So I've been in the thick of what I thought was a flu for the past four-six weeks. Feeling fatigue, no appetite, and when food does go in, it goes out even faster. A perfect crash diet? Not so much. I've already lost 15 lbs in the last 6 months and don't really want to lose any more.
So I did the responsible thing and went in to see my PCP last week, thinking that maybe I can't shake this "flu bug" and mentioned that in addition to the above symptoms, my urine looks as bubbly as poorly poured beer. Bubbles and foam have always been present in my pee...but when I showed my mom/nurse on Sunday (after my show at the Beachland) she and I both concurred: "that's not good."
Oh yes, my show at the Beachland...let's talk about that first! Despite the fact that I was functioning on nothing but gatorade and a few peanuts (nothing remained in my stomach since 7 a.m. that morning) the show averaged in at about a 7 for me. I was weak. And it was honestly the most challenging show I've done--even worst than the shows where I felt like an emotional, vulnerable wreck. It's been over a year since I've forgotten song lyrics, but that night I was toe-tapping through one of my new songs and went completely blank. I will say that I pulled it off--it felt like a crisis, but I kept on charging through and completed that song with vigor. But from that point on (it was the beginning of the show when it occurred) I felt like I was walking a very thin line between collapsing or losing all my integrity as a performer and walking off the stage. I really admire Catherine Feeny tho and knew I had to stick it out. And I got through, knowing as a performer I didn't deliver my best. But I did deliver what I could, and this is what I've come to peace with. Dearest Lauren came and snuggled me up after my set and I realized from the love that poured from her that she was just as concerned about me as I was. I wasn't well, and she knew it. I knew it. And all that knowing meant I knew it was time to check in with the doctor.
So I checked in with him and he checked off a checklist of labs to determine what's going on, and then he connected with my Nephrologist, who also added to that checklist.
And now the news.
Turns out I've lost more kidney function. In fact, in the last two months, I've lost more function than I did in the year. And suddenly things that were never flagged abnormal in my blood are flagged. Creatine continues to escalate, which I'm used to. But now BUN is abnormal. And now my GFR is 24.
I had a moment on Saturday after I got the news, where I was washing my face and started to cry. I looked in the mirror and said, "this is going to happen. You have a chronic disease, and it's going to keep getting worse." And I tried to stop myself from crying, pushing down the knot in the back of my throat as hard as I could. Because this is to be expected-I've got to just accept that this is going to happen. Right? Sort of. It is going to happen, but to deny myself the emotions that go along with this happening is just plain silly. I am an emotional woman and I'm damn proud of the fact that I can feel as deeply as I do. I'm not about to not feel my way through this. So I went back to washing my face with soap and tears and said out loud, "girl, let it out. Own these tears."
And damn did I own that cry. It felt damn good.
After it felt damn good, I thought about a letter I literally received the night before. A friend sent me a letter and articulated her desire and commitment to be my kidney donor. Now I've had plenty of people say they'll give me a kidney, but I've never had someone take the time to express their love and support so beautifully as she did in her letter. I felt an array of so many emotions when I read this letter. Something dawned on me.
There is going to be a moment, perhaps sooner than later, where I will head into surgery and look over and see the person who has made a a life-changing sacrifice to save my life.
(That sentence is followed by a deep breath.)
And then I realized and continue to realize that I'm about to learn one of the biggest lessons in gratitude that is humanly possible. I really don't have words yet to describe what this feels like.
But I do have tears. And I'm owning every one of them. I know, months in advance, that I'm only feeling an inkling of the gratitude I'm going to feel come transplant day and beyond.
I am scared. But more so, I am grateful. I am learning lessons that are opening my spirit in ways that I never imagined.