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I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Corrie, courage and a kidney transplant

You get to meet all kinds of people when you`re an `extra` in films and TV shows. Sometimes, you rub shoulders with the stars. But occasionally, it`s the people in the background who shine the brightest. Like Pauline Obi. I met her during a filming break in a little room opposite the Rovers, on Coronation Street. And as the cameras prepared to capture the latest dramas on set, it turned out that Pauline has a tale of her own to tell. She inspired me so much that I got back in touch with her to hear more. And I`ve focused this week`s blog on her story.

Say there`s an intruder in your house, in the dead of night.

You sense someone`s trying to get in. You`re aware of him moving about the place, but have no idea where or how he`ll strike, how much danger you`re in, or quite how you should respond. say there`s an `intruder` in your body--in the form of an incurable illness lurking there, chipping away at your immune system, making you feel anxious and in pain, threatening you with major organ failure at any time.

That`s how Pauline visualises Lupus; the disease she`s spent half her life fighting. Her diagnosis as a fit, sporty 15 year old followed unexplained severe joint pain and weight gain and accelerated into more acute symptoms, including a seizure. More recently, it caused her kidneys to fail, too, and she`s now on dialysis in hospital three days a week; pinning her hopes on a transplant.

She`d just moved to Essex to start a longed for teaching job when a regular test showed that her kidneys were in trouble, and that she was now in `pre-dialysis` stage.

`I`d been so proud to qualify, then get the job and have my own classroom`, she told me.`It felt like I`d arrived.`

And the journey there had been tough. Her health problems led to disappointing GCSEs , but she took speedy resits, and pushed through to her A`levels, a degree in Psychology, and clinched key youth worker jobs before teacher training--and that dream job in Essex, teaching psychology and citizenship.

`It was so short lived,` she said.` I had no option but to come home to Manchester for treatment including chemotherapy and steroids. It was as if my `intruder` had got in again.`

Her physical health problems are serious enough, but some of her symptoms have hit her hard psychologically, too. Not least, the devastating discovery more than ten years ago that she was losing her hair.

`I`d just come back from Nigeria,` she said. `I`d had my hair braided. As I undid the plaits, my hair fell out in clumps.` Weight gain also made Pauline severely depressed. `The disease, and the drugs I had to take meant I put on loads of weight. This affected my self image and self esteem. I visited a psychologist and counsellor, and that helped a lot.`

Pauline also knew that away from her self image issues, weight loss was essential if she was going to get a place on the transplant register. But she did it.
Pauline then....and now....

She spends her four hour dialysis sessions reading, sleeping or watching DVDs. And  when she`s not at the hospital, sometimes works as a film and TV extra `for the social side, as much as anything`.

Though she lives alone, she`s supported  by her mum and other members of her family--including her sister, who runs to raise funds, and a brother whose attempts to donate a kidney of his own to Pauline failed at the test stage.

Socially, she`s single, and dipping her toe in the dating game again..early days, says Pauline but she`s having fun, and making decisions along the way on how much to divulge about her condition. She sees her friends as much as she can, but the need for her to monitor her fluid intake `with military precision` limits the amount of alcohol and soft drinks she can consume on nights out.

And as for the future--well, a holiday ahead in Malta this autumn beckons, and she can`t wait. Further ahead? Well, Pauline knows she`s one of thousands on the transplant list, and ultimately, a new kidney`s what she needs.

`Teaching`s on the back burner,` she said, `But I do want to go back. I`ve got to stay positive, ` she added, `or what`s the point? `


The charity Lupus UK says:

+It`s an incurable immune system illness, probably genetic in origin and mainly suffered by females. It can affect any part of the body, and that`s the danger--principally the kidneys and the skin, also the heart,lungs and brain. The two major symptoms are joint and muscle pain and an extreme tiredness that won`t go away, no matter how much you rest.

+ Rashes, depression, anaemia, feverishness, headaches, possible hair loss and mouth ulcers may all be part of the pattern of lupus.

+Noticeably, whilst the two major symptoms are invariably present, people with lupus can differ greatly in their symptoms and how the illness can affect them--life threatening for a few, very mild for some.

Telephone: 01708 731251



  1. Thanks for sharing my dear sister's story..Through it all Pauline has remained positive and I admire her for that..
    Cheers, Ego Obi

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting...much appreciated! I think Pauline`s an inspiration. I`m so glad to have met her.

  2. Wow what a story to inspire anyone. Miss P is so special and this story has put everyone in the picture. She has the courage of many. She continually raises awareness and offers support to others. Thanks for shining a light on our star........Claudia Jamieson "just like a sister"