Brighter Skies, Honorable Mention, 19th Annual Essay Contest

By Shar Z.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening, I pass through an empty lobby and walk directly to the white door. After firmly pressing the silver doorbell button, my “work” day begins.

Within a few moments, the white door with a tiny window emits a click noise and then the door swings open very slowly. I’m greeted with welcoming voices of happiness. I can literally sense a smile under the baby-blue colored medical mask from one of three staff members of the nocturnal shift. The initial moment is a sense of a daily victory. Simple blessings of human interaction are invaluable.

After self-weighing and self-checking our temperature, treatment begins either by cannulation or catheter access, along with routine intake checks such as listening to the heart and lungs performed by my nurse.

Following standing and sitting blood pressure checks, it takes me a minute to get comfortable for my six-hour (invaluable) treatment. Eventually, I’m connected with two tubes, one of which pulls and the other returns blood. It is a reminder that a medical machine called a dialyzer is a vital component in a dialysis patient’s life.

For most, the weekly dance is our “work.” The paycheck, or return, is allowing ESRD patients to Live Life Longer. My center’s personnel are all my heroes. Nevertheless, the one that stands high from my care team is my nurse Cielo.

Having several nurses during this long journey, Cielo, has allowed me to feel as an everyday human. Her passion and dedication to this selfless career appears by the way she talks with me, and with every patient under her eagle-eye watch. By the way, Cielo means sky. She does create calmness.

For example, she talks and listens continuously. Even when a patient feels like they are having dialysis complications, such as hypotension, hypoglycemia, or cramping, one can always hear her fast-walking with a continuous clickety-clack of footsteps. We hear that and we know she’s on her way to evoke calmness.

With her prior experience working at the emergency department, I feel a true sense of comfort and trust that if I should need medical attention, she will react swiftly. In my opinion, she is an example of a caring nurse. I believe the nursing gods selected her to be part of extending our days on earth.

In addition to her selfless, kind ways, she treats me like a friend, rather than a broken person. With this disease, I’ve experienced society feeling sorry for my situation and I have trouble holding a conversation, so I’m blessed with great talks about current events, reality shows, make-up talk, celebrity gossip, fur babies, family dinner menus and recipes, just to name a few. With her I feel like a regular, normal human being.

Our talks are what I look forward to. We love to talk about our fur-babies. We have experienced adopting new puppies and consoling each other when our fur babies cross the rainbow bridge. We also compare notes on our dogs, especially during puppyhood. Sharing pictures brings a smile and giggles to both of us.

In addition, our conversations on make-up tips and tricks are really special. As a patient, our focus changes, and it’s so easy to let our desire for beauty go to the wayside. On those moments, I’m distracted from the awareness that I’m connected to my life support. These little breaks allow me to always feel human and ultimately creates a good feeling (and an internal smile for me).

When she’s not working, Cielo loves to take international destination vacations. I enjoy listening to her vacation stories of travels to France, Italy, Iceland and a dozen other destinations. In this case, I can honestly say I’m living vicariously through her. These days, travels are a bit difficult for dialysis patients. So, when she shares her stories of the visited country and its people, activities, cuisine and foods, I’m transported during those moments.

Speaking of food, I think in my previous life, I was a home chef. I love trying and crafting new recipes, and Cielo would recommend new food trends or ask advice on planning a party, or an intimate dinner with friends. She always smiles and giggles when I share pictures of dishes or bake goods.

All in all, Cielo, is not just a nurse, but a happy person. I always look forward to seeing her. She allows me to escape to a bit of normalcy right now.

Shar Z. started with hemodialysis center 12 years ago. She has fundraised, volunteered ,  participated on the Kidney Walk planning committee for the National  Kidney Foundation. Shar enjoys spending moments with family, watching reality TV and walking and playing with her fur-baby. She loves reading recipes and creating them, along with a few personal twists. She hopes to create a memoir of recipes so family and home-chefs can enjoy. Shar resides in the Silicon Valley in N. California.

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