Almost dying has changed my life

All of 2014 has been one emergency after another with me and my body.

It all started on Easter Sunday of 2014 when I was taken to the emergency room because I had complete renal failure.  My middle daughter saw me all bloated sitting in the dark on my couch trying to watch tv…but of course I knew within myself I was dying.

I have 3 children, all grown up and my middle one lived in a small trailer on my small lot and she came up that one evening and called my youngest right away. So here comes my youngest with her husband and they take me to the hospital.

I knew there was something wrong with my body of course, but I didn’t want to tell my family because I didn’t want to worry them. But in myself I knew I was on my death bed. I was 68 and I figured, ok, I have lived a good life, dying won’t be so bad if I go quickly.

My youngest didn’t want to question me, she knew I was sick and just left me to my own thoughts on the entire ride to the emergency room.

I found out both of my kidneys were blocked by a large mass in my cervix and I was put in ICU until a doctor could come in and help with my kidneys.They told my girls another couple of hours and I would have been in a coma of death.  I laid there in bed with bottles hanging of antibiotic and whatever else was going into my vein for 3 days until they took me into the operating room to give my kidneys some relief…but only one kidney could be saved with a stent into the left kidney and bladder.  The large cancer mass still blocked my right kidney and the doc could not stent that one.

After the operation I spent 2 more days in the hospital and then sent home to seek help with my right kidney at another hospital 60 miles away. A few weeks later, I had a nephrostomy tube and bag inserted into my right kidney to save my kidney and let the urine escape out of my body. It was very hard for me to get used to the bag of urine hanging and trying to find ways of hiding it when in public. I hated it!!!!

After this my body went through some radical changes. I had radiation every day for the next 3 months and chemo every week for 2 months. But after all this the mass in my cervix was gone and I was cancer free….yippee!!!!!

I didn’t lose my hair so I was happy over that. I kept thinking how it would feel to be bald and I did not want to see all my hair gone, but it did not happen and I was relieved when all my hair stayed on my head.

That first time in the hospital was not my last, I had to be admitted again 3 1/2 months later because the stent in my left kidney quit working, so again another stent was put in and all was fine again. Again 5 days spent in a room in the hospital.

My Urologist that was taking care of my kidney problems wanted me to go to another hospital to see if they could repair my ureters because all the radiation I had shredded them and the urine could not be passed so he was hoping a University hospital could maybe help me. The closest one to me was almost a 5 hour drive from my home. I kept the appointment to see another urologist and after looking at Xrays of my kidneys and ureters, there was no way to repair them and because I was so old, opening me up to see if they could fix my problem was not an option because he said that maybe they could not repair them and it would be a very serious operation and he felt I was not well enough to have it and he recommended I continue with the stents.

So I would have to live the rest of my life with stents in my body to carry the urine from my kidneys to the bladder and out. The one I had then in my left kidney should be replaced every 3 to 4 months and so in November, that stent got plugged with kidney stones and again I had to go to the emergency room in my local hospital, and because there was no urologist on call that night, I had to be transported in an ambulance on that 5 hour drive to the University hospital. My blood pressure was so low they knew if I didn’t get help within the next few hours, I would be dead. With the lights and wailing from the siren, I think we made it in record time, maybe only 3 1/2 hours, but to be strapped on the small bed in the ambulance was not a very comfortable ride to say the least and it seemed like forever to me.

ICU again and again bottles of antibiotics and whatever else they had going into my veins, they put a contraption on my neck into my artery with multi ports to accommodate all the stuff flowing into my body. It looked like an octopus hanging on my neck with tubes from it to bottles hanging above me. I think the other doctors and nurses in my local hospital tried to get something flowing into my veins, but it was impossible because my veins had collapsed in my hands and arms. I had no idea what was going on around me, I was in a fog and listless.

After a couple of days in ICU, I was taken into an operating room and another nephrostomy tube was inserted into my left kidney. So now I had two bags of urine hanging off my body. I was in tremendous pain as well. That tube stuck into my left kidney hurt like the devil when they stuck it into my body and for the entire time afterwards. And even after taking it out later on, the pain still continues to this day.

So for 5 days I lay in a bed with the urine flowing like a river on a very rainy day. The nurses had to empty it like every hour or so. I had a very hard time sleeping because now with both of my sides with a tube sticking out of my back, how to lay and be comfortable was a full time job and it was never resolved until the day before I was released, my urologist operated on me and took off both tubes from my back and inserted stents into my kidneys. I still had the tubes into the kidneys, but both bags were gone….yeah!!!! I felt like a large boulder was lifted off of me.

I was released from the hospital the day after Thanksgiving. On Friday, my family had a beautiful Thanksgiving feast waiting for me when I got home. I was relived to be out of the hospital and home again. The ride home was very exhausting but nothing could keep me from enjoying home with my family and digging into that turkey, mashed potatoes and steamed veggies… was all soooo good!

It is now May 2015. I am still cancer free. I have stents in both kidneys to bladder but these new stents can last in my body for up to a year. They are metal stents where the other ones were some sort of plastic.  I have an appointment with my new Urologist this month to see if I need to get these stents replaced. That first year they want to be cautious to be sure they don’t get clogged and cause me more problems and more ER visits.

I do not want any more hospital stays. Each time I lose so much weight, and its very hard to get back to normal again. My energy level is still not good. I get very tired when doing anything strenuous. I love being outdoors and doing things in my yard. Planting flowers and maybe having a veggie garden, but I do not think I will be able to do much this year.

I am alive and hope things go smoothly from this day forward.  I thank my children every day for saving my life. If on that fateful night my middle daughter didn’t come in and see me all bloated, I would not be here writing about my ordeals. Thank you girls for keeping me alive and thank God and his angels for giving me such beautiful and caring family.