In November of 2012, when I was in South Lake Tahoe for the birth of my first nephew Wyatt, I came down with a bad cold. Also in November, I was completing the requirements for the life insurance I was trying to obtain and my lab results came back abnormal results.
I had been suffering from fatigue and headaches for some time and I was feeling like crap fairly often.
I was dating a lot but had yet to meet anyone worthwhile and I felt like I just needed to cleanse every part of my life.
So I did just that.
I went on the standard process cleanse which was 21 days of eating totally organically, healthy, real food. I also cleansed my personal life and stopped communication with all the prospective guys I was dating and I turned all of my focus to me.
I should’ve felt great, but I still was lagging quite a bit and headaches were almost a daily occurrence.
December came and I was still fighting the cold that had turned strep throat.
I went into my lady doctor for my regularly scheduled annual exam and she was nice enough to call me in an antibiotic for the strep throat but she felt concerned by the abnormal labs I presented her with from the life insurance test. I apparently had a high amount of protein and blood in my urine so she decided that we should test it again to see if it was a fluke. It turned out not to be and I had round 2 of abnormal labs.
I ended up being approved for my life insurance policy but at a less desirable and more expensive rate, so i felt fairly confident I wasn’t dying and I wasn’t very worried (my mom sure was though).
I rang in the New Years with half a voice and still sick (although I didn’t let it stop me from going out – oh to be young and dumb!).
At this point I had started dating Alex who was and still is very worthwhile and our relationship was quickly moving forward (it was one of those, when you know you know, situations).
Thank God I had decided to cleanse my personal life too so I was able to be available when my forever guy came into my life.
His family does an annual “Polar Bear Dip” in Cayucos, CA in the freezing Pacific Ocean. I had told him I’d join but day of I decided best to spectate so my cold didn’t turn into pneumonia. Even after skipping the dip in the ocean the cold kept on.
I ended up at Medstop/urgent care twice. Both times the doctors re-tested my urine and both times I remained abnormal. (I mean, who is really normal anyways…??)
Also on both visits I tested positive for strep throat and completed the round of antibiotics both times.
The year leading up to this I had worked my a** off at work and won the annual incentive trip to Maui, for March of 2013. There was no way I had worked so hard to spend a week miserable and sick in Hawaii.
Since my rounds of antibiotics didn’t seem to be cutting it, I started trying every natural, homeopathic remedy I could get my hands on. At my mom’s urging I also found myself a primary physician that could keep better track of my reoccurring/lasting illness.
Finally, at the end of February, after 4 full months of fighting this cold, a total of 16 days spent in bed because i was literally too sick to function, and a large collection of doctor bills, I seemed to be healthy again! Thank god! Just in time for 10 days company paid trip to Maui.
When I returned from the trip, Dr. Lapidus, the new primary doc my mom insisted I see, decided we needed to get to the bottom of this protein and blood in my urine. She sent me to a urologist who conducted several delightful tests, including a bladder scope. In the words of Kalie, “that was not a small scope!” they stuck up there.
All the tests were inconclusive.
The doctor I saw told me, sometimes people have blood and protein in their urine for no reason. (Ok, I kind of doubt that to be true…)
Dr. Lapidus decided to order a 24 hour urine test, which was also a super fun test!
You get to carry a jug full of your pee around with you! Super!!
An ideal time to do this test would be a weekend you can spend at home but the only weekend I had available was Easter. This was the same Easter I was spending my first holiday with Alex and his family out of town. So there i am, getting to know my future in-laws, with my pee jug in tote. I just thank god I did not have to keep it in the fridge because I have heard that many 24 hour urine tests do require that. (Pass the ham… it’s next to that jug full of the new girl’s pee!)
Once those results came back I got the dreaded call from the doctor saying, you need to see a specialist, and soon!
I still didn’t really think much of it and was not concerned.
I called the nephrologist (that’s a fancy work for kidney doctor) and like all specialists they require you send all your records over before they will even make an appointment for you. It was April at the time and the receptionist informed me that they were booking into September at that point. Great, the not knowing game would last a while.
After reviewing my records and labs the doctor’s office called and told me the doctor had created space in his schedule to see me the very next Monday. Uh oh, that can’t be a good sign. Somehow, I still didn’t think it was anything to worry about so I declined the appointment because I had a work trip to Minnesota on the books for that week and why would I cancel work? I got them to create another space for me the following week instead.
After I got off the phone, the wheels started turning. I realized how quickly they had decided to fit me in and I realized that when a doctor is urgent maybe I should be too.
I remember calling alex saying:
“I think there may actually be something wrong with me.”
In true alex form he assured me I had nothing to worry about and to stop thinking about it until we knew there was something to think about.
I went to the appointment and by this time I was quite nervous.
The doctor was a very nice man with a thick accent.
He informed me that I needed a kidney biopsy.
That sure didn’t sound pleasant. They use an 18 gauge needle and take a clip of kidney tissue out. This is a CT guided procedure and you have to be awake because you need to hold your breath so they don’t miss their target.
They give you plenty of Valium to ease your nerves and some light sedation and pain medication. Aside from being sore for a couple days and some visible blood in my urine, it ended up being no big deal.
Fast forward two weeks to follow up appointment. Now I was very nervous.
My appointment was on a Monday. The Friday before one of my best friends called from the hospital where he was with his girlfriend (he had stepped out of the area to call me). He was a crying mess. He told me the news that his girlfriend had a large cancerous tumor on her liver and the prognosis didn’t sound great. The previous year we had lost one of our amazing friends to a seizure and hysterically told me we’d lost our other friend, and now his girlfriend was incredibly sick, so I needed to be ok. Thanks, no pressure.
I was so irritable that weekend. Alex couldn’t do anything right in my mind. I was having tons of cramps and my boobs were more tender than I’d ever remembered them being.
My period was late… but I had all the signs it was coming and plenty of stress that could be responsible for holding it off and making it late.
I remember saying to Alex that Sunday that on Tuesday if my period hadn’t arrived I would take a pregnancy test, but I couldn’t think or worry about that until I got the kidney results.
Monday morning, my mom, alex and I all crowd into the small room at the doctor. He comes in and is visibly shaken and upset. He tells me I have a kidney disease called IgA Nephropathy and that treatment would be steroids and possibly a chemo drug called cytotoxin.
At this point, the air in the room seemed to be sucked out.
I started sweating.
I felt like I couldn’t breathe.
I couldn’t hear anything else he was saying.
I looked at Alex and my mom and they were both in tears.
I had to stop the doctor and ask him to open the door so I could regain my composure.
My mom started asking questions and taking notes.
I really didn’t hear much and i understood less.
He told us he had only seen this one other time in a woman much older than me.
He told us that the chemo treatment came with fertility risks and he had known that I wanted children in the future.
He felt that he could probably manage my care but that I really should be seen at Stanford or UCLA where the doctors had more experience with the disease and hopefully a better treatment plan than he did.
He sent me home with a prescription for blood pressure medication, 80mg daily dose of oral prednisone, and told me to start taking fish oil right away.
He was sure to tell me multiple times I could not be pregnant on these drugs.
He told me to get in with my doctor right away to start a effective method of birth control.
Alex left to go back to work and mom and I headed to the pharmacy to fill these prescriptions. While we were there I kept thinking about what he’d said about not being pregnant on these meds. I told my mom that we better pick up a pregnancy test before we start the meds just in case, God forbid!
We went home and I took the pregnancy test.
It was positive immediately.
For the second time that day I felt my world collapse.
I mean really? The blows kept coming.
This timing was just not ideal!
I walked out of the bathroom to my mom who was standing in the kitchen and I set the test in front of her.
I know she felt as sick to her stomach as I did.
The doctor had been so adamant about starting my meds immediately and about how unsafe they were for pregnancy.
I called Alex and told him to come home. I can’t remember for sure but I think he squeezed it out of me on the phone (which is not ever how I want to tell him news like this).
I told my mom to stay until he got home and that after that we should probably have some time for just the two of us to discuss this turn of events so she could head the 5 hours home.
While we waited for him to get home we started calling doctors. I called the kidney doctor who I think also shared the deep pain in the stomachs that my mom and I were feeling when we told him the news.
He informed me that I was not healthy and a pregnancy would not only be dangerous to the child but would be life threatening to me at this time. He was sure to tell me he could not tell me what to do in this situation but that he would strongly advise not continuing the pregnancy.
I wanted children.
I want them still.
Alex and I were both raised catholic. We obviously had already committed one sin, but abortion was a bigger one.
Do not misinterpret this. I am pro choice. I believe in a woman’s right to choose.
I do not judge anyone for any decision they ever make and I have always been open minded about this.
I just have always felt for me, it’s not a choice I would like to make for myself.
Like any adult relationship, Alex and I knew and had discussed the risks our sexual relationship came with and had agreed if we got pregnant we would feel blessed to have the child. It would be meant to be and we truly loved each other at this time and already saw a future together.
I called my gynecologists office next and frantically told the receptionist what was going on and that I needed a blood test to confirm the pregnancy before doing anything else.
Well, it turns out that I still hadn’t sent a payment in for my appointment with them earlier that year and they wouldn’t even let me speak to a nurse or order me the blood test until I made a payment.
Are you kidding me lady?
Did you not hear what I said about my day so far?
I just told you I was diagnosed TODAY with a kidney disease AND found out JUST NOW that I am pregnant and my doctor JUST THIS MOMENT said it was dangerous TO MY LIFE to be pregnant and you won’t transfer me until I pay my $63 invoice?
Ok great, do you accept visa?
I made the payment over the phone and was transferred to a nurse’s voicemail. Within the hour, Alex and I were sitting at a lab having my blood drawn and tested.
My poor mom was now on her 5 hour drive home, all alone, no doubt a huge mess.
How had my life flipped upside down so quickly?
To be continued…