Mark Dobson: Nurses walked miles in the snow to come and care for us
In his weekly column, dialysis patient Mark Dobson, who is the son of former MLA Jo-Anne, looks back at a difficult journey to hospital due to the weather and filming for a new documentary
As the snow fell, the cameras rolled. The Beast from the East arrived with a vengeance last week and affected almost all aspects of our daily lives - not least for us dialysis patients who must get to our regular sessions come what may. For, us it's literally a matter of life and death.
Early morning on Wednesday, just before the heavy falls of snow arrived, we had no problems making our usual dash to Daisy Hill Hospital.
However on Friday, it was quite a different story altogether.
Heading off in mum's Jeep, we passed snow drifts as we journeyed along snow-covered roads - it was like travelling in a winter wonderland, albeit a wonderland we knew was fraught with danger.
Making our way along the now single-lane dual carriageway to Newry, we arrived to see staff clearing and gritting the roads in the hospital and nurses and doctors as always walking into work to care for their patients.
However, this wouldn't have been possible without the roads being kept clear for those of us who have essential journeys to make, and I know that dedicated teams worked through the night to keep as much of our roads network as passable as possible.
Overcoming difficulties always brings out the best in people, and I want to mention those who take the time to think of others by clearing driveways or salting the paths and roads around their housing estates - the unsung heroes of the snow.
Safely up into the ward, we heard so many stories of staff who had pulled out all the stops to make their way to work, walking miles through the snow to get into Daisy Hill to care for us.
The love and devotion of our dedicated nursing staff never ceases to amaze me ,and I want - in as public a way as possible - to thank every nurse and carer for all they do, whatever the weather. You are all superstars to us.
One man who knows quite a few sporting superstars is BBC NI's sports reporter Stephen Watson, and Stephen has a very personal link with the transplant family because 28 years ago his dad donated him a kidney when he became ill while a first-year student at university.
Mum and I spent some time with Stephen this week while we were filmed for a future BBC documentary on organ donation and transplantation.
We are absolutely delighted to be able to use yet another platform to continue to promote the organ donation message to as wide an audience as possible and let people know what it's like to be on this journey and to be preparing for a live transplant.
We started off the morning at Daisy Hill, where my fellow dialysis patients John, Matthew and Brendan got an up-close and personal glimpse of the work of a camera crew as they set up their lights and equipment.
Then, in the afternoon, we hosted Stephen and his team on our family farm in Waringstown, and as the snow fell and the cameras rolled, we talked about transplants, renal tests and plans for a future free of dialysis.
It was lovely to talk with Stephen about our plans ahead of our live transplant because he has been through what mum and I are about to. Someone who has walked the journey which we are currently on - a journey to a new life with a new kidney.
Watch out for the documentary, which is due to air later on this year. No doubt I will be able to give you a heads-up through my blog and this column.
One thing I can guarantee is that it's a documentary likely to melt hearts quicker than the snow which still hangs around as I write from my ward in Daisy Hill.
All in all, this was a very busy week indeed with everything affected by the snowy conditions.
I hope that, just like my nurses did, you made it safely through the snow and managed to keep toasty and warm.
Follow Mark on his Wordpress Blog, @DialysisDobson on Twitter and DialysisDobson on Facebook