Back in November, just as everything was settling down, as I was coming out of the thick of the chemo fog, when I was rejoicing that my transplanted kidneys had survived the ordeal, when I thought maybe I was free and clear and was on recuperation road, just as I was taking a deep breath in, a disturbing number showed up in my lab results. All of the blood work was normal, but one test result showed protein in my urine.
Oh dear God, please, please, please, no. I can’t do this anymore.
It was like being punched in the stomach and I was gasping for breath.
I haven’t seen protein in my urine since I was a teenager, before my first transplant. To me, protein in my urine means impending kidney failure. Never mind that there can be other reasons for it, some not so good, some not a big deal. But for me, it was impossible, in my fatigued and battle-weary mind, to not zoom to my kidneys failing. It’s all I’ve ever known with proteinuria.
Next round of labs, there was a significant increase in protein. Everything else showed normal.
I cannot do dialysis again. I can’t. Please, please don’t make me go through this. I just can’t.
I began to feel like I was never more than one step away from having a complete breakdown. But I couldn’t because there was honestly just no time for that. I had to keep it together.
I don’t want to spoil the wedding, Christmas, New Year’s. Just keep it together girl.
But this is too much. I can’t breathe.
Why are You picking on me?
The darkness hit hard and my mind wandered and wondered. I seriously started to consider at what point do I say I’ve had enough? I’m not even sure if I can get another transplant since I’ve had cancer. What more do I go through before I say it’s no longer worth the fight? I just can’t do dialysis again. I can’t.
I’m so, so tired. I can’t fight anymore.
Please take this off my plate.
Why won’t it stop?
I’m not depressed — at least not full-blown clinical depression. But I am so incredibly weary right now. So tired. You go through something like chemo, it takes a toll. Mentally. Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually. The world doesn’t stop and wait for you. There is no rest. Not really. You still have to keep doing. You have to keep paying bills. You have to keep getting the kids to school and practice. Fix dinner. Wash clothes. Do. Do. Do. Do. There is no time for real healing of mind, body and soul. You just. keep. going.
I tried to fight back but it was futile. I couldn’t not see a bad ending. I couldn’t push away my fears of another kidney failure. What am I going to do?
Then the darkness hit harder. I couldn’t even look in a mirror without crying. I hate my hair. I hate how I look. I hate my body, it’s so marred. I’m never going to be even remotely attractive again.
One night as my husband tried to help me through, all I could say to him was, “I’m a broken mess.” I felt unfixable.
The very next day in church, the pastor talked about how sometimes he doesn’t feel so good about himself. About how there are days he wakes up and looks in the mirror and he sees nothing but a broken mess.
I sat there silently, tears rolling down my face, a little taken aback that he said almost word for word some of what I had just said the night before in private with my husband.
I needed that.
I felt heard.
He then talked about some things he does to combat the thoughts when they start. Helpful reminders but all I really cared about was that I knew God had heard me.
Then one day, not long after, I was reading in the super uplifting book (no, not really) of Ecclesiastes when this verse jumped out at me:
“Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked?” Ecc. 7:13
I can’t explain it, but for some reason that verse really resonated with me. Somehow, it felt like God was looking right at me saying, “Just stop it. I’m here. I got you.”
I can’t say my thoughts no longer go down dark paths. They’re just not as dark or intense these days. I am still a little tender though, don’t get me wrong. I just need to make sure to get plenty of rest, exercise and maybe have a good cry every now and then. But right now, at this moment, I see hope. I dream. I am thankful for this day. I’ll face whatever only when I have to.
I can breathe again.