33) Cramping & Jack's Hallucinations

July 22, 2006

Called and talked to Herman, who said they had an opening at 1:30 that I could use. Johnny was here for the last few days (compulsory time off from the stress and intensity of Camp C.A.M.P.*) so he went over my last blood work report and wondered how and why my protein count could be down. We also discussed his financial situation for the fall semester in Hawaii** and looked over his financial aid ap
ps. Although he is unclear about the figures to use as his annual income, John appears confident that he will have enough money for the year in Hawaii, I hallucinate.

El Milagro: Diane cannulated me today and again did a good job. Rosie stopped by and said, “Hi stranger.”; I guess referring to my being in Dallas last week. As she was moving about the center working she kept glancing at me and giving me a little ‘knowing’ smile. But I have to admit, “I know nothing” so these little cutesy eye glances just confused me. I wondered if she had read the blog, or if she was just being friendly, or what it was all about. Rosie is always kind, attentive, and chummy so perhaps I am hallucinating the cutesy eyes thing (I am sure it is not flirtatious).

By “hallucination” I mean thoughts that I have that have no basis in objective empirical observation or v
erification from the person observed. In family counseling, we challenge students to identify ‘hallucinations’ they are making about their clients; such as thinking the ‘mother is acting this way because of her past abuse’, or ‘the child is angry at their parent and therefore acting out in school’. These are hallucinations because they are based on the counselor’s ideas of how the world works, not on exploration of the client’s thought processes or rationales for behavior. We ask students to listen to the client's story and ask about their ideas about how things got the way they are and their theory of how things might best be changed. Any time we think we know the answer without exploring the other person’s world view, we are hallucinating.

Today there is an older man in the corner chair who is moaning (“Auhhhhhaaaaahhuh” is close to the sound).
The staff generally are ignoring him: I notice Herman glance at another staff as the man moans and arch his eyebrows slightly. I hallucinate that this means “just let him moan”. There are two of the man’s relatives (maybe they’re friends) with him and the female occasionally attends to him in his moaning. It may be that part of the moaning is in response to cramping in his legs (I hallucinate). It seems that the female relative is rubbing his legs at times. Staff does go over and attend to the man on their regular schedule of stopping by every 15 minutes or so to mark his chart with numbers from the machine. Later he moaned in a major way when staff picked him up out of the dialysis chair and placed his in a wheelchair to leave.

Today I watch a Hallmark movie about ranching in the hill country in Liberty Hill. The landscape doesn’t look like Liberty Hill to me; much more hilly than I remember LH to be. I hallucinate that it is really around Fredricksburg or Johnson City, drift off for a few naps, and think about the visit with Johnny. I look at the clock on the wall at 3:30 and imagine him driving to San Antonio with Helen, who came up to Austin from SA just to pick him up. He is ‘Hombre Importante’ at camp and can find folks to drive for an hour to get him. Also, he’s her boss. They are cruising down the freeway listening to modern rock music and driving too fast to get to the San Antonio all night party that will end when they all arrive back at camp on Sunday morning…… I hallucinate.

Muscle Cramping: “Muscle cramping of the hands, feet, and legs is fairly common on hemodialysis. The cause of muscle cramping is unknown. However, three conditions that seem to increase cramping are: 1) hypotension (low blood pressure); 2) the patient being below dry weight; and 3) use of low sodium dialysis solution.

“Muscle cramps are more commonly associated with low blood pressure. However, some cramping continues even after a normal blood pressure is obtained. In fact, muscle cramping can occur even without a fall in blood pressure. Muscle cramps also can occur when you are below your dry weight. (As the dialysis machine filters fluids out of the system, the patient can fall below their ‘dry weight’ and then muscle cramping can begin). The severe muscle cramping experienced near the end of the dialysis treatment and persisting for a time after dialysis often is due to dehydration."***

Notes: In at 73.5 Kg, and out at 72.7 Kg.
* Children’s Association for Maximum Potential: C.A.M.P. (2006): retrieved May 15 online at
** University of Hawaii at Manoa: retrieved July 22 online at
*** Problems associated with dialysis (nd) Kidney Patient News: retrieved July 23 online at


twodogsblogging said...

Hang in there. I had a liver transplant one year ago and while it seemed like I wouldn't survive, I did and the quality of my life is fantastic.

twodogsblogging said...

Hang in there. I had a liver transplant one year and ago and the quality of my life is phenomenal! I never thought it would be this good.

Shauny said...


I've never been to a blog before. It's 4:10 am and I found myself thinking of you so I thought I'd read your site and write. So what woke me up was the thought that you were this person out there who I respect and love and you have these opinions of me that not everyone has. Or maybe some people do, they just don't tell me.

Anyway, this comment isn't just for this Saturday's adventure description. I guess this is where I should post it, though, ne?

Ok...here is how my mind is working over all this. I had no idea you were going through this, by the way. And that somehow makes us alike in that I think if I were going through something like this I wouldn't be going out of my way from the get go to broadcast to everybody I know that it was happening to me. So now that I know I get all these thoughts jumbled around in my head and I'll try to sort them for you.

I'm basically a realist. Both my parents and my sister have already died. Also my uncle, grandfather, and numerous friends.... So I find death in my thoughts and conversations with my children daily. I know our bodies don't last forever. I know pain sucks. My vegetarianism stems from this knowledge. So does my philosophy.

I generally don't let thoughts about dying affect the way I live my life. That's not true. What I mean is, I'm not religious. I am open to whatever will happen to me after I'm dead. I live each day with my end in mind. I tell my family and friends how much I love them. I talk to my kids about how we will all die someday. And I say, "Yes, it is scary, because we have to live without each other at some point." So what I talk about is stockpiling love in my heart for each person I love. I tell Violet that I had parents who did this for me and that they gave me so much extra love that it doesn't matter that they aren't here. I have all that love to pass on to her and Cypress and Jamie and all the other people I love.

So Jack, I know you aren't dying. Today anyway. Me neither. But we both will. It's life. I often think of how far I'd go if I were seriously ill. I hate hospitals. YOu know I gave birth both times at home to avoid it. I can't answer that question. I admire you for accepting your situation and carrying on with your life. I can tell you aren't changed in a negative way by the experience. I hear your same old humor in your blog postings.

Did I get all my thoughts clearly across? When Jamie's mom (a breast cancer survivor) recently told us she had found a lump in her breast, I tried to get this philosophy across to her and it felt so cold. I wanted to portray my feelings of sadness and I told her that I would basically be there for her if she was going to die soon. She was shocked by my frank addressing of the issue. I think she comes from a family where things just weren't discussed. By the way, the lump disappeared. But when I try to explain that I embrace death and honor the process, it seems too get me some weird looks.

So love alot, Jack. Think of your kids as these wells. Fill them up, even if you are going to live another 50 years. Fill them up to overflowing.

Oh, and I also am a firm believer in all kinds of weird alternative medicine. Ask me if you want to know. I also believe in the power of our minds. Focus on what you want to happen and it will. Some people call this prayer. Say what you want out loud. Yell it. Buy a billboard. It will happen.

I'd offer you my kidney, but my granny is living on 1 and mine are in reserve in case she needs one.

I love you. Shauny

Jack Nowicki said...

Shauny ~ I love your comments! They are exactly what I have in mind for expanding this blog into a forum for people's thought and feelings about my "adventure", which is, as you point out, the adventure of living for all of us.

Thanks for sharing of yourself and I hope it encourages others to do the same. Jack