The Courage To Be Afraid


[Every month I give an update on my kidney transplant.  This is the ninth month.]

“In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight.  Let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power, Green Lantern’s light!”- The oath of The Green Lantern Corps

You ever watch a movie and it conjures up memories, good and not so good?  While watching  “Green Lantern” on opening night with friends, I noticed several themes in the movie.  Willpower, fear, and courage were repeated throughout the film.  This brought back a particular time in the recent past for me.

In Blackest Night and Being Found

Due to end stage kidney disease, I endured hemodialysis from March 8, 2007 to August 14, 2009.  Sitting in a chair with two 15 gauge needles in my left arm as all my blood pumped into a machine, cleaned, and pumped back into me for 4 hours- not a fun way to spend 12 hours of a week.

I would go home to my apartment, eat a little something, and crash.  The feeling after dialysis…well imagine if your insides went through a washing machine for 4 hours.  Wash, rinse, spin cycle, and you’re sent home.  Besides draining my will, it affected my heart as well.  [What kills nearly half of dialysis patients isn’t the kidney disease, but heart failure due to the strain and stress on the heart.]

On several occasions, my body was so sick,  I thought I wouldn’t make it through the night.  So, I took precautions:  I would leave the front door unlocked in case I had to call an ambulance; they would have an easier way to get to me.  I had my cell phone by my pillow, to make that 911 call for the ambulance. Then I would  say a prayer and attempt to go to sleep.

Fear filled those nights.  Not only fearing the end of my life, but an even greater fear held me like a jealous lover.  The fear of being found.

You hear it in the news quite often, a person found dead.  Which meant that person died alone.  No one to hold their hand or hear their last words.  No one to be present as they fall asleep.  Just.  Found.  Alone.

This, this one fear, created many a blackest night.  Sure, I had hope and faith that everything was gonna be alright.  Yet, as bad as I felt physically, the fear of being found infected me like an unrelenting virus coursing through my veins.

In Brightest Day and Lessons Learned

Feeling convinced you wouldn’t live through the night to wake up the next day can put you in an awkward headspace.  The sun shines a little brighter; the world seems a touch more beautiful.  Life is more…illuminated.  Each time, I was relieved to see another day.  I didn’t speak of these nights to anyone, but I did learn some things.

1. The power of will motivated me to go to dialysis, knowing full well how I would feel afterward, good and bad.  Knowing the pain of getting stuck in the fistula in my arm and sitting for 4 straight hours (only in the most dire of instances could we become unattached to the machine and have a bathroom break).  Knowing also this was keeping me alive was a handy bit of information to have.  But…

2. Fear was ever present.  The fear of knowing dialysis was harming me as much as it was helping.  The fear of going back to the hospital (as of this writing, I was at the hospital either in the Emergency Room, having a procedure done,  or as an admitted patient 17 times since January 2006, when I first got sick.).  The fear of being found if I did pass away in the night.  However…

3. Courage was present as well.  The courage to look fear in the eye, and make preparations in the event of an emergency.  The courage to say a prayer and believe that all will be well and have hope.

Beware Our Power

Courage taught me to address fear, even now.  I saw my Nephrologist (kidney doctor) this past week and my numbers look good, and Kidd Rokkney (the name I gave my new kidney if you’re new here) is doing well.

Courage shows us it is okay to confront our fears.  Courage shines a light on our power.  Courage allows us to say “I’m afraid”, even someone like me who doesn’t like to burden people with his problems (I’m getting better at that habit).  Courage compels us to use our fear to our advantage and not be consumed by it.

[photo by Colony of Gamers]

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