Before the beginning

I moved to a new city hoping to find myself, support myself and perhaps even get a life. Things had stalled for me back home. I couldn’t even get a non-temp job through nepotism.

The draw of living someplace where few people knew me was almost too strong. So, when the opportunity came to move, I jumped at it. Acclimating takes time and, hey, I’ve got all the time in the world, right?

My roommate already had a job and began looking for doctors and a bank – as this is the grown-up thing to do. I had time. Wait until the new year since my former state likes to tax people even when they don’t live there. So, at the start of the new year I managed to get a temp job. Actually two, back to back. Once I started working, finding a doctor was low on the priority list. But, this is totally doable until I get insurance.

After working at the second job for a month and a week after I’d applied for insurance so I could better afford my asthma medication, I started feeling more tired than usual. Usual really is the operative word since I think I’ve been tired for about two years. I was also having some breathing distress, but I’m asthmatic and its winter.

Par for the course. Until Friday, February 24th around 7am.

I had to sit down to brush my teeth because my body just stalled out. When I got back to my bedroom, I realized I’d be late for work. Just as I picked up the phone to call in late, I realized I wasn’t going to make it to work and started an email to my employment manager to let him know I wasn’t going in to work and would be heading to the emergency room with an asthma attack. I’ve never had such a terrible time catching my breath.

In the time it took to google the closest hospital, I started sweating and realized I wouldn’t make it to my car. I couldn’t even get more dressed than adding socks to the nightgown. In deciding that I had to call 911, I also tried to figure out how the hell I was going to get to the front door which was deadbolted. I gasped my roommate’s name and had her call. I guess pitch and projection count for something since she actually heard me and came rushing to my room.

The next few (more like 12) hours is still kind of a blur. Five fairly hot EMTs arrived, I think pretty quickly, and got me to the ambulance. I kept trying to focus on slowing my breathing so I could catch my breath. That and hoping they would knock me out so I wouldn’t be so scared. When they gave me nitroglycerin on the way, I guess that freaked me out. But it also made sense. How do I explain that it just didn’t surprise me that my heart was failing. I was finding out my secret suspicions were accurate.

Ambulance and ER were a blur with my desire to breathe except pleading in my head for people to yeild to the ambulance. It took a few hours, but my breathing became less labored and I stopped sweating. I managed to send out some texts to family members in the area and my parents were called.

I like how despite how hard they try to keep you from using a cell phone in the hospital, no one says a thing when you’re the patient.

It felt like it was nighttime by the time I got admitted, but I don’t think it was. People showed up and came to me in the ICU. They wouldn’t let me eat because they were afraid I might vomit and choke to death. I was pumped full of drugs to lower my blood pressure and take off the fluid. I was septic and both my heart & kidneys were failing.

I spent the next twenty-one days in the hospital. I started dialysis (on March 1st) while they searched for the reason my body gave out. A bone marrow biopsy, kidney biopsy, insertion of the dialysis catheter in my jugular and peritoneal dialysis catheter in my abdomen.

I was urged to do peritoneal dialysis, told its kinder to the kidneys. Honestly, even though I took notes, I did what was suggested. I don’t know if I would have decided on hemodialysis if I’d had more time. I didn’t have more time. I didn’t have what I thought was warning. Everything that I felt in the weeks and months leading up to this could be explained away by anemia, asthma, and poor sleep.

So here I am, jobless and waiting for groups of social services to kick in. I have applied for disability, medicare, Medicaid, and social security. Still no real thinking has been done. Still healing and resting and I have people telling me to stop worrying about how I will pay rent, I have my health to consider. I did mention that I have a roommate, I didn’t mention that we live in one of the more expensive areas in the country.


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