You’ve Got To Be Kid(ney)ding Me!

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First off, this is not a baseball post. It ties in tangentially to what has been going on in my life that affects my ability to attend baseball games, both locally and, more importantly, further abroad for the time being and the foreseeable future. If you want a straight up review of a stadium or a write up of my adventures, you might want to look elsewhere on this blog I’m sorry.

A little bit over two years ago–shortly before my wedding — I spent a little bit of time in the hospital. This was no major cause of alarm for me or even my future wife or family. I’m a diabetic and these brief stays are-sadly – not out of the ordinary. As they ran the typical tests and panels, something unusual came up that required a bit more investigation, I was referred to a nephrologist within the hospital network.

After further tests and studies, it was determined that I was in the process of kidney failure. Not quite the dire situation that it sounds, but still not the most fun thing in the world to hear mere weeks before a wedding.

Essentially my kidneys were at a pretty low level of productivity. They were still doing their job, but – -more or less — coming in to the office late, taking a long lunch and leaving early. Obviously they were getting close to quitting, but were still mildly functional, so no medical intervention was needed yet, except to add yet another pill to the collection I was taking every morning anyway.

The wedding went off without a kidney – related problem, as did the next few months. Then, on a routine appointment with the kidney doctor I got the bad news. The kidneys had more or less stopped coming in to the office and I would need to start dialysis.

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OK, bit of background info. Dialysis is more or less a washing machine for my blood, that does the job that the lousy, lazy kidneys SHOULD have been doing. There are a few types, including hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, which we will come to shortly. This would not be my first go ’round with dialysis. When my wife and I were in a horrific car accident about a year prior  (https://www.facebook.com/notes/lauren-petersen/worst-vacation-ever/10153392996703142/) my kidneys decided to temporarily shut down so I got two dialysis sessions guarded over by a sweet Bulgarian man, being as I was pretty messed up on painkillers at that point, I couldn’t tell you anything else about the experience so I was a bit nervous to start this new phase of my life.

I started out doing hemodialysis, which means they poke a long term catheter into you — mine was in my neck, so get your mind our of the painful gutter, and you go to a center three times a week for the blood cleaning. The long game was a plan for me to get set for the peritoneal dialysis and SUPER long game was planning for me to get a transplant.

I did my time, approximately seven months, and then I was given the go-ahead to start the peritoneal dialysis classes. Those took approximately a month plus an additional few weeks of testing it out at home, including some of the more primitive methods, in case there was an emergency that might potentially require them.

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Finally I was signed off. I had to dialyze every night, but I could do it anywhere, or really any time I wanted, so long as I got nine consecutive hours in which to  do so. It was great to have that convenience and flexibility with my life. We had experienced how INconvenient it was to try and do hemodialysis on the road earlier in the year when we went to Arizona for Cubs Spring Training. 

In January things seemed to be going wrong and my next doctor’s appointment verified that feeling. I had a bad infection in the peritoneum that would require the removal of the equipment responsible for the peritoneal dialysis and I would have to return to hemodialysis.

This was heartbreaking for a number of reasons. The loss of flexibility and freedom was utterly destroying for me. I no longer had the option to go anywhere, really, much further than a few miles of my home equating to an overnight stay, or I’d likely wind up missing a dialysis session, which doesn’t sound like much (and early on I fooled myself to believe) but I would certainly pay the price of missing over the following day or two.

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This also meant that I missed out on my big family trip to Scotland. The plan was for them to rent a house in Scotland for a month, near where my Papa (Cubs fan in the World Series posts) was born and raised, and use that as a base to jump around Western Europe. All of my siblings and significant others would be there and, as I have nothing else going on, I looked forward to being there the whole time and spending some time with all of them in a smaller group setting than holidays allow for at my parent’s house.

I had arranged to get my dialysis supplies sent there, literally almost a year prior to the trip. I had looked into how to get my machine (the one component I’d need to provide) through the airport and onto a plane. In short, I did everything humanly possible to prepare for this as soon as possible, so I wouldn’t get the “Oh no. You forgot (item) X,Y or Z or (policy) A, B or C” and I could ensure I could get there as safely and easily as possible.

Well, the trip is currently in mid-swing, and, as you soon will see, I am still in the good ol’ US of A. I did everything I could with my insurance company and even with private dialysis clinics, but either they couldn’t do anything to help me unless the issue was an actual emergency (insurance) or the price per session without NHS was so obscene that I might as well have flown home for every session (private clinics.)

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While this whole event was utterly heartbreaking for Lauren and I, it did sort of open a positive opportunity. We attended a transplant 101 class with my mother, designed to give the real information about getting a kidney transplant. As a part of the class, each potential recipient was scheduled to join a “part two” of the class, which is a full day of testing, both medical and psychological. My scheduled date is this upcoming Monday the 23 at 10:15 in the morning.

I’m going to be honest and admit that I’m terrified. Not of the blood-work or psychological testing. I’ve had plenty of those in my life, though I do hope the vampires leave me enough blood to get home. No. I’m actually scared that my results will come back and tell me that I’m ineligible to receive a kidney, and will therefore be stuck on hemodialysis for the rest of my life. No traveling, no freedom. If I could ask for anyone who might read this to pass it along and offer up some prayers of at least some positive thoughts for my chances.

I need a victory in my life right now.

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I’m sorry that this isn’t more baseball-centric, but if I get a kidney I promise that the tripping’ baseballs content will spam your timeline like no other!

Keep sending those good thoughts and prayers…and keep tripping’ baseballs!

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