Around two years ago today, I was sitting in a hospital at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center starting the one thing I had dreaded for years, dialysis. I had pushed, shoved and done everything I possibly could to stop it from being my fate, but on June 16, 2011, I could wait no further. Dialysis had to start or I was facing most definitely facing death.
I will never forget the car ride up to the hospital. I was so sick that I was literally lying down in the front seat of my mom’s Expedition. All I could think about at that time was, “How am I going to pay for this?” and “How am I going to pay my bills while I am in the hospital?” As my mother drove me up to the hospital, I could tell that she was as worried as she has ever been in her life. I was really scared of what the future had in store for me, but my mother did her dead level best to reassure me that everything would be OK and that those lovely bill collectors would eventually get their money. Yet, I just knew that this was the maximum of all that she could handle emotionally.
When I started my first session, I remember being most worried about how painful those needles were going to be. After spending a year and five months on dialysis, I now know the worst part was never the needles. It was the blood pressure drops that made me feel nauseated and as close to passing out as I have ever been. On the television in the room where I had my first dialysis session was The Price is Right. I remember being more focused on what was going on around me rather than the show. I guess since the first time, it intrigued me to watch my blood circulate through the machine for the first time. Had I realized the number of times I was going to get to see my blood flowing through the machine, I probably would have just watched the show.
While my first session was only two hours, it occurred to me that this was the longest two hours ever, and about a quarter into that first session, I felt my blood pressure drop. I have no idea why it dropped. I am guessing I probably just had so much fluid on me, and I didn’t even know it. With this drop, they forced me to lay flat on my back for the rest of the session. This was the dullest time of my entire life. I think I counted ceiling tiles for the rest of the session. I learned really fast to bring me some headphones or entertainment to keep me busy during a dialysis session or be forced to count ceiling tiles.
As they wheeled me out of that one session, I felt glad to have that first experience out of the way, but I truly did understand why I dreaded it so much. Despite this first experience, I do thank God for keeping me alive through dialysis during that time. While it may not have been anything I had ever hoped for, it kept me alive to get to experience the life I had in between those sessions.
Katie Holland can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.