“ You learn about those who truly care for you in your darkest of times, for they appear to be the light out of the darkness.”
At the age of twenty-eight I was a nurse and working on a step down unit and a nursing home setting depending on my two employers’ needs. Overall I felt like I was healthy, I was going to school for my masters degree. I never expected to have difficulty with my health at this point. In January of 2016 I hurt my back and was put out on leave for about a week. I slowly but surely recovered or so I thought. Some weeks later on March 6th 2016, a Sunday night as I was winding down my shift at my nursing home position, I kept urinating and feeling like there was an issue with my bladder. I thought at first it was the bubble tea I had earlier that evening when some of the other nurses asked me if I wanted anything from the Thai place. After a while I stopped drinking the bubble tea. I had some cranberry pills and drank lots of water. I told one of the other nurses, “ I may have a UTI.”
I went home thinking I would try to see my doctor the next morning and get seen. Unfortunately as the night went on I was unable to void. I kept pushing and I could barely get anything out. By 1:45am I could not urinate at all. I felt like my insides had closed up preventing me from releasing the urine from my bladder. My parents heard me rushing back and forth to the bathroom and asked me what was wrong. Close to 4am I laid on my bed curled up in fetal position admitting defeat.
I admitted then I need to go to the ER. My parents are not in the medical field. Therefore when I got the point across that I needed to get the urine out, and it was something that required a hospital.
We arrived in the ER after 4:30am. The doctors and nurses often left me alone after I was placed in observation. At first they assumed I had a kidney stone. It would be several hours after I convinced them I was not pregnant and a bad CT scan they realized they needed to bladder scan me. A negative pregnancy test preceded prior to the bladder scan which should have been done before they sent me to CT hours ago. After some more time and three attempts of unsuccessful straight cath, they inserted a foley which drained over 1500 cc of urine out of my body. Finally my discomfort waned. The foley remained off an on next few days before a decision was made by my urologist that would remain inside of my bladder until they figured out the cause of my inability to urinate.
Days later they discovered I actually had a mass in the bladder. My left kidney had lost most of its function. But there was good news. The right kidney miraculously retained over eighty percent of function. Now the goal was how do we solve the problem of fluid on my kidneys which led to me not being able to pee on my own?
My urologist worked relentlessly to get me to a gynecology urology specialist and a urology oncologist. Surgery was scheduled for March 24,2016. For the month I was out of work and school, I had to get my foley changed six times. Late March I received the news that the tumor was benign. My family and I sighed with relief. My sister was my greatest support. I had some great friends from work that came to visit me and others I have known for several years.
I learned who my true friends and supporters were. On April 5,2016 I returned to the hospital I worked at to get my routine tb testing done for work. I decided to walk up to my unit. I was foley free. I happily told my coworkers I did not need a foley anymore. I also did not have cancer.
April 10th, 2016, I returned to work and a month later resumed my education towards my masters degree.
Through my experiences, I gained more compassion for my patients and management of their care. I will admit I was depressed for some days, but once I recovered , the experience remained a nightmare that I hope never returns.
Sonali Dhir is a new nurse practitioner. She worked as a registered nurse for seven years. She loves writing, her family, taking care of her parents and traveling. She lives in New Jersey.