Mark Dobson: I'm so proud that mum is getting tested to see if her kidneys are a match for me
In the second of his exclusive weekly columns, Mark Dobson, son of former MLA Jo-Anne, tells what life’s really like being on dialysis
What a difference a week makes. Little did I think, one week after writing my first column for the Belfast Telegraph, that I would be admitted back into hospital - I did say a life on dialysis has its ups and downs.
Due to complications with the Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) line in my tummy - unfortunately it isn't working and I'm due to have it removed in theatre - I'm writing this from my bed in the renal unit of Belfast City Hospital.
Sadly this means, despite a second go at it, that home dialysis isn't working out for me and the nurses in Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry, will be seeing a lot more of me than they thought they would.
Hopefully, their gain.
My outlook on life, much like the gorgeous view over Belfast from the 11th floor at the City Hospital, is that there is always something better and brighter ahead of you.
I can think of many worse places to be and when I think of the wonderful professionals caring for me, I know I'm in very safe hands.
Over the weekend my brother Elliott, who lives in London, came home to see us for a flying visit. Along with granda and I, we all got to join the Green and White Army at Windsor Park to watch Northern Ireland play Germany. Despite the fact we were beaten 3-1, Northern Ireland has reached the play-offs, which is great news.
And speaking of matches… mum has begun a series of tests to find out if she is a match so she will be able to donate a kidney to me. I'm so proud of her for going through this and, although we are at the very early stages, this could mean the world to me.
Receiving a kidney would end my dialysis and give me back a normal life.
I'm still so disappointed about losing my donated kidney and always think about the family who, in tragic circumstances, made the decision to donate their loved one's organ so that I could enjoy eight years of a fit and healthy life.
Since I had my first transplant in 2009 science has moved on so much and with the magnificent Live Donor programme at the City Hospital, it is simpler for people to make the giant leap of putting themselves forward to be a donor.
The tests my mum is having done would have taken many weeks to carry out in 2008, but now they can all be done in just one day of assessments.
Since then, mum and I have visited countless people who have made or benefited from the decision to make a live donation. And while we wait for the outcome of her tests, we are all hoping and praying that 2018 will be my transplant year.
We're also crossing our fingers for the Erskine House Tree, which is a real symbol of hope for all renal patients, to win the Woodland Trust Tree of the Year.
I mentioned last week that mum was part of the campaign team and voting ended late on Sunday night, so it's all over, bar counting the votes.
Thanks to everyone who took part and especially well done to Dr Gerry Gormley, Dr James Douglas and Zara McBrearty for putting in an amazing effort - you really have done us all proud.
Thanks also to the Belfast Telegraph for giving me this platform.
While it's been an eventful week for me, all the messages and feedback from last week's column have been terrific. Your messages mean so much and I have been sharing them with fellow patients and staff.
As I look out over Belfast, I can't help thinking of the hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who have shared this same view over decades.
My mum has called the renal unit 'The 11th Floor of Hope' many times, and I know exactly what she means.