I haven’t written anything in about two weeks, and part of me feels really bad about it.
The other parts of me remember why I have written and then I don’t feel so bad anymore.
I started having excruciating pain down my left side. It started on the left side of my stomach and spread all the way up to my shoulders and down the left side of my back. This white hot, burning pain just wouldn’t go away. I took Tylenol. I used pain cream and ice packs. I used CBD and laid down most of the day. The pain had moved in and was here to stay.
Dealing with chronic pain throughout the span of many days takes a toll on your mental health, no matter how strong you are. The pain made me nauseous and extra fatigued all the time. It got so bad that I had to use my cell phone to call my friend to help me out of the bathroom. The couch in the living room was only maybe 20 feet away, but I just didn’t have the strength to get there.
My friend found me covered in a thick sheet of sweat and trying hard to breathe. Luckily, I had only gone into the bathroom to brush my teeth so I was fully clothed. She helped me back to the couch and put an ice pack on my head to help cool me off.
I should have gone to the hospital.
My transplanted kidney is on my left side. Any kidney doctor would tell a transplant patient to rush to the hospital if they’re having any pain where their transplant site is. I wanted to go to the hospital, but I didn’t have any insurance in Michigan. Under the ACA, I had Blue Cross Blue Shield Alabama and it doesn’t cover much of anything out of state.
The thought of a huge medical bill kept me home. Unbeknownst to me, toxins were building up in my body. I didn’t think about it at the time, but I had also stopped peeing as much as usual. I was so focused on how bad I felt, I was grateful I didn’t have to make as many trips to the bathroom. It was a red flag, but I was too busy trying to reassure myself that it would go away on its own.
My adoptive mom was scheduled to be off the next day. She turned her “Do Not Disturb” on her phone off and made me promise to call her during the night if I needed her. In the back of my mind, I knew I wouldn’t wake her up because she was exhausted from work and wanted to sleep in. I took another Tylenol, rubbed on some pain cream, and downed a sleep pill. After a long period filled with pain, I drifted off to sleep.
I woke up at 5:30 in the morning. I had to use the bathroom. The pain was waiting at my bedside for me to wake up. I hobbled to the bathroom across the hall and into the downs bathroom. It wasn’t far away, but the walk felt like a mile. By the time I got to the door, I was exhausted and out of breath. Somehow I made it back to my bedroom and back in bed.
However, I still couldn’t breathe. I was covered in sweat even though I was cold. My mind started to panic. How long was I going to feel like this? It had been four days. I laid there for half an hour fighting myself on whether I should call my mom or not. She promised that she wanted me to wake her up if I needed her, but I felt terrible about waking her up early on the one day she can sleep in. About an hour later, I was still having trouble breathing. I dialed her number from my downstairs bedroom.
She answered in a voice laced in sleepiness, but she hurried downstairs when I asked her to. She decided it was time to take me to the emergency room in a matter of seconds. She hadn’t been in my room 5 minutes before she was helping me walk up the stairs. My best friend and now adoptive Dad was terrified because I had just called her downstairs a short time ago.
As soon as I hit the top of the stairs I needed to sit down. She went to get ready while I tried to regain oxygen at the kitchen table. Dad helped me get my hoodie on then helped me to the couch. I was in agony, but I didn’t want to admit it. I was more worried that the hospital would refuse me because of my insurance situation.
After she was ready, I used my cane to make it to the bathroom to brush my teeth and slap on some deodorant. She realized that my lips were turning blue. My body wasn’t getting enough oxygen. Dad helped me to the car while Mom packed a bag for the emergency room.
We got to the hospital around 6:30 and everything went so fast.
Nobody cared about my insurance. They were focused on figuring out what was wrong with me. We went to the ER knowing that I’d most likely be admitted, so we brought my bag of medicines and my medical history. By 8 AM, they’d run various tests. We were just waiting for the results at this point. I was given Morphine for pain through my new IV and almost immediately felt better.
My kidney was in severe rejection. It was only working at about 7%. I was only born with one kidney and that one didn’t work much, and now my transplant kidney wasn’t working either. Since my kidneys weren’t able to do their jobs, toxins were building up in my body. There was so much inflammation on my left side where my kidney is, it felt rock hard. Normally a stomach feels pretty squishy, but mine felt like stone. I was officially admitted to the hospital and introduced to the Nephrology team. They promised to take good care of me. At the young age of 22, I found myself fighting for my life once again.