She never saw it coming. It was like an undetected IED (improvised explosive device) that exploded and shattered her life into tiny pieces.
She had to endure those four long hours of hemodialysis in a dialysis center in Scout Gandia. Sometimes, she would suffer from hypotension, (a low blood pressure such as 90/60), and so, nurses would rush to her side, elevate her legs, and inject some medication to increase her blood pressure.
She had to meticulously choose between a charge nurse or the head nurse for that matter, to insert that gauge 16 dialysis needle into her vein and arteries. Two large needles, twice the pain… but a million more times she had to endure it because yes, after this session, she has to go through it again and again. Thrice per week.
She had to make sure that she survived the week — and go through another round of pain the next week she returned.
She came near the fridge, only to realize she couldn’t drink more than a liter of water a day. Her fluid intake budget included soups and fruit juices. When she ate bistek Tagalog for lunch, she would be rushed to the Emergency Room. Red meat was just too much for her. Increased toxins in her blood levels made her nauseous.
When her leg muscles were still strong, she would watch whatever movie was available in cinemas. She spent her time alone, not to enjoy the movie, but to escape from her bitter reality. And so one day, she watched The Fault in our Stars.
“Pain demands to be felt.” It resonated in her like an irritating LSS that just won’t stop. Damn it! She cried herself to sleep that night and the several nights that followed. She couldn’t talk to anyone about anything. She believed no one would know her deepest, saddest thoughts.
She was me.
I was 24 when I received a diagnosis of End Stage Renal Disease, secondary to Hypertension. Both of my kidneys were not functioning the way they should. That was August of 2012.
Three months after, I had to “celebrate” — rather secretly spend my 25th birthday in that same dialysis chair. No one knew, except me and my Mamang. That was also the first day those large needles pierced through my skin, my veins, my arteries, and my soul.
That was my saddest birthday.
Everything became routinary. No social life. Days off were spent for hemodialysis sessions, several hospitalizations and minor operations in the last three years and nine months of being a dialysis patient. I had to constantly remind myself that I have to survive all these. I was young and kidney transplant (KT) was the best option for me.
Since 2014, I have actively researched, asked and attended seminars on kidney transplant. I knew I had to make sure I was knowledgeable because this was a major major operation.
Fast forward to May 30, 2016, Monday, 4:30am.
I didn’t sleep at all. My mind was blurry. What I kept wishing was for the KT to be successful — that I and the donor would be safe and there would be no complications, that my surgeon and everyone in the operating room at St. Luke’s Medical Center at Bonifacio Global City would be guided by God’s angels.
I laid there at an isolated room near the operating room. I had to relax. At 7:30am, they woke me up and pushed my bed to the operating room, transferred me to the operating table, and my anesthesiologist briefed me on my prep. I also talked to my surgeon. His words were reassuring.
Then my anesthesiologist told me that she would sedate me. I counted 1, 2, 3 — and God knows what number I stopped counting by then. I think it was quarter to 12 when I woke to noises inside my room at the 11th floor.
Somebody who was in white said, “Ma’am, okay na ma’am. Nandito na po kayo sa kwarto ninyo.” (It’s okay ma’am. You’re here in your room.) Ahhh… so I did not have to go to the recovery room, I thought. It was later explained that it was a protocol not to “mix” a KT patient with other patients since we were at a very vulnerable stage after the operation.
Soon after, the anesthesia was wearing off.
I think I cried. No, I think I shouted and was looking for my Mamang. She was right there but she could not come near me. She told me, a few days after, that I was sobbing so hard, and was asking her if everything went well, that I looked for my Papang, for my Ate Inday, and my donor.
So this is how it felt like.
I became emotional, almost dying. Probably when I was asleep, my body was relaxed but my mind was constantly running in circles, praying and hoping for the best, but worrying a million times more. It was a very rough seven days at the hospital. Everything was numbed; there were too many things attached on my sore body. I was totally dependent on everyone.
I was on liquid diet on Tuesday. I was allowed soft diet by Wednesday, and solid renal diet come Thursday until I was discharged on Sunday. My nephrologist, surgeon, and the nurses were so happy that I adjusted immediately. The dosage for one of my anti-rejection drugs was already reduced prior to discharge.
Today, June 30, 2016, while many are anticipating the inauguration of President Rodrigo Duterte, I’m celebrating the first month of my new kidney. I gave her the name “Kid.”
I silently pray, as I lit a candle for “her” cake, that she stays with me for as long as I take good care of her. There is always that fear of the unknown, of how long my Kid will sustain me. For some transplant patients, two years; others, five years. And for the lucky ones, ten years or more.
I met a KT survivor for more than a decade at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute. His new kidney was from a deceased donor. I have faith that Kid will be healthy as long as I live. I also pray to all who have shared the burden with me and my family especially on my finances, that God will return all the blessings and favors to them a hundred fold.
And to you, who is going through the same pain that I had, trust that God has a great plan for you. I am proof of that. AKTF! Always keep the faith!
[Entry 151, The SubSelfie Blog]
About the Author:
Ma. Bulaklak Ausente was a field correspondent for GMA News before her kidney problems. She now works as a Junior Desk Editor for the news organization.