Remember when I said I’d hit rock bottom and then in jest said something about how I hoped it was the bottom because that would be a sick joke if it wasn’t? Well, I’ve learned the truth of ‘never say never’ and to never assume you’ve seen the worst it could be… because man did it get worse last week. Here’s what happened – in chronological order because I’m OCD like that of course.
First a confession… I already knew what I had on my last blog post – probably why I was already at the anger stage. My insurance company has an online medical record and if you are smart like me you know that those tests your doctor orders are usually online long before you meet with that doctor to see what they showed. So, Tuesday I saw the pathology report with my diagnosis: Membranous Nephropathy. And of course I googled the shit out of it.
Bottom line: there is no cure. The membranes in my kidneys are enlarged and therefor don’t work as well so I lose all my protein in my urine. But two thirds of the people diagnosed end up in remission so my chances are good. I met with my specialist on Thursday still a little sore and weak from the biopsy but having spent the better part of the week on my couch helped. She started me on several new meds and ordered additional tests including standing orders for them to be repeated every two weeks to monitor how well the new meds are working. So much for seeing the doctor and the lab less often, eh? Both meds are designed to treat the symptom of losing protein so I don’t also end up with my kidney function declining. I left the doctor with the knowledge that I really had the answers I’ve been searching for (ROOT CAUSE!) and a plan of attack. I felt hopeful and happy.
And then Friday afternoon I started feeling crappy. At first I chalked it up to having taken a higher dose of my diuretic which my doc said I could try to see if the water retention would go down faster (I’m not a patient woman, remember!). I also read on the information sheet of one of the new meds that I had started that it was common to feel run down and yucky when first taking the med. (Am I the only person who actually reads that whole paper they send you home with from the pharmacy?) I logged off work for a nap to try and feel better about two o’clock that afternoon. My kidneys ached and I couldn’t get comfortable and generally felt awful. Got very little sleep on Friday night and woke up Saturday morning no better.
Saturday morning an hour before I was supposed to leave for Big Sister’s dance competition where I was looking at nine hours on the high school bleachers, I couldn’t take a breath without excruciating pain in the abdomen which radiated up my back, through my chest and out my shoulder. The deeper the breath the worse the pain. I was faced with the hardest thing ever as an overachiever – the knowledge that no matter how much I wanted to power through whatever I had in my way I wasn’t going to be able to do it all. I still hate to think about it! Here’s something else you might not know about me: I hate asking for help. Of course it goes along with my overachiever tendencies because if I have to ask for help then I’ve made an irrefutable statement that I cannot do everything. So not okay with me and after all of these years of doing it all I am very, very set in my ways.
Luckily I have amazing friends who are also close neighbors. I called Mommy of Big Sister’s BFF who is also one of my BFF’s and a fellow dance mom since her older daughter is also on our competition team. She is like a force to be reckoned with in a crisis. As in I think that FEMA would be a great place for her in the event of a major disaster. Within minutes she had called Mommy of Baby Sister’s BFF next door who came and took her away – in her pajamas – to spend the day with them. And she rushed over to grab Big Sister and all her gear for the competition whisking her away to do hair and makeup and be her surrogate mamma for the entire 9 house so Hubby could take me to the Emergency Room at our nearest hospital.
Five hours I spent in the ER. Five. Hours.
Basically I was one of the few lucky people who’s kidney bleeds after the biopsy. The blood pooled under my diaphragm and created irritation both on the kidney and the diaphragm so every breath resulted in intense pain. Of course they ran a total blood work up to make sure there wasn’t anything else going on plus a urinalysis which confirmed there was blood in my urine and therefor my kidney. Then my blood pressure was super duper low and wouldn’t stablize so I had to stay a while longer – turns out I was a bit dehydrated. Gee, isn’t that what one would expect when I’m on a powerful diuretic and have liquid restrictions? Sheesh. I got some great narcotics to knock me out and curb the pain while my body reabsorbed the blood my kidney leaked out because there was nothing else they could do. Most of Mother’s Day weekend was a narcotic blur full of pain and suffering. Plus the emotional pain of having missed watching my daughter dance for the first time ever. Having to let go and accept that it doesn’t make me a bad parent was difficult but her surrogate mom for the day brought me video and score sheets so in the end I didn’t have to feel like I missed a thing.
This week has been much better. *knock on wood* My pain was gone by Tuesday and the novelty of taking a deep breath has returned. Each day on my treatment has me feeling better. I’m also using essential oils to treat the nausea side-effect of whichever med it is that causes that and to generally improve my mood. Hubby calls them my magic oils which might be accurate since they make me happy. I say “what does it hurt”, right? I even spent twelve hours at Big Sister’s dance competition yesterday like I hadn’t been in the hospital a week ago. Go me!
I guess the visit to the hospital showed that overall I’ve been super lucky in this whole journey. I’ve never been hospitalized even when both my lungs were half blocked with blood clots. I can still work and play and care for my children even if my house is less than pristine most days because I don’t have the energy for housecleaning on top of it all. And if I had to chose my kidney disease, I got the one I would have picked. The treatment is relatively benign, it is a slowly progressing disease where it would be decades before I need dialysis/transplant and my chances are higher of going into remission than progressively getting worse.
So yeah, I have kidney disease. But I’ll be fine because I can’t change it and I’m not going to sit around and wallow about why it happened or play the victim about why it happened to me. In truth, this specific thing happens to two in every ten thousand people which makes me just one of thousands going through the same thing right now. And I’m a master overachiever so I’ve got this in the bag. Even if it means going to bed a little earlier so I have the energy to kick ass as needed the next day…