His kidneys were almost completely shut down, functioning at less than 5% of normal. The lab results were the worst I had ever seen. His blood count was less than half normal, his kidney disease so advanced it had suppressed his ability to manufacture blood cells. According to the lab work he was near death.
Remarkably, the lab work ordered was just routine, done to complete the evaluation of his elevated blood pressure. He walked in for his visit and did not complain of any symptoms at all. When the labs came across my desk I called him right away. He did not answer his cell phone because he was at work. He was in need of emergency dialysis, and he was at work!
He was stunned when I gave him the news and told him to go directly to the hospital. How do you process the news that at the age of 30 you need dialysis and a blood transfusion? The ensuing few days were a medical and emotional whirlwind for him as he received a blood transfusion, 3 rounds of dialysis and was told he might want to reach out to family members to see if any might be willing to be a kidney donor. It was a lot for him to process.
His story weighed heavily on my mind for the next several days. I was reminded of the fragility of life and health. We go about our days with the illusion of control and a false sense that our futures are secure. It can all come crashing down in an instant. We know that terrible things happen but we tell ourselves that the terrible things will happen to someone else. We are seldom prepared for the crisis when it comes.
As it always does, his health crisis brought a new perspective on life, faith and relationships. He gained a new appreciation for his girlfriend, who stayed at his bedside during his time in the hospital. He was forced to deal with the reality of his mortality and he was given the motivation to consider the meaning of life and what comes when life is over.
As I talked to him I was reminded of how blessed I am. I have health issues, but thus far none of them threaten my survival. I am blessed with a woman who has been by my side through thick and thin for 33 years. I have a future and an eternity that is certain and secure, guaranteed and sealed by the sacrifice of my Savior.
May his story be an encouragement to us all to take time to evaluate our lives and our relationships, of the supremacy of faith, and of our need to live beyond the moment. None of us is guaranteed additional time.
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