I came down with a case of the chills earlier. It’s 70 degrees in my house, so a thermostat adjustment wasn’t going to help. I wrapped myself in blankets and waited for a little while, but any pulling back of the blankets brought on another shivering attack. I took a couple of magic painkillers. That seems to have done the trick.
The last time I remember shivering like this was February last year when my kidney function nosedived due to a kidney stone blockage. I don’t have the pain associated with a kidney stone. I only have the minor flank pain and joint aches that I’m used to. But it’s an abrupt reminder that I can’t avoid dialysis for much longer.
A couple of weeks ago, it seemed I’d probably be headed towards dialysis sometime in April, after having felt completely sapped of energy almost nonstop. Normally, people start dialysis after feeling a bit sicker–symptoms like nausea and headaches in addition to the fatigue. But the numbers that measure renal function have been consistently bordering the range at which people start dialysis, so my doctor told me I should start giving it serious thought. I had a day or two when I felt slightly better, though, and I’ll seize upon anything that gives me reason to postpone the inevitable.
I’ve long dreaded the start of dialysis. For years, I’ve seen dialysis at The End of a chance to build a meaningful, productive life. I realize this sounds overly dramatic, but it probably comes as little surprise to those who know me that I feel like I’m basically failed to find contentment in my life. I have struggled to achieve simple goals that I’ve had, and I’ve always looked at dialysis as a period in my life where survival would be the only goal I’d have the energy to focus on.
I could be wrong (and I do hope I am wrong), but I don’t think people on dialysis date or enjoy anything resembling an active social life. People on dialysis don’t have career breakthroughs or flourish in a hobby or follow a rejuvenating exercise regimen. People just survive. They try to muster the energy to go to work and walk their dogs and pay their bills. They put their life on hiatus until they day comes, they hope, when they’ll receive a kidney transplant. That day could be six or seven years down the road.
The day I get a transplant could be much sooner, but I’ll need to find a living donor. As I’ve said before, I don’t have much of a strategy for doing this. The odds aren’t so good. According to the National Kidney Foundation (via this thoughtful essay on finding a donor), there are 485,000 Americans with end stage renal disease, but, in 2007, there were only 16,629 kidney transplants. When I see those statistics…I don’t know what to say…I’m certainly not an optimistic person by nature so…
So as not to be a complete downer, here’s the requisite pet-picture-with-glum-post…