Another Day in Paradise…

When I was in college, my roommates and I used to gather around the TV every afternoon and obsess about a small fictitious town somewhere (I’m assuming) on the east coast that withstood the worst and most dramatic events anyone in reality would run from.  Although none of those wild and crazy events remain in my memory, it was always the very first line of the show that stuck with me all these years later…  “Like sands through the hourglass… so are the Days of Our Lives.”

This statement haunts me at the most random points in my life!  It makes me cringe when I’m being reprimanded for breaking (yet) another rule, makes me giggle at inappropriate events, and in general just makes me sigh when I think of how we end up where we are today.  However, like that soap opera, it’s the trip along the way that is loaded with all it’s quirks and drama that keeps us moving forward and drawn to the proverbial TV to see what will happen next!

The past month or so, my soap opera has been more or less in a lull.  Nothing much has been going on to report or share… not that I’m complaining!  Aside from a few stomach bugs, and lots of (real) TV watching, life hasn’t been too bad.  Last week’s episode, however was a cliffhanger that I’d rather not have to repeat!

When I started peritoneal dialysis (PD), the number one danger I was warned about was Peritonitis.  The peritoneum (lining around our stomach) does not contain any form of antibodies that fight off bacteria or infection, so the fact that we have placed a catheter there is very risky and dangerous.  If any one single germ enters the peritoneum, I run the risk of a serious infection called peritonitis.  The nurses at my dialysis center have placed the fear of God into me by telling me that getting peritonitis could lead to loss of my catheter and even death.  Ironically, it wasn’t the fear of death that terrified me, but the loss of my catheter since it would lead to my having to go on hemodialysis.  How truly sad is it that I fear the medical procedure that would keep me alive (and that most kidney failure patients inevitably end up with) more than death?!  For this reason, we are trained to wear face masks and sterilize our hands every single time I have to go anywhere near my catheter.  We are not allowed to touch the end of it with anything… clothes, hands, nothing.  I can’t have the fan running overhead or the vents blowing anywhere near the area I’ll be dialyzing.  My bedroom is pet-free and I have hand sanitizers and anti-bacteria soap within reach anytime I need to handle my tube.  It’s that sterile, and the very reason many people don’t want to deal with PD and choose to go on hemo.  Sometimes, though, no matter how careful you try to be, things will still happen, and I ended up with the dreaded infection I’ve been trying to avoid since day one.

Late Saturday night, as I was hooking up to my machine, I started getting some very sharp stomach pains and extreme nausea.  I couldn’t stop vomiting and had really bad chills.  At first, I thought it was just another stomach bug that I was catching, and tried to brush it off, however it just wouldn’t stop.  I knew the first thing the doctors would ask would be regarding my dialysis fluids…if the drainage fluids were cloudy, it was usually a dead giveaway that it was peritonitis (it’s usually crystal clear).  Sure enough, they were so cloudy, it was milky!  (I know, this is not a very pleasant visual… it’s really not as gross as it sounds).  Since it was about 1am at this point, I called the after-hours nurse and she told me to go to the hospital.  I was all set to go to Baylor Plano, when I was reminded of how new they were to the PD procedures.  (Since it’s not the more common form of dialysis, many hospitals do not know how it works, so there are only certain hospitals I can go to that can accommodate me).  We ended up at Baylor Dallas downtown with hopes that I would have the best chance of saving my catheter there.

To say I was freaking out was an understatement.  I seriously feared that this was it!  I was going to lose my catheter and end up on hemo, and I’m sure the stress of that thought was not helping my situation.  Getting there and finally up to my room was mostly a haze.  They loaded me up on meds and the minute I was able to breathe without having to hurl, I was in heaven.  They got me started on antibiotics immediately and admitted me to the floor that specializes in PD.  An entire floor!  I was so excited to see how every single nurse knew exactly what they were doing, and was once again blown away by the service that Baylor provided!  Not only to me, but to my family while they were there.  One of the things that shocked me the most was how nonchalant everyone seemed about my peritonitis.  There was not “doom and gloom” about it and I was immediately both confused and relaxed.  Apparently, it happens more often than I’d been led to believe, but it is still a very serious issue.   Having it, though, does not mean I’m automatically going to lose my catheter, so that made me feel better.  They told me that it was caused by a rare form of staph, and could possibly have come from the site infection I had a few months ago.  I will be on antibiotics for awhile, so I’m not 100% in the clear, but since they’ve released me, I feel worlds better physically and mentally about it all.   Unfortunately, though, I have been placed “on hold” again for my transplant until the infection has completely gone away.  So it might be another few weeks before I’m active again.  Ugh!   This constant on-and-off relationship I’ve got with the transplant team is draining… always waiting for them to call, always changing their mind…  😉

So, I’m going to make the best of this inactive time and check out one of the new g-free bakeries that’s opened up downtown and hope that I can at least stay infection-free until I get the call.  After that, I’ll be ready to handle anything and the dramas of my soap opera will hopefully, once again, be more fit for a family sitcom!  😀

****************

What I’m thankful for today:

1.  Scrambled eggs and bacon – the only normal meal I actually enjoyed eating at the hospital.  You can’t really screw that up, and it tastes the same no matter where you go!

2.  Spider solitaire – I’m addicted…and it was my saving grace during my long periods of downtime.

3.  My family – for once again spending hours of boring time-off sitting with me at the hospital…and for sneaking in a taco or two to keep me from starving to death.

4.  Baylor hospitals – after having stayed at three of them now, and seeing how amazing they are in all aspects of what they do, I’m thoroughly convinced they outrank every other hospital I’ve experienced.  I’m very glad that my transplant will take place within their system!

5.  I’m not a redneck – after hearing the family across the hall from me go on and on (and on) about their issues, speaking loud and having arguments that would make Honey Boo Boo’s family look like Royal perfection, I’m proud to have been raised in civilization.

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