“Have My Cake and Eat It Too” – Honorable Mention, 10th Annual Essay Contest

By Katie Holland

Have my cake and eat it too

Something quite magical happens when I eat a slice of cake. Once a bite of cake hits my mouth, all of this sudden my problems are solved and the world is at peace, as long as the icing is coating my tongue and the cake slides down my throat. It’s a moment of pleasure and a time to celebrate. You might think that as a dialysis patient, I’d have less to celebrate and fewer reasons to eat cake, and if it weren’t for Rosetta, my patient care technician, I might think so too.

Having been on dialysis for a year, I knew the rules. No food is allowed in the area where we dialyze. To be honest, I didn’t worry much when they took down the sign during a recent remodeling. After all, 4 hours is a long time, and I see nothing wrong with eating a snack. Obviously, I didn’t think that anyone, particularly one of the paid employees, would dare risk his or her job to break a rule. No way!

Yet one Saturday, it hit me. I’d been on dialysis for a whole year. I’d endured three sessions a week for an entire year—52 weeks of needle sticks, blood pressure drops, and really bad cramps. I couldn’t possibly see a reason to celebrate. I jokingly asked my nurse and my technicians, “Hey, do we serve cake on a patient’s anniversary?” Knowing that this would be against the rules, I assumed that they gathered from my tone that I was being flippant and would go on with their work.

Well, as soon as I mentioned this, Rosetta started plotting a prohibited cake delivery. She waited until her short lunch break to find exactly what she felt was the perfect concoction of butter, sugar, and flour worthy of anyone’s craving, and once she arrived back at work, she found me and placed an aluminum-wrapped package in my lap.

Surprised by her gift, I wasn’t exactly sure what to think. Did this woman really break a rule just for me? Why would she risk it? She could have gotten into trouble for this! After a few minutes, I opened the package. There it was, a slice of lemon pound cake with a light glaze on top. Oh, this was serious! I just knew that this was intended for after my session. That’s what my brain kept telling me, but my taste buds screamed with bliss, and I had to take a bite of this perfect creation.

With that first taste, the euphoria of eating cake struck me. It tasted just like the cupcakes I’d had in elementary school. As a result, I wanted to hold onto each flavor profile that hit my tongue: sweet, sour, and savory. I literally had a slice of heaven in my lap. It tasted oh, so perfect.

Now with this goodness having left my mouth and made its way to my stomach, it was as if all of my problems had disappeared. No longer was I sitting hooked up to a dialysis machine, I was transported to some joyous times like my college graduation and Christmas Day. I began to reflect on what I should already have been remembering on my 1-year anniversary: I thought of all of the times I swam in my parents’ pool this summer and the fun I had with my family and friends. I thought about all of the George Clooney movies I saw this year and how much I love them. I also reflected on the visit to my aunt and uncle’s home in Arizona. This was the first time I’d seen where they live. None of those things would have possible without my going to dialysis three times a week for this entire year.

As my session ended, I didn’t get a chance to thank Rosetta. She was too busy getting her work done for the day, but I’ll forever be grateful for that simple gift. It took only a little lemony glaze to remind me of the life that I have to be thankful for!

Have my cake and eat it too - Have my cake and eat it tooAbout the Author
Katie Holland is a native of Clinton, North Carolina. She was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease and Diabetes in November of 2005, and on June 16, 2011, renal failure forced her to begin dialysis. Throughout this time, she has overcome a number of obstacles and has found inspiration from other kidney patients who fight the good fight right at her side. She currently writes a weekly column in the Sampson Independent called “Kandid Katie” and works as a church secretary. Also, she is a George Clooney fan.