I don’t know why, or how, it happened. One day, I felt a bit nauseated, then breathless, and the next thing, I knew, I was in a hospital, attached to a big dialysis machine.
My kidneys had failed. Why? No one could say. Was it undetected high blood pressure? Was it uncontrolled, asymptomatic diabetes? Was it some infection? Bad genes? Or, was it plain bad luck? I can’t say.
The doctors told me that if one kidney fails, you won’t notice it. It might not be easy to detect with tests unless one is looking for trouble. If the second kidney fails, there may be no symptom. Only a creatinine test can detect and predict the course of the problem, i.e., chronic renal failure.
In my case, I’d never been for a health check-up, never felt the need for one. I was only in my early 20s, and the failure was detected very late, indeed.
Impossible to grasp
It’s hard to explain to healthy persons what loss of an organ feels like. They understand blindness, to some extent deafness, amputation of a limb, but the failure of an internal organ is something relatives and friends, or even me, for many months, found impossible to comprehend.
I tried all sorts of therapies. Little pills, herbs, powdered minerals, Godmen, prayers, fasting, meditation, crystals, nothing worked. Back to dialysis, it was. Life was so unfair, and angry; helpless tears were forever brimming over my eyes.
Eventually, after sleepless nights, regrets, curses, and tears, tears, and more tears, I accepted my condition. The only outing I had was to the dialysis centre. There were cramps, weakness, and worst of all, I could drink only a limited amount of fluids, and eat salt-less food. Misery was the word for it. Succour came from fellow patients. One told me of a tale of a pigeon who was hit by a moving car. It was injured. In spite of the enormous pain, it didn’t look heavenwards and ask, “Why me?” It didn’t curse its fate. It crawled to the side, by the pavement, and got on with its life.
I met people who couldn’t afford half of what I could, yet their families happily went to trusts trying to raise funds for them. I met very rich patients who, having learnt their lesson the hard way, had been sponsoring transplants and encouraging awareness about cadaver transplants [where organs are harvested from brain dead patients].
Unfortunately for me, none of my family’s blood groups and/or tissues matched. In small, nuclear families, this is bound to happen. So I, too, have registered for the cadaver transplant programme. In the meanwhile, I have learnt to be grateful for small mercies: because, the rest of me is working fine. It’s only one part of my body that’s gone, and even that has a substitute working in the form of dialysis.
There are so many conditions, so much worse than mine. It’s amazing how the spirit copes with the bad times. I know my heart is doing well, my mind is active, my sense of humour has come back. I have also been able to earn some money that goes towards my medical expenses. Thank heavens, I live in the era of computers and in a city where working with them from home is possible.
I’ve been fortunate to have good friends. I go out with them as often as I can so as to not miss out on the good times. I’ve learnt to be thankful for so many, many things. And, I’ve learnt that whatever comes my way is not to be resisted, but accepted. Peace comes with that thought.
If this is not what being spiritual is all about, what is?