Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Life Begins With a Needle

Monday, November 6 2006 was a clear fall morning, cool crisp air, pale blue skies with wispy clouds as Susan dropped me off at the hospital on her way to school. It was very casual, she might have been dropping me off at the store. It was my third hospital admission of the year. The first was through the ER, the second she dropped me off for day surgery to create my fistula. Today the fistula was going to be tapped for dialysis.

We have developed a ritual whenever I go into the hospital. She gave me a flat gold chain right before we were married. The only time I am without it is when I am hospitalized. She takes the chain from my neck and puts it around hers for safekeeping. And it keeps me with her.

Check in was smooth and I soon found myself in my room. The TV was terrible, but I had brought several books and occupied my time reading, napping. Doing tai-chi helped as well. Soon the nurse came in and shaved my arm and eventually took me to the dialysis lab. I had done some research and had a general understanding of what was going to happen and had enough knowledge to make me the dread the process.

However I was not prepared for the size of the needles, and they would start with small ones! Apparently my veins run deep in my arms. For years I had been flattered by nurses who were relieved to encounter 'an easy stick' when it came to drawing blood or installing an IV. But the fistula was small and deep. It only took a few sticks to hit the fistula... the first time.

And then, there I was: hooked up to a machine. It's a powerful moment. I was no longer an independent being. I was totally dependent on advanced modern technology to stay alive.

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