SUNNY SIDE UP!
by Candy Ledesma
EVEN BAD THINGS CAN HAVE SILVER LININGS
“Mars, i-co-confine na kita. Huwag ka nang umuwi.”
Hearing this left me stunned.
I was at the doctor’s (my kumpare) for my routine blood work and check up every three months or so. What he told me absolutely threw me off balance. He wanted me admitted at once and ordered a blood transfusion for two bags of whole blood. Nayku! I didn’t like being confined. The word itself sends chills up my spine. This was going to be hell.
Why a blood transfusion? I have heard horror stories about transfusions - people getting AIDS and other diseases from it was enough to make my skin crawl - parang kadiri noh? But what choice did I have?
So there, I was wheeled to my room, needles don’t really bother me so they whip it out and stick it into my arm. First order of gratitude, my daughter, who’s a nurse, works at that hospital so somehow, I’m getting preferred status. The doctor is my kumpare so that adds another star to my chart. When the good doctor eventually descends in my room, he begins his litany of my health problems. Apparently, there was a longish list of things that was wrong with me. I was anemic. My blood sugar has dropped to dangerous levels. My blood pressure has shot up - in a span of three months and stayed elevated. My creatinine was in the high 900s - danger, danger, danger! So anyway, with all the things going awry in my body, my doctor was slowly going into panic mode. He had only a few days to work on my problems or he’d have to break the news to my friends that I’m dying.
Now, I’m not a fussy patient. I don’t really need someone to watch me 24/7 but an occasional visitor helps a lot in making the confinement bearable. Second thing to be grateful for: friends. Dear friends who took time out to visit me and bring their bright smiles to that dingy hospital room. They not only took on the responsibility of keeping my spirits up but also, believe it or not, the financial burdens of my hospitalization. To this day, I cannot believe what they have done for me. You can’t ask for a better bunch of friends, really.
It took two weeks to normalize my everything levels in my blood. I was already looking forward to going home when I started feeling really bad. I couldn’t breathe; I couldn’t stand on my own two feet; I couldn’t lay flat on the bed; I had shivers - what the hell???
The next day, the doctor comes in with another giant of a doctor. I had a small room so these two guys literally filled up the room. They talked between themselves and doctor #1 begins with letting me know that I am scheduled for an ultrasound so they can take a better look at my kidneys. Darn it - now what, I think to myself. Doctor #2 tries to explain to me what’s going on. He says that my kidneys might be the cause of all this. So ultrasound date comes and the doctor doing the ultrasound begins making pretty negative comments as soon as the sensor hits my skin.
I hear ultrasound doc saying to her assistant that my kidneys are pretty shrunk. Shrunk? - I think to myself, what are they, cotton fabric left in the dryer too long? So there, my first two doctors come to an agreement and order dialysis for me. Dialysis? Seriously? It’s the very thing I am scared of because I saw my uncle deteriorate from the time his doctor put him on dialysis. That was back in the seventies when a dialysis was equated with a death sentence. These days, it’s a lot better but if you look at it from a financial point of view, well - it is in fact, a death sentence.
Initially, I was adamant. There’s no way I was getting on dialysis. I’m barely getting by. Add dialysis to the equation and I’d rather die than leave my family with heavy financial responsibilities.
But like I said, even bad things have silver linings. Little did I know that I was going to get worse. The next day found me not being able to speak well, I was losing control of my movements. I was quickly becoming a vegetable. Eventually, I began drooling because I couldn’t swallow properly.
So I was whisked to the dialysis center and fitted with an intra-jugular thingy for my initial dialysis sessions. Gastos na naman. Right after they stuck me with the intra-jugular thing, I was hooked on to a dialysis machine and thus began my very first dialysis.
I was feeling a lot better after that. Breathing, talking, swallowing has somewhat returned to normal. Obviously, I was heavily congested before they brought me to dialysis. Water was beginning to clog up my lungs so I couldn’t breathe. There was no other way.
But looking beyond what I’ve been given to this point, things became clearer to me. Somehow, I began to make peace with myself, accepted things that I could not change and tried to be a better version of me despite my new condition.