Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Complicated Fear

I have had two moments in my db career disrupted by a fear so acute that I felt like I was being devoured.

One was 12 years ago, when I tried Lantus and ended up with a "reaction" which put me in the hospital for 8 nights with symptoms of heart failure. That was a lot of time to think about death and disability. (My heart is fine.) The second was 6 years ago when I had emergency surgery for my detached retina and had to lie face down, not moving, for 7 days as it healed. The doc said the outcome could be anything from being able to recognized shapes to possible 20/60 vision. I recovered to 20/30 vision and remain one of his "best success stories".

I figure that at some point my luck will run out...................and thought I was at that point a month ago.

I'd had a high fever for a couple of days with no other symptoms. I went to Urgent Care and the doc was mystified. She kept going down the list and said in addition to a chest x-ray they would do a urinalysis to see if anything showed signs of infection.

After a long wait back in the exam room, the doc came in and asked if I had kidney disease. I told her no, and that my last a/c ratio (albumin/creatinine ratio) was normal and that had been done 4 months ago. I told her that I had some urine spillage about 6 years ago that subsided after I started on an ace inhibitor. She explained that I had a "huge amount" of protein in my urine and I interuppted and said "well, that could be due to an infection, right" and she then said there were no other factors which indicated an infection and that this was probably "acute onset diabetic nephropathy".
Oh. My.

I got home and my inner monologue was something like this - "....ok, ok.........so my kidney's might be failing.......maybe it's early in the process....... maybe I've lived long enough.........maybe I'll die and then not have to deal with all this crud anymore........". One of my relatives had just been taken off
the kidney/pancreas transplant list because his condition had weakened to the point where he would not survive the surgery.

The next morning I called my pcp's office and asked that the doc review the notes and call me back. The nurse phoned back in 20 minutes and said "the dr. wants to see you immediately - you need to come in today - we'll make room for you". Gulp. By then I was in that robot-like numbness where I send myself when things get too scary.

Dr. Steve came in the room and said that yes, this was a problem and needed to be addressed. We'd start with a 24 hour urine collection. Fortunately, the creatinine level in my blood was normal, but, it doesn't start to elevate until about half your kidney function is gone.

So I waited a few days to calm down and then did the collection. I brought the jug to the lab on July 17 and was told that my pcp would call me with the results, usually within a few days. The next week I jumped every time the phone rang at work and held my breath while listening to my messages at home. I made a couple of significant errors at work and was overtly mean to a couple of good friends. No news.

The next Monday, the 28th, I called the clinic and said I wanted the pcp to call me with the results. I was told he was on vacation. I asked to speak with his nurse and no, only the doc can give you the results. I asked to speak with whoever was covering for him but never got a call back.

I decided that I didn't care if I was dying or not - and conveniently erased the prior 3 weeks from my mind and stumbled about on auto-pilot.

Then, last Friday, August 15th, I got a letter from the doc. He wrote "Kathy, your kidneys look good. I don't know what the episode was about but presently there is nothing to indicate any damage or to be concerned about. See you in 3 months.".
Soooooooo.......I wasted a month of summer walking around like a zombie. I am too emotionally exhausted to be angry, and then, who would I be pissed off with? Maybe it was a lab error; maybe it was the body trying to tell me that I need to pull in the reins and improve my control; maybe it was a higher source reminding me that I am very lucky. Sigh..................

On a closing note, we have a lovely party last weekend for my mom's 81 birthday. She has had several major episodes of illness in the last 2 years and been in assisted living since February. Sometimes when I call her she is in la-la land. But, on the day of the celebration she was extremely good, as you can see on the picture. With her is my precious niece, Emily. Em came to be with our family just before her first birthday, and cracked open all of our hearts with the soft tap of one tiny finger...........sniffle, sniffle.


Zazzy said...

Oh Kathy! Complicated fear indeed. I'm so glad it turned out okay in the end - how very scary. Remember that I'm out here ready to hold your hand long distance when you're scared. And send virtual hugs whenever you need them.

Unknown said...

I know what you mean about the scare with kidneys. I had one last year as well. Showed high amounts of protein in my urine so they did a 24 hour urine to be safe which came back fine. My doctor said it was just a freak lab result. BTW I adopted a kitty, our apartment complex changed management and we were allowed to get animals back so I rescued a cute little guy from the animal shelter.

Anonymous said...

how scary. I'm glad everything ended up being nothing.

(and your mother looks like the stereotypical loving little old lady!)

Lyrehca said...

Jeez, I'm sorry this has affected half your summer but relieved that things appear to be OK. I'd been wondering where you'd gone.

Lee Ann Thill said...

Well, I'm glad there was ultimately no issues, and your fear was for nothing - better for nothing than for something even though you could have done without any of that. I know the ominous feeling of kidney doom and wouldn't wish that on anyone.

meanderings said...

I love the photo of your mom. What a great smile!
As far as waiting for lab reports, it's the pits. My PCP is great about emailing the info quickly, but others are not. I recently discovered that I can have the lab reports sent to me, at the same time that they're sent to the office. When asking a lab tech to send reports to two doctors, she said, "Would you like a copy sent to you?" So, I now ask for my own mailed copy.
I'm happy to hear that you're okay.

Karen said...

Thank goodness it's a happy ending. Terrible to have to go through all the nail-biting, etc. But I'm so so happy that everything it okay.

Molly said...

Holy smokes! How scary! As I was reading this, my jaw dropped. Yikes!

Like everyone else, I'm so glad that your kidneys are o.k. And sorry that you have had such a long ordeal.

There is still some summer left and I hope that you can treat yourself to some fun. ;-)

(PS. Dixie sends a woof too!)

Cara said...

Talk about scary! I'm so glad everything turned out okay.
By the way, your niece is adorable. :)

Minnesota Nice said...
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Minnesota Nice said...

Ladies, thank you so much for the comments. I feel like each of them was a big smushy hug. You are the best.

Zaz - THank you. It was weird that I didn't tell anybody about it and didn't want to post about it until I had the results. I think maybe putting it down in words would have made it seem more real. Love the kitty pic.

Cody - now that I've done hours of research online, I do realize that many people have episode of protein spilling that turn out to be nothing. So glad you have a kitty. Thanks.

Rachel - thank you; yes, my M was very happy that day. I think she was excited about the fuss being made over her - everytime someone would come into the nursing home dining room she'd yell, "come see my cake". (I didn't even know she had the strength to shout).

Lyrehca - Thanks. In retrospect I feel like sort of a brat for being upset that so much of my summer was trashed. Thankfully, there remain many days ahead for me, no matter what the season.

Lee Ann - that's a great line - "better for nothing". I'm going to remember that. Thanks.

Colleen -Thanks. My clinic always sends a written report of lab results, but not until the doc signs it. So, the fact that he was on vacation delayed things, and then I guess he had to get caught up. I don't know how it would have been handled had the results been bad. I'm going to ask him net time I go in.

Karen - thank you. I have to keep in mind that I'm not the only person who has waited for results. I think it's pretty universal to the human condition, whether you have db or not.

Molly -Thanks. Yes it was "jaw dropping" and a huge reminder that we are all vulnerable to the uncertainty of life, db or not. I have 2 things I'm looking forward to - the Ren Fest and also going to Underwater World at Mall of America. I also want to see the grizzly exhibit at the zoo......

Cara - thank you. Yes, E is our warm fuzzy. She gives great hugs and soft little kisses and never had to be taught to say "thank you" - just started saying it.

Araby62 (a.k.a. Kathy) said...

Oy. Glad you're OK, but boy I know the feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. What a great photo :-)

Minnesota Nice said...

Hi Kathy. Thank you. It seems like I spent many years in my 20's and 30's waiting for the other shoe to drop. Fear is so paralyzing and I really truly want to stop being a slave to it.

Donna said...

Wow Kathy! Fear of the unknown is awful, isn't it? Yikes!

I'm so glad everything turned out okay & now you can move on.

Minnesota Nice said...

Donna - thank you. Yes, fear leaves you stuck in a big way - stuck until you know the outcome.

Scott K. Johnson said...

While I'm glad to hear it was nothing, I am sorry that you had to go through it. The questions, the waiting, the "what if's". All of it.

It sucks, and even once it's over you're kind of resentful that you had to go through it in the first place!

Minnesota Nice said...

Scott - hi my friend.
"Resentful" is a perfect word. As if everyone else's lives go without problems. I think it's just that the smooth stretches of road vary and we are in different places as different times.
You know, I am a fretter and drama queen by nature, and now I'm worrying that there will be some type of huge riot outside the building where I work - in the hotzone for the RNC........

Bernard said...


I'm sorry that I only read this post today. That must have been a terrifying experience for you. I'm glad it all worked out fine.

That picture is just the best. What a great pairing of characters.

Minnesota Nice said...

Bernard - thanks. I hadn't thought about it, but a "pairing of characters" is the absolute perfect description. They both look somewhat mischievous, each in their own way. I'm going to think of that when I look back on this pic.

Minnesota Nice said...
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Minnesota Nice said...
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Lel said...

Goodness! I'm so sorry you had such a rough month and am very glad things turned out ok. The picture is great. Still need to do coffee sometime if things ever quiet down. Regardless, take care of yourself!

Minnesota Nice said...

Hey Jana - thanks for stopping by.

I walk by the brick building with the climbing ivy every day and could just stand and stare at it for long moments of time. I like the tiny new leaves and the big older leaves, all making their own pattern.

Yes, we will have to make the coffee date happen.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your ordeal, for how you were treated and the deep fear it stirred. I am sooo happy that it turned out well, but understand too that because of how it was handled, you lost some precious peace of mind in the process. Not fair! I hope you are feeling better now and are enjoying a beautiful, calm fall. Be well! Birdie
PS. I'm sorry too that I just read your post today and am only getting in touch now...

Minnesota Nice said...

Birdie - thank you.
Yes, in retrospect, the thing that annoyed me most was being showed what can potentially lie ahead, in boldface. It is unpleasant to live one's days feeling that an unplanned db roadblock may lie around the next turn.
For me, that anxiety will always be there, but, I am working on putting it way far into the background, and concentrating and enjoying what's directly in front of me.