I can recall that day like it was yesterday. I was preparing to facilitate a meeting at work, and I answered a phone call that would change my life. “Your kidney disease has progressed, and your kidney function has extremely declined. You need to prepare to go on dialysis very soon.”
“Thank you” was all I could say, and I hung up.
No one wants to hear at age 30 the devastating news from your doctor that your kidneys are failing and you must either go on dialysis, get a transplant, or possibly die. After only being married a year, I had to tell my husband the impending news. The life I’d lived, taking care of everyone else and barely caring for myself, finally caught up with me.
Every emotion was going through my mind as I managed to make it through my meeting and prepare myself to tell my husband. All I could think was I can change this, it’s not true, I can fix anything! Not only was I a newlywed and a caregiver to my mom, but I was also a master’s student barely a year into my program. So much for me to think about. Why me!?
When I told my husband, my biggest supporter, he said—as always—that we would get through this. We went to holistic doctors; we went vegan for 2 months; I got listed for a kidney transplant at two hospitals; I posted on social media asking for transplant candidates. I was determined that I would not go on dialysis, but it was too late.
On Saturday, October 12, 2019, my husband and I were attending a “Kidney Smart” class. I barely made it through before I began to feel so weak. My husband took me to the emergency room, and I was admitted and started emergency dialysis right there in the hospital. After a week-long hospital stay and weeks of instruction at DaVita, my husband and best friend were trained on home peritoneal dialysis. We turned my home into a dialysis center as my husband and friend would hook me up to the cycling machine to filter my blood for 8 hours every single night.
When I got the news in August 2019 that my kidney disease had progressed, I took a leave of absence from school. I told my professor it was too much for me to be in school right now and that I needed a break. Thankfully, it was an online program so I never went to class, but I still had to consistently post to discussion boards. He wished me well and told me that not only did he have a friend who had gotten a transplant, but my professor was planning to be an organ donor for someone. I asked him to pray for me as I didn’t have a donor and was hoping I could come back to school.
Fast forward to July 2020. I decided it was time I go back to school despite being on dialysis; this would be a new normal. When I returned to school, I started with the same class and had the same professor. About a week into my course, I received an email from my professor saying he wanted to speak to me and to give him my best contact information. When we spoke, he asked if I had found a kidney donor yet. I told him no, I hadn’t, and things were not looking good for me with finding one. He said that he had been tested and cleared to be a donor for a child who lived in the area, but the child had a few options. Then he told me he was available to be my kidney donor if we were match.
I was so happy but so anxious. I gave my professor my transplant center’s information. Within a few weeks he was tested, and we were a match! I’d found my kidney donor! On November 9, 2020, I met my professor and his wife for the first time in person. They drove 2 hours from Virginia Beach, Virginia, to Richmond, Virginia, where we would have the operation the next day. It went perfectly.
What about that degree?
January 2021, I decided to go back and finish what I’d started. After starting and stopping, I was determined to never give up. In May 2022, I graduated with my master’s in education, and that degree, in a strange twist of fate, ended up saving my life. It’s funny how people say, in reference to finding your life partner, “That degree is not going to keep you warm at night.” In my case, that degree did so much more.Leave a Comment