ALMOST FULL CIRCLE Written by – Angela Taylor
On May 20, 2005 my Husband delivered me to the emergency dept of the RBWH. I had the following symptoms; leg oedema, high BP, shortness of breath, vomiting & lethargy. I was seriously ill & ended up in ICU a couple of times during the 5 weeks I was in hospital. As well as acute renal failure I had pulmonary haemorrhaging (bleeding in the lungs).
The diagnosis was a “vasculitis” – my immune system had broken down & started attacking my small blood vessels. After living with Type 1 diabetes for 23yrs I had always thought my renal problems would stem from that illness! One Dr told me “you have been hit with the unlucky stick, my dear”.
I commenced haemo dialysis immediately after having a line put in my groin. I also began plasma-pharesis treatment, as well as receiving some fairly toxic medications including steroids, chemotherapy and immune suppression drugs; in the hope I would regain my kidney function.
On the day of my first scheduled renal biopsy I collapsed on the ward & was rushed back to ICU. My family came to say their goodbyes as I wasn’t expected to survive that day. Thank God, I rallied & after a few days was back in the renal ward. After a biopsy in June I found out the name of the rare illness I had contracted – Microscopic Polyangiitis. I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled and honoured I was, to contract an illness named after me – POLY ANGI ITIS.
After discharge I continued “in centre” haemodialysis for the remainder of 2005. I was unwell for all of that year and bloody miserable. Overwhelmed, would be an understatement! Deeply depressed and despairing would be another two adjectives to describe my state of mind! My confidence and self esteem were shattered and I lost my fantastic sense of humour which has always got me through tough times during my life’s journey. My prognosis was bleak and the effects on my life & family were devastating.
After being told in Sep 2005 that the drug regime wasn’t helping, my meds were ceased; I chose to change to PD. My whole outlook changed from that time on, as my health continued to improve & I started getting my life back on track with home & independent dialysis.
I returned to part-time office work last June (2006). This was another highlight for me since my renal journey began.
Coincidentally, an Acupuncturist began consulting at the clinic where I worked, and in December of last year I had my first acupuncture treatment. This involved needling my kidney points. Practically overnight my urine output / volume increased. I have continued to have monthly acupuncture with sustained improvement.
Under my renal physician I reduced my PD bags from 3 to 2 exchanges a couple of months ago. On 2 daily exchanges my renal function has continued to show a sustained improvement & on Mon 23 Jul I ceased dialysis.
My GFR in 2005 was around 11% and is now almost 20%! I haven’t gained any fluid for the period since I stopped and my bloods are still holding up well. WOOHOO!!!
I don’t want to give false hope to you readers but I do believe the acupuncture has contributed to the improvement in my renal function this year, in addition to this, my renal physician doesn’t have a reason for the turnaround in my health.