Acute renal failure ‘“ three words guaranteed to get one’s attention. They got my attention June 17. My creatinine level was 9.1. Anything over 9 makes one a candidate for a coma I was told later. Thus began a 19-day stay at the Medical Center of Central Georgia.Having been sick off and on for six months, I was suddenly the sickest I have ever been by far and near death. I was put on dialysis ‘“ think pool filter pump with your blood as the water.My 15-year-old daughter May Melton did not leave my side the first eight days I was hospitalized. Livia Lanier, 11, would come visit armed with new blonde jokes to make me smile.Laura was a real trooper throughout all this and epitomizes ‘˜for better or for worse.’ She attended to business at home and at our offices and still came to the hospital every day. I don’t know how she did it.Thankfully, my kidneys restarted and are regenerating. The doctor who pulled the central line catheter from my jugular vein told me, ‘Mr. Geiger, I don’t do this very often. You are a blessed man.’I am pulling through but it is not because of any special resiliency within me. My name was on prayer lists all over the country. My recovery can be attributed to the power of those prayers, God’s grace and the efforts of some very special folks. Let me tell you about a few of them.Kelly Davis is the daughter of Rev. and Mrs. Kelly Runyan of Barnesville. We had never met but Kelly and my sister-in-law Leila are prayer partners. Kelly, who works as a patient account representative at the Med Center, came to my room every day she was at work and prayed over and with me. She is a prayer warrior and a blessing to me and my family.Sheryl Adams, R.N. invested herself in my recovery both professionally and emotionally. With each positive test result ‘“ no matter how small a victory it was ‘“ she laughed and clapped like a seal. I laughed, too. Once a procedure I had been prepped for was not scheduled due to an error. In tears, she cajoled a scheduler to work me in, promising the scheduler she would make her a cake. She did. I also got a cake and it was marvelous just like its maker.Mary Kay Williams, R.N. was dubbed ‘˜Pink Cadillac’ by May Melton. Mary Kay had a career as an interior designer and is married to a former UGA football player. Her father had renal failure and died in a room not far from mine. So touched was she by the care given her dad, Mary Kay went to nursing school and returned to work on the renal ward. She and Sheryl were my biggest cheerleaders. Even when they were off, they called to check on me and keep my spirits up.Emma Layson, R.N. was often my night nurse. Her son has been on dialysis for four years. She spent late night hours laying out for me what I was up against and encouraging me to fight. Due to her experience with her son, she was an expert on the pharmacology and treatment options I had and became a trusted advisor.Veronica Sewell, R.N. encountered me on my first trip to the dialysis clinic. A surgeon draped me and put a temporary catheter in the femoral artery near my groin and they hooked me up to the pool pump.I was terrified. Veronica read my fear. The next day she brought the dialysis machine to my room and patiently explained to me exactly what was going on and why. From that point on, my fear was gone.She later told me, ‘I saw the fear in your eyes. The eyes are the window to the soul. I knew you were scared. That’s why most of us chose health care. We don’t have to know you to care.’Adrienne Hill, C.T. is always on the ward. ‘I don’t have anything to do at home so, when I am not working, I volunteer,’ she told me. Adrienne bathed me and took care of my hygiene needs with a smile on her face.Once, I was gone for a procedure until about 8:30 p.m. Her shift ended at 7 p.m. but she waited on her own time to make sure I was ‘˜all tucked in’.Derrick Pendergrass has been blind since birth. He works at the Med Center as a chaplain. He taps his way into your room with a white cane but leaves you with a song in your heart and praise for the Lord on your lips. He was a blessing to the Geigers.Upon learning I was in my church choir, he brought in a guitar and we regaled the nurses with hymns. I could feel the presence of God.I could tell you about dozens more fine people I encountered but will close with my nephrologist Dr. Ihab Zaggout.Born in Gaza, Dr. Z is married to Tina Hawkins, daughter of Forsyth attorney Ashley Hawkins and his wife Kris. The Zaggouts were married in a castle in Scotland. He told me from the beginning that my condition was a renal injury brought on by massive doses of antibiotics I was administered while fighting off a staph infection and that I would come off dialysis.He was right. God bless him.Thanks to all of you for the cards, e-mails, phone calls, food, flowers and kindnesses toward Laura and the girls. Most of all, thanks for the prayers.Without them, you would not be reading this.Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and Pike County Journal Reporter.
Geiger’s Counter: Some very special people
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