A month ago I came closer then ever to my life ending, due to fluid building up around my heart and lungs. Frantically and emotionally I rushed to complete my instructions for how my family should make decisions for me if I became incapable or if I didn’t make it. I was scheduled for the first of two surgical procedures to keep me alive, and I had ominous doubts about the outcome. That night I insisted on leaving my hospital room at ten o’clock at night to go outside and have an hour to look at the stars, listen to the sounds of the night, and pray for the grace to surrender to the possibility that I might not survive. I was alone, being supported only by the wings of the angels, arms of my ancestors, and hands of the Divine.
Now I am fighting to get back on track and move forward. Addressing the constant stress of trying to stay afloat financially, bills piling up, and lowered immunity led to a painful case of shingles in the last week. Survival. Now it’s about basic survival. Many brushes with losing my life this year have raised questions. Questions I never thought I’d have to face, let alone answer. What does it take to survive? Is survival enough? In the darkest, most miserable moments, how do you survive?
The septicemia in December certainly did its damage. The adipose stem cell treatment from the month prior did help save my life by strengthening my immune system enough to beat the infection. Yet, I wasn’t the same. My body was left weaker, off-balance, depleted. I realize that many people don’t survive such a serious infection, and I’d had blood clots blocking my jugular vein at the same time. A double-whammy. Additional damage to my kidneys had been done, and all the ground I’d gained from the stem cell treatments was lost.
Another infection of that magnitude would certainly mean the end of the road. I needed to make big decisions and changes. Future stem cell treatments had to go on the back burner; staying alive became the priority. In May, with prayers in my head and heart, I had surgery for the implantation of a peritoneal (abdominal) catheter. Although I made the transition to peritoneal dialysis for the right reasons, continual complications and multiple hospital stays have been the result.
More changes are in the works, as I take the first steps towards my other option: a kidney transplant to save my life. Why haven’t I pursued getting a transplant sooner? A mandatory waiting period of at least two and a half years prevented me from doing so, because of treatment of skin cancer on my back (melanoma). I’m making the best of each day, and in the dark moments of anguish, despair, pain, and fear, all I can do is dig deeper, lean on my faith and the reliable support and love of my friends and community (local, global, & online) as I decide how to be or not to be. One moment, one breath at a time.
More changes are in the works, as I take the first steps towards my other option: a kidney transplant to save my life. I’m making the best of each day, and in the dark moments of anguish, despair, pain, and fear, all I can do is dig deeper, lean on my faith and the reliable support and love of my friends and community (local, global, & online) as I decide how to be or not to be. One moment, one breath at a time.