Everybody is aware of me as Maggie, however in an annoying quirk of my hospitalization, my medical data and wristband all bear my authorized identify, Frances. “One identify for every grandmother,” my mother reasoned when my dad and mom determined to christen me Frances Margaret. An unintended consequence of their thoughtfulness is that I’ve spent a lot of my life correcting individuals who referred to as me Frances. “It’s Maggie, brief for Margaret, my center identify,” I mentioned.
However within the hospital, it helped to have a second persona. Frances placed on a courageous face throughout the hours of therapy in sterilized amenities, whereas Maggie drew inward, refusing books and music or the rest that jogged my memory of who I used to be exterior the hospital partitions. From the place I sat, pinned to machines by the needles in my veins, in a physique I hardly acknowledged, and with a label on my wrist displaying a reputation that wasn’t mine, I couldn’t make sure that it was me this was actually taking place to. I listened patiently as docs and nurses and technicians got here into my room to supply Frances their effectively needs, draw blood, or focus on what medicines she ought to take or what procedures would possibly make her physique sturdy as soon as extra.
Throughout my first week of hospitalization, the kidney docs debated whether or not to start the dialysis course of, sticking to the standard “wait-and-see” method. However by the tip of the week there was no query. I had gained 30 kilos from all the surplus fluid and will hardly get up and stroll by myself. I started my first of many three-hour-long dialysis remedies, the place they siphoned off the liquid, doing the work of my kidneys that I had so lengthy taken as a right.
I had principally averted social media since getting sick, however at some point, I logged onto Fb to see that throughout the nation, folks I knew and other people I didn’t — a pair of ladies I as soon as babysat for, a soccer crew in Rhode Island — have been praying for Maggie, hoping Maggie pulled via. The extra those who anxious about me, the sicker I should be, I assumed.
The dialysis continued for 3 weeks with tiny however measurable outcomes. My platelet counts started to climb, and I began to pee once more. However it wasn’t sufficient to impress the nephrologists, who determined to surgically place a catheter in my chest, to each drain and administer fluids.
Medical doctors started discussing a kidney transplant and short-term home-care dialysis coaching. I used to be despatched dwelling for a weekend to relaxation up earlier than my first coaching for an eventual dialysis machine to be dropped at my dad and mom’ home, however we didn’t get that far. I went to mattress after dinner and awakened in an ambulance racing again to the hospital I had simply left. My blood stress had begun a harmful rise as my kidneys started to start out working once more, and I had the primary of three seizures that evening.
The following few days are principally misplaced from reminiscence, however some hazy pictures survive. Waking up in a tube to find I used to be getting an M.R.I. A nurse delicately pulling glue from my hair from the place the technicians had inserted sensors. My hospital mattress being wheeled out of the working room after the catheter was faraway from inside my chest. The sharp strains of the white hallway partitions, each nook providing a shadowy descent into another person’s hospital story.