Today is Word Kidney Day. I’ve thought a lot about making this post and what exactly I want to say in it. Obviously this is a topic that is quite personal. Yesterday was my 9 month kidney transplant anniversary.
Being that it is quite an emotional topic still, I want to say the following and leave you with a story.
Be an organ donor. Please. Find out how here.
The rest of this post is another blog I wrote about a month after my kidneys failed. The photo is of me in the hospital. I’ve come a long way from that night.
SO, MY KIDNEYS STOPPED WORKING…
Posted on November 8, 2015 by Kiwi
I swear, I thought I just had the flu.
I had been “flu-like” for about a week. Granted, I hadn’t been feeling “good” for about a month. And YES, I knew I had Kidney Disease going in to it… but I didn’t really show any of the symptoms of the dreaded Renal Failure they kept warning me about. My blood pressure was great. I wasn’t puffing up. My skin wasn’t turning yellow. Good lord, I have been dealing with vomiting issues my entire life… this was no different.
Except it was. I went to the walk-in clinic on a Friday. I got my anti-nausea medicine and went on my way. Saturday came… I wasn’t feeling better. In fact, I started feeling worse. By 8pm on Sunday night, I was laying on my bathroom floor, still unable to eat or drink anything. I could feel the dehydration setting in. Semi-begrudgingly, I stumbled out of my apartment and to my car to take myself to the ER where, I assumed, I would get an IV of saline and stronger flu meds.
Cue fate laughing at me.
I made it to the hospital fine, but I could feel myself getting worse. I started trembling and walking even a few feet was EXHAUSTING to say the least. Seriously, I had to stop and rest halfway between the parking lot and the ER door. Still, I was convinced it was just a bad case of flu.
Once inside the ER, I was subjected to the standard treatment. Paperwork, triage, waiting, xray, more waiting, finally getting a room, bloodwork, even more waiting. I had a hunky nurse, which made the waiting MUCH easier. They started monitoring my blood pressure, gave me some fluid and more anti nausea meds, and yet I still wasn’t really feeling better.
About three hours in to my ER adventure, a (very calm and sympathetic) doctor came in to my room. She started asking a bunch of questions.
“Have you lost a bunch of weigh recently?
Well… yeah, but it’s been a stressful few months with graduating from college and a stubborn job market. I haven’t been very hungry lately.
“Any skin complaints?”
Well… I guess… I have been itchy lately, but my skin has been really dry lately too.
“Have you been craving ‘non-food things’?”
Is ice a non food thing? I have loved chomping on ice nonstop for the past while.
“How has your energy level been?”
Low, I guess. I’ve been really tired. That’s pretty normal for me though.
She nodded, and very calmly said,
“Sweetie, you’re in kidney failure. Your creatinine (blood waste – normally removed by fully functioning, well behaved kidneys) is really high and your hemoglobin is really low. You need to get to the ICU and get a blood transfusion.”
Say what now? ICU? Blood Transfusion? This doesn’t sound like the flu. In fact, this is starting to sound pretty bad.
Sympathetic Doctor Lady and Hunky Male Nurse start assuring me I’m in good hands and they begin moving the equipment and IV bags around to better fit in another bag of liquid. I, meanwhile, proceed to have a panic attack. Sedatives are ordered to take the edge off.
As we’re waiting to get a spot in the ICU, it is explained to me that hemoglobin is essentially the thing in your red blood cells that carry oxygen. A normal level for someone my age is 12-15. I was at 2.9. Basically, my red blood cells were shredded shells of their former selves – just going through the motions and not really doing anything useful in my body.
“Who drove you here?” Sympathetic Doctor Lady inquired. “We can make sure they know what ICU room you end up in.”
“I.. uh… drove myself.”
“You’re kidding.” Her eyes widened. “You shouldn’t have been able to walk, let alone drive.”
Lucky me. Well, if I have to end up in renal failure, might as well have some fireworks, eh?
We finally got in to the ICU as the sedatives kicked in to gear. As I was drifting off to sleep, a team of nurses and technicians appeared at my bedside with more paperwork. It was more paperwork, this time to get me started on emergency dialysis. I could refuse… but then I would die. Easy choice. I signed the papers, surprised all of them by getting out of bed to use the restroom in a triumphant attempt to prove I didn’t need a catheter, demanded more sedatives before they stuck the tubes in my neck, and fell back asleep.
When I awoke a few hours later, I had two tubes coming out of the side of my neck. They were wrapped in gauze and looked like a giant Frankenstein bolt. How very Haloween-y. I had 3 bags of blood pumped back in to me (I think). My phone battery was dead. I no longer felt like vomiting every 5 mintues. And, I now faced life as a dialysis patient. Needless to say, it changed many future plans.
I spent 11 days in the hospital as we tried to work out all the medical and insurance stuff. I’m essentially OK now, at least as OK as one can be when on dialysis. Bumps in the road are to be expected, and I’ve had a few already. I’ve got a long road ahead, but it’s still better than the alternative.
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