With shaky fingers, I dialed 9–1–1 and waited for an operator to pick up.
It was around 5 A.M. I leaned against the wall of the bedroom I share with my fiance. Every time I laid down, I couldn’t breathe. The night before, I coughed so much I puked twice. I banged on the wall and laid in the middle of the bathroom floor, too exhausted and in too much discomfort to move.
She swallowed her fear and helped me up. We both didn’t get any sleep that night, and she called out of work the next day to keep an eye on me.
I tried to stay calm as I explained what was going on. The ambulance was in front of the house in less than five minutes. I threw some stuff in my dialysis bookbag, grabbed my dialysis blanket, and kissed her on the forehead. Then I hurried out the door to meet the paramedics outside so they wouldn’t startle Ginger, our dog, too much.
My oxygen level was low at around 80. Concern filled their eyes. As soon as the oxygen machine got into a smooth rhythm, my levels came back up to a healthy level. They asked me a handful of questions, then we headed for the emergency room. I had to put on two masks because I had Covid symptoms. I didn’t have a fever, though.
Before I was even put in a room, a nurse stuck a Covid swab up towards my brain. If you’ve had a Covid test, you know how uncomfortable it is. I’ve had six of them since this whole thing started last year. This time, I barely flinched. The waiting room was empty, and I went straight back to a room.
While I had a few Covid symptoms, the doctor that was over my case was pretty confident that wasn’t what was making me sick. She ordered a chest x-ray and a round of dialysis. Soon I was pushed to a different part of the emergency room because the room I was in didn’t have the right hookups for a dialysis machine.
My dialysis tech was a nice, tattoo-covered guy. We spent the next four hours together as different doctors, nurses, and techs came in. I got my chest x-ray while hooked up to the machine. I fell in and out of sleep as the day went on. One doctor gave me a sad smile and told me I was being…