"Acute kidney failure."
On any given day, if you'd asked me about a phrase such as that, I'd think of a very sick person. A very old person. Someone who has been in the hospital a lot.
I never thought I'd be hearing that my healthy 26-year-old husband was suffering from it as we finally made it to the ER on Saturday afternoon.
As most Saturdays go with the two of us, we headed out to a volleyball tournament. This one is extra special each year because it's a way many of us celebrate the life of our friend Jared. Unlike most outdoor tournaments, though, we didn't really do our usual prep. We didn't bring a cooler. We didn't bring snacks. We didn't bring water. We didn't bring sports drinks.
We knew we'd have access to water there, so that's what we depended on. He drank a lot of water throughout the day. A liter here, a liter there. Then, a 44-ounce from Sonic. Then a refill of that. He thought he'd had plenty, but we'd never had to account for temperatures like these before. At its highest point of the day, it was 102.9 °F. We both stayed in the shade as much as possible, but he ended up playing 11 sets of volleyball in the direct heat.
After the last game, we began the 40 minutes home and made it nearly all the way. He was cramping severely, which happens after a lot of tournament, so I pulled into the parking lot of a Wendys. I went in to get some more water, a cup of pickles and some sports drink. That's when I started realizing these cramps weren't normal. They sounded really painful. He was yelling. I was scared. After a few suggestions from my Dad and realizing this situation wasn't improving at all, I called for help.
The paramedics arrived and his body was locking up so much that he had to be carried from the car, onto the stretcher. I answered some questions and followed along to the hospital. It took a few bags of saline and some meds before his cramps were at ease enough for him to seem like himself again. Along the way, there were talks of really high blood pressure and tests proving he was in acute kidney failure. It all made my head spin, while I tried staying calm. Naively, I kept thinking, "he's JUST dehydrated, right?"
After some slight improvements were made and we were ready to begin the waiting game, we got a room and both spent our first night in the hospital. It's like staying in a really expensive hotel, without a comfortable bed, without those fluffy pillows and with people walking in your room each hour of the night to wake you up. I'm joking, of course, but the nurses did take such good care of him. We really felt like we were in great hands.
After he was tested and pricked all night and morning, we had some breakfast and got all the final paperwork ready for release. His latest kidney tests were all clear: Something we'd been waiting, hoping and praying to hear for nearly 12 hours. Now, he's under directions to chill out and stay out of the heat for quite some time.
There are so many things to be thankful about from all of this. I'm thankful we did not make it home. If we had made it home, we probably would have wasted a lot of precious time trying to treat him ourselves. I'm thankful my Dad, who lives 2 hours away, just happened to be a couple miles down the road from the hospital visiting friends. It was great to have him to lean on and pray over us. I'm thankful the kidneys began working again properly. That was a long wait for those tests, but they did exactly as they were supposed to. I'm thankful we now know a lot more about preventing anything like this again. We will be the most hydrated couple at the next tournament, for sure! Water and electrolytes. Water and electrolytes. Water AND electrolytes.
We definitely left this weekend with a newfound respect for a Texas summer day. Please, please, please take every warning and precaution to heart. My husband is healthy. My husband is fit. And this hit him with so much force, it nearly did irreversible damage.
Stay hydrated, friends.