Typically, the number 13 is lucky for me and if it falls on a Friday, even better! But not so much on Friday, April 13, 2012—my birthday.
The night of the 12th I came down with a stomach bug. I will leave the rest to your imagination. Now, I live with a kidney disease whereby my "little beans" don't have the ability to maintain the proper pH of my blood, making it too acidic (not a good thing). As a result, my body can't hold onto potassium (a mineral essential for the proper functioning of the heart, kidneys, muscles, nerves, and digestive system), thus I have to take the equivalent of roughly 7,000 mg/day of potassium. To give you a little perspective, a banana has about 400 mg of potassium.
So, this stomach bug pushed me over the edge. I couldn't eat, nor could I hold down my potassium. I could feel myself getting sicker and sicker on my "special day" with a fine cocktail of concerns. By 6pm I landed in the ER and low and behold my potassium was very low and I needed an IV infusion. I must say I was not only feeling physically horrible, but also pretty "depressed". Not life or death, but it sucks living with illness!
Then Diane, this lovely nurse, came into "room 6" to take an EKG. She exuded love and compassion. She shared with me that a dream of hers, to move to the Caribbean, was finally going to come true. I asked her what made her decide to finally make the move and fulfill her dream. Her reply: "My husband was diagnosed with brain cancer that has metastisized. And he is refusing treatment." She explained that she had to find the sunshine in the rain and planning ahead was what kept her going. How's that for a little perspective?
I live with illness and it is never fun stuff. But I consider myself incredibly lucky. It has gifted me many strengths, much appreciation for life and all that I have, and it has given me so much of what I need to help others. Everything in life is a matter of perspective. Maybe I spent my birthday in the hospital, but I know that I have next year to look forward to.