiful face after all the weeks apart I cried like a baby and I hugged her for 10 minutes until told me I was squeezing her to tight and I was going to break something she needed.
I call these days nightmare days because when I close my eyes now these days haunt my dreams and my waking hours.
The Bravest Woman
To say chemotherapy hard is an understatement as large as Mount Everest. Just to give you and idea of just some of the side effects we have tiredness, felling weak as a baby, loss of appetite, loss of hair , pain, constraint sickness you feel worse than the cancer. But my beautiful wife fought though all of these side effects with more bravery and courage than I thought was possible in a person, it made so proud to be her husband its why I continue to write these post because even though it painful to remember these events I need everyone to know how amazing Marie was even when it was the hardest times. There are two event during the first round of chemotherapy that I always remember.
Marie hair with was her pride and joy started so when its fall out Marie took the decision get rid of it all together so the electric razor she used on me for my lock down hair cut I had to use on Marie. Marie as always made some joke about me being her new stylist and she told me to keep the hair because we can stick it back on later. we took some pictures to share with family and friends and Marie told she had an idea and she wanted my help Marie told me she wanted to a web site to share what was going with her life and her experiences, we spent the rest of the day thinking up names for the site Marie came up with Feisty because she was just so damn feisty and I came up with Foxy because even with shaved head Marie was still sexist most beautiful woman I knew.
The Second event was as a result of the weakness caused by the chemotherapy, Marie hand just would work right so messaging became so hard and frustrating for her, using a little brain power I figure out how to send voice messages over whats app and that became our way of communicating, because of covid and risk of infection visiting Marie was limited but any time we want to talk we would whats app a voice massage to one another and it felt like we were together and it got us through the first round of chemotherapy. Some of the voice messages are amazing really strong pain meds made Marie a bit sweary and more honest than was polite, we once had a 20 minute chat about a butterfly in here room on the celling that turned out to be a sprinkler head, we both laugh our asses of when we figured that out. As I write the post I am listening to her saved voice messages and it breaks my heart and fills me with joy all at the same time.