Following the stroke, they were going to send me home on Friday less than a week after the stroke but decided to do more tests on the following Monday. That's when they found I had polycystic kidneys, which I'd never heard of. Dad had only been diagnosed shortly before he died, and since his children seemed OK to them, they didn't bother to tell me. I've told my children, both have been diagnosed with PKD and are making choices consistent with that.

A doctor came and told me the news. Lying in my hospital bed, I was not very good at comprehending the new information. What I heard was I'd probably die within a year. It was weeks or even months later when I mentioned it to my wife. She was perplexed. Finally, she understood that I'd got the wrong facts and explained that the doctor had said my kidney probably wouldn't last a year. Even then he grossly underestimated - I didn't have my first dialysis for 5.5 years and long-term dialysis for another 6 months.

In this case, the doctor gave me the right information, but as a typically over-busy registrar, didn't have the one thing I needed - time. My wife had already called an ambulance, and this was her second major time of help. That's the second lesson - understanding our issues takes time - something most doctors don't tend to have.