Medical Emergencies and Multiple Hospitals

*apologies, this was written Thursday Morning but I’m just getting around to posting it. I will update more later*

Here I am again dear readers. Unfortunately, events like this seem to be the only time I’m able to find enough free time to write. I’m sitting here in the floor, back against the wall, in a hospital room listening to my father and my boyfriend snore.

Life is a complicated animal. Much has happened, as is the case for everyone. But over the last few weeks, it’s been crazy. My grandmother went in the hospital for not being able to breathe. It went from her having a goiter on her windpipe and artery to her also having a very aggressive form of thyroid cancer. While trying to get everything scheduled for her to start radiation at Emory, my mom has also been trying to take care of my father.

Renal failure, diabetes, eye issues, neuropathy (to the point of not being able to feel in his hands and feet), and balance issues are just a few of the lovely things my father faces every day. It’s a constant battle. But, it gets better. Yesterday morning while my mom was getting ready to take my father to dialysis, he fell and broke his ankle. Pretty severely. It was also my mom’s birthday. And her mother was in the hospital due to severe fluid retention that turned out to be a blood clot in her leg.

Today, they managed to get my grandmother released from our local hospital but only to take her to Emory in Atlanta to begin her first day of radiation treatment. My dad is supposed to have surgery on his ankle today. My poor mom can’t be in both places. So I took the day off work to come watch over my dad.

It’s so hard to see him like this. Restless, in pain, and a shadow of his formal self. But this is life. It happens to all of us who are here long enough. And I know he hates for me to see him like this. But I guess we all come to a point where we have to bite our pride and accept the help of those who love us, regardless of the situation. So, while my mom drives to Atl with her sister-in-law and my grandmother, I am sitting here doing research for the coming days after surgery.

Planning to add a ramp to the stairs at my parents’ house. Looking up trailer hitch receivers and cargo trays for my mom’s car to carry a wheel chair for my dad and/or my grandmother. Planning food prep menus to help my parents when they’re exhausted but still need to follow dad’s dietary restrictions.

So many things to do. So little time. The curse of my life.

In these situations, with a loved one who’s health is chronically failing, it’s difficult to explain. People always ask me how he’s doing. It’s hard to say, isn’t it? It’s not like chemo, there is no fight and then remission. The only thing that helps renal failure is a transplant. And what can you tell someone then? He’s hanging in there waiting for  someone with a good kidney and pancreas to pass so he can have them? That, by the way, is not something people want to hear. It’s the truth, but people do not want the truth. Not the whole, unaltered truth that makes them uncomfortable. So I tell people the truest thing I can. He’s still here.

And for now, that’s all that matters.


 

” ‘ Some people don’t understand the promises they’re making when they make them.’ I said. ‘Right, of course. But you keep the promise anyway. That’s what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway.’ ” – John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

“He admired my melancholy madness and said that it was graceful and beautiful. But it was neither of those things. I was a hurricane at the centre of a collapsing, burning, building; and I wasn’t someone to be admired at all.”

“Even if you know what’s coming, you ‘re never prepared for how it feels.” – Natalie Standiford

“You wake up every night to fight the same demons that left you so tired the night before, and that, my love, is bravery.” – unknown

“Well it breaks my heart to see you this way, The beauty in life where’s it gone? And somebody told me you were doing ok, somehow I guess they were wrong.” Flogging Molly “Whistles the wind”

“Don’t ever think you’re alone here, We’ve just been trapped in different hells, and people aren’t against you dear, they’re just all for themselves.” – e.h.

“May we exist like the lotus, at ease in muddy water.” – Zen proverb

“Keep your chin up little stargazer, At worlds above your own, You are small but you are stardust, And that’s worth more than you’ve known, For every sun and solar flare, Is made up just like you, And if they’re cause for wonder Then I promise you are too. Look out little stargazer ‘Til nothing’s left unseen, And know there’s not a patch of sky Where no one else’s eyes have been, That the darkness that enfolds you Holds countless other starlit hearts, And with this you stand together Though you live lifetimes apart. Be brave now little stargazer The sky is growing light, And courage wanes like moonbeams When it’s pulled out from the night, But like those who gazed before you; Know when your heart is full of fear, That it is always in your darkness That the stars start to appear.” -e.h.

“we mature with the damage, not with the years.” – Mateus William

“Enjoy every sandwich” – Warren Zevon

“I abide my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this is also a chasing at the wind. For in much wisdom is much grief. And he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow.” – Assassin’s Creed

“Empedocles claims that, in utero, our backbone is one long solid; and that through the constriction of the womb and the punishment of birth, it must be snapped again and again and again to form our verterbrae; that for the child to have a spine, it’s back must first be broken.” – The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation M.T. Anderson

“She looks back out the window and as the light slides along her profile, I think I see sadness. And I wonder if she’s sad that I’m so weak and so afraid when she’s always been so strong.” – The Forest of Hands and Teeth

“If I leave you it doesn’t mean I love you any less.” – Warren Zevon “Keep me in your heart.”

“Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim.” – Tyler Knott Gregson

“Take the night and darken everything around me, Call the clouds, and listen closely, I’m lost without you. Call your name everyday, when I feel so helpless, I’m fallen down but I’ll rise above this.” – Seether “Rise above this”

“We live in grim times indeed if even children are too world weary to believe in magic.” – Fable

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” – C.S. Lewis

“She’s all laid up in bed with a broken heart, while I’m drinking Jack all alone in a local bar. And we don’t know how, how we got into this mad situation, only doing things out of frustration, trying to make it work but man these times are hard.” – The Script “For the First Time”

“Mama whispered softly, time will ease your pain. Life’s about changing, nothing ever stays the same.” – Patty Loveless

“Life asked Death, ‘Why do people love me but hate you?’ Death responded, ‘ Because you are a beautiful lie, and I am a painful truth.’ ”

“But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out all the clearer.” – Samwise Gamgee “LOTR: The Two Towers” – J.R.R. Tolkien

“These are hard times. The world hurts. We live in fear and forget to walk with hope. But hope has not forgotten you. So ask it to dinner. It’s probably hungry and would appreciate the invitation.” – Libba Bray “Going Bovine”

“It’s not hard to do. It’s just not easy yet.” – Monte  Selby

“Life is a grindstone, and whether it grinds a man down or polishes him up depends on the stuff he’s made of.” – J. Billings

” ‘Sometimes,’ he said while gripping the fabric of his own pant leg, “You run out of tears long before you run out of hurt.’ ” – Tyler Knott Gregson

“Listen to the musn’ts child, listen to the don’ts , listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me – anything can happen child, anything can be.” – Shel Silverstein

“I clutch my pillow to my chest and bury my face in it. I don’t cry. I just ache. Grief is not as heavy as guilt, but it takes more away from you.” – “Allegiant” Veronica Roth

“Needles and pins, needles and pins, sew me a sail, to catch me the wind. Sew me a sail, strong as a gale, carpenter bring out your, hammers and nails. Hammers and nails, hammers and nails, build me a boat, to go chasing the whales. Chasing the whales, sailing the blue, find me a captain, and sign me a crew. Captain and crew, captain and crew, take me oh take me, to anywhere new.” – Shel Silverstein

“She taught me all about real sacrifice. That it should be done from love… That it should be done from necessity, not without exhausting all other options. That it should be done for people who need your strength because they don’t have enough of their own.” – Veronica Roth Insurgent

“A nurse guy came in and told me I had to leave, that visitors weren’t allowed, and I asked if she was doing okay, and the guy said, “She’s still taking on water.” A desert blessing, an ocean curse. ” – John Green The Fault In Our Stars

“We all carry things inside us that no one else can see. They weigh us down like anchors, they drown us out at sea.” – Chelsea Smile Bring me the Horizion

 

Just An Update.

Well, it’s been a while, and life has gotten complicated…

Dad’s been doing ok on hemo dialysis as far as I know. At least, until about 3 weeks ago. He didn’t really have any nausea when he first started hemo, but it started kicking in intermittently after his sessions. About three weeks ago, it started being constant. He hasn’t really been able to eat anything due to it.

Yesterday, he had a minor eye surgery. A while back, he had an oil bubble put in his eye to help reattach his retina. The surgery yesterday was to remove it, because his retina has completely reattached. He wasn’t looking forward to it because he remembered waking up as they made the first incision in the first surgery. Yesterday was the same.

After he got home, he started getting really sick and throwing up uncontrollably. Because he hasn’t been able to keep much food down, he’s mostly dry heaving. My mom rushed him to our local ER (who won’t normally even speak to dialysis patients) and the doctors wouldn’t really listen when he tried to tell them this has been an ongoing problem for a few weeks. They told him that it was simply post-op anxiety. His oxygen level was also constantly fluctuating between 98 and 78. My mom said the machine beeped every time it dropped, and beeped so much that it finally shut itself off. No nurses ever came to check on it or him, which tells you something about the hospital in our town.

My mom called his regular dr who prescribed another anti-nausea med and an anti-anxiety med to help him sleep. After a few more episodes of dry heaving, he finally got to sleep last night. He had to be back at the eye dr this morning for a check up. They didn’t see anything wrong with his eye from the surgery. He was supposed to go to dialysis today as well, but was so sick that he didn’t go.

My mom received a phone call later in the day from a very concerned dialysis tech. Over the past two weeks, his hemoglobin levels have dropped from a 10.2 to 8.2. Now, anemia is very common for dialysis patients from what I understand. The kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO) which helps tell your bone marrow to make red blood cells. This helps keep you well oxygenated. He has been on a specialized Iron supplement since he started dialysis, as well as being given EPO shots as needed. Even with the EPO, his hemoglobin has dropped significantly over the last two weeks.

The tech wants my mom to take him to the hospital the next town over (where he’s spent much of his time, as well as had his surgeries done) and have blood tests ran immediately. I’m hoping that she will convince him to go in the morning and that they will be able to figure out what the problem is.  I’m hoping that his hemoglobin levels being low is the cause of his sudden severe nausea and the returned shortness of breath. It would also explain the drop in oxygen levels, I would think.

I have read that in addition to the EPO, a blood transfusion may be required. Unfortunately, he had to have two when they created his fistula. The problem with this is that his blood type is kind of rare. He is B-. Only 2% of the population is B-, according to the Red Cross. Not to mention, they told us last time that he has some rare antigens. They were also cautious about the blood they gave him because he is diabetic and on dialysis. I am very worried for the future…

On the plus side, Honey and I got approved to buy a house, so on top of all this, we are trying to look at houses after work. Too bad it starts getting dark about the time I get off work.

Be well, dear readers. May the new year bring you more joy than the previous.

We’re All Mad Here.

Pretty sure I’m fighting off some serious depression. I mean, things aren’t nearly as bad as they could be but I honestly think it’s a result of feeling like we are taking one step forward and three steps back. Good news of the day: Dad should be able to start using his fistula Monday. The graft seems to be working. The bad news: One of the incisions from the surgery to (put in, originally) take out his PD catheter seems to be getting infected again… So the Doc immediately prescribed him Bactrim. Again. Hopefully this time it works. The last thing he, or his spirit, needs right now is another hospital stay…

I just want to feel like we are actually moving forwards for once. No more back sliding, no side stepping, just forward momentum. I don’t even really care how slowly it goes, as long as it doesn’t go backwards. I just want him to genuinely feel better, my mom to not feel so stressed, and things to start smoothing out to what will become our new normal.

Right now though, this house is about as far from normal as it gets. My dad is on dialysis (and we are adjusting to Hemo from PD), he’s also diabetic, my mom is in denial and works swing shifts, my brother and his wife (now, long story) still live here (still following Mom’s rule of her sleeping in the spare room, him on the living room couch), and I still live here. It’s over crowded to say the least and personalities and such are clashing like you would not believe. All I want is a small piece of land and a tiny house. A sanctuary in the woods that Honey and I can call home, and a life that is my own. But these days, even that seems too much to ask for.

So, I am trying for now to have a new outlook on things. I am trying to let go of any anger or grudges, realizing that there is pain underneath. I have been trying to come to terms with the fact that while someone hurts us and it stays with us, they do not always realize that they wounded us as deeply as they did. So I am trying to forgive because really, forgiveness has more to do with me than them. It takes all my time and energy, especially if they don’t feel or know that they did anything wrong.

“Don’t feel bad if people only remember you when they need you. Feel privileged that you are like a candle that comes to their mind when there is darkness.”

“She needs to have a few drinks and cry a little – then she’ll be perfect.” – Tom Ford

“Expecting a trouble-free life because you are a good person is like expecting the bull not to charge you because you are a vegetarian.” – Jeffery R. Holland

“I’m not interested in competing with anyone. I hope we all make it.” – Erica Cook

“I have looked at you in millions of ways and I have loved you in each.”

“A lot of problems in the world would disappear if we talked to each other instead of talk about each other.”

“Show respect even to people who don’t deserve it; not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours.” – Dave Willis

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” – C.S. Lewis

“I wear this crown of thorns upon my liar’s chair, full of broken thoughts I cannot repair. Beneath the stains of time, the feelings disappear. You are someone else, I am still right here. What have I become, my sweetest friend? Everyone I know goes away in the end. And you could have it all, my empire of dirt. I will let you down, I will make you hurt.” – Hurt, Johnny Cash

“You take the breath right out of me, and left a hole where my heart should be.” – Breath  Breaking Benjamin

“Yeah, I could use a dream or a genie or a wish to go back to a time much simpler than this.” Airplanes,  B.O.B.

“She’s all laid up in bed with a broken heart, while I’m drinking Jack all alone in the local bar. And we don’t know how, how we got into this mad situation, only doing things out of frustration, trying to make it work but man these times are hard.” – For the First Time The Script

“Meet me out past the train tracks, I’m leaving and not coming back. You were right and I was wrong, this town will be the downfall of us all.” The Downfall of Us All A Day to Remember

“I abide my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly. I perceive that this also was a chasing at the wind. For in much wisdom, is much grief. And he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow.” – Assassin’s Creed

“None of us find as much kindness in this life as we should.” Memoirs of a Geisha

Fluster Cuck.

Because there’s really not another way to describe how the past month has been. Dad is out of the hospital. He had a vascular access put in under his right collar bone (temporary, and on his non-dominant side), which irritates him slightly because that collar bone was busted up in his wreck ten years ago. They also made the fistula in his right arm while he was in surgery. It’s supposed to go on your non-dominant forearm. However, his veins have a tendency to run or roll (I just picture a little vein jumping out of reach of the needle going “Please no! Not again! I’m scared of needles!” lol) so they put it in his upper right arm. 

Honey and I were at the hospital the day he got out of surgery ( a few hours later). A nurse came to check for the blood flow and couldn’t hear or feel it. They called the surgeon in who also couldn’t hear or feel it. They weren’t really worried about it at the time because of the staph infection. However, he went back two weeks  ago for an ultra sound and it was determined that there is a slight clot in the fistula. They scheduled him for surgery this past Thursday. He went back and they put in a graft to take the place of the vein. He has to go back in a few weeks. Fingers crossed that all goes well. 

He went to a foot doctor too and also found out that when he had his motorcycle wreck 10 years ago, the hospital ER only xrayed his leg above the ankle. They found his shattered leg, sent him to emergency surgery, put a rod in it and wrapped it in a cast. His foot bones were also shattered. So that means his foot wasn’t fixed and was then put into a cast. So all the bones are pretty much one solid mass. They don’t know how he’s been walking for the past ten years and they don’t know what to do about it. They don’t really want to do surgery if they don’t know it will fix it. So they ordered him special shoes to help.

I feel so bad for him. It seems to just be one thing after another and I know he’s tired…

 

On to quotes.

“and there were always those nights where she preferred the rain over people. because the rain would remind her of how she should feel and people would remind her of the things she always wanted to forget.’ – r.m. drake

“to me, you’ll always be thunderstorms and cloudy night skies, the reasons why the moons glow and the suns rise.” – tyler kent white

“I was your cure, and you were my disease. I was saving you, but you were killing me.”

“You can’t change what you refuse to confront.”

“Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.” – Elizabeth Elliot

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” – Pema Chodron

” I cannot tell you any spiritual truth that deep within you don’t know already. All I can do is remind you of what you have forgotten.” – Eckhart Tolle

“People too often forget that it is your own choice how you want to spend the rest of your life.”

“I’ll throw my voice into the stars and maybe the echo of my words will be written for you in the clouds by sunrise. All I am trying to say is: I will love you through the darkness.”  – Christopher Poindexter

“Normality is a paved road: it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

“Everybody does not have to like you. That is not their job. Liking you is not anyone’s purpose in life except yours.” – Iuanla Vanzant

“Some people cross your path and change your whole direction.”

“The soul usually knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the  mind.”

“Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind.” – David G. Allen

“because if you can keep hope alive, it will keep you alive.”

“but in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer.” – Samwise Gamgee LOTR: the Two Towers

“People have a habit of inventing fictions they will believe wholeheartedly in order to ignore the truth they cannot accept.” – Libba Bray, The Sweet Far Thing

“In each of us lie good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice. We’re each of us our own chiaroscuro, our own bit of illusion fighting to emerge into something solid, something real. We’ve got to forgive ourselves that. I must remember to forgive myself. Because there is a lot of grey to work with. No one can live in the light all the time.” – Libba Bray

“We all do things we desperately wish we could undo. Those regrets just become part of who we are, along with everything else. To spend time trying to change that, well, it’s like chasing clouds.” – Libba Bray

“Sometimes we sweek that which we are not yet ready to find.” Libba Bray, Rebel Souls

“These are hard times. The world hurts. We live in fear and forget to walk with hope. But hope has not forgotten you. So ask it to dinner. It’s probably hungry and would appreciate the invitation.” – Libba Bray, Going Bovine

 

Just a quick update.

So last week they delivered the initial supply of Dad’s dialysis solution. When I came home from work, Mom was sitting in the recliner, chin in hand, just staring at it. It was so much more overwhelming than we had originally thought.  This picture is the shipment sitting in our living room floor. It is literally all the floor space in our living room. 

51 boxes of solution, some for the machine, some for the manual pole system. So, as my Mom sat there overwhelmed, I started a list to see how many of which boxes we have. The tape denotes the concentration amount of the fluid. After I made my list, I started cleaning out the closet and wardrobe in our spare room. There are 23 boxes in their bed room, and the rest in the spare room, sorted by color and system. I don’t now how people do this at home if they live in something like a small apartment. I guess that’s just part of the home dialysis they don’t tell you.Image  

We went Saturday to all the surgical and medical suppliers around us and unfortunately none have any sort of home dialysis accessories. We were looking for a belt for dad because the tape is starting to bug him and it’s not supporting the transfer tube well enough. It’s putting a lot of pressure on the exit site and causing him some pain.  

Honey and I also went to his niece’s third birthday party. It was cute. She got a bike and was super excited about it. 🙂

My brother and his girlfriend came up Saturday because my Mom’s family had a Thanksgiving dinner. It was good to see and talk to them again. This was also the first time that he’s been home since Dad started his dialysis. I’m not sure how he is taking it but other than seeing what shape my Dad is really in, we tried to kind of shield him from it. That and I’m not sure how much Dad wanted him to see. Thankfully they came up after he had done his transfer and were gone to the store when he decided to drain the fluid. 

Dad has also decided to file for his disability. He has decided that trying to work and do his dialysis is taking too much out of him. He hates the fact that it will leave my Mom as the only two of them working, but after three years of feeling terrible, he just can’t justify doing both anymore. He says that he feels better, healthier, but that his energy is still slim to none. He’s hoping that as the dialysis helps regulate his system and take stress of his kidneys that his energy will return. We all do. 

He’s already not sure that he made the right decision. I hope that he did. They gave him his training session on the machine today and sent him home with one. I am hoping that it will make him feel even better than doing the manual. He’s so ready to just give up that I am afraid he’s not going to give it the time it needs to actually start helping.

On a side note, Thanksgiving was good. There was a ton of food (like always) and some family members we haven’t seen in a while. My cousin and her husband were in from the Galapagos before they head off to New Zealand to see his family. They should be back for Christmas and to have their baby. 🙂

 

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while and I’ve lost some of the feelings that I wanted to write about but the craziness of trying to get everything around here adjusted. I apologize if these posts get a little sporadic.

Scary Words for a Scary Season.

So, as we all know, Halloween is approaching. Yay! No, seriously, Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday. Honey is going to be Rorschach and I am going to be a female version of The Comedian. We have a party Saturday so I’m hoping I will have all of mine ready by then. But that isn’t what this blog is about.

For those of you who read my first post, you know that I mentioned there are things, both good and bad, going on in my life right now and that this year has been a long journey that is no where near over. This blog is going to tell you a little about that.

My father is one of the most important people in my life. Both my parents are. My dad has been a Type 2 Diabetic since his late twenties. When I was younger, my parents owned a very well off business that allowed for all the doctor’s visits and medicines he needs. More recently, both my parents have been victims of the economic crash. Our house was foreclosed on, both my parents were laid off at the same time, for several months. They have since both found jobs. My dad has been at his for quite a while, and December of last year, my mom finally convinced him to opt in to his company insurance. His health had been declining and she knew he needed to see a doctor.

This is nothing less than a miracle to me and couldn’t have come at a better time. His policy went effective January 1st. He went to the emergency room barely a week after at about three in the morning. I remember because my mom woke me up, tears in her eyes, so upset she was barely able to breath. She told me she was taking dad to the E.R. because he was having problems walking and breathing. He was in there for almost a week. They ran test after test. Ekgs, x-rays, CAT scans, MRI’s. You name it, they probably did it. 

It was determined that he had a fluid build up that was causing almost every part of his body to swell, from his feet all the way up to his chest. He had fluid around his heart and lungs, and some in his lungs. The thing that worried the doctors is that they weren’t sure what was causing the fluid to build. They put him on a medicine called Lasik that helps keep the fluid down, but caused him to have to pee “every 5 minutes” according to my dad. They finally sent him home after they got the swelling down. 

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end. They gave him some meds, but within the next week and a half, he was back in the ER again, The fluid had built back up. Let me say that it basically made his ankles swell so bad that he walked with a hitch in his giddy-up because he physically could not bend his ankles. It was even difficult for him to bend his knees. Sleeping just wasn’t happening because whenever he laid down, the fluid in and around his lungs put pressure on his breathing and made him feel like he was drowning. 

He was in the hospital for about another week, and we haven’t even made it out of January. While he was in this time, one of the doctors formed an idea. I am not joking when I say they literally had a team of doctors trying to figure out the problem. They called him their “mystery” patient. Which didn’t really give us peace of mind. But, one of the doctors finally decided that the only thing he could think of would be the kidneys. He wanted to do a biopsy. After mulling it around a little, and learning that a biopsy now doesn’t mean going under the knife, my dad agreed.

Let me explain how they did his kidney biopsy. They basically numb you around one or both of your kidneys with a local anesthetic. Then they take a really long needle with a hole in the side, go in to your kidney, and use a special part of the needle that causes a piece to of your kidney to be cut off and stay in the hole in the needle. Then they pull it out and send it off for a biopsy. 

The doc wanted to send it to South Carolina (to a medical lab) because even though it would take longer, he trusted their results more than having it sent to Atlanta. It was several weeks before we heard back, and when we did, the news was not good.

The news was that my dad is a victim Chronic Kidney Disease.

After that news, it has been a whirlwind of learning and testing. Of course, as soon as I heard, I jumped on the internet and immediately turned my brain into a sponge, soaking up anything and everything I could find about Kidney disease, kidney failure, dialysis, and anything even remotely related to it. 

There are five stages of Kidney disease, and the stage you are in depends on how much your kidneys are filtering. My dad was determined to be between stages two and three, which basically means they were filtering somewhere around the 60% mark. We were told that with a change in diet and proper medicine, that the process of failure may be slowed. 

We immediately made changes to our diet (as a family) and eating habits. We starting trying to help him exercise as much as we could. They changed his insulin, they added blood pressure medicine, gave him a prescription for Lasik to keep the fluid down, and a handful of more prescriptions for various things. They also gave him Lyrica. Now, I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials about how Lyrica is a drug to help calm pain from overactive nerves in diabetics. My dad was in a bad car wreck years ago that crushed the bones in his right leg. He has a steel rod from his knee to his ankle, so that leg has been the worst with all the swelling and causing him constant pain. 

I am here to tell you that the Lasic and Lyrica have been wonder drugs for my father. The Lyrica started relieving the pain almost immediately. The Lasic keeps the fluid down. However, both are very expensive, even with insurance. And with all the bills and my parents both working for little over minimum wage, sometimes he tries to stretch them out and go without for a day or two to make the prescriptions last longer. Such is the way in a lower class family… If you didn’t think so, I’m here to tell you different. 

In July, he went back for another major test. And the panic set it. His kidney failure is now marked around the 3 to 4 level, which means about a 30% function. Level 4 is anywhere from 15-29% and is usually where they start Dialysis. That brought a sense of fear and tension into our house. That is a word we had hoped to avoid hearing for at least another year. But alas, it was not meant to be. 

Along with this, I have learned a lot about Dialysis, how your kidneys function, the difference between peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis, home dialysis vs clinical dialysis, and more. There was a sense of fear in our house because we had a period where we were not sure that my dad would accept dialysis as an option. I mean, it’s not like we could force him. They also had some friends on dialysis a long time ago, and were worried that he would lose the rest of what little kidney function he did have if he went on dialysis. But it’s a lot different now, and dialysis works with the kidneys now, rather than instead of them. And after talking to some people at the dialysis center, he learned that the people on dialysis feel ten times better than they did before dialysis because it gets their body back close to normal. So he is much more comfortable with his decision to go on dialysis now.

And we are grateful for that. Goodness knows my mom is already taking it hard. I can tell she doesn’t know how to handle all of this. Now a days, if she has an off day and dad is working, she goes to see my brother to get out of town and away from everything. She unintentionally leans on me a little much to do things like supper and such, but I do it anyways because they are my parents and they need me. 

Anyways, my dad decided on Peritoneal Dialysis. That is, home dialysis. They will go in and insert a catheter into the peritoneal cavity (abdomen), it will have to heal for 6 weeks, and then he can start dialysis. There are two types of peritoneal. One that requires changing the bag every 4 hours throughout the day, and one that is done by machine for 8 hours, at night. He chose the nightly one. And his surgery is scheduled for November 1st.

Now it is a whirlwind of sanitizing their bedroom, stocking up on antibacterial hand soap, germ-x, getting everything cleaned and organized to make a place for his supplies, and so on. Even though it is an outpatient surgery, I worry for him. And I hope that he has not been given false hope about feeling way better after he starts dialysis.

He is my rock. I am not a daddy’s girl, but I have always been my father’s daughter. He has always been the strong one in my life, and to see him weak and not able to do the things he used to breaks my heart more than anyone can imagine. He can no longer ride his motorcycle, something that brings him as much joy as a kid at Christmas. He limps across the porch and down the stairs to go to work at a job where he stands on his feet all day because he refuses to quit and be one of those “lazy bums on welfare”. He has good days and bad days. And we try not to notice when the good ones are far between. 

And the scariest part of all this to me is that if my mom had not convinced him to get insurance, he would not have went to the hospital the first time. He would have laid in bed and more than likely died from the fluid in his lungs. And that thought terrifies me.