After a five day stint in the hospital, I turned my head toward the sound of the television only to see a curtain of thin flowery material shrouding my bed. My sister was in the room talking to me, her husband and mine were commenting on the basketball game blaring from the screen. I couldn't see any of them, but I could see colors, tropical flora, and a pale green background. When the nurse's voice asked me if I was Okay, I sighed and smiled. "I'm hallucinating. We should probably figure out Why."
Being able to see colors and images that I hadn't seen in almost 20 years was kind of fun, but after everything I'd gone through over the previous five days, I knew it wasn't good.
It all actually began two years earlier. When I started having kidney dialysis in July of 2007. The side effects of not having kidneys immediately started piling up. You are limited in your food possibilities because of your body's inability to filter out certain things like potassium, calcium, salt, water, and some vitamins that are dangerous in large quantities. I immediately was restricted from: all dairy products, tomatoes, potatoes, celery, peanut butter, orange juice, or any citrus fruit, starfruit and a myriad of others. The difference in nutrition and hydration is difficult enough, but even when you're compliant your body holds anywhere from 3-5 extra pounds of water that swells your tissues and puts pressure on your nerves. Your skin turns colors, your hair and nails are brittle and thin, and your blood pressure is rising or sinking according to how much water is in your veins. Your heart struggles with the three hour process of taking your blood from your arm, running it through a machine to clean it, and then circulating it back into your body. A tablespoon at a time, by the way.
You're exhausted by the process, your hematacrit, which is the iron in your blood is low, and your body is trying not to destroy itself. You can imagine the medication, doctors, and dietary discipline you must have.
I was on over 13 different medications to balance, sodium, calcium, digestive processes, heart and blood issues and proper nutrition. The side effects of all of this were mind boggling.
One of the worst I dealt with was the problem of my resting heart rate. I'm a small person. five feet, 100 pounds or so. My resting heart rate is higher than a much larger persons would be, but mine was 112. Normal is around 80.
One of the medications I was on slowed my heart rate to a more normal range. Nine months before receiving a kidney transplant, I was being evaluated and my doctors told me to get off this medication. One of its side effects was that it would camouflage the symptoms of low blood sugar. It was doing that. for over a year,my blood sugars would dip down into the 30's before I could tell it was too low. An average person loses consciousness at 24. Needless to say; I'd lost consciousness, turned purple, and been in a semi-comatose state a half dozen times due to this medication.
When I spoke to my dialysis doctors about the medicine, I was assured it was necessary. That is until I ended up hallucinating in the hospital.
The hallucinations were actually due to another medication my cardiologist tried after taking me off the first one. He took me off the first one because...
One morning in July of 2009 I was getting my kids out the door to play with their friends when I lost all feeling on the left side of my body. It started with my hand, moved up my arm and then spread to my mouth, tongue and face. It then traveled down my body until I couldn't stand because I couldn't feel my left leg. I called my doctor who told me I was having a stroke. The doctor's office called an ambulance. I called my husband.
After taking me to the ER, I was checked into the hospital. After about an hour all feeling had returned, I'd had a CAT scan, an MRI and a neurologist assigned to me. They couldn't find anything. I stayed for 24 hours without another 'episode' and my doctor said I should go home. No answers, no explanations, my body was just going to randomly betray me without warning. "Good Luck."
The nurses from dialysis came to my room to dialyze me as I prepared to go home. At the end of the three hour session, my nurse removed the machines and left my room to go get the paper work ready when it happened again. My entire left side was numb. I could feel my face drooping. Even my tongue wouldn't form words. The nurse came back, took one look at my ashen skin, blue lips, and panting breaths before calling an emergency.
We went through all the tests again, and I had two more episodes, one in front of the neurologist before they told me they just didn't know. My brain scans showed no irregular activity, my EEG and EKG were both normal.
Moving me to the cardiac floor, they hooked me up to 'tele' no, not the television. It reads your heart beat and plots its activity.
That night my husband called my mom and told her the doctors suspected I was having a series of mini-strokes but it was impossible to tell. All the episodes of low blood sugar had caused blank spots on my brain, scar tissue from mini-strokes caused when I would pass out from the low sugar levels.
As I fell asleep that night, I had a long heart to heart talk with God. He and I have had a deal ever since I lost my Dad. I would die when I was good and ready. He wasn't taking me one second sooner.
Does it sound like a spoiled, impertinent, child? That's because I was.
That night as My Father-in-Heaven and I spoke, I told him I was sorry. My life didn't belong to me, it belonged to Him. I relinquished my will to live in exchange for a mustard seed of trust. "Do what is best, I will stop fighting," I told Him.
I drifted off that night never expecting to awaken.
Imagine my surprise when the morning dawned, and I was still breathing.The nurses bustled around my room, asking if I wanted a shower. If I was ready for breakfast, and if they could do anything for me. I took my blood sugar and it was around 50 so my nurse brought me a cup of juice. As I drank it and chatted with her, we heard an alarm start blaring throughout the hallways on the cardiac floor. "Code Blue...Code Blue..."
I knew what Code Blue meant, someone was having a "Cardiac event", never good.
Suddenly the door to my room was thrust open and three male nurses burst into my room. They stopped in their tracks, staring at my nurse and I.
"You're awake," one of then said, blinking. "And your sitting up?"
Nodding at him I'm sure I looked utterly confused.
"You should be having a heart attack. Your heart just stopped beating for 10 seconds."
As I felt the numbness swarm over my body again, it all made sense to me.
My cardiologist took me off the medication to slow my resting heart rate. It was causing my heart to stop completely. For the next three days we tried different drugs to solve the problem, but in the end...
The gift of my brother's kidney saved my life. Kidney transplant services will tell you a kidney transplant is not a life saving procedure. People live for years, even decades on dialysis. I was not going to be one of those people though.
After I relinquished my will to God that fateful night, I have never looked back. I am nothing, He knows what's best.I got the chance to understand that great principal without losing more than a little feeling in my left side, freaking out my family, and seeing some really pretty colors.
That's what I call a happy ending.God always provides those. One of my favorite quotes is: "It will all work out in the end. If it hasn't worked out yet, then its not the end."
Stepping away from God when you don't like his way is like destroying a masterpiece because you can't find the right frame. He hasn't abandoned you, it's just not the end. This life, this world, this time is only going to last a moment. It might be a painful moment. It might be the moment when your masterpiece just looks like a splash of paint, but its not the end. Light will return. Peace can fill your heart if you let it in, and a blind lady will see.