I never thought I’d find myself as part of the mall walkers crowd on a Sunday morning, but I also never thought I’d be making three trips to the hospital in less than a week.
So I guess life doesn’t always pan out like we thought it would.
I’ve been having kidney pain since a little before Thanksgiving, so I had surgery more than a week ago that was supposed to fix everything. When I woke up from anesthesia, I asked the nurses where my Wheat Thins were and when we were going to the bowling alley, so I assumed everything had gone well.
But Sunday morning, I woke up with a pain I don’t even know how to describe. I called my parents, and before long they were at my apartment to drive me to the ER. I was admitted to the hospital and stayed there until Monday. They sent me home Monday morning, but that exact same pain was back that evening. I really thought I was going to die.
I called my friend Michelle, and she hauled tail to pick me up and take me back to the ER, and it wasn’t long before my sister and brother were there, as well. The time in the ER waiting room felt like an eternity, and the pain just kept getting worse. I think at one point I tried to collapse to the ground, but my sister wouldn’t let me because of sanitation concerns she had.
I guess someone has to pay attention to that kind of stuff.
I was finally taken back to an ER room and hooked up to IVs that pumped some morphine and I think other stuff in me. I got a CT scan, and Dr. Kevin (whom I credited with saving my life and my kidney) discovered I had a kidney infection. Dr. Kristen (I’m pretty sure that’s her name—I can’t say everything from that night is crystal clear) said it could have come as a result of the surgery or could have been there prior to it, contributing to the pain I’ve been having for months.
I was admitted to the hospital (again), and my sweet sister stayed with me until almost 2 in the morning when I finally got up to the room. She is pretty freaking incredible—she had to administer standardized testing that day, operating on very little sleep.
For this go-round, I was in the hospital until late Wednesday with antibiotics and pain meds going through my veins. It was one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life, and I would never wish that kind of pain on anyone—and I really mean that.
As I stayed there in that bed, I was reminded of how much we need people in life. First of all, nurses are a different breed of human. I honestly think you have to have a very special heart and personality to be a nurse. They’re so kind and comforting and have to deal with so many different types of people who are suffering from a variety of things. Yet they handle it all with such grace and encouragement.
And I needed my family. I don’t think there was a day that went by that I didn’t have one of them with me for at least a little portion of the day. My parents took of work on different days, and one night my mom even slept on one of those horribly uncomfortable hospital chairs.
And I needed my friends. Whether they were stopping by in the hospital to visit me and bring me necessities (Bonnie with a stuffed dog I named Buddy and Jayna with Wheat Thins, a coloring book and crayons, water, and a pink phone charger) or texting me to check on me, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed in a good way by all of their prayers and well wishes.
But I also realized that life won’t always be the “normal” we want it to be. I had planned on missing two days of work for the surgery. I ended up missing almost seven. Nothing about my life during that stretch of time in and out of the hospital felt normal. My stomach was super inflated from the surgery and then all of the IV fluids, and I even had a minor panic attack when the nurse told me I had to get a shot in my stomach to help prevent blood clots while I was lying in a bed for so long, and I told her that if she stuck a needle in me that my stomach would pop like a balloon. It turned out to be a bit irrational—she gave me the shot, and nothing exploded.
I blame the drugs.
The truth is, though, that the whole normal thing I’m seeking doesn’t always exist. I know life isn’t perfect, and we have to face trials we don’t want to go through. But, for some weird reason, we need them—they help make us who we are. Sure, they may look a lot different than what other people face, but we can’t all have the same things. I’ve been learning that more and more as I see most of my friends find love and happiness, and I have to remind myself that their stories are not my story. Just like my kidneys are not like their kidneys, my fairy tale (if it exists) is different from theirs, too.
With each day, the kidney pain is starting to lessen, and I do look forward to feeling more normal in that regard. But I also understand that I have to be a little more cautious because it’s prone to kidney stones and now apparently infections. I can’t run for a little while more, and it was pouring rain Sunday morning, which is why I went to the mall to walk for some exercise along with some guy named Larry and a bunch of others who seemed to be regulars there. It wasn’t quite the norm for me, but it was alright for a one-time bit of a change of pace and scenery. And I’m also OK with the rest of my life not being the definition of normal I would have defined it as years ago.
I don’t think normal ever really fit me well, anyway.