Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Let me 'splain. No, ees too much. Let me sum up." Inigo, from 'The Princess Bride'

Normal Potassium Levels for 'Normal' People
I love the above quote.  And I will try to 'sum up'.  But some explanation is needed, so I will try to be brief and, um, tactful...

Things had been strange around here.  It started with exhaustion, nausea and diarrhea (sorry to be so blunt, but it's an important point) a few months ago.  My doctor diagnosed me with gastroparesis - paralysis of the vagas nerve in my stomach from diabetes (I had been gambling with my health!  Get it?  Vagas nerve, gambli...never mind.).  I argued with her - really, I did - and on subsequent visits I asked her if she was positive that was the reason for the nausea and, well, you know.  She always said yes with a slightly condescending look as if to say 'Who's the doctor here?'.

On March 23, 2011, I was tending Noah, and suddenly vomited.  (Again, sorry to be so graphic.)  I had a doctor appointment for the next day just as a follow-up for some bloodwork from a few weeks earlier and instead of cancelling it (as I often do...) I kept it.  I thought I had a bad case of stomach flu and wanted her to fix it.

At the doctor's office on Thursday, March, 24, they repeated some bloodwork because I complained to the doctor's resident-in-training that I was still nauseated and had, well, again, you know...  She ordered more bloodwork than what I had been scheduled for earlier.  As I sat waiting for the phlebotomist I got weaker and weaker and by the time my name was called, I literally had to be helped from the chairs to her lab. (I had been weak like this at home, too, but each time it happened I just fell back onto the sofa and tried again.)  She told me after she had drawn my blood (that sounds completely different than what she really did...), that they would have the results Monday or Tuesday.

Friday morning, watching Good Morning America, my phone rings with a frantic call from my doc's office.  My friend, Kathleen the Nurse, told me my potassium levels were critical - more than double the normal level - and they wanted me to have my blood re-drawn as quickly as possible.  To make a long story short (yeah, too late, I know...) I was rushed to the hospital and admitted immediately.  Apparently I didn't have the flu...

All of the symptoms I had been exhibiting for over 2 months, were because my potassium levels were fluctuating and finally became critical and I was in complete renal failure (meaning my kidneys had quit working for those of you who aren't 'hospital-lingo-savvy').

Within an hour of being admitted, I was in Interventional Radiology having a stent put into my jugular vein (THAT was fun...) so they could put me on dialysis to remove the potassium and other not-so-healthy stuff from my blood.

Miraculously (and no, that isn't a euphemism), it took only two sessions of dialysis for the potassium levels to return to normal.  According to the nephrologist (kidney doctor), this is an unheard of short time.  They thought I would have to be on dialysis for several weeks.  My original potassium level was 8.4 and the nurses told me they had seen patients die from levels at 7.9.  THAT made me think!

Now, let's re-cap the miracle 'sum up', shall we?  Because I thought I had the flu, I kept my scheduled doctor appointment (and trust me, I cancel more than I go...).  Because I saw my doctor's resident instead of my doctor, extra bloodwork was ordered that showed the critical potassium levels and no, it would NOT have shown up in the originally ordered bloodwork.  Because I had been so sick on Wednesday (and continued to be so), Scarlett got someone else to tend Noah for Friday, leaving me free to be rushed to the hospital.  Because my two oldest sons, Lucas and Stephen (Jared didn't know at the time), both posted my condition on Facebook almost immediately, prayers were being sent up on my behalf before I even had my first session of dialysis. (Thank you all.)  Because I still have something to complete here on this side of the veil, I was made well in the shortest time the doctors had ever seen. I count a miracle-minimum of five.

So, if any of you have any idea of why I am still here and what I need to complete before being allowed to go see my mom and dad on a permanent basis, I'd appreciate the input.  I have a couple of ideas, but they seem kind of lame, compared to the miracles that kept me here.  By the way, the nausea and, um, other stuff, are gone and my vagas nerve seems to be fully functional.  And, yes, I tactfully kept my comments to myself and didn't lambaste my doctor about this.  (This is called a 'humble brag'. Hehehe...)

I added this picture of Inigo just 'cause he's so good lookin'.  And he sings great, too, in real life...
Fezzick (Andre the Giant) Inigo (Mandy Patinkin) and Vizzini (Wallace Shawn)