June 27, 2017

When and How It All Started

Originally posted on June 4, 3013, on Renovations.blogspot.com

The short answer is we don’t know for sure. 
I do know two things. It scared the daylights out of me, and God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. 

In July 2006, Brad and I were getting settled in Memphis. I just started my cool new event planning career. Things were going great for us.

My mom was having one of the worst times of her life. In the fall of 2005, Mom stepped off a set of stairs, fell and broke her leg. Due to the extended recovery, she lost her job; thus, lost her insurance. In this ironic government system we have, she did not qualify for medical assistance because she didn’t have a dependent to claim – Don’t get me started….I could go down a different road all together here. We applied for her Social Security Disability only to be denied. It was a tough time.

Ok, back to 2006. 
As usual, I called Mom as I drove home from work. She seemed a little different, almost distant, but I didn’t think too much about it. Same routine next evening, I called. There was definitely something different – wrong – with her today. She couldn’t complete her thoughts; slurred her speech; and was basically out of it. I have a vivid memory of where I was at the very moment it hit me. I was driving down Union Avenue in front of Methodist University Hospital and experienced one of those everything goes silent – world stops moving around you moments. I was certain she had suffered a stroke.

I called Brad (he was traveling that week), packed clothes, scooped up Chi Chi, dropped off some files at a co-workers house and hit the road to Corinth. I needed windshield wipers for my eyes! Thanks to God, Brad, Haley and Abby for talking me through that hour and a half drive. When I opened the front door and saw my mom slumped on the couch with a drawn face drawn wild eyes, I wanted to run and hide. Instead, God gave me strength. I looked at her for a few seconds, took a deep breath and quickly grew up more than a 27 year old should have to with regard to caring for a parent.

We got to the emergency room, Mom asked why there were so many of me in the room (whoa – what?) and we waited on tests. Haley’s mom Myra rushed to the hospital to be with us. The doctor confirmed Mom did not have a stroke. Instead, she was severely anemic with less than half the amount of red blood cells needed for her body to function properly.

After a blood transfusion and a couple days in the hospital, Dr. Stephen Besh, Hematologist with The West Clinic, and Dr. Kenneth Kellum, a Nephrologist with Nephrology & Hypertension Associates, were close to a diagnosis. They believed something was wrong with her kidneys. Kidneys...huh? I was so confused. How could the kidneys cause her not to have enough blood? Was there internal bleeding in the kidneys? First of all, I didn’t love biology in school. Secondly, Mom was still kind of out of it, and I was in a fog. I needed the dots connected in a simple-minded kind of way.
Here’s your educational lesson: Kidneys produce erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone that regulates red blood cell production. Diseased kidneys may not produce enough EPO. Less EPO results in fewer red blood cells and their protein hemoglobin to deliver oxygen to the body's organs. Without sufficient red blood cells, the body doesn’t get the right amount of oxygen, resulting in anemia. (Reference and for more information about anemia and kidney disease: Author Unknown. (Date of publication unknown). Handouts: Anemia & Kidney Disease. Retrieved from http://anemia.org/patients/information-handouts/kidney-disease/)

A couple of months later, a biopsy confirmed Mom’s kidneys were only functioning at approximately 15%. The day Dr. Kellum provided the biopsy results is the day we learned a kidney transplant was inevitable. (Another one of those everything goes silent – world stops moving around you moments.) Actually, he almost recommended we begin the process immediately but changed his mind and prescribed a Prednisone treatment plan. This time, she and I gathered ourselves together, and God gave us strength. We were shocked but just began praying for God to take her through life as long as possible without needing dialysis or a transplant. God has answered those prayers for seven years. 

Now, our prayers have evolved. We pray for God to guide the UAB kidney transplant team in performing a miracle for Mom and two other people. We pray for God to give six of us the physical strength to heal, emotional strength to be positive and graceful. We pray for God to bless our caretakers as they help us recover, give them patience. We pray that the new when will be 2013 when three transplanted kidneys started functioning properly, and how will be because of God’s grace and very sophisticated medicine. We pray for all this and much more. Please pray with us.

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