Well, we are off-off-and away. Happy New Year to everyone. I guess I have just decided to write and keep writing. There is so much I want to share and it really does help me. I hope it's in some ways helpful to you too. Warning...It's not all butterflies and cupcakes. I will write the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Four days ago, on January 1, 2023, I found myself back in the hospital. Let me rewind just a little. I was visiting my family in Alabama for the holiday season. Overall, I was so glad to be with them--it was a nice change of pace. However, towards the end of the stay (which should have been December 28, 2022) I got really ill. I was planning on getting a flight back to the DMV, but two things put an immediate stop to that: first, the flights got out of hand. I tried to book my flight and the cheapest I could find is $3003. Now, I have been known to make an investment in something I really wanted. That was not even for a first-class seat and these days, I typically only fly first-class. Since I deplore flying, I don't mind paying a little extra for the comfort. Unfortunately, they didn't even have first-class available and I wouldn't have paid three-thousand dollars to fly from MGM to DCA for that much.
The second reason I couldn't do the flight, is because I was immobile again. I could barely walk a couple feet without being severely winded, out of breath, and exhausted. As mentioned, I was visiting with my sister, so I was as comfortable as you could be. My sister is a successful dentist. Her home was cozy and my sleeping space was perfect. Not to mention, I was able to be with my niece and nephews. The apple really doesn't fall too far from the tree. Those babies are brilliant. My niece and nephews are 18, 5, and 4. (Sorry if I got that wrong y'all. Uncle Shawn still loves you). Even though I got ill, being around family, was just what the doctor ordered. But yes, my sister: she took great care of me. It's funny because growing up, she was the only girl in our immediate family. To me she was distant. All she cared about was her priorities. Not really a bad thing though. It allowed her to make straight As, finish at the top of her class, and excel in life. I recently told her how proud I was for her. If you knew my family and how we grew up with very humble beginnings you would be proud of her too. I did want to make the point though that to see her take such good care of me while I was there - even helping me put on my pants and such, cooking for me - it was all surreal. Love you sis!
I am actually typing this from the hospital bed. I spoke to a colleague while still in Alabama. She called to see how my Christmas was and ask how I was doing. I told her, "I feel awful." Out of love and care, she said, "You need to go to the ER there." I had to ask. "Here? As in Alabama?" That wasn't happening. I love the friendliness of my familiar people and I also love the way many love God, but I am not so sure about its healthcare. I really wanted to find the next smoking thing out of Alabama to get back home so I could be seen by my care team. I have a preferred hospital, I have a PCP I trust, I have a trusted nephrologist, I have a kidney surgeon, I have my preferred LabCorp - and the list goes on. I did not trust being in an area where I feel let my grandmother pass before her time. However, that's a story for another time. So, I checked every mode of transportation available: train, bus, by car, and I even considered walking (just joking). Compared to waiting a few days and getting a flight, the other options didn't make much sense.
Ironically, the soonest flight I could get out of Alabama - at a somewhat reasonable price - was on January 1, 2023. I stayed and moped around the house those few days in excruciating pain until I could catch that flight. Close to the last day before I took off, I was getting even more ill. Once, I tried to make it to the restroom. Unfortunately, I didn't quite make it to the toilet. When I got to the bathroom, pulled my pants down I made the biggest, most disgusting mess in the middle of my sister's beautiful bathroom floor. It was horrible. Again, something must have happened over time because she didn't make me feel anything. She said, "That's fine, I have plenty of gloves. I will clean it all up." After that, and before the flight, I had her get me some depends for the flight. I did good on the flight, well, up until 25 minutes until landing in DC. I ended making good use of those depends. I asked the flight attendant if I could get a little help to the bathroom because I needed to clean up. She said,, "We can't allow anyone out of their seat right now. We are landing soon. Please wait." I was devastated. As soon as I landed at DCA, my friend and brother picked me up at the airport and drove me directly to the hospital. I have been here since.
WHAT ARE THE DOCTORS SAYING?
Needless to say, upon arrival at hospital, they take me immediately to the back. The hook me up to lots of machines and started oxygen on me. Apparently, in addition to everything else, the buildup of fluid (and toxins) has caused my oxygen to be severely faint. I have my preferred hospital so they are familiar with me and have a record of my health. In other words, they knew what time it was. Within a short time, I was admitted an upstairs in a room. I think to myself, "Well at least that's good because I cannot stand this cold ER room."
This article is getting long and I want to end it. I will come back with more writing later. Here, is the part that really prompted this whole writing though. I was told that I have to start dialysis. I am scared shitless. Excuse my language. I wanted to really say it how I am feeling it. Seriously, the ER doctor came in and tole me the process and explained that I would have a catheter inserted in my neck. First of all, I have never had surgery a day in my life. Second of all, my knowledge of a catheter i in two ways (both no bueno). First, as many of you know, I am a nationally certified American Sign Language Interpreter. I have interpreted countless medical appointments where they have had to install a catheter in the elderly. I have seen it with older men when they need to have surgery so that they can still use the bathroom. I have also seen it with women giving birth if they had complications. I have never seen it being installed in a 37 year old man's chest because of kidney failure. So, you can imagine it's all a bit overwhelming for me. At any rate, the day is today. Right now it's 2:30am and I can't sleep a wink knowing that in a few hours I have to go through such trauma. So friends, keep me in your prayers.
That's enough for now. I will be back to give more info on the process, the procedure. Thanks for allowing me to vent to you. It really is helpful. While I have to do this alone, writing to you allows me to not have to do it alone.
(This is Shawn Maldon in hospital bed on Jan 5, 2023 at 2:40am; nervous about tomorrow's catheter operation.)