Excerpt for Living On The Edge by , available in its entirety at Smashwords









LIVING ON THE EDGE





Louisa Ausai-Magele







Living on the Edge



Copyright 2017 Louisa Ausai-Magele

Published by EA Books Publishing, a division of

Living Parables of Central Florida, Inc. a 501c3

EABooksPublishing.com

at Smashwords



All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated,

are from The King James Version.

The KJV is public domain in the United States.


ISBN: 978-1-945975-13-4



Smashwords Edition License Notes


This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please return to Smashwords.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.





Dedication

With love to our devoted father, Ausai Tupai-Magele and mother, Feagaima’alii Tagaloa Nofoagatotoa Pouoa Uasu.

Table of Contents



Acknowledgements

Preface

Introduction

Chapter 1 The Biggest Regret

Chapter 2 A Birthday Gift

Chapter 3 Unfortunate Discovery

Chapter 4 First Kidney Biopsy

Chapter 5 Faith in Prayers

Chapter 6 Welcome Home

Chapter 7 Duties and Decisions

Chapter 8 Catheter Insertion

Chapter 9 Peritoneal Dialysis Training

Chapter 10 Life vs. Work

Chapter 11 Medical Retirement

Chapter 12 Financial Nightmare

Chapter 13 Legal Separation and Home Restoration

Chapter 14 A New Beginning

Chapter 15 Kidney Transplant

Chapter 16 Steroid Side Effects

Chapter 17 Recovery vs. Medications

Chapter 18 Stresses and Kidney Rejection

Chapter 19 Second Hospitalization at UMC-Tucson

Chapter 20 Back on Peritoneal Dialysis

Chapter 21 Switched to Hemodialysis

Chapter 22 Start Anew

Chapter 23 Second Stroke

Chapter 24 Brain Surgery & Seizure

Chapter 25 Move to California

Notes


Acknowledgements

I would like to thank my editor, Peter Lundell for his masterful developmental editing and brilliant suggestions, especially his patience and compassion that assisted me to complete writing this book.

I am also grateful for my brother, Pastor Sunuialaifale Nofoagatotoa Magele for prayers and blessings to achieve this goal. I am very blessed and grateful for your constructive feedback, support and help. Without all your effort to assist me, I could not achieve this dream.

Thank you to the team at EABooks Publishing for bringing this dream to reality

Preface

In 2006 I began my journey as a kidney patient and progressed to end-stage renal failure. You may have a similar health problem. Or you may be a supportive family member or friend.

I hope my story might be helpful in evaluating your own situation as a kidney patient, or as a patient with any other kind of chronic or degenerative disease. I also hope my experiences might benefit you if you are supporting a loved one who has kidney or another disease. I believe that you’ll discover how similar our experiences are.

Most of the medical professionals I have dealt with are true professionals who care and have done their best to help me. Unfortunately, some in the medical field, perhaps 5 percent, do not follow proper procedures, and their negligence costs patients unnecessary pain and in extreme cases their lives. I was horrified at how easily I could become a victim of a mistake by those I trusted to help me overcome my life-threatening illness. I was raised to believe I could always trust medical professionals to do everything in their power to help me. I believed they would be diligent, effective, and would only do what was required to treat me.

I was sadly mistaken.

In a 2013 nationwide study, The Leapfrog Group (America’s leading advocacy organization for hospital quality, safety, and transparency) estimated that 440,000 people die annually from preventable hospital errors. 1 This puts medical errors as the third leading cause of death in the United States, underscoring the need for patients to protect themselves and their families from harm, and for hospitals to make patient safety a priority.”

Through my experiences I learned that patients have to take responsibility for managing their illnesses. At times, they must go against their doctors’ advice or recommendations and choose the path that is best for them. Out of respect for the privacy of many of the people discussed in my book, I have changed the names of the individuals involved in my experiences. However, I have disclosed the names of the hospitals I was admitted to and dealt with.

I sincerely hope that by reading about my experiences, both good and bad, you or your loved one can avoid or overcome some of the many problems I encountered. I tell my experiences in order to offer knowledge and strength to keep you or your loved one from becoming a victim of irresponsible healthcare employees or unethical medical practices.

I also hope that sharing my experiences can help you turn the negative aspects of dealing with catastrophic illness into something positive, or at least something tolerable.

My story is told in order, beginning from the first event until the last, and all are based on real experience.

Introduction

I grew up on the island of Western Samoa. As a child, I was active in sports, church, and family activities. I didn’t realize then how healthy and happy my life was.

At Falealili High School in Western Samoa, I achieved a Straight-As certification. It secured my spot to attend Teachers’ Training College for two years. I completed two years in college and at age twenty started to teach in public schools. While teaching was certainly an honorable profession, it did not pay very well. I also learned that I was not as well equipped to deal with the political antics in the school management and environment as I thought I was. I became disenchanted with my chosen profession and decided to move on.

My faith played a major role in my upbringing. So I left my employment as a teacher to serve as a church missionary with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on the island of Samoa. After serving one-and-a-half-years in the mission, I taught at Pesega, an LDS Elementary School.

Then I emigrated to the United States. I worked diligently to start my life over again, further my education, and find a better profession. I thought nursing would be an excellent career. There is always a need for good nurses. As I progressed through my school and practical training, I accepted a position as a Certified Nursing Assistant. But I quickly discovered I could not stomach the idea of cleaning up after sick patients, nor could I handle getting spattered by any form of human body fluids or waste. I didn’t have the stomach for it and was continually nauseated and vomiting.

Then I discovered that I had a natural inclination for the security profession. I began my career working for airport security aviation as an entry-level officer at the San Francisco International airport while attending San Francisco State University part time, taking Human Resource Management for two years. It was the perfect fit as a career field for my personality and strong work ethic. I found the work interesting, and felt a sense of accomplishment that I was providing a vital service toward the security of my adopted country. My enthusiasm for the work and my developing skills in aviation security contributed to my rapid promotion to Checkpoint Security Supervisor, Duty Manager, and Human Resources Office Administrative Assistant. Eventually I was promoted to the position of Operation Manager. I was able to achieve all of my goals with International Total Services, Inc., because I focused and worked hard. I made it my mission to learn as much as I could about every aspect of contract aviation security that I possibly could. I applied what I learned and excelled in each position. To me it was painfully obvious that anyone who wanted to succeed could apply the same work ethic and achieve the same kind of recognition.

Throughout my young adult life, I was accustomed to working two jobs and attending school part time. Working long hours seemed only natural, something to be endured to meet my life goals. In pursuit of the American dream, I bought my own home in the best neighborhood I could possibly afford, along with a timeshare at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco. In addition, to sacrifice and prepare for my future, I bought land in Los Angeles and Lancaster, California. My humble upbringing as a hardworking farm girl in Samoa helped me develop the ability to overlook the pleasures most people enjoy while they are young. Besides working double jobs, and attending school part time, I was also a member of the World Financial Group (WFG), California, and achieved a license as a Life Insurance agent. I did not spend money on clothes, a fancy car, or nights out with friends on the weekends. Mine was truly a Spartan lifestyle. In 2000 I met my husband, a retired police officer from Antioch, California, who became a self-employed private investigator and a firearms instructor. We dated for four years before finally tying the knot.

After the world-changing events of 9/11, I found myself working for the Federal Aviation Administration as a temporary Aviation Security Inspector. It was a dream come true working for the United States of America. I attended a six-week-training course in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where I had to pass six tests, all with 85 percent or more, to achieve my certification as an Aviation Security Inspector. There were only two colored students in the class, a man from Guam and me. As intimidated as I felt, I passed all the requirements and got my certification.

After six months I was hired by the newly formed Transportation Security Administration as a Transportation Security Manager (TSM). I was offered an even higher salary than I’d had previously. With sacrifice, dedication, and hard work, I achieved an unimaginable goal for a farm girl from the small island of Samoa. I was blessed. I had become a United States citizen and a respected manager within the United States Government.

Although I was ambitious and continued striving forward, all of this was slowly destroying the young, strong Samoan girl in me. I never saw it coming. My position was incredibly stressful and required that I supervised more than three hundred government employees who were in direct contact with the traveling public, airport employees, and vendors. I was responsible for all security operations within the airport. As you might well imagine the responsibility was, at times, overwhelming.

Stress can kill.



1

The Biggest Regret

Young, healthy, and ambitious, for several years I did not feel the need to have a medical checkup. My negligence to see a physician all those years is the biggest regret of my life.

At first, I started feeling fatigued more often than usual. Then came a sharp pain in my lower back. It lasted for a few seconds, then it was gone, and I didn’t pay much attention to it. I thought the fatigue and pain was the result of working extended hours without eating a healthy diet and not getting sufficient rest. Taking a couple of sleeping pills and listening to soft music relaxed me and helped me fall asleep.

Whenever I coughed I began tasting an unpleasant metallic taste in my mouth. One day I went to the Emergency Room and saw a doctor at Mt. Eden Hospital in Castro Valley, California, for a bladder infection and pain in my lower back. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and pain medication. Because I was working long hours at the airport, I assumed my problem was just from being tired. I continued to work despite the pain in my lower back becoming increasingly frequent and severe.

I didn’t know what else to do but keep working despite the recurring symptoms. A strong work ethic is good. Maybe mine was too good. I took my responsibilities very seriously and gave one hundred percent of myself each and every hour I was working—even to cover for others.

The evening operation needed a closing manager, and since my colleague was on vacation, I continued working to cover both my shift and her shift as well. Working extended hours in such a physical condition further drained me both mentally and physically. But I was so committed and loyal to my employer that my own health was secondary.

To add to my stress, my husband went overseas to Iraq as a security contractor to protect classified intelligence assets. He was only allowed to tell me that he protected government personnel and property in a high-threat environment.

Besides working full time as a transportation security manager, I was overseeing my husband’s security business while he was out of the country. The stress of trying to keep his business operational and employed full time was weighing heavily on me. I knew how important the business was to him and how disappointed he would be if we had to close operations.

Our dreams and goals for the future were threatened every day my husband was in Iraq or Afghanistan. He didn’t tell me much about what he did, he was vague and used to say it wasn’t as dangerous as you might think and that nothing was going to happen to him. Somehow I knew he was only trying to protect me from the reality. No matter how much he would tell me he was in a safe area and not in immediate danger, I just couldn’t help be afraid for him. I worried constantly and waited every day for a phone call from him.

Tears of sadness and loneliness filled my eyes when I thought about how dangerous and miserable it must have been for my husband. At least I was at home with a warm bed and good food to eat. He sent me a photograph of himself standing in knee-deep snow somewhere in Afghanistan. He looked exhausted and cold. I later learned that he often had to sleep in a shipping container converted to a room at some posts where he was stationed. Other times he lived in village buildings at some far outpost. The conditions were always crowded and often without power, water, or medical aid.

At times I felt guilty for letting my husband work in Iraq and Afghanistan. He made the decision to go, but I still felt responsible if anything unfortunate happened to him. How could I bear the guilt if he was killed or severely injured? When I thought of what could happen to him, I found myself falling back on my old habit as a young Christian woman. I would drop to my knees and pray to God to shield my husband, keep him safe and most of all to bring him home to me. According to Isaiah 45:22-23, “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else.” I also remembered the teaching that the future is in the hands of Almighty God. If we struggle to achieve our goals, then maybe it is not God’s plan. We might even be going against God’s plan.

Apart from managing our personal affairs and overseeing our business in Santa Clara, the stress from work was overwhelming.

Around the third week of April 2006, my health rapidly deteriorated. I had been sick for about two consecutive months, but now the symptoms were getting worse every day, particularly severe lower back pain and metallic taste in my mouth even when I didn’t cough. And I completely lost my voice. These symptoms were persistent and exhausting, which cast me into depression, anxiety, and fatigue.

Now aware of my health problems, my supervisor adjusted the work schedule by moving one of the managers from the morning shift to work with me temporarily until the other security manager returned from vacation. This new arrangement enabled me to schedule an appointment to see my primary care physician at Kaiser Permanente on my day off.

At the doctor’s office I was disappointed to find he was out sick. Another male doctor would examine me. This doctor prescribed me Ibuprofens and a written notice excusing me from work for a couple of days. The two days passed in a blur, and my symptoms persisted. I needed additional time off to fully recover. This made me go back to Kaiser hospital hoping to see my PCP. Unfortunately, he was still out sick. Another female doctor examined me and prescribed more Ibuprofens. I was not comfortable with the idea of seeing a different doctor. In my opinion, seeing a different doctor on each visit didn’t seem like the most efficient or systematic way to treat a patient.


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