MONDAY JUNE 6th – The first few days and nights at the hospital were horrible. Dan was termendous pain and didn’t even have the energy to watch TV. When the doctor spoke of Dan’s situation he said, “He has severe severe dehydration and very very very acute renal failure.” And despite all the IVs and meds and nurses and doctors, he was getting MUCH worse. Dan was constantly receiving IVs that kept pumping him with liquids in hopes that eventually the fluid would break down the myoglobins blocking his kidneys… but it wasn’t working. Dan’s creatine levels continue to worsen, and he was becoming a human water balloon since for 3 days he didn’t urinate at ALL. Monday evening he peed for the first time and it looked like black coffee.
The nurses were monitoring Dan’s heart and Monday night Dan had to wear an oxygen mask but that made him feel claustrophobic and panicky.
I spent about 72 hours straight at the hospital. My neck ached from sleeping on the hospital bed-cum-chair and it was hard to sleep with all the machines beeping and the nurses coming in every hour (but never when you needed them right away)!
TUESDAY JUNE 7th – Dan’s kidneys still were at 0 function. His body was filling up with toxins since his kidneys weren’t filtering them out and he still was barely urinating. His body was literally poisoning itself. So, Tuesday morning, Dan went into surgery to have a tube inserted into his neck – a catheter that they would use to give him dialysis. Hemodialysis dialysis is basically an artificial kidney. They connected Dan to this huge machine that looked like something from Back to the Future. Blood comes out of a tube from Dan’s neck and is then “cleaned” in this machine. The toxins (which would normally in one’s urine) are filtered out and discarded down the drain from a tube that comes out of the dialysis machine. And then “clean” blood is returned to his body through another tube. However, like most mechanical substitutes for human organs, there’s risks involved with dialysis… such as hypertension and cardiac problems.
The scarriest part, however, was that the doctor said there was a 50/50 chance of Dan having to continue dialysis for weeks, months or even years. I think we both tried to not even think about the possibility of Dan being on permanent dialysis, as this would mean a dramatic change to our lifestyle… trying to thru-hike based on dialysis centers? Never being away from civilization for more than 3 days? No, our brains could not go there.
Thankfully, Dan felt better after his dialysis and they also removed 1 litre of fluids from him.