19- What Lies Ahead

Joel finished this blogging adventure with the final chapter...

What Lies Ahead

The chapter begins with the harrowing story of Vanessa diagnosing Robert with diabetes over the phone. After the transplant, and after the wedding, Robert moves across the country to enroll in Harvard's School of Public Health.

One night Robert and Vanessa are talking on the phone and he pauses to take a drink of water. Vanessa's first thought is how satisfying it is to hear him drink since gulping a beverage is one of those common human moments of delight that used to be fraught with peril when Robert was on dialysis. Each gulp meant more shortness of breath and more fluid to be removed during dialysis, leading to more cramping. Then Robert mentions that his vision is blurry and Vanessa pieces together a more ominous story. Robert is confused, complaining of excessive thirst, and has blurry vision. He has diabetes and is in a hyperglycemia crisis.

Vanessa tells Robert to rush to the emergency room while she grabs Avery, books a plane ticket and flies across the country to meet Robert in the hospital.

Robert is hurt that his body let him down again. This causes him to ponder what will happen in the future. What would he do if his/her kidney fails. He says, "Man, if I lose this kidney, that's it. I'm not doing dialysis again."

This shocks Vanessa. She initially rejects it but over time, as uncomfortable as it makes her, she reconciles that Robert has agency. He knows what dialysis is. He is not making this decision due to a knowledge deficit. She has to accept that he can make his own decisions and that dialysis is not for everyone.

This final chapter is a microcosm of what makes this book so great. Dr. Grubbs sits in what is essentially a unique position of being a scientist, doctors, kidney donor, and wife of a patient with end-stage kidney disease. These roles allow her to have a 360 degree view of the issues, conflicts, and emotions surrounding kidney transplant and kidney disease. Dr. Grubbs coming to terms with what is unthinkable to Vanessa is what is so powerful about Hundreds of Interlaced FIngers.