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Battle With Diabetes
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Kidney Failure
Kidney Failure
     I had a scare in 1991, when I got Diabetic Retinopathy a week after I had gone bungee jumping.  After I had surgery to correct the problem, I joined a gym.  I exercised every day.  Everything was going well until March 1999. I had been sick for three days.  I collapsed in my mother's living room when I went looking for aspirin for a massive headache.   Thank God my brother was there when I collapsed.  I remember the entire left side of my body just gave out all the sudden.  My brother yelled to my Mom and she called 911.  When the ambulance arrived, I was on the floor.  I remember trying to tell my Mom where my insurance card was but she did not understand me.  I also remember the EMT's putting me on the gurney, taking me out the front, loading me into the ambulance, and closing the ambulance doors.  That was the last thing I remembered before waking up in the hospital days later.  I do not know how long it was before I woke up but I was already out of the Emergency Room and in a hospital room.  When I realized where I was, I saw several family members in the room by my bed.

     That night my brother contacted the rest of my family to let them know I was in the hospital.  I had a seizure brought on by sudden kidney failure.  The doctors did not know if I would make it through the night and, if I did, what kind of brain damage I might have. Thanks to Dr. Soller and Dr. Collins, I survived the night without brain damage.  I still had some kidney function but it was not enough function.  I had to go on dialysis.   

     I went back to work three weeks after my kidney failure.  I worked out a schedule with my employer to be able to work 40 hours a week and go to dialysis treatments.  I went for dialysis treatments three times per week for three and a half hours each session.  While on dialysis, I had trouble keeping my blood glucose levels up and went into shock many times. The shock incidents came on so fast; I was rushed by ambulance to the hospital frequently.  I think every ambulance crew from the two nearby cities knew who I was because they had been to the house so many times.  I received dialysis treatments from April 1999 to March 2001.

     When I was first put on dialysis, they put a dialysis catheter in my neck with two tubes coming out about four inches on the left side of my neck.  One tube extracted blood to be cleaned and the other returned the blood to the body.  I had these tubes sticking out of my neck for two months until they could use the fistula created by my vascular surgeon when I was in the hospital.  A fistula is created by joining an artery to a vein.  In my case this was done in my right arm.  This is done to increase blood flow through the vein and stretches and strengthens it.  This allows for better access to blood during dialysis.  Having the catheter in the neck is only good for short term due to infections, possible movement, blood clots, etc. and is far more dangerous to have to replace every few months.  I developed an infection in the catheter while at the dialysis center.  I felt so cold I was shaking uncontrollably and they had to remove it immediately.  I was lucky that my fistula had developed enough that they decided to start using it that day since they had to remove the catheter. With the fistula, they stuck two 14-gauge needles in my arm to draw out, clean, and return blood to my body. The needles were stuck in my arm three times a week. This left a lot of scarring and two bumps (which are part of the vein pushing up the skin).  The fistula is permanent.
     This picture shows the scarring that occurred in the two areas where needles were inserted in order to perform dialysis treatments.
     This picture shows the two major bumps created by the fistula growing after two years of use.  These are not rigid bumps.  The blood flowing through the fistula pushes the skin up.  When I raise my arm straight up, both bumps collapse as the blood moves down my arm.  When people touch the fistula, they can feel the blood move and when listening with a stethoscope, it sounds like a swarm of bees.

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