I was diagnosed with diabetes at age 3. My younger brother, Rob, was diagnosed with Asthma a couple of years later.
Rob and I were raised by our mother, Christine. She is a tough woman. I remember her working three different jobs to support us when we were young. She is the type of person who if anyone told her she couldn’t do something, she’d go and do it just to show that she could.
She bought a house all by herself, along with a few cars. She also managed to raise us with no help or support from our father. When Rob and I moved out of the house in our early twenties, Mom quit all of her jobs, took all of her cash to Wendover and lost everything at the blackjack tables. Like our grandmother, she has a problem with gambling.
Raising a kid is hard enough, but raising two kids with serious illnesses when you’re a single parent is something else. My mom taught me everything I know about facing obstacles. I grew up watching her set big goals only to reach them after a lot of hard work and effort. No matter how difficult the struggle, she didn’t let anything get in her way. Nothing slowed her down. If she wanted something, she got it. And that was that. There was no complaining, no whining, no giving up.
She was the same way about diabetes. She learned as much as she could about the disease and then she equipped me with the knowledge and willpower to fight it. I never felt sorry for myself, and I never worried about my health, because I knew all I had to do was make it a goal to be healthy and I would achieve it.
It’s as simple as that.
Last year, I was having lunch with Rob when the following conversation occurred:
Rob: “How did your surgery go?”
I recently had a procedure done on my left elbow called a “Fistula.” This is where they take a vein in my arm and connect it to a nearby artery. Doing this causes the vein to pump more blood into the vein so it grows to be the size of an artery. This is the vein they use for dialysis. (More about the lead up to this later.)
Jake: “It went really good. I was treated like a guest at the IMC hospital. About a hundred people came up to me when I was laying there on the stretcher, waiting to go in and asked me how I was doing and if I had any questions. It was great! I even woke up during the procedure and sat up.”
Rob: “Really? Did you feel anything.”
Jake: “No, I just sat up and looked around. The surgeon said ‘Hello!’ to me and then told somebody to give me more sedative. Then I was out.”
Rob: “And you feel OK?”
Jake: “I feel great! But, did I tell you about my second experience with an enlarged prostate?”
Rob: “Second? I didn’t hear about the first.”
Jake: “Oh, well a few months ago I really had to pee before going to bed but nothing came out. It hurt and I stood there by the toilet forever, but… nothing came out. So I went to sleep. When I woke up, it felt like my kidneys were going to burst. I thought, OH MY GOD! THIS IS IT... MY KIDNEYS HAVE FAILED COMPLETELY AND IT HURTS! So I called Dr. Cline, but he wasn’t in the office yet so I drove myself to the emergency room.”
Rob: “Where was Chris?”
Jake: “She had already gone to work. Anyway, I get to the emergency room and I tell them that my kidneys are killing me and I can’t pee. They do some tests and shoot me up with painkillers. I tell them my kidneys are failing so I don’t know if this is what it feels like, but ouch! After awhile, they figure out that my prostate is enlarged and it is preventing urine from flowing out. They said I had too much fluid in my bladder so it started backing up into my kidneys which is why I’m in pain.”
Jake: “Yeah, dude. I’m laying there on the bed and the doc comes into the room and tells me he has to ‘check my prostate.’ He looks terrified. I am drugged up on painkillers, so everything is happy and fun. I tell him, ‘OK’ and he asks me if I understand how it works. ‘You’re going to stick your finger up my butt?’ ‘Yeah,’ he says while putting on the rubber gloves. He looks really nervous. ‘Can you roll on your side?’”
Rob: “Ha ha ha!”
Jake: “I don’t think he’d ever done that before, so he was all careful and serious. But when I saw a full-time urologist the next week- POW! He didn’t care. He just bent me over on the table and shoved his finger right in there like it was nothing. I squirmed and felt like I was going to pee all over his office. I said, ‘Sorry but I feel like I’m really going to pee.’ He said, ‘That’s’ because I’m applying pressure on your prostate.’ No kidding!
Rob: “Ha ha ha.”
Jake: “So it turns out it wasn’t anything to do with kidney failure. It was just an enlarged prostate. The urologist ran some tests and said it was normal for my age group. I shouldn’t worry, it just happens. He gave me some meds and by the time I reached the follow-up appointment, everything was back to normal. He did say that because my prostate had already become enlarged once, there was a good chance of it happening again.”
Jake: “Yes! It happened again after the surgery.”
Rob: “Did you go back to the urologist for some more finger action?”
Jake: “Ha ha. No. What happened was this- after surgery they gave me some Lortab for the pain and they warned me to drink plenty of fluid because the pills will cause constipation. I was all, ‘yeah, I’ve had these before. Whatever…’ so I became constipated. According to the urologist, constipation can trigger a prostate flare up.”
Rob: “Oh no.”
Jake: “Right! So I’m at work one day and I start feeling the same pain in my kidneys so I leave early to go to the emergency room. When I get to the window, I tell the girl that I was in there a few months ago for the same thing. I can’t stand still while I’m talking to her because my kidneys hurt so bad. She asks me where the pain is. I tell her, ‘My kidneys.’ She says, ‘I’ll just put down here that you are experiencing pain in your lower back.’ ‘It’s not my back, it’s my kidneys.’ ‘What do you mean your kidneys?’ ‘Yes, my kidneys! The pain is from fluid backing up into my kidneys from my bladder. It hurts!’ ‘I’ll just put lower back. There isn’t a field for kidneys.’ ‘Fine!’
Rob: “Did the same guy stick his finger up your butt again?”
Jake: “No, it was a different doctor and nobody did anything. They gave me some antibiotics for the inflammation and told me not to be constipated.”
Rob: “Ha ha ha. You should write that down! That is funny stuff.”
Jake: “You think so?”
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