Former Carterton mayor and Wairarapa MP on road to recovery

 

By Chelsea Boyle

chelsea.boyle@age.co.nz

Former Wairarapa MP and Carterton mayor Georgina Beyer has had her kidney transplant and is determined to go home as soon as possible.

The world’s first openly transsexual mayor was first diagnosed with chronic end-stage renal failure during Easter 2013, and almost exactly four years later she is officially out of renal failure.

The transplant was supposed to take place in late March but was postponed at the last minute, a scenario Ms Beyer described as a “nightmare” that left her “devastated”.

She had built herself up for that surgery and “suddenly it was whipped away”.

But earlier this month both Ms Beyer and her donor Grant Pittams came through the rescheduled surgeries well.

She said she had “textbook perfect” results and Mr Pittams has been able to return home to Carterton.

“Grant is very happy to be back home, and recovering well,” Ms Beyer said.

“He’s ticking all the boxes too. His one kidney has picked up the work of the two, very well and very quickly.”

Ms Beyer said following the surgery she was very sore but she was getting better every day.

She was meant to stay in Auckland for another month but her support person had a family emergency and could not stay with her.

“I can’t cope entirely by myself right now, but that’s why I am going back to Wellington.

“I do not want to be up here for a month while I am by myself.”

She said she had to be careful, and the post-operative care still ahead was “very grueling”.

“I’m pretty vulnerable to infection right now and will be for a long time.”

The risks she now faced, which included an increased chance of getting diabetes and cancer, were “daunting”.

“The amount of medication I have to take, and a lot of it I will have to continue for the rest of my life, is just off the planet frankly.”

The side effects of her medication had included incredible mood swings.

She had also struggled with the sense of “disempowerment” that came with being so vulnerable.

“I am simply not used to that,” she said.

“I have been taking care of myself all my life, but at this particular juncture I am a little bit vulnerable and it’s common.

“I tend to forget this is incredibly major surgery. It’s not a procedure people whip in and out for.

“In order for it to be a success I have to let go of some control and capitulate to what they require to take care.”

Recalling the surgery, she said the night following had been bizarre.

“Well I had to spend my first night in the high dependency unit and that was a bizarre experience.”

She was in a large room being intensively supervised by one nurse who sat at the head of her bed the entire night monitoring her condition.

The experience was a massive transition, as her body is adapting to being off dialysis.

“It is a real journey,” she said.

“I usually know where I am going, but on this particular journey I am running a bit blind.”

 

‘I love Wairarapa dearly’

Former Carterton Mayor Georgina Beyer is adamant she is returning to Wellington while she recovers from surgery, but in the long-term she says she would love to return to Wairarapa and one day perhaps to politics.

“I have never really wanted to leave the Wairarapa or be away from it,” she said.

“I love it dearly, and I will end my days there, that’s for sure.”

With the looming possibility of amalgamation, she feels she still might have a part to play.

Under the current proposal from the Local Government Commission there would be a new Wairarapa Committee on the Greater

Wellington Regional Council to strengthen Wairarapa’s input into regional council issues.

Ms Beyer said that was an opportunity for Wairarapa to impose itself on the regional council the way it would like to, while still getting the benefit of being part of a much larger population.

She could return to local politics.

“I wouldn’t mind getting back in there because I don’t think our work is quite finished over there yet. I still have quite a passion for it.”

She said she hadn’t done “too bad” in her leadership roles in the region, saying electors “know darn well my history”.