I originally started this blog to try to sort through my feelings about my own mother’s death. But like with many things I start, life got in the way, and I haven’t had much time for updates. Could the reason that I kept deciding to renew the domain over the last few years be to chronicle my own journey from this life to the next?
This morning, I was sitting in a hospital bed waiting to be released after a four-day stay due to low sodium. Yesterday, my doctor told me he thought my low sodium was caused by a hormonal imbalance in my brain. The doctors weren’t sure what had caused it or if it would return. And the only thing that would get rid of it is a very potent (i.e., dangerous) drug that they were only allowed to administer in the hospital. I had already had two doses and was feeling okay, but they wouldn’t let me go until my sodium had climbed from 123 to at least 130.
This morning I woke to a sodium level of 137. I was ecstatic! As soon as the kidney doctor came by, the nurse could call my primary care physician and get the okay to let me out of there. I was sitting in my hospital bed composing some silly Facebook status about being stuck in the hospital over the 4th of July holiday weekend when the kidney doctor stopped in. Doctor: “We got your sodium level up to 137.” Me: “I know. I heard. That’s great news.” Doctor: “I think you need a cancer workup.” Me (head spinning): “What type of cancer?” Doctor: “Lung. Something had to have caused your sodium level to drop. And certain types of cancer have been known to cause this type of sodium drop. And with your history of smoking (I quit nine years ago), I think you should have it checked out.” I deleted my Facebook status.
But maybe I should start at the beginning. A month ago, I was a relatively healthy adult female. I worked out five days a week, swam in my pool when I got a chance, and enjoyed traveling whenever I could break away from my life as a freelance writer. The first time I noticed something might be wrong was when I went back to visit my family in Kansas City. My sister has a condo at the Lake of the Ozarks, so we went down for the weekend to go boating with her and my brother-in-law. The morning we were to head back to KC, we went for a quarter mile walk up a slight incline. About halfway up, I got really winded and began gasping for air. I had to stop and take a break. I thought it was odd because I should have been in better shape than that, but I laughed it off because it had been a few days since I’d been on the treadmill.
A few weeks later (the Tuesday before I was hospitalized) our granddaughter was visiting and we took her to the beach. I walked back up the hill with her to a pizza place to get us some water and became winded again. My thoughts: “That wasn’t even a very long walk. But I have been vacationing and have only been back to working out steadily for a week or so…”
That Thursday night I was watching an old episode of Glee. Sometimes I like to get up and dance to the music to get in just a bit more exercise for the day (and it’s fun), so I did. I only made it through one song before I began to gasp for air. “Something is very wrong here!!!!”
Still, I didn’t want to go to the hospital in the middle of the night, so I went to bed. In the morning, one of my cats wanted out, so I got up, walked into the next room and let him out, then went back to bed. I couldn’t catch my breath. “Okay, I really need to go see someone…!!!!”
We had a kitchen contractor coming over that morning, so I waited until he left, had lunch, then went up to urgent care. They told me that my EKG was abnormal and I needed to go to the ER. When I got to the ER, they said my EKG was fine, but my sodium was dangerously low and I needed to be admitted. So I went into the hospital and had a bunch of other tests run to rule out any heart problems or a pulmonary embolism. Those tests all came out fine.
That brings me to this morning. So here I sit waiting for the lab to schedule a CT scan of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis. Until that’s done and I get the results back, I won’t know anything more. In the meantime, I’m only allowed to drink things that have sodium in them (e.g., Gatorade, soda) until after my next labs, which will be drawn in three days. If my sodium is low again, back to the hospital I go.