By writer to www.capebretonpost.com
A Cape Breton lady is looking for a hero.
Erica Cousins, 34, of Sydney Mines, who suffered an unimaginable ordeal that noticed her coronary heart, lungs and kidneys failing, is now confined to eight to 10 hours a day on dialysis and is in determined want of kidney and pancreas transplants.
“I actually need a kidney,” she mentioned passionately, including she wants a donor with an O-positive blood sort. “I actually need an opportunity at life. I feel all people deserves that. I wish to reside the perfect life potential and I do know I’m not going to waste it.”
Cousins mentioned to discover a donor could be discovering a hero. It’s an enormous factor for somebody to do.
“They’re providing you with one thing of theirs so you’ll be able to proceed to reside. It’s an honour, a privilege, and it’s very humbling to think about it that approach.”
Life modified immediately
Cousins labored as a youth counsellor for the Nova Scotia Division of Neighborhood Providers in Cape Breton. In the summertime of 2019, she moved out west and was employed as a toddler safety employee for the Alberta authorities.
In Might 2020, she wasn’t feeling effectively and went backwards and forwards to the emergency room in Fort McMurray. She was identified as having an an infection and handled with heavy doses of antibiotics however wasn’t getting any higher.
“I stored telling them within the emergency room one thing was unsuitable,” she mentioned.
Cousins, who was born with a blood clotting dysfunction and has been diabetic since age 9, ended up being admitted. After a few weeks hospitalized, issues took a flip for the more severe: she went septic. Sepsis is a life-threatening situation through which the physique is combating a extreme an infection that has unfold by way of the bloodstream.
“My coronary heart, my lungs and my kidneys had been all failing,” she mentioned.
Cousins ended up on a ventilator and was airlifted to the hospital in Edmonton.
“I don’t keep in mind any of that,” she mentioned. “I awoke and was in ICU there.”
Hospitalized two months, Cousins suffered pneumonia, blood clots, fluid on her coronary heart and lungs, and kidney failure. She ended up with a chest catheter on peritoneal dialysis.
“I used to be simply actually sick,” she mentioned “They had been apprehensive for some time that I wasn’t popping out of it. They instructed my dad that I used to be ‘circling the drain.’
Cousins was discharged from the hospital July 27, 2020.
“I took a cab straight from the hospital to the airport and got here dwelling to Cape Breton,” she added.
Dwelling in Cape Breton
Cousins is now on dwelling dialysis seven days every week for 8-10 hours per day.
In October, she was hospitalized on the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney for simply over a month as a result of a blood an infection and blood clot from her chest port dialysis, so the catheter was switched to her abdomen.
In the meantime, her days are full. After dialysis, she has to report data from the machine, weigh herself day by day, test her blood strain and ensure she’s not swollen wherever.
“I’ve now turn out to be a nurse to myself,” she mentioned. “You do all the things for your self.”
Cousins is on three intense diets she has to make work: a gluten-free weight loss program, a weight loss program along with her diabetes and a renal weight loss program as a result of kidney illness.
“Gluten-free meals, for instance, I checked out a loaf of bread and it was $7.49,” she mentioned, including she additionally has to have a high-protein weight loss program.
“Once you add all of it up, my groceries are one in all my highest payments.”
Earlier than Cousins bought ailing, all the things was coming collectively for her in a approach that she was having fun with her life.
“I used to be lastly in a position to take pleasure in my experiences and reside my life in a approach that I needed to,” she mentioned.
“Now it’s virtually like all the things has been taken away from me, put my life on pause.”
Pals step up
Cousins is unable to work and has depleted her financial savings. She was denied incapacity in Alberta, as she had labored beneath two years there. She’s making an attempt to attraction it.
In the meantime, Raven Boutilier of Reserve Mines and Nicole Bobo of Westmount, youth counsellors with the Nova Scotia Division Neighborhood Providers, are former co-workers of Cousins. All of them met in 2014 whereas working with youth that had been excessive danger and with critical traumatic points.
“Erica is unimaginable with youth,” Boutilier mentioned.
After Cousins moved out west, they stayed related by means of social media and had been shocked after they realized Cousins was in an Alberta hospital on a ventilator and never doing effectively.
“She gave 15 years of her life serving to others and serving to youth which might be in want,” Boutilier mentioned.
“She is actually form, a fantastic particular person. Attempting to assist her is one thing I wouldn’t suppose twice about. She would do something for anyone. Nobody ought to should reside like that.”
Boutilier says Cousins wants groceries for a particular weight loss program and medical provides together with a bathe as she solely has a tub and is unable to take baths, as a result of a dialysis port in her abdomen. Cousins will want funds to journey to both Halifax or Toronto for pre- and post-transplant care and earlier than receiving the transplants has to have dental work as a part of a pre-transplant care plan.
A life on maintain
Cousins is now working with the renal clinic to finish the work-up exams required for kidney and pancreas transplants whereas hoping to seek out that magical kidney donor.
In the meantime, she misses working with youngsters, that connection she had with them, including she has remained in touch with some now not within the system and is even a godmother now to one in all their daughters.
“My priorities have shifted utterly to what issues in my life and what doesn’t matter I can let go of,” she mentioned. “I worth the time I’ve extra and who I spend it with.”
Describing animals and music as her nice loves, she finds consolation along with her three canines. Even music sounds totally different to her now.
“I hear issues totally different, I expertise issues in a complete totally different approach now,” she mentioned. “I’ve folks to reside for. I’ve a godson, I’ve a nephew and one other one coming.
“There’s nonetheless issues I wish to do. I wish to maintain residing.”