I turned my back for a moment to turn the light on and looked around as he said while gasping for air “call 911, I can’t breathe”. Went into overdrive. On the phone with 911, watching helplessly as he gasped for air. Knowing the EMS was only about three minutes away, I was attempting to put my jeans on while watching him and running to the front door for the EMS.
Three minutes is a lifetime when there is nothing you can do for a loved one. EMS arrived, but were unable to stabilize him. Put on him oxygen, gave him a shot and whisked him away. Following right behind I ran into the emergency room to be greeted by a doctor who looked at me and said, “Does your husband have a DNR?” “You do whatever you need to do to keep my husband alive”, I shrieked.
He spent about four hours on a ventilator. Multiple tests were run. They took him off the vent, and he did fine with nose oxygen. He was stable. Thank God. Crisis over.
What was the cause? As some of you know he has been living with chronic kidney disease for over a decade and for the last couple months we came closer to dialysis becoming a when, not an if. Now is the time. When is here. His kidney numbers had shot way up and he had pulmonary edema, his lungs filling with fluid the kidneys were not processing.
Emergency dialysis was given Monday night and Wednesday morning. Already I can see an improvement; he feels just a bit better. His appetite is coming back. His color is good. His spirits amazingly positive. Today he had surgery to have an AV Fistula built in his forearm and a temporary port in his chest. Surgery went well and now he is sleeping peacefully.
I contemplated the “new normal” we will have now. I asked the nephrologist, “He’s been running on about 25% kidney function since about 2007. Is it possible that he will not only feel better than he has lately, but in fact better than he has in years?” The kidney doctor smiled and replied that a lot of toxins have built up over the years and once his body adjusts to the dialysis he will most likely have a better sense of general well-being than he has had for a long while.
My husband seems to be adapting to this latest change quite well. Two or three days a week of time-consuming treatment; that still leaves him four or five days that may be very good days. What a concept, the possibility of some quality back in his life.
We’ve a ways to go. Beginning with recovery from the surgery, I was taken aback when I walked into recovery and saw his arm bandaged from wrist to arm pit, complete with splint! I took the surgeon aside and said, “He’s a paraplegic, he needs his arms to move. How can I take him home?” The doctor said he could bear weight on the arm in two to three days; in fact he could right now but it would probably be quite painful.
We’re about to embark on a whole new era. With the grace of God, this will ease some of my husband’s pain and weakness. We could be at the beginning of a whole new wonderful chapter. The journey continues.
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