Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Facing My Fears ... Again

  This past Saturday, I celebrated 15 years since I received a new kidney from my mom.  Sometimes it seems so long ago, and other times it seems like it was only yesterday.  It's been quite a ride.  It hasn't always been smooth.  I had two rejection episodes that require IV meds to treat, which require going to the hospital 2 days a week for 3 months in a row.  The second round of meds caused really bad migraines.  During the second round of treatment I also received an IV infusion of a really strong immunosuppressant to wipe out my immune system, which made me really sick.  And because of the immunosuppressants, I get sick at the drop of a hat.  But in spite of all that, I wouldn't change a minute of it.  After all, anything worth having is worth fighting for!
  As much as this is a happy occasion, it's also somewhat bittersweet.  As you may know, my kidney is failing and I'm about to embark on a new phase of my journey with kidney disease: dialysis.  My nephrologist is in the process of having the paperwork to refer me to the dialysis team filled out, and sometime soon I will be undergoing surgery to have a catheter implanted in my abdomen to facilitate this.  (I'll do another post on the catheterization and the dialysis process another time.)  I've been really scared about this part of my journey; much the same way I was scared before the transplant.  But, as my cousin Kristi said in a recent Facebook post, "God is at work. I have no idea of the outcome, and I am totally okay with that. The shifting is unsettling, but we are finding our core strength through the process."  Her words really struck me, and once again I had the feeling that God was smacking me upside the head to get my attention (I have to admit that I don't always learn his lessons the easy way).  I am okay with the outcome, because I've seen what he can take what seems like the very worst circumstances and turn them into wonderful things.  I've seen that by going through these trials, I'm being made stronger.  And most surprisingly, somehow, somewhere along the way, I realized...I'm not afraid anymore.
  Back in 2013, I wrote a post about my trip to Mexico for my friend Shannon's wedding, and the epiphany I had about facing my fear of heights the day we went rappelling.  (You can read about it here.)  In retrospect, I firmly believe that God helped me to face that fear so that I would be able to deal with a bigger fear when I was hit just a couple of months later: the fear of my transplanted kidney failing.  Since I found about the kidney failure and that I would require dialysis (something I didn't have to do before I had the transplant because I had a compatible living donor), I've been scared: scared of the catheter surgery, scared of what they were going to be putting inside me, scared of the dialysis process, scared of what my life might look like once I started dialysis... I think you get the idea.  I can't put my finger on just when it happened, but somewhere along the way the notion got into my head that if I learned about what I was facing, that it wouldn't be so scary.  So I did just that.  I've joined a number of groups on Facebook and read about other people's experiences with peritoneal dialysis (aka PD).  And  I got out the handbook that I was given at the hospital about living with kidney disease and read all about PD in it.  Turns out that little voice that was yapping in my ear was right: learning about PD really has made it less scary.  Today I realized WHY that little voice was yapping in my ear...
  A few weeks ago, I discovered a wonderful blog called The Artist and The Architect (there's a link to it in my blog list at right).  I love this lady's writing; after reading her posts I often feel as if she's speaking directly to me.  Today I read a post that she had written called "Bravery for The Anxiety-Ridden {Five Ways to Be Brave}".  One of the ways that she writes about is this:
"Understand that the very thing you fear will be the thing that conquers your fear."  Hello! When I read that, I suddenly realized that this was exactly the reason I had been moved to learn about my upcoming dialysis.  God used the very thing that I feared to help me overcome my fear of it.  It's easy to be afraid of that thing which you know nothing about; it's much harder to be afraid if you make that thing your friend and learn about it.
  Sometimes when we're going through difficult times, it can seem like nothing good could ever come of the situation.  But oftentimes, when we look back on those times, we realize that it was then that we learned some of the best lessons life can teach us.  And now, if you'll excuse me, I have an anniversary to celebrate!

Until next time,

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