One of the most difficult mountains I’ve faced in my life are those that deal with my health. The reason is because many of these challenges have been things that I have had little to no control over.
I can try to mitigate some of the symptoms with medication, healthy eating and good lifestyle choices; however, as disciplined as I am and as hard as I try, sometimes this is not enough. For example, I discovered in 2009 that I had kidney failure. After a biopsy, I was put onto dialysis, as my kidney’s were barely functioning. The doctors could not figure out how my kidneys failed. Simultaneously, I have had hepatitis C since 1985. I got this disease from a blood transfusion that I received after surviving a rock climbing accident.
The only way to eradicate hepatitis C is to take a drug called Interferon. Unfortunately, I can not take this drug due to my kidney issues. Living with both kidney disease and liver disease is a mountain that seems impossible to overcome. Especially, since the best option for both of these illnesses is to receive an organ transplant. There are so many factors that I have no control over so the destiny of my health is largely out of my hands. That is one of the scariest things I live with every day.
The silver lining in my situation is this: Even though I have kidney disease and have been through dialysis for 2 years, I have been fortunate that my kidneys began to function well enough to take me off dialysis. This is a miracle, as my kidney doctor told me that I was only the second patient in his entire career that he has taken off dialysis.
Some of the things I’ve learned through my illnesses may sound familiar but they are still worth noting.
1. Do your best each day to take care of yourself. Get enough rest, have the right diet and exercise as much as you can.
2. Talk through your fears and concerns with someone or some people you trust. Getting your feelings out in the open is a great source of healing.
3. Be OK with the fact that some days will be harder than others. It may be very difficult, to the point where you may not be able to get out of bed or speak with someone. Recognize that days that are very overwhelming are a part of healing and they will not last forever.
4. Remember that you are not alone. I realize that some days it feels like I am the only person struggling beyond belief; the truth is that there are many people living with disease and/or multiple diseases just like me.
5. No matter how challenging your situation is, do not give up. I know that is difficult to hear when you lose your health to an illness or have another kind of loss, but it is important to remember this: DO NOT GIVE UP!