Hi there,

I hope every body is well. This blog is about my first trip to Old Trafford to watch a football match.

On Saturday 2nd September my son and I went to Old Trafford to watch a Legends match between Manchester United and Barcelona.

As you may know Old Trafford is the home of Manchester United. With a capacity of around 75,000, it is the largest club football stadium in the United Kingdom.

I have been a Manchester United fan ever since I was young and this was my first ever time watching a match at Old Trafford. I know it was just a legends match but it still felt special.

It was a lovely sunny warm day and I remember feeling very excited when I arose. I was like a child in a sweet shop. We got to the ground at around 12 (kick off was at 3pm). My son and I had a slow walk around and took in the atmosphere.  Outside the ground was the fan zone with some things for children to do.

We started queuing up to get in the stadium at around 1pm. We got inside and found our seats, in the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand. The view was absolutely amazing. I was awe-struck.

Here are some pictures I took of the day.

We watched “The Vamps” perform before the start of the match. But was a bit of a let down as they were only on for around 20 minutes. I was expecting much longer. And other than that there was not much else pre-match entertainment. And further more there was not much at half time either. But this did not affect our enjoyment of the day.

A minutes silence was observed before kick off (in remembrance of those affected by Terrorist attacks in Manchester & Barcelona) and you could of heard a pin drop as an eerie silence came over the stadium. It was quiet an emotional feeling seeing every body observing it.

Finally we cheered as the match kicked off. And I was not disappointed as the game itself was brilliant. It was end to end stuff and full of action. Because of where we were seated I was really close to the action.  And I felt privileged seeing all the different “Legend” players from both sides. I saw Van Nistelrooy, Dwight Yorke, Ji-sung Park, Edgar Davids, Luis Garcia and many others. It just made the day extra special.

Although it did not really matter (in my opinion) who won, as it was a great spectacle and all the money raised was going to local charities, the match itself ended 2-2 (Manchester United won 5-3 on aggregate, as they had won 3-1 away in Barcelona).

The atmosphere was amazing and we had a fantastic time.  We even participated in a “Mexican Wave” at one point. The stadium itself is amazing and the staff were very helpful. However, I must admit the food and drink was very expensive. I spent £20 on a couple of drinks and an ice cream!

But on the whole, it was a great day :).

Check out this YouTube video I did of our trip.

My first visit to old Trafford

 

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Hi there,

Here is another short update of coping with kidney failure. Today I want to talk about a touchy subject and that’s depression and other emotional symptoms that go along with my illness. Depression is extremely horrible to have.  And people with chronic illness also have to endure depression and other emotional problems as well as their main illness.  But some people think that depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They’re wrong – it is a real illness with real symptoms.

I find it very difficult to talk about but I thought I would write a blog about it.

I am sorry to admit but because of my illness I find it very difficult to cope. As a result I feel extremely depressed at times.

It is really difficult to explain how I feel. I have mood swings, paranoia, depression. Some days I feel isolated and angry, others days I feel insecure and stressed. I over analyse and over think things. I get worried very easily and have very little patience. As a result I get irritated and lose my temper quickly. My memory is bad.  I struggle to remember simple things. Sometimes I struggle to get my words out and become very frustrated. Some days I feel like I am spinning out of control. And sometimes it feels like I am being sucked into a black hole. Other times it feels like I need to cry and scream and kick and shout. Then other times I go quiet and just want to be left alone.

I feel angry, guilty and alone. I guess this is due to a number of reasons. For example that I cannot be the bread-winner of the family or the father/husband I want/use to be. And also I feel guilty and angry that the transplant did not work. I blame myself. I also think I feel this way because I was disowned and betrayed by my own brother who thought I was imagining my chronic illness and exaggerating my horrible symptoms. I don’t think I ever got over being stabbed in the back by him or understand why he did it (but that’s another story), which I guess has torn me up inside.

The symptoms seemed to have progressively got worse over the past year. For a while now I have ignored the fact that I have these emotional problems. But it has got so bad that I cannot ignore it anymore and so decided to do something about it. I have decided to seek counselling. unfortunately my transplant clinic do not offer counselling so I have had to be refered by my GP. But there is a long waiting list to be seen by a counsellor on the NHS. I was told it could take from 4 to 6 months.  So in the mean time I have decided to take advantage of the free telephone service offered by Kidney Care UK.

http://www.kidneycareuk.org

I found out about the service by accident. One day I put a posting on the kidney care Facebook site asking about counselling and somebody from Kidney Care UK mentioned that they offer a free phone counselling service. So I rang them up and started my phone counselling sessions last week.

Hopefully these sessions will help. But it has helped me a lot recognising I have depression and talking about it with some body impartial. By sharing my problems it feels as though a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. So I would encourage anyone who thinks that they are suffering from a mental health problem to seek out some sort of counselling.

Anyway, I think that is it for now.

Thanks for reading.

P.S Please remember more than 10,000 people need and organ transplant in the UK. So donation is extremely important.

http://www.organdonation.nhs.uk

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Hi there,

I have not done an update on my health for a while so I thought I would give you a short update.

Its been over a year and half since I have had my transplant. Unfortunately the new kidney has never worked properly.

This week I had my 3 monthly appointment with the Kidney transplant specialists at North Staffordshire hospital. My bloods results were as expected with my kidney function hovering around the 18 mark. The Doctors did not really say anything else except confirming that the donor kidney is only providing a little bit of kidney function. Although the new kidney has not worked as I expected I guess it has helped keep me off dialysis for the time being.  I have not been put back on the transplant list as the threshold to be put on the transplant list is 15% kidney function. But even though I still feel crap they cannot do anything for me. And they will not remove the kidney or reduce the anti-rejection medication.

Since my transplant I have been up and down. Some days I have been ok but most days I feel terrible. I try to do as much as I can and I try to keep my mind active. But it is getting more and difficult. I don’t know if it is the effects of all the anti-rejection medication I am on but the fatigue and tiredness seems to have worsened over the year. Most days I cannot do anything. So I take each day as it comes. If it is a good day I try to do as much as I can. If it is a bad day I do nothing.

In February I was admitted to hospital with a severe stomach bug.  I remember it was a Tuesday morning (well it was Shrove Tuesday to be exact) and I had just come down for breakfast. I was in the middle of making pancakes with poached eggs when I felt incredibly unwell. I felt extremely dizzy and light-headed. The room was spinning and the last thing I remember is thinking I needed to sit down before I collapse. Then the next thing I remember is coming round on the floor with my wife standing over me. She was on the phone to the ambulance. I told her I was fine and persuaded her not to continue with calling an ambulance. She then wanted to call the kidney unit but again I persuaded her not to.

I felt extremely unwell and had severe diarrhea but I did not want go into hospital as I thought I just had a bug and I will get over it. It took 3 days for my wife to eventually persuade me ring the kidney unit and go into hospital. I was incredibly stupid and stubborn. The hospital ran tests and determined I was severely dehydrated and that my kidney function, Potassium and Magnesium levels were dangerously low. They immediately put me on a drip. Further blood tests revealed that I had Camplyobacter (which is a common cause of food poisoning). They did not give me any antibiotics as it was just a matter of riding it out until it had all got out of my system.

After a few days (most of it spent on the toilet) and several drips I had recovered enough to go home. But this event taught me a valuable lesson. Don’t be so stubborn in the future. Listen to your body and more importantly always listen to your wife :).

I have to remember that I am not as healthy as I used to be and I cannot fight illnesses like I use to.  They are dangerous to me and I need to go to hospital if needed.

Anyway, that’s about it for now. thanks for reading.

Remember more than 10,000 people need and organ transplant in the UK. So donation is extremely important.

http://www.organdonation.nhs.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 


Here is my review of Spider-Man:Homecoming (Released at Cinema in July 2017) which my family and I saw at the cinema recently.

I was not really sure whether I would like as the previous Spider-Man film (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) had let the franchise down. But I had high hopes because it was a joint enterprise with Marvel and his brief appearance in Captain America: Civil War was brilliant.

Spider-Man Homecoming is the first of its franchise but thankfully, it was not an origins story.  We pick up the story with an already powered up Peter Parker, played by Tom Holland, living with his Aunt May in Queens, living the life of a teenage school kid in high school with super powers.  I really like the fact that they didn’t go through the whole origin story again. As every Spider-Man fan knows Peter gets bit by a spider, he gets powers and he figures out his life as a hero.  You can only re-tell the same story so many times. We didn’t really need that story for a 3rd time.

Anyway, This film starts following the Battle of New York (from avengers assemble) as Adrian Toomes (played by the brilliant Michael Keaton) and his salvage company are contracted to clean up the city, but their operation is taken over by Tony Stark’s U.S. Department of Damage Control (D.O.D.C.). Enraged at being driven out of business, Toomes persuades his employees to keep the Chitauri technology they have already scavenged and use it to create and sell advanced weapons.

We then pick up the story 8 Years later where he is thriving in the city as a crime boss/arms dealer called, The Vulture and providing for his family and friends. At the same time Peter Parker (Spider-Man) has been drafted into the Avengers by Stark to help with an internal dispute (Captain America:Civil War), but resumes his studies at the Midtown School of Science and Technology when Stark tells him he is not yet ready to become a full Avenger.

But Peter continues his crime-fighting activities as Spider-Man. One night, after preventing criminals from robbing an ATM with their advanced weapons from Toomes, Parker returns to his Queens apartment where his best friend Ned discovers his secret identity. Peter and Ned then continue their investigation into Toomes with the disapproval of Tony Stark.  I won’t reveal much else as I do not want to spoil it for every body.

This is not a usual superhero focussed film, it’s more like a teen movie. As it focuses on the day-to-day troubles of a typical 15-year-old geeky teenager in high school as he tries to balance school with being a crime fighter at the same time. So if anything, it is more a Peter Parker focussed story than a Spider-Man one.  Tom Holland is brilliant as Peter Parker and Spider-Man.  He owns every scene he’s in, never getting blown off the screen by his co-stars, which include such formidable personalities as Robert Downey Jr. and Michael Keaton. Tom Hollands intelligence and good-natured manner perfectly captures Peter Parker’s youthfulness, earnestness and moral center. And throughout the film Peter screws up a lot, I mean a lot, but he’s a good kid who knows when he has to set things right and Holland sells all of that.

But I have to say Ned played by Jacob Batalon just about manages to steal the show for me as he has some particularly funny moments as Peter’s side kick.

In summary I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I felt it had the perfect combination of action, special effects and humour.

Marvel and Sony have succeeded to produce a great Spider-Man film in the marvel universe franchise. And yes there are a couple of post-credit scenes, so don’t leave too early.

 


Here is my review of Guardians of the Universe 2 (Released at Cinema in April 2017) which my family and I saw at the cinema recently.

I was really looking forward to this film and could not wait for it to be released at the cinema.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the much-anticipated sequel to Guardians of the galaxy and takes place a few months after the previous film. The team now find themselves as galactic heroes for hire and Ayesha, leader of the Sovereign race, hires them to protect valuable batteries from an inter-dimensional monster in exchange for Gamora’s estranged sister Nebula, who was caught attempting to steal the batteries.

Afterwards it is revealed that Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) has stolen some of the priceless batteries for himself. They find themselves pursued by the sovereign drones. However, the drones are destroyed by a mysterious figure, and the Guardians are forced to crash-land on a nearby planet. The figure reveals himself as Quill’s father, Ego, who invites Quill, accompanied by Gamora and Drax, to his home, while Rocket and Groot remain behind to repair the ship and guard Nebula.

Meanwhile, Ayesha hires Yondu Udonta and his crew, who have been exiled from the greater Ravager community for child trafficking, to recapture the Guardians.

I won’t reveal much more of the story but the main thrust of the action is the Guardians trying to stay one step ahead of the Soverign and the Ravagers. But the real heart of this movie is Peter Quill meeting his father at long last. But what are his father’s motives?

I thoroughly enjoyed this film and I thought it was just as good as the first one. The best and funniest bit of the film in my opinion is the opening scene where the galactic avengers are fighting a giant octopus-like creature. But instead of keeping the camera on the battle we watch an adorable Baby Groot dancing to Mr. Blue Sky. It is really funny.

I thought the film was action packed and full of good special effects. With a good mix of action and comedy. Chris Pratt is outstanding as Peter Quill. The unifying plot thread throughout the movie is family. While Peter Quill’s lineage is a big focal point, we also learn a lot more about why Nebula has such hatred for Gamora and what went on during their childhood with Thanos, And there’s more insight given into Drax’s relationship with his deceased family. There’s time spent exploring how Rocket’s creation caused him some major trust issues, and it’s even explained where Yondu came from. As the team grapples with the conflicts and personal demons that threaten to tear them apart, their individual stories dominate the movie.

We also learn about some new characters as well. There’s Ayesha and the Sovereign, Taserface and his Ravagers, and another new group of Ravagers (with Sylvester Stalone playing their leader). Pom Klementieff is a standout as Mantis, but then, so is Kurt Russell as well who is great as Star-Lord’s father.

I love Marvel films and I was not let down on this occasion. I left the cinema very satisfied.

So in my humble opinion, Marvel have yet again produced a great film in their marvel universe franchise. By the way, there are 5 (OH YES 5!) post-credit scenes, so don’t leave too early.

 


Here is my review of Doctor Strange (Released at Cinema in October 2016) which my family and I saw at the cinema recently.

To those unfamiliar with Doctor Strange, he is not your typical superhero as he doesn’t have super powers or gadgets, instead Doctor Strange relies on magic, astral planes, time travel and extra dimensions to fight evil. I have read a couple of comics, watched a couple of cartoon versions and so know a bit about him but wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw this film. However, I did expect a lot more than the 1978 TV film version which starred Peter Hooten. Yes I am afraid I was the one person that watched that when it first came out. This TV film was meant to be pilot for a TV series, but it was never picked up as a series. Surprisingly it did not put me off superhero movies.

Anyway Back to the 2016 version. Doctor strange is played by Benedict Cumberbatch and is the 14th film in the Marvel Universe. When we first meet him at the start of the film Doctor strange is a brilliant neurosurgeon (well the very best on Earth in his humble opinion) who is egotistical, arrogant and rude to his colleagues and every one else around him. He is involved in a serious car accident (caused by his own arrogance), which disintegrates the bones in his hands along with his identity. As his ego shrinks, Strange comes to see himself as a “tiny speck in an indifferent universe”. Desperate for a remedy so that he can regain his identity, Doctor Strange travels to Nepal, where he comes in contact with The Ancient One. She is an ageless entity who offers to revive his hands while simultaneously awakening his consciousness to the unseen powers of the multiverse. However, she is actually training him to make him a defender of the planet.

We are told that whilst the Avengers fight physical enemies, the ancient one and her defenders are here protect the world against mystic threats. Who Operate from sanctums across the globe. They can leap between realities and dimensions, portal-hopping to present-day London and New York in an instant.

While Doctor Strange learns to tap into these energies and learn about astral projection, parallel dimensions and time travel he still remains desperate to find the key to healing his hands which are still scarred and shaky from surgery. Meantime, he must confront Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a former pupil to The Ancient One who has stolen pages from her sacred texts pertaining to eternal life and is trying to steal all of the Earth’s time and is planning to turn it over to an evil lord called “Dormammu” of the Dark Dimension.

Can he save the day? you will have to watch it to find out :).

Well, what can I say. To start with, this was not your  typical Marvel film as it deals with mind-bending concepts such as parallel dimensions, time travel and mysticism. Even so, I thought this film was awesome. It was much better than I ever anticipated. It was superb from beginning to end. Although the film was approaching 2 hours long it certainly did not feel like it.   The special effects are just jaw-dropping although this film does have the look of “Inception” but this is much better in my opinion. It is a visual feast as you watch city’s bend and fold when rival sorcerers fight each other, cast spells, alter reality and run through portals into other different realities. The scene where Doctor Strange travels into different astral realms resembles what I imagine an extreme acid trip would look like (I have never taken acid myself so I would not know lol) .

Benedict Cumberbatch was brilliant and played Doctor Strange fantastically in my opinion.  He fits into the movie’s comic-book world with ease. He is witty, funny, arrogant and pulls off being a sorcerer really well. Madds Mikkelson played the “baddie” pretty well although he did feel a bit underused at times. But of course I have to mention the cloak of levitation (a magic cloak with a mind of its own) which stole the show for me.  Even my wife and son thought the film was great too. I have run out of good things to say about it. All I can say is that I left the cinema feeling extremely satisfied and can say this is one of my favourite marvel films so far. So, if you are a fan of Marvel, go and see it.

I cannot wait to see Doctor Strange join up with the Avengers. It opens up all possibilities of what may happen in future films. Will we see parallel universes or even time travel? We shall see :).


Hi there, I am really sorry that I haven’t posted a blog for nearly a year now. This is because it has been a really tough year as I have had a kidney transplant (more on that later) and also my health has not been good and thus I have not felt like writing anything. In addition, because of my ill-health I have also had to stop doing the kidney45challenge (See my kidney45challenge Australian adventure) which is a shame. Although I did manage to complete 35 challenges which is an amazing achievement in itself. I might do something similar in the future, health permitting, I don’t know.

Anyway, as I was saying I had a kidney transplant in January 2016.  I was diagnosed with stage 5 kidney failure in 2013 and placed on the transplant list in December 2014 (See Kidney failure, what it all means and my journey so far).

On the 31st January 2016 I was at home with my wife and we had just finished a Chinese take away when my mobile rang. I looked at it and wondered who on earth could be ringing at 11 o’clock at night. The number was withheld so I ignored it and let it ring off. 10 seconds later my wife’s mobile rang.  At that moment I sort of suspected that it was the transplant unit in Manchester. She answered it and yes it was the call. A kidney had been found and we had to get to Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) as fast as we possibly can.

I was shocked. I really did not want to go as I was shit scared. But my lovely wife said don’t worry it will be ok so we put project kidney into motion. Well to be honest we didn’t really have a plan. Anyway I packed some overnight stuff. We woke up Oscar and dropped him off at the in-laws and made our way to Manchester. It was so unreal as we drove in the dark towards Manchester. Everything seamed to be in slow motion.

We finally arrived at the Manchester Royal Infirmary hospital at around midnight and I was booked onto ward 9.  As I sat in bed waiting for the nurse to do all the pre-transplant checks I was petrified. Which showed as my blood pressure and heard rate were sky-high. My wife and the nurse kept saying you need to calm down so we can get your heart rate down. Well that’s easily said than done. I had a chest X-ray done and blood test done in preparation for the operation. My lovely wife stayed with me till about 5 in the morning whilst I was waiting to be taken down to theatre. As nothing seamed to be happening I told her to go home so she could get some sleep.

I tried to sleep myself but it was useless. I just sat in bed wondering and worrying about the day ahead. I was not even allowed any food or drink because of the upcoming operation. Eventually after hours of waiting, at around 9am, I was taken down to surgery on the trolley. I remember speaking to the transplant surgeon about something, And then talking to the anaesthetist who told me to count back from 10. I started counting and then I remember nothing. The next thing I remember is being woken up by one of the surgeons and the transplant had been done. I was in a lot of pain and very groggy from the operation. I was taken back to ward 9 and I asked the nurses to contact my wife to let her know I was ok. I don’t really remember much else except being in a lot of pain.

I was in hospital for about 3 weeks. I don’t really remember much in hospital, its all a bit of a daze. Unfortunately the transplant did not work as expected. The new kidney did not wake up. I was told by various doctors it may take up to 3 months to wake up. I hated being in hospital. It was so depressing. Plus it was very hard on my family who had to travel an hour each way to see me. We live in Crewe and the hospital is in Manchester. They tried to see me every day at first but it was too much for them, so in the end they reluctantly reduced it to 2 or 3 times a week. I was so looking forward to going home and getting away from hospital food.  Even though I had stabilised from the operation the new kidney still had not woken up, but the doctors agreed that I could be let out :). I was so happy when I was told I could finally go home.

But after leaving the hospital I still had to go back 2 or 3 times a week for regular blood tests for the first couple of months. I was pretty ill when I got first home as, on top of the new kidney not working properly, I was in a lot of pain from the operation and unwell because of the side effects from all the drugs I was taking. The doctors kept saying the new kidney will wake up eventually.  The doctors tried even me on steroids and different doses of anti-rejection drug but they did not work.  I have had loads of blood tests and scans done and there were no indications of infection or rejection.  But then they did eventually find out what was wrong when they did a biopsy of the kidney. The biopsy showed that new kidney had vascular disease. So the reason why the transplant hadn’t worked was that the donor kidney was diseased. This was very upsetting and frustrating news for me. I could not believe I had received a diseased kidney.

kidney-op-pic

Picture of me after operation

kidney-scar

My Kidney Scar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I left hospital I was on so many different drugs I lost count. Here is a picture of some of the drugs I was on.

img_20161014_100856

My Selection of Drugs


 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately around 3% of transplanted kidneys from deceased donors just do not work for one reason or another. I guess it’s just the luck of draw me receiving a diseased kidney from a donor. Which is why there is a much better chance of the kidney working from a live donor, as the donor has to have numerous tests themselves. So any problems with a potential donor kidney will be picked up.  

Although I have more or less recovered from the operation I now have contend with the continued side effects of the concoction of anti rejection drugs I am taking. Mood swings, depression, extreme nausea and tremors being the worse of them (which I wouldn’t have minded if the new kidney actually worked). And on top of that I have now have anemia, magnesium deficiency, potassium deficiency and am on the verge of being diabetic. Fortunately I was pre-dialysis before the transplant as my kidney function ranged from 12 to 15%, and now it is the same. The transplant made no difference to my kidney function at all, except that I feel worse now than I did before the transplant.

The doctors have more or resigned to the fact that the transplant hasn’t worked and now gradually reducing my anti-rejection medication with a view to putting me back on the transplant list.  They will probably leave the new kidney in unless it becomes medically necessary to remove it.  Some people have 2 or 3 transplants before they find one that works.

I have now been transferred from the MRI to North Staffordshire hospital to be cared under them. I have a check up every couple of weeks now. And they are in the process of reactivating me onto the transplant list. I must admit the care and organisation at North Staffordshire is a lot better than it was in Manchester. The nurses and doctors at North Staffordshire Transplant Unit have been brilliant. I have to say I was very disappointed with the after care at the MRI.

So as you can imagine it has been a terrible 9 months. with endless trips to one hospital or another. And then the stress and anguish of finding out that I received a diseased kidney.  I have tried to remain positive but it has been very hard for me. And my lovely wife Simone Derbyshire and son have been brilliant in their support of me. And I am sure it has been hard for them as well watching me go through this. There is a small part of me keeping my fingers crossed that the new kidney may heal itself and wake up eventually but I have accepted that it will never work.

I have felt so down and depressed now because the new kidney didn’t work. And even though I am going back on the transplant list soon I am in two minds whether I want another transplant from a deceased donor. I don’t think I want another year like that and I have had enough of being prodded and poked by doctors.

But on a final important note. Even though the transplant hasn’t worked, I am very thankful for the donor and their family. As without donors, and their decision to use their organs after their death, life saving transplants can never take place. More than 10,000 people need an organ transplant in the UK.  So donation is extremely important. And even though I have had problems, most people can have transplants which are very successful and have improved their lives enormously.

http://www.organdonation.nhs.uk

I cannot think of anything else to say at the moment so thanks for reading this, and have a nice day. Hopefully it wont take me another year to write my next blog :).