Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Two Quirky Surprises

My bookclub friends gave me an IPod Touch for my birthday last month. (Sweet deal, huh?) I had one of the original IPods, so thought this would be similar. Well, I could get nothing to work, and then suddenly last week discovered this video on it (don't ask me how I got there). It was unintentionally taken when my friend Elise and I were walking to Chipotle for supper. (I'm not usually this much of a whiner.)

Now I have progressed to loading music so I can take it to dialysis.

You have heard me talk about my wonderful niece, E. She will soon be 8 and has been with us for 7 years. We love her to pieces, and yes, she is indulged.

This past Saturday we went to a mini family reunion at my cousin's in southern Minnesota. His family and my two remaining uncles and aunts were there. I was thinking they all wanted to see me before I died. I had not been with them since my illness, and, even though I'd written a Christmas letter explaining everything, there were still some distorted versions about how I was doing.

After some initial awkwardness, things flowed smoothly and we all sat around the table, talking about days gone by. Very poignant, but also pleasant.

On the way back to Minneapolis, E. and I were in the backseat. Now I have never openly talked with my family about the db. E has seen me test my blood and likes to wait for the number to come up on the screen. But I've never used the words "insulin" or "diabetes". I was preparing to take an injection to cover the homemade ice cream we'd had before we left. (Thankfully, no diabetes police were in attendance.) I had propped up my big totebag between us so she wouldn't see anything.

E: Is that for your diabetes? Are you drawing up insulin?
K: (befuddled) Well, yes it is. How do you know about diabetes?
E: Megan has it.

Megan and E have been in daycare together for several years. E talks about her all the time. I immediately asked my sister how long Megan had had db. She replied, "a couple of years". Hmmmmmmmmm.

K: Does Janet (the daycare lady) help Megan take care of herself?
E: Yes, we all do.
K: Does she test her blood like auntie does?
E: Yes, and then when she's low she has to have a snack. Do you ever get low?
K: Yes, a couple of times a week.
E: What does it feel like? (I couldn't believe we were having this conversation).
K: It's hard to describe. Sometimes I get shakey and sometimes dizzy. Sometimes I feel really tired. Does Megan ever have to take a shot at Janet's?
E. Sometimes. The first time Janet did it Maean was crying because usually her mom did it. You know what I did? I gave her my blanket (Smiling proudly).
K: Well, she's lucky to have a friend like you.

Sigh....I don't know why my sister never mentioned that Megan had db. Granted, we have weird family dynamics.

So. The universe is providng me with more ways to own my condition - first, the vlog; then the meetup; and now my conversation with E.

Sort of mind boggling, if you know what I mean.

Monday, August 08, 2011

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today I was in intensive care and my family had been summoned to my bedside to say goodbye.

On August 1, 2010, I went to the ER for nausea and weakness. While looking via ultrasound for possible gallstones, they saw a suspicious shadow on my ovary. I had surgery that night, and yes, it was cancer.

I developed a blood clot in my lung due to the surgery, which then caused my heart to stop beating a few days later as I was being wheeled to physical therapy.

Two days later I had another arrest. Then my lungs failed and my kidneys crashed. I have been told several times that I could not have been any closer to death.

To sum it up, my kidneys came back, then crashed again, came back again, and then in October failed permanently. I was on oxygen and in a wheelchair until the middle of November when I went to rehab. I could barely stand by myself and fell out of bed twice and did not have the strength to get up on my own. No one knew how far my recovery would go.

Flash forward to today. I can walk a reasonable distance quite well. My breathing is fine. I'm not able to work because of the dialysis schedule, but otherwise fully participate in all the things I used to do.

It feels really weird to reflect back on this. Sometimes it seems like it never happened and I've simply been on a long foggy vacation. Other times it's very scary, because I know that PWD's do not do well on dialysis. I've explored with my therapist the question that if my life is drawing to a close, how would I like to live out my last days? I think I should make a bucket list. And, other times I find within myself a deep soothing sense of peace. That everything is as it should be.

Last week I had an appointment with my shrink. As I was leaving his office, he said that I could be very proud of my recovery. I said, "but I really didn't do anything".
He replied "oh yes you did - you chose to live". I guess that about sums it up.

I was fussing and fretting all evening in trying to take a closeup of my bracelet. Thinking maybe I should march to Target tomorrow and get a better camera. Well, when all else fails, consult the instruction manual (something about aperture size and shutter speec). Yes, I can follow directions...