How hard it must be…

I just read an email from my mother that hit me so hard, I just sat here crying uncontrollably and feeling so helpless in this world.  I have to keep reminding myself that God must have a plan, but it’s difficult sometimes to put your faith in the unknown.

For those who may not know, my grandmother has kidney disease and is on dialysis treatments.  She has to go three times a week to a facility and sit in a chair for five hours to get hooked up to a machine that leaves her absolutely drained.  But without it, she would die in less than two weeks.

I know my grandma is strong, and I’m so thankful that I’ve discovered that same strength in me as well, but honestly, I just don’t know how she does it sometimes.  Her life wasn’t an easy one.  Not by any means.  And my wish for her has always been for her to be able to enjoy the rest of her life, without any constrictions or obstacles.  But I guess God knows she can handle a lot, because he sure lets her go through a lot more than I think is possible.

And today was no different.  I can’t even begin to imagine being in her position or any other patient on dialysis, going day in and day out to a facility that you rely on to live.  And to form relationships with the other patients who you now call your friend, only to come and not know who’s time is up next.

Today, it took the life of a man in his 20s right in front of my grandma.  There he was sitting a few feet away from her, with her being one of the last people he talked to.  Then, he fell to the floor and the nurses tried to revive him, but it was too late.  He was pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital.

From the handful of times I’ve gone with my grandma to her dialysis treatments, he was there each time in the waiting room.  I remember everyone being so nice to him trying to get his spirits up, and him just looking so down all the time.  I never saw any family bring him.  He always had to come on public transit, and once his treatments were done, he was always waiting an hour or more for his ride to get him.  I always wished that he had someone like my mother to take him and care for him as much as my mom cares for my grandma.  But many patients are like this young man, and many don’t know how to be an advocate for themselves.

I know my grandma is shook up after today, and I keep going through a range of emotions, only to keep coming back to anger.  I’m angry at the disease, I’m angry about the way some of the staff treat the patients, I’m angry about the way that they don’t double check their procedures when it’s someone’s life on the line, I’m angry that a young man lost his life today, and I’m especially angry that any day my grandma will be next despite how hard she’s worked to prevent it.  And I feel so damn helpless that it’s out of my hands and that I can’t do anything about it!!!  #unfair

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Diane
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 00:17:08

    I feel your pain, Lindsey. I don’t often share my mom’s story, but we share a similar pain, anger and frustration about Kidney Disease. So if you care to read it…

    I left for Boot Camp when I was 18 years old. I had finished all of my military training and departed the base for a month-long leave of absence before heading out for my first duty station, Guam. I was planning to split 2 weeks with my mom and 2 with my dad, out of state; however, as my cab turned down my mom’s street, I saw my mom standing outside. My arrival was going to be a surprise for her, but instead she surprised me by taking my cab straight to the hospital because she was feeling abnormally sick to her stomach. I spent all of my time visiting her in the hospital. She was feeling so sick because her kidneys had completely shut down that day and it was a miracle that they were able to get her an emergency dialysis treatment in time to save her life. I was young, and just didn’t comprehend how life-threatening this whole thing was.

    My mom had struggled through a hard life, divorced and raising 3 kids (one with a mental impairment) on her own, working as a cocktail waitress in a truck-stop bar and diner. She did the best she could. One of the most difficult things I have ever had to do was board a plane taking me so very far from her, but she kept assuring me that she was very low on the donor list (refusing to allow me or my sister to test for compatibility) and that she would most likely survive without a transplant for many years after my enlistment was up, by getting those tri-weekly dialysis treatments. So I went to Guam, sending the majority of my pay home to her to help pay for her medications, as well as help with basic expenses for my teen aged sister and disabled younger brother. About 5 months later, just after my 19th birthday, I received an American Red Cross message requesting my presence because she was getting a kidney transplant. I hopped on some military cargo flights and stayed by her side for 2 weeks. The donor kidney had not started working yet when my leave was up, so I had to return to Guam. I tried to stay informed, but it was not easy to communicate such long distances back then.

    She hadn’t been able to leave the hospital since her transplant surgery and on October 1st, 1985 I received another American Red Cross message stating that my mom’s life expectancy was 48-72 hours and my presence was again requested. My chain of command actually argued with me about leaving again because I didn’t ‘have leave on the books’ so I respectfully informed them that I would swim home if they denied my request to get home ASAP. I was a mess inside, but tried to stay strong. I’d never lost someone close to me before and it was really sinking in that she could die before I got there. Flying back and forth from Guam was no easy task with space available on military cargo flights because commercial flights were outrageously expensive and not within my means.

    Apparently my mom’s donor kidney had completely rejected and she’d gotten an infection that got into her blood. (I still think the hospital should have taken better care of her) I finally arrived to find her in ICU, on a respirator, but she acknowledged me with her eyes and held my hand as I sat and talked until visiting hours were over. When I returned the next morning I discovered that she had slipped into a coma, and about two hours later her life support machines were turned off — My mom died on October 4th, 1985 — she was only 39. I took out a loan to pay for her funeral, sent my brother to live with our dad and handed my sister half of the little cash I had left before my leave was up and I had to again, return to duty.

    … wow, I had no idea how hard this would be to type out. Her name was Mary and I miss her.

    Reply

  2. fireflydreamer
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 06:10:43

    Diane…I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am that you shared your story with me. I’m so sorry for your loss and how hard it must have been (and still is) for you and your siblings. But thank you for keeping your mother’s memory alive. I love you!

    Reply

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