Reflections

It is starting to settle in how different my life is now. In just 13 days my life has gone from “can’t” to “let’s do it”. Restrictions on diet, travel (the extension cord is only so long), and countless other things that I had long dismissed as just not possible are now doable.

The big one is no more dialysis. It has finally settled into my mindset that I am done for dialysis. At least for a while. The goal is 15 years and I’m going to fight like a cornered Wombat to reach that goal. I hated dialysis and that is enough reason to prolong going back to it as long as possible.

When I first started dialysis I was the model patient. I walked in with my characteristic “proud peacock” walk, sat down with a book for 4 hours and then strutted out again (sounds cocky but that’s how people see it so I guess I have to go with it). The treatments didn’t kick my ass as it did some other patients. The older and seasoned (to be fair I was one of the younger patients) patients looked at me with jealousy. On a side note the walk or strut that I have become known for is not new. When I was a Cancer patient back in ’97 I overheard another patient remark “what’s he doing here? He looks like a fine specimen”. And I was, I was going to the gym right after radiation treatments and I was in good shape. But I was 31, at 56 I still have that walk. Anyhoo, I made it a goal that I would never get to the point of deterioration that most patients do. There are a few who always looked good, I’m not saying I’m the only one. But eventually I did anyway and I hated myself for succumbing to it.


First came the sepsis/near death infection episode 2 months in. I almost died, no exaggeration. But I bounced back from that. I cruised for about a year until I hid a bad stretch of infections and diet-related complications. On a Renal diet even healthy foods could be taboo. A tomato, a healthy food contains Potassium. Without a functioning kidney to process it it may as well be rat poison. I see-sawed back and forth between too much and too little Potassium, Phosphorous and Magnesium, just to name a few. Sodium and fluid restrictions, if ignored would mess me up for weeks. I never really got those things under control despite uncharacteristic attention to my diet. It got to the point that I was hospitalized several times and the actual treatments became so uncomfortable that I was sometimes unable to complete the treatment. Imagine having a reaction to Phosphorous in which I was itchy all over, the itch would pop up like a whack-a-mole and it was so bad that I was thrashing in my chair. Imagine being held down and being tickled with 2 1 inch needles in your arm. It was miserable. Towards the end I was everything I detested in that room, I was just like the others. I must be an arrogant fuck to think that it wouldn’t. In short it sucks.
I heard yesterday that one of my friends there chose to stop treatments. He was dead in a week. It happens more than you want to know.

One positive is that I really love my dialysis nurses. I think they do God’s work and I appreciate them. They did more than stick needles in my arm, they   my welfare and genuinely cared about me; first in making a very difficult transition for me easier and then keeping me on course when confronted with challenges. Of course, I can only speak for myself, but nurses have a special place in my heart. I plan on visiting them when I am able and thank them for everything they did to make it to where I am today.

One nurse I am particularly fond of is Jesse. Jesse is one of the youngest nurses at the clinic and I have felt a special chemistry with her since the day I met her. We share a devilish sense of humor which is tampered by the strict codes of conduct in the clinic regarding patient interaction. Still, we manage to have flirty and somewhat sexy conversations in sneaky ways, even the exchange of glances or funny faces. I loved it when she was there, it made the time pass a little better. It’s safe to say that if there wasn’t a clinic policy against dating patients I would have asked her out.

Now I can. And of course, now that I can I’m seeing someone else. No regrets, Lisa is awesome and I’m nuts about her. And there are considerations with Jesse that make me reticent even if I was available. She is much younger than me, almost 15 years younger and she has small children. I’m not sure that I have the patience for young children and I also wouldn’t want them to get close to me and then not be there one day because their mother and I didn’t work out. Jesse and I talked about it. We had discussed covertly a few times about the possibility of dating and it was always “get a transplant and we’ll talk”. So we did. I put it all on the table and as it turns out she doesn’t want a relationship at the moment. She works a lot and spends every available free moment with her girls. As it should be. She’s a great mother and her girls are very sweet. She’s doing a great job as a mom. I don’t know what the future holds but I look forward to hanging out with her as a friend over coffee or lunch. As with everything in life, you never know what’s in store for us but it helps to be ready when opportunities arise.

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