I got the news that my kidneys were failing in November 2012, just before Thanksgiving. Up until that point, life had been going pretty well. In fact, it had been pretty awesome. My boyfriend of about seven years at the time had proposed in the spring. I traveled to Kazakhstan just months prior to see my best friend from college get married. Guest lists were written up and wedding dress Pinterest boards were started. I was looking forward to June 15, 2013, the day we’d set to be married. My family and friends were all abuzz with pre-wedding excitement. With all that was happening, it’s safe to say that I didn’t expect my kidney function to drop below 20 percent in the midst of all the good times and celebration. But that’s just what it did.
Before that I’d been living with FSGS since I was 16 years old, over 10 years. I knew that eventually, someday I would need a transplant. But since I wasn’t symptomatic and I always felt fine, despite what any lab work showed, I started to think maybe I didn’t need a transplant after all. I thought wrong. After that Thanksgiving in 2012, I was told to contact the transplant center at Inova Fairfax Hospital, in Fairfax Va. to begin the process of being evaluated for the transplant waiting list and finding a donor. It’s funny because it wasn’t until I was approved to go on the waiting list that I finally started to experience what 10 years of declining kidney function felt like. After that, not a day went by where I wasn’t nauseated. Not a moment passed where I wasn’t exhausted beyond belief. As I started to retain more water, my calves began to feel like bricks, and just standing on an escalator in a D.C. metro station felt like a chore.
I spent five months on the transplant waiting list. On May 3, 2013, about six weeks before my wedding, my wonderful father gave me the gift of life by donating his kidney. And thankfully, the results were instant. I felt like running a marathon after that surgery, or at least attempting one.
More than a year later, I still haven’t run that marathon. And I don’t actually intend to. But now, I could if I wanted to! With my new kidney, I feel like anything is possible. I used to need four cups of coffee a day just to be able to function for an hour. Now, I’m fine with just three liters of water and some green tea. I no longer check my blood pressure worrying that it’s going to be dangerously high. During this first year post-transplant, I had a few obstacles to overcome, but trust me–there have been way more ups than downs. And for that, I am thankful. Life is back to being grand.
Find out more about Jewel on her blog