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My entire life, I have had restrictions. No touching animals without washing my hands beforehand and afterwards, no touch sports, no lifting weights, I’m not even allowed to take Advil! These restrictions have limited my life as a teenager. I can’t tan, because I have a high risk of getting skin cancer. I can’t smoke cigarettes, because I have a high chance of getting lung cancer. I have to drink water twice the amount of a normal person, and I can’t work my heart too much. All of these restrictions are in effect because I had cancer when I was a baby. I grew up knowing what I can and cannot do, and what I must do to survive. Like taking my pills every morning and every night, and monitoring my blood pressure on a weekly basis, and of course; constantly making sure my blood was clean by going to the doctor once every other month to get my blood drawn. Among the many things I was taught, I learned that my kidney (transplanted from my mom) was in the lower right-hand side of my abdomen. If I were to ever feel and pain or discomfort in that area, I was told to worry. I was to go straight to my mom and tell her where the pain was exactly, and how painful it really was. So when I found myself curled up in a ball, on my bed, and in the worst pain that I had ever experienced in my entire life (including any dentist visit and the time my dog bit me and gave me 17 stitches) my first instinct was to call for my mom.

At first I just yelled her name a few times, but when she didn’t hear, I called the house phone off of my cell phone. My dad answered, and when I asked for mom, he said she’d be up soon and then hung up. I waited for another grueling, extremely painful hour before I called the house phone again. Finally my mom came upstairs to see me in the fetal position, crying my eyes out because the pain was so intense and I couldn’t do anything about it. The pains weren’t external that I could gawk at and know exactly what it was and how it got there and how to fix it. Oh no. This pain was internal, invisible, and had no explanation of it whatsoever. But even though I was feeling this horrible pain, I was not too worried about losing my kidney. I thought; “okay, contact a doctor, get explanation and medicine, and then poof. Problem fixed. All better. Pain-be-gone.” Boy was I wrong.

My mom gave me the decision. She asked if the pain was bad enough to be going to the ER, or if we should just E-mail the doctor and let him decide for me. I didn’t want to go to the hospital, (it was midnight… on a Sunday!) but I felt this nagging suspicion that is was more than just invisible pain. There had to be something that caused the pain. It wouldn’t just magically disappear. There had to be something wrong. I found myself asking my mom to take me to the hospital. She had to practically carry me to the car. I could barely walk.

Wrapped up in my blanket, I slept most of the way to the hospital. Well… I tried to sleep. The pain was keeping me in a state of part-consciousness that prevented me from falling into the deep, dreamless sleep that I desperately needed. I had my car seat pushed all the way down so that I could curl back up into a ball and try not to think about needles and surgeries.

Once we arrived at the hospital, I had to wait in a chair by the door so that my mom could go park the car. I put my head on my knees and pretended I was in Mexico under the bright, hot sun with the smell of sunscreen in my nose. My mom finally came inside and helped me to the front desk. Because of my medical history, I was immediately led into a very small room just behind the desk. The nurse gave me an ice pack and walked away. Even at 12:45 AM, the ER was alive and busy. When she came back, she asked if the ice pack helped. I said not at all. She asked me to rate my pain from 1-10. I said 11. She gave me a hot pack this time and walked away again. A few minutes later when she came back, she asked me to rate my pain again. I said 12. She gave me another hot pack and led me to a bigger room that may have passed for a nice closet. She hooked me up to an IV and started giving me morphine. I had an allergic reaction. They gave me more morphine and Benadryl to stop the reaction. Eventually, I passed out from the Benadyrl.

The next morning, I was moved up to a private room so that I could be diagnosed and given the medicine I needed. There was still no explanation for my pain, and I wanted answers soon, so I was perfectly okay with this. They did some tests and then let me be alone with my mom. We didn’t do much in the hospital. Mainly I finished crossword puzzles, cried from the pain, read The Great Gatsby, peed a load of times from the IV fluids constantly being pumped into my body, and was asked to rate my pain. They tried all kinds of pain medicines. None of which worked.

On the second night, I met Maria. My mom left that night to sleep at home, and shower in her shower, and be with my family, so I was alone when the nurse came in and told me I was moving to another room. I walked into my joint room and noted right away that the mother did not speak English. I gave the little girl who was resting in her bed a small smile. She said,”Hello!!” in the cutest, sweetest, most innocent voice I had ever heard. It was slightly shrill, and pretty loud, but she couldn’t control that, so it’s what made it so cute. I fell asleep shortly after I situated my IV in the right place, and got the bed into the right position.

I was awoken at around 2:30 in the morning to the little girl’s cries. I couldn’t fall back asleep. Finally I decided that there was only one thing I could do to help. I took a cookie from the box my mom had given me and walked over to her side of the room. I offered her the cookie and was rewarded with a huge gasp, and bright, beautiful smile, and the sweetest, “Thanks!!!!” I had ever received. I fell back asleep and didn’t hear Maria cry for the rest of the night. From that point on, whenever Maria would cry, I would yell over the curtain, “Hey Maria, do you want a cookie?” and every time, I heard an excited shriek and a, “YES!!”. I have not been in contact with her in any way since I left the hospital.

On the third night, I was diagnosed. I was told I had kidney infection. This was something scary and worrisome for me. They gave me antibiotics and tons of pain medicine, and sent me on my way. I was in the hospital for a total of 5 days; Starting at midnight on Monday, and ending at 2:30 the following Friday.

Even though I am out of the hospital now, I’m still nowhere near being in the clear. In June I have to get a test done to make sure I don’t have any scarring on my kidney as a result of the infection. It will also be checking to make sure that my kidney isn’t being rejected in any way. I think I will be fine, but it’s not my call. If I had not made the decision to go to the hospital that dreadful Sunday night, the infection would have gotten worse and could have spread to any other organ. My doctors were able to catch it early, and I don’t experience anymore pain. I am glad that I made the right decision.





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