‘I Went On Holiday To Greece And The Sun Made My Kidneys Fail’

In My Story, readers share their unique, life-changing experiences. Today, we hear from Maria Jones, 45, from Aberdeen.

It was about five o’clock in the morning when I got the call to come to Edinburgh hospital. A young man had died in a traffic accident. They had permission to give his organs away, and I was one of the lucky people to received one.

I first realised something was wrong with my health in August 2003. I had flu-like symptoms, which returned in September and October and November. I felt horrid with joint pain and thought: “That’s not right.” I went to my GP and said: “Look, I’ve had the flu every month since summer, that doesn’t make sense.” They didn’t really believe me.

It was a battle to get some blood tests done, because the GP said: “It just happens sometimes.” After three appointments she agreed to run tests, but then Christmas came and I was still waiting for the results.

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Then, on January 14, I called the out-of-hours GP because I was struggling to breathe. I felt pain every time I inhaled and they told me to go to A&E. My blood results indicated that the inflammation in my body was off the charts. I was immediately told: “You’re staying, that’s it. We’ll find you a bed. It doesn’t matter which ward it’s going to be, but you’re going to stay in hospital tonight.”

More tests revealed my diaphragm had almost stopped working and I had lost lung capacity, due to the inflammation in my body.

I had treatment to relieve the symptoms and more appointments over the coming months, but I still didn’t have a diagnosis. By August of that year, I felt well enough to go on holiday with friends to Corfu. Then things got worse.

We were travelling around on this massive yacht we’d hired and it was lovely, but there was nowhere to hide from the sun. I had to get off the boat and stay inside a hotel for a few days, because I was throwing up, I had headaches and severe joint pain and fatigue.

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