On this day, 23 years ago, February 21st, 1991, I was diagnosed with kidney failure. I was 12 years old at the time.
The way I remember it is this. I hadn’t really been feeling well for a few months, and this particular day was no different. I had been diagnosed with so many different things, from throat infections to pneumonia. Nothing that was done made me feel better. This particular afternoon, I remember telling Mom that I was tired, and was going to take a nap. A few hours later, my brother, who was 6 at the time, came in from playing outside. He went upstairs, and being hte nosy little brother that he was, he checked to see what I was doing. He went downstairs and told Mom that I was making funny noises.
I remember her waking me, and asking me to get up, but I couldn’t move. My hands were clenched in tight fists, and I couldn’t open my mouth, even to speak. Between Mom and Dad, they got me downstairs to the kitchen, but that was as far as they could get. Mom had called the hospital and they told her to take me in, but since they couldn’t get me out to the car, they called an ambulance. Mom rode in the ambulance to the hospital with me, and Dad followed behind, after leaving Bro with a neighbor.
I don’t remember much at the hospital, except that they didn’t really know what to do with me. I remember two doctors talking about brain seizures and life expectancies. Mom said that she knew I could hear and understand them, because the more they talked, the wider my eyes got. When the pediatrician who was in the province at the time arrived, and sadly, I don’t remember her name, things changed.
Though I found out later that it is quite a rare occurrence, she had seen what was happening to me before. All she needed to confirm it was a simple blood test. I don’t know what the actual units of measurement are, but I had a creatnine level of over 1600, when a regular, healthy person has a level between 50 and 150. This indicated to her that my kidneys had failed. I still think that it was pure luck that she had trained with the pediatric nephrologist in Halifax that she was sending me to. I was given calcium and albumin, I think, because my severe lack of those was causing my immobility, and a medivac flight was arranged for me.
I was loaded on to a Hercules aircraft. It was my first time on an airplane. I remember the take off, but I fell asleep during the flight and didn’t wake up until after we’d landed. By then, I was able to move and speak again. I was admitted to the IWK Hospital for Children in Halifax. It was still a few hours before I met Dr. John Crocker, the grandfatherly nephrologist who would be my doctor until I turned 18, when he inserted my first peritoneal catheter for dialysis.
This was the beginning of my journey with kidney disease that continues today.