I was put on dialysis for 24 hours a day for 10 days. My body was extremely swollen because of my kidney failure. I had - shockingly - 30 pounds of 'water' that my body was holding on to because my kidneys could not process it. The dialysis was supposed to get rid of this water, in hopes that my kidneys would restart. But, as the doctor said openly to my parents, things did not look so good.
"She is the worst case we have ever seen. She is the youngest and most dangerous case out of all the ICU patients. That means she is the sickest one in the hospital," the doctor told us - on more than one occasion.
And so I was asleep - under the power of sedatives - for the entire month of May. I would sometimes wake up, only to feel extremely dizzy. The whole world around me appeared to be nothing but darkness. My room always looked black to me. The dialysis, along with the antibiotics, made my body weaker and weaker.
My body was fragile. My heart rate soared to about 140 beats per minute, the normal for my age being 60-100. My blood pressure (which has always been on the low side) became 180/90. The doctors had no choice but to begin giving me heart and blood pressure medication via IV to stabilize my condition. It seemed as though each and every single day, I was getting worse. My organs were all failing. It was only a matter of time, then, until everything shut down. Doctors, nurses, and even the custodians often witnessed my parents in tears. On countless occasions, my parents were asked whether or not they had any other children. It was plain for everyone to see - I was dying. The only question was when.
And then it happened. I say this with disbelief, knowing that what I experienced was nothing short of a miracle. On May 31, the doctor came in to tell me that they were going to remove the breathing tube. He said that he was sure that I was able to breathe on my own. I remember two nurses coming in and telling me to take three deep breaths. They said that on the third breath, they would pull out the tube.
And pull out the tube was just what they did. I remember taking in a deep third breath and feeling the tube slide up against my throat. I stared in amusement and horror as I realized how large that tube was. The next day, the nurse came to stitch my neck, as it was cut open from where the dialysis tubing was attached. I remember putting my hand to my neck and feeling a large metal suture to my neck.
"It has to stay there," the nurse said. "Because you'll be getting dialyzed in four hour sessions now, instead of for 24 hours".
This time, however, I felt the dialysis because I was awake. It was a horrible feeling. Watching the blood leave your neck out of one tube, and seeing it enter (this time filtered) through another tube. Not being able to move - even an inch - for four hours straight. Shivering in terror because you are losing your blood. Feeling empty on the inside. I pray that neither myself nor anyone else ever has to experience this.
After a week, I was doing fairly well. I was still receiving the tube feedings, but this time it was only overnight. I was eating, though still not enjoying it. I still had negative thoughts and terrible feelings. But at least I was alive.
I was released from the ICU the second week of June, and was then a patient on the ward. The tube feedings continued, but I had healed from the pneumonia and also no longer needed dialysis. My blood tests showed large improvements in my liver and kidneys. My heart was also getting stronger. Although I didn't like to admit it, I knew that it was the nutrition I was getting that made me better. Food, and God. God has been by my side throughout this entire journey. The doctors and nurses did not believe that I was leaving the ICU alive. Neither could my family. All we could do was thank our Lord, who stretched out His glorious hand to save his daughter. Not to mention all the prayers and support of my family, friends, and Church community. Food, prayers, and love.
It got me through. I was released from the hospital on June 21, 2012.