Monday, March 30, 2015

Life Re-Imagined

  When we're little we dream about what we're going to be when we grow up.  We dream about the person we'll marry and the homes that we'll live in and the families we'll have and the places we'll go on vacation.  As we get older and our interests change, so do our dreams.   Sometimes dreams come true.  Sometimes one dream gets put on the back burner in order to pursue a new or different dream.  And sometimes life throws a brick at you and shatters your dreams, and you're left standing in the wreckage wondering what the hell just happened.  So what do you do you do? How do you carry on when everything that you've built is lying pieces at your feet? Do you sit in the smoking ruins and wallow in your misery, or do you try to find your way out of the chaos? Do you dream again?
  Being told that my kidneys were failing and I needed a transplant was my first brick.  Finding out some 13 years later that the transplant was failing was the second one.  I felt like the universe had played a giant cosmic trick on me, but I wasn't laughing.  Since I've begun this journey with kidney failure and transplantation and back to kidney failure, I've experienced just about every emotion in the book.  I wish I could say that I've dealt well with my situation, but I'd be lying.  I'm only human, after all, and I'm going to screw up along the way.  All I can do is try my best and share what I've learned, and maybe in the process I can help someone else.  So here's some of what I've discovered.
  Facing a challenge like chronic illness tends to change how you look at a lot of things.  You gain a whole new perspective on life when you realize that your hourglass suddenly has a lot less sand in it.  The things that you once thought were so important are, in the grand scheme of things, really not that important at all.  Things that once would have sent you into a tailspin now seem like petty inconveniences.  And the little things that you never really paid attention to become much more meaningful.  And with time, eventually you dare to start dreaming again, like I did.  But my dreams are different now.  They're more focused and short term.  I'm trying to avoid making plans based on "someday", because there may not be a "someday" for me.  I try to enjoy life the best that I can, and I try not to take anything for granted.
  The biggest challenge is adjusting to a new reality.  Building a new life using a new set of plans, which look muddled and confused and not at all like the picture on the box.  It can be a really scary process, and there are bound to be setbacks along the way.  Do you give up and quit, or do you keep muddling along and try to get through the roadblock?  I've had people ask me how I can stay so positive in the face of what I'm going through.   I tell them it's about making a conscious choice.  Every day I'm constantly deciding how I'm going to deal with my disease.  Sometimes I take things day by day, other times I take things hour by hour.  And then there are the really tough days when I have to take it minute by minute.  Chronic disease is a mental battle as much as a physical one.  Will I beat it, or will I let it beat me? It's not a battle I always win.  In all honesty, it beats me more often than I care to admit.  But I can either choose to wallow in my defeat, or I can choose to pick myself up, dust myself off and vow to fight again tomorrow.  It's not always easy.  In fact, some days it's really damn hard.  It can be difficult to carry on when you're surrounded by darkness and you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.  But the important thing to remember is that there is always something worth fighting for.  There's a reason to keep going, in spite of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  There's a new dream waiting for you.  This is your life, just re-imagined, and it's up to you to decide what you're going to do with it.
  "When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: there will be something solid to stand on, or you will learn to fly." (Unknown)

Until next time,

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