The Sandglass

Have you ever dreamt of drowning or watched it in a movie? The anxiety arising from the shortness of breath, while the cold water turns your senses numb. All you could hear is the silence of the resonating water. The sun above the surface makes you want to live, while the deep dark beneath wants to embrace you and you feel your own body weight dragging you down. Nothing quite brings out the zest for life in a person like the thought of their impending death.

It took me a while to make up my mind and start writing. Would it be fair for me to present my life troubles as readable content? Won't it mean that I'm just another prospect looking to cash out on the chronic disease for a bit of fame? I was afraid. I mustered up the courage I have to share my fears and my insecurities with you.

What if one day you get told that you are running out of time? Would you be brave enough to handle it like the tough guy you think you are or would you crash at the first touch of anxiety? Either way, you take it, you will still see your world crumble away right in front of your sight, like sand in the air, You start to think so much of death, that it starts to feel like a memory.

Last November, I finally went in to see my Nephrologist. I had to cancel a couple of appointments with her earlier because of covid. I finished my work and got home to have a shower. A friend and I then left for Newcastle to see the doctor.

My doctor is a mid-aged woman with a sweet smile and composed face. I was looking at the expressions on her face, trying to assess my reports based on the grimace. She then turned to me and told me that she was quite happy with my blood and urine reports. Finally I had stopped having protein leakage in my urine which was a good sign but my creatinine levels were on the rise, which could turn problematic.

I told her about the whereabouts of my health during the past year and the reasons why I couldn't see her. She was listening to me intently while going through my reports and kept asking me questions about my health. She told me that my kidney function was constantly declining during the past years but the drop particularly in the last year was concerning.

She told me that during all this time they were trying to stabilize my kidneys by preventing any further damage but the damage already done was irreparable beyond means. I was listening to her nodding my head. She further added that given the past records and looking at the rate at which the function drops, I might have another 5 years or if the stars align in my favor, another 8 years until I need dialysis.

I didn't have much to say to her. I asked about the biopsy she had been recommending. She smiled and answered right now she would wait on it. She scheduled me for another set of tests due in January and if the drop is too much in these two-time frames, then she will have to conduct a kidney biopsy to see how bad it is or if my kidneys will stop functioning any sooner than the 5-year time frame she had anticipated.

I believe by this time, she had understood the impact of this news on me. She was trying to comfort me knowing exactly how hard it can be for people to swallow that bit of information. I smiled back at her telling her I fully understand what she means. She asked me how my life was and I excitedly told her that I am finally starting University in February and will study for Bachelor of Biomedical Science.

She smiled at me and told me that I am doing really well. My iron studies checked good, the cholesterol was in the normal range, the thyroid was in a normal range, almost every other level looked good. She asked me to see a Podiatrist when I complained about nerve pain in my legs and feet.

After taking my leave, I and my friend stopped for a meal. We had a nice dinner and I bought a birthday gift for one of my bosses. As we started the drive back home, I was listening to really loud music trying to distract myself from overthinking. I drove back to my work to give my boss his birthday present. I didn't stay to talk to anyone and left there as soon as I could.

I came home and went straight to bed. I was up since 6 AM and tired by this point. I slept through the night soundly but then I woke up wide awake in the morning. I checked the bedside. The phone said it was still 5:30 AM. Realizing I still had a bit of time before I have to get up, I started thinking about what the doctor was saying about my kidneys, having max 5-8 years in the windshield, till I go on dialysis. The anxiety kicked in. It seemed like I could feel the earth rotating and it just all hit me then.

I was staring at my bedroom ceiling for a really long time. I felt like just laying there but I had to force myself to get up and get ready for work. I am usually bouncy when I get to work in the morning but that day, even a word of speech seemed like a struggle.

The colleagues noticed that I was unusually quiet. Belinda asked me if I was okay and I was like Nah. She asked me what was going on and I blurted it out. She looked at me with despair and hugged me, telling me it will be okay. That embrace meant a lot because till that time I hadn't spoken to anyone about it.

Suz asked me if I was okay and I smiled back at her but she sensed something was up. She hugged me and we went along with our day. I was silently working on the coffee machine. I texted Harneet during my break and she was like that's okay I have two kidneys. I laughed a little looking at her text knowing she would actually give me one in a heartbeat if need be. I was almost in tears.

I finished my shift and found Suz just standing there and looking at me. I told her about all of it, she was crying for me. I hugged her and she asked me if I was okay mentally and I smiled at her saying I will be better tomorrow. She was concerned about me but I convinced her that I will be okay.

As I got home, I had enough of the melancholy. I burst out in tears getting it all out. I was worried about what will happen when I get on dialysis, whether I will be able to walk or I will be too sick to work. 5 years seemed so less. I have been a witness of what dialysis did to my grandfather and that made me feel even more scared about it. He cannot walk anymore and his body has grown so weak from it. I started having second thoughts about the degree if it was even worth it if I am unable to work after I go on dialysis. Life seemed so unfair but then I sat back and reflected on how good I have had it. All the support, the love, and care I got from my family and friends all these years. I still was alive while some people are given time frames on their life and have terminal illnesses that end up killing them. I felt blessed at that moment and I knew it in my heart that whatever happens in the coming years. I will be ready for it and will keep fighting for my life till my last breath so even death has to say she was a stubborn soul.

Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!