Saturday, March 19, 2016

Thoughts at Dialysis

Friday 18 March 2016

It's 6:30 a.m. and I'm just beginning dialysis. It's my second day on my new, permanent shift. I've been coming in early for a couple weeks now, on a day-by-day basis, filling in for a patient who was in the hospital, but now someone has moved and my own time is 6:00-10:15. It's much better than my previous time of 3:45 (originally 4:30) p.m., particularly from a family point of view. Before, I was always missing out on activities (FHE, ward parties, school picnics, dinner with friends, etc.), not to mention having to leave Sunbeam for four and a half hours of her waking time, which was very hard on both of us. Now, she's rarely even awake by the time I get home.

The trade-off, of course, is that I have to wake myself up at 5:30 three times a week, often after four hours of sleep or less, and always drive myself here and back (sometimes with the headache that results from four-plus hours in the chair). Once home, I often sleep for several hours more, which you might argue negates the benefit of being away while Sunbeam sleeps. But I can doze on the couch while she watches Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood beside me, and even my semi-conscious presence is a comfort to her.

Each chair at the Kidney Center has its own TV, and in the nearly-seven months that I've been coming here I've turned mine on maybe twice. I admit, it's a matter of pride as well as taste. I would feel like a total slug if I lay here mesmerized by what one Doctor Who episode labeled “The Idiot's Lantern”. I'm not in the habit of watching TV, since we don't have a package at home (although we stream our favorite shows and watch plenty of movies), and I have little patience for the flood of inanity and sensationalism that is network television.

It doesn't help the impression that many of my neighbors seem to be in a state of dependency. Most of them let the thing squawk as a matter of course, whether they're sleeping, talking, reading, or just staring blankly into space. My left-hand neighbor is currently watching A&E (assuming he's awake -- just kidding, I checked and he's dozing); in the time I've been here it has gone from Good Morning Arklamiss to Duck Dynasty to Dog the Bounty Hunter. The lady on the right has Channel 6 news running, but she's not actually watching it: she's doing word searches. Of the twelve occupied chairs that I can observe, at least seven of them have the TV's running.

Since I am obligated to spend more than 8% of my time here, I try to at least keep my brain engaged. I read, do puzzles, work on my foreign languages, play games of strategy, write, color, chat with family members -- even sleeping is a productive use of time for me when I can manage it, which is not often. My body may have betrayed my youth, but I can assert my vigor through the activity of my mind.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

September Miracles

Hello, fans!  Sorry it's been so long.  Lots of things have changed and I've been putting off explaining it all.

Last I wrote, I was dreading the possibility of having to do emergency hemodialysis through a central line.  Well, shortly thereafter, I began having pain with breathing. After a few days it got pretty acute, so I went to the ER to make sure it wasn't a heart attack or pulmonary embolism or something. They did several tests and concluded that it was probably an esophageal spasm, so they sent me home.

A few days later, the pain was getting really severe, so I went to my primary care doctor.  He prescribed me some steroids -- I don't remember why -- and told me that if the pain got worse I should go straight to the ER. The pain was increasing even as we left his office, so I just asked Jacob to drive right to the hospital.

At the ER, they were having a busy day, so they stuck me in a triage room. The pain continued to increase until I could barely breathe; I was taking very shallow, quick gasps as I wrapped my arms around Jacob's waist and buried my head in his chest. After more than an hour, they finally gave me something for pain, which ended up not doing much. They tried a couple of different things, and the only one that helped at all was fentanyl.

After an EKG, chest x-rays, blood tests, and more, they decided to admit me overnight. My brother kindly made the hour-and-forty-minute drive up to stay with me so that Mr. T could take Sunbeam home to sleep.

One night turned to eight as the doctors struggled to first diagnose my problem, secondly treat it, and thirdly get my pain under control. Various family members came to see me, some staying overnight, and Sunbeam spent two weekends with grandparents (one with each side) so that Mr. T could spend more time with me. My dad gave me a priesthood blessing, in which he mentioned that there were many miracles yet to come for me. I have already seen that coming true, as follows.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


"Set in order your houses; keep slothfulness and uncleanness far from you."
~Doctrine & Covenants 90:18

I have a strange relationship with organization. If you could come to my house, you'd see what I mean; it's a sort of melding of absolute order and absolute chaos. Granted, a lot of that chaos is created by another member of the family, but even leaving her messes out of the equation, it's there in the details.

Adult movies, alphabetized, with BluRays separate -- and my shelf of random stuff.
If you asked my parents or siblings if I was an organized person, they would probably find a polite way to say that I'm a pack rat and a slob. Ask my husband or the ward ladies who occasionally come over, or anyone who cleans at my house, and they would probably tell you that I am meticulously organized. And they'd both be right -- partly.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Requesting Prayers This Weekend

I need prayers, folks. On Monday I had my routine monthly blood tests, and on Wednesday a different doctor also took some blood. Today I get semi-panicked phone calls from both offices telling me that I'm highly uremic (there are a lot of toxins in my blood). My nephrologist wants me to do a few sessions of emergency hemodialysis.

"Go for the jugular!"

This is the scar I have from the last time I had emergency hemodialysis.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Nature Calls

"If I knew where you lived, I would send you a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils."  ~NY152 to Shopgirl, in the movie You've Got Mail (1998)

I finished college more than three years ago, and graduated from high school more than twelve years ago, but when school supplies start showing up in the stores, the part of me that's still a kid remembers the excitement of getting all fresh supplies at the beginning of the school year: a new box of crayons, new notebooks, new glue sticks, maybe something like a protractor that demonstrates the new heights of learning that I have attained.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Only the Lonely

There’s one service that I really need, but that people rarely consider, because it’s not the type of thing you sign up for. In fact, if you do it just as “service”, it becomes meaningless; I need company. Not like, “Sister So-and-so is in the nursing home and would be cheered up by visitors,” but like, “Sunshine seems like she would be really interesting if you got to know her. I should call her up and see if we can get together some time.”

Monday, August 3, 2015

Post 5 of 5: The Ultimate Question

The first four questions are ones that I usually get from concerned friends, relatives, and acquaintances who are aware of my condition.  There’s a different question that I occasionally get from acquaintances, but mostly from friendly strangers and sales clerks:  

Are you expecting?

Sometimes phrased as, “You are expecting, aren’t you?” after having made some statement with the unspoken assumption that I was. Once I got, “When are you due?”