Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ten Minutes Short

Lately I've been really enjoying some of the exercises in Take Ten for Writers: 1000 writing exercises to build momentum in just 10 minutes a day. This is a wonderful little book, and I don't want to discourage anyone from purchasing it themselves - it is well worth the $13. So rather than post many of the prompts here, I'll offer a couple of my favorites and suggest that you order the book for the rest.

More Or Less #7: Write about a time when you took more than you should have.

Since my kidney transplant in 1999, I have struggled with chronic, severe fluid retention. It's puzzled each and every one of my physicians in the past 12 years, because my transplanted kidney seems to be working fine. With my limited renal knowledge, I want to believe that it's not "hooked up" right and fluid just isn't making it to my bladder - but all ultrasounds, blood tests, and biopsies have indicated a perfectly functioning organ.

Working kidney or not, though, without treatment I can easily put on 10 pounds of water weight in the span of just a few days. At best, this is uncomfortable, and at worst - typically in the hot summer months - this is unbearable. So it is necessary to treat the condition as chronic and take diuretics regularly.

In the early years after my transplant, though, I also struggled with losing the weight that I put on as a result of post-transplant steroids and appetite increase. Being told by my transplant team to weigh myself twice a day to monitor my water weight gain probably didn't help my psychological health, either. The diuretics worked miracles - taking off pounds overnight - but it was never enough. To make matters worse, I did a little research and discovered that the body would adjust to regular diuretics, and the medication would have a decreased effect over time.

All this led me to believe that I needed more. The pills seemed so harmless - in all my research, I ignored the warnings of potassium depletion - and so wonderful. In an effort to combat the effects of my body adjusting to the drug, I would go days without it and then take 10-15 times my prescribed daily amount in one sitting. The immediate results were wonderful: I'd lose a ton of water weight in a few hours and my body was always too "shocked" to become immune to the diuretic effect.

Needless to say, though, this type of behavior is nothing short of drug abuse, and drug abuse has its consequences. By the time I came to my senses several years had passed, I had chronically low potassium, and at one point, had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance to an ER - where I encountered doctors who were amazed that I had not gone into cardiac arrest. It was this last experience that woke me up to the fact that I had, indeed, taken more than I should have.

And with that, my 10 minutes are up.

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