They insert a catheter into my neck. I, who always avoided getting injections, witness a tube, slightly narrower than my little finger, being inserted into a vein through my neck. Neckwear like mufflers or foulards fail to cover this catheter attached to the side of my neck like an antenna. I make public appearance with my catheter.
I am in a hemodialysis center. I am about to meet the legendary hemodialysis machine. They welcome me cordially at the center and say “You will receive dialysis treatment on this bed. And this is your dialysis machine. Your blood will be circulated through this machine to be cleaned. You can watch television or listen to music during the dialysis process. We will serve food too.” Hoses are connected between my antenna and the dialysis machine. Hookey pookey here we go. It feels like I am in a dream, then I wake up. The say “It is over for today.”
I am more aware of the environment in the second and third sessions. I am in a large hall with sixty other patients each connected to a different machine. There is a jumble of sounds in the hall, some machines make more noise than others and I notice that there is more action around some of the machines. I feel like all my dialysis friends are my comrades. I am not alone. As the dialysis sessions proceed my body is purged of toxins and I feel better. People here are really trying to help me.
So long with the antenna. I get an AV fistula operation on my left arm. It is like a tiny electric motor on my arm, vibrates all the time. Let’s hope for the best.
Dialysis treatment continues. I am getting used to my dialysis friends. They try to cheer me up as I am new there. They are giving me hope by saying “Don’t worry, you are young, you will hopefully get a transplant soon and recover.” Of course not all of them are that reassuring. There are also some grim people. One of them grumbles in anger and frustration, demoralizing me; “I have been taking dialysis treatment for eight years, forget about kidney transplant, don’t fool yourself!”.
They tell me that the vibrating fistula on my arm has strengthened enough. They are going to stop using the antenna for dialysis. They approach me with probes slightly thicker than toothpicks. They say they will insert these probes into my arm and that I shall not move my arm for four hours while those probes are inserted into the fistula to avoid hemorrhage risk. I do not like the idea. I prefer to stick with the antenna. I always thought I was a persuasive person. Yet, I couldn’t prevent those probes that are thicker than toothpicks to be inserted into my arm. In simple words, it hurts, a lot. I hope I don’t fall asleep and bend my arm during dialysis, causing my veins to be ruptured by those probes.
I bid farewell to my antenna in the next session.
My dance with the toothpicks have begun. The nurse inserts the probes expertly, but I still grumble out of acrimony. Well, it actually hurts a little but nothing close to what I have imagined. On the other hand, I do not want to start each session grumbling while my dialysis friends always take it solemnly. We pick up the chat where we left off the previous session.
I am waiting for a kidney.
It is no longer possible to work as hard as I used to while taking dialysis treatment, neither is it possible to realize my dreams any more. I feel like a ball crossing the touchline and no one is kicking me back in the game. And the game continues in front of my eyes.
The lil’ old lady Dilber, occupying the neighboring bed didn’t show up in the previous session. She is not here today either. The lil’ old lady Dilber is gone.
I am waiting for a kidney.
There are rules for eating or drinking that I need to observe. The little devil on my left should grumbles all the time but the little angel on my right shoulder soothes me, “It is OK, no worries”. I am stuck in between. But I think “Actually it is not much different from a slimming diet”. But we, human beings, always take it the easy way and grumble.
I am waiting for a kidney.
I am waiting for a kidney to be transplanted from a cadaver. I want to live. I want to live, to work, to travel and to be free. I am waiting for a kidney to be transplanted from a cadaver to survive.
Have you ever been ashamed of yourself merely because you wanted to live? Can you imagine the burden of waiting for an organ to be transplanted from a cadaver, hoping for help from a person who has just lost his/her life?
You are all alone and your only hope is to hold onto the life spared by the death of a perfect stranger.
Wisdom is the ability to have a bird’s eye view of one’s own life. The ability to realize that “all the world is a stage and to have one’s exits and entrances into his own life” . While watching the unpredictable changes made on my life by a body organ and an illness, the existence of which I was unaware, “I in my time play many parts” . I remember the moment I was told about my illness, the speech I made with my family and the day I have started dialysis treatment flashing before my eyes. Daily hurdles, debts, receivables, plans, programs, schedules have all lost their importance. The fragility of being a human being and vulnerability of our ties with life have prevailed. Who was I, what had I done until now, whom have I loved and for whom have I done something and who have done something for me? What have I achieved in my life until now? The life must have realized that I would never spare time voluntarily to think on these questions and has now given me ample time to ask these questions.
You want to scream when you fall on fire…and to scream is what you do.
Yet, the layman on the street is indifferent to your problems, he treats you as another screaming victim. Isn’t it a shame? Until now, I too was indifferent to the screams of those burning on fire and treated them as newsflashes only. The unexpected always happens. Those unexpected cases are only newsflashes in today’s world of communication. We are living in an age of communication where newsflashes become stale faster than ever and are replaced by video footages of even more incredible stories.
How was I to know that there were over sixty thousand kidney failure patients in this country and that twenty thousand of these patients were waiting for cadaveric kidney transplants. That people were waiting hopelessly due to low organ donation rates. How difficult and derogatory it could be to ask for a kidney from a next of kin to hold on to life. I used to watch the stories of people suffering from this illness on television. As I said, they were newsflashes, forgotten in less than a minute. Now, I am a newsflash for others, to be forgotten in a minute.
– Good night sir.
– Yes, how can I help you?
– It is the organ transplantation center. We might just have found a suitable kidney for you through cadaveric donation. We need you here immediately.
I was waiting for a kidney.
They have found one. I take off my pajamas in a hurry and put on my clothes quickly. I shout at my sleeping family members. Wake up, they have found a kidney, wake up, hurry.
Where might they have found this kidney from? I wonder who has donated this kidney. Am I the only one called? Will I definitely have a transplant or is there a possibility that I might not get it?
I put on my shoes in a hurry. They say “Stop”, “Put on your coat, tie up your shoes, you will trip.”
They have found a kidney for me.
I tie up my shoes. Let’s hurry, no need to take the car, let’s find a cab.
You are too slow… I am leaving, you can come later. They have found a kidney.
There are four other patients at the hospital all waiting for a kidney just like me. They examine each of us one by one and run tests. Five people are being evaluated for one kidney. No one can look at another in the eye. We all want that kidney desperately. We all deserve to go back to our old lives. Yet we know that four of us will leave the hospital in agony today, postponing their dreams to some other time.
We all feel grateful to the nice people who have lost a loved one and yet chose to spare us a life through the grief of this loss. We all dream about the possibility to start a new life tomorrow with a kidney. We can’t help staring into space every now and then.
Our doctors talk to us once test results are available. We are all in the same room. They tell each patient one by one the reasons for not being able to perform the transplant to that specific patient. Either the kidney was unsuitable for the individual patient or the test results indicated some problems. They shed silent tears. It is like waking up from a dream. All of a sudden, I feel that everyone is looking at me and it hits me that I am the one to get the transplant.
A life born out of death finds me. The grief of the family donating the kidney, postponed hopes of other patients with whom I share the same room, the new opportunity life has brought up to me. I can neither smile nor cry. I recall that all I could do was to hold my head high with misty eyes. This time I manage to hold my head high and to have eye contact with everyone else in the room. They are all happy for me and seem to be convinced that there is still hope for them albeit postponed. In fact, we all silently address the source of life which is not present here at the moment. A bizarre feeling of solidarity which can’t be seen out on the street. A handful of perfect strangers in this world of vae victis, where everyone is on their own to survive, congregate in the plainest form of humanity. We finally part with weepy hugs from the deep of our battered hearts.