Monday, October 26, 2015

No More Wounded Bird

  What do you think of when you hear the word "dialysis"? Is it positive or negative? Do you see dialysis treatments as some horrible ordeal, and dialysis patients as people to be pitied? I've had several people tell me how sorry they are when they hear that I have end-stage renal failure and am on dialysis. It would almost be funny if it wasn't for the fact that they clearly don't understand what dialysis is or what it can do for someone like me. While there are probably a lot of dialysis patients who would say that dialysis IS a horrible ordeal, and that it's not worth the pain and the hassle, I have a different take.
  Let me start by painting you a picture of where I was just three months ago. Think about the things you do on a daily basis. All those small little things you do that you don't really think about. Getting dressed. Making a meal. Doing household chores. Looking after children or pets. Going out to do a few errands or grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend. They probably seem pretty trivial. But imagine taking 20 minutes to get dressed; not because you can't decide what to wear, but because it takes so much effort to just put on your clothes. That's why most days I would stay in my pajamas; it was just easier that way. If you have stairs in your house, you probably go up and down them many times a day without thinking twice. But imagine not being able to do two short flights of stairs because the effort leaves you huffing and puffing, and you need to stop halfway going both directions because your body is so overloaded with excess fluid that you can't breathe. Have you ever had a really bad, itchy rash or a huge mosquito bite that itches incessantly and you just can't find relief? Take that feeling and multiply it by 50, and then imagine feeling that all over your body. That's what it was like for me because of the high levels of phosphorous in my blood. Have you ever had days when you're so tired you can hardly keep your eyes open, or had a night when, no matter what you did, you just couldn't get to sleep? Imagine dealing with both of those conditions at the same time for days on end. Kidney failure causes both extreme fatigue and insomnia. So even on days when I was so tired I could drop in my tracks, I couldn't get the sleep I needed at night to help me feel better. Think of the time when you were so sick you wanted to die. And then imagine feeling like that every day, with no end in sight...
  Kidney failure is brutal, and it sucks big time. But luckily for me and thousands of other people like me, there are treatments available that can help ease our suffering. Dialysis is one of those treatments. From a purely technical standpoint, dialysis takes the place of the non-functioning kidneys and filters the  waste materials and excess minerals and fluid from our bodies. The method in which this is done varies depending on whether you opt for peritoneal dialysis or hemodialysis.  But the end result is the same.
  But the feeling! There almost aren't words to describe how good I feel. I've spent a good portion of the last few years feeling like absolute crap. I've had some really dark days when I could totally understand why alcoholics drink or addicts do drugs to forget their pain. I would have done almost anything to forget, even if it was only for a little while, how terrible I felt. I battled with depression and anxiety but I was afraid to tell anyone beause of the labels that are associated with mental health issues. I struggled every day to just get through it. I was like a wonded bird, huddled in a cage, kept there by circumstances beyond my control.
  And now? This bird is healed and ready to fly! I feel like I've been set free to soar with the wind beneath my wings. A whole new world brimming with possibility has opened up before me, and I want to experience everything it has to offer. It's as if a new side of me has emerged, and kicked that other sick, miserable chick's butt to the curb. I feel strong, and confident, and I'm just so damn HAPPY! I've been doing so many things again that I couldn't before: cooking and creating and writitng and walking with the dogs and going out... I have more energy now than I've had in a really long time, and it feels amazing. I FEEL AMAZING! I want to laugh and dance and sing and shout and high-five everyone I see. Everything suddenly looks so much brighter, and I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel again. Life just feels so amazingly GOOD right now.
  So don't feel sorry for me because I'm on dialysis. Dialysis has given me my life back. I'm ready to take on the world and kick its ass! I've spent so long feeling like crap that I've forgotten how it feels to feel good, but now I'm being reminded. And that is truly a wonderful feeling.

  Until next time,

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