February 5th at 3:22am will mark three decades that these inquisitive big, brown eyes have explored the world. Time and distance are hard to grasp, but 30 years sure does seem like a long time.
I think back to when I was 18-years-old. I can picture that young, naïve girl wearing her baby blue Johns Hopkins hospital gown. She sat still in a dialysis chair, fighting for her life, fighting to see another day. No dreams or aspirations, only the hope to see tomorrow. Oh, my, how far that girl has come! That once feeble girl has blossomed into a strong, determined woman. I was not expected to see my 19th birthday, let alone my 30th. Each passing birthday is a privilege, because not everyone is afforded another year to live, to love, to learn.
Each new day is a gift of life, a gift to learn, a gift to give. In celebration of 30 years of living, I am inspired to reflect on all that I have learned as a PKD survivor. I thought it would be fun to share the first 30 lessons/thoughts that popped into my head when thinking of what all of my health hurdles have taught this fighter. In no particular order, here goes…
- Eyes provide immense strength and speak louder than words.
- We are our own best advocate, but it is great to have another sidekick to advocate for us.
- Unconditional love is a beautiful thing; thank you Mom and Dad.
- Thank you does not justify my appreciation for my kidney donor, so I shall do all I can to make her proud.
- It’s ok to accept help.
- I don’t have to get everything done in one day.
- Don’t underestimate what our bodies can endure.
- Positive thinking is the best medicine for physical and mental health.
- It’s ok to have off days; we are all human.
- Ask tons of questions and make sure you know what the doctor is doing and why.
- Don’t be afraid to get 2nd opinions.
- Get out of that hospital bed and walk, even if you don’t want to.
- Stop and smell the roses and do something for yourself every day, even if it is for a minute.
- Smile, laugh, be silly…it makes life a lot easier.
- Don’t stress about the small stuff and don’t get frustrated with those that do.
- Never go to bed angry.
- Don’t doubt that there are people out there that will love us completely for who we are and want to be with us in sickness and in health. Thank you, Noah.
- Listen to your body and know your limits.
- Stand tall and be proud of who you are.
- Scars rock! The scars from our past are the lifelines to our future.
- Medical check-ups and diligence is vital. Take your meds every day, do monthly blood work, go regularly to doctor appointments.
- As much as you don’t want to hear it, it could be worse…I was reminded of this as I would walk through Johns Hopkins hospital and see the suffering of others.
- Never lose hope.
- Embrace life.
- Everything is temporary.
- One can live a fulfilling life post-transplant and with an incurable disease, so never stop dreaming and follow those dreams.
- A routine, a sense of normalcy, keeping busy, keep moving, equals sanity for me.
- Turn your pain into something positive; it is the best therapy.
- Don’t settle for anything less than you desire.
- Don’t get too busy that you lose track of what is really important in life.
These thankful eyes have seen it all, from devastation to miracles and everything in between. Each snapshot has made me wiser, more thankful and now excited for the beautiful albums of life that will unfold over the many decades to come.