SIX INCHES FROM MY FACE
I went into kidney failure while living in Italy. I remained in a local Naples hospital (Casa Di Sole), under the care of Dr Latte, until I was transferred to Bethesda Naval Hospital, including surgeries at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Four months later, I was transferred to Maine Nephrology Associates awaiting to see if I could get healthy enough and qualify for a transplant. Sitting in Dr Vella’s office, he began to instruct me as to what I could and could not do while on dialysis. It became clear I needed to develop habits that would help prolong my life while I was on the machine.
The dialysis machine does not work as well as one’s original kidneys. It doesn’t clean 24 hours a day which allows toxins to build up within your body. You are limited on how much fluid you can drink (only 6 cups per day). This is because an individual cannot urinate when in kidney failure. Therefore all fluid is retained. Fluid and toxins are removed from your body by the dialysis machine. One gets weighed before treatment and however many pounds you gain between treatments is an estimate of how much fluid weight should be removed from your body. If too many fluids are consumed, it can make your treatments uncomfortable and difficult.
He also told me I could not eat fruits and vegetables. The reason behind this is because most vegetables and fruits have potassium and the dialysis machine cannot remove it from your body. Potassium, which is controlled by healthy kidneys, is good for the body. However, for a dialysis patient, it can result in a heart attack, stoppage or many other dire problems.
I looked across the desk and asked; “But what about french fries?! I LOVE french fries!” Dr Vella got up from his chair, walked around the desk and stood in front of me. He bent at the waist and looked at me eye to eye. His nose had to be no more than 6 inches from my face. He said with a stern expression;
“You eat them and you will die……”
He then walked out of the office, leaving me sitting alone, allowing his words to sink in. They did. That six inches from my face was like a slap, a wake up call. This was not a joke, but a life or death situation. The irony that something as simple as french fries could kill me.
Six inches from my face to make me understand that my heart could stop.
Six inches from my face to make me aware I was mortal and had to abide by the rules.
Six inches from my face to help me face the fact that my kids may have to bury their father, my parents a son.
Six inches from my face to make me realize junk food was not as important as my life……
Six inches from my face to make me fear death in my early thirties.
Six inches from my face to make me thankful I have a machine to keep me alive.
To this day I thank Dr Vella. He (as well as many other doctors) saved me. Many of you have Dr Vellas in your lives. Your Dr Vella may be a doctor, a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a child, a friend or maybe even a trainer. However, possibly you are not listening or maybe they are not close enough “6 inches from your face”, allowing you to see your fate if you do not change your ways or unhealthy habits. Maybe you are turning away as to not hear the truth or are in denial, because you don’t want to give up the addiction. I would rather have my loved ones be blunt and truthful with me, “6 inches from my face” instead of being “6 feet below them”…
I had to share this video. It always motivates me when I need that little push.