It's taken me a long time to accept that I have kidney disease. I'm still not happy about it, but a few weeks ago I decided to stop being angry and instead focus all of my attention on improving my life. I've transitioned from "Why me?" to more important questions, like:
How can I help keep myself healthy?
What can I do to educate myself and others?
Starting this blog was the first step in this journey. I had been very reticent when it came to my health, as I didn't want anyone to know that something was "wrong" with me. I'd always identified as an athlete -- as someone who could just pick up and run a 1/2 marathon without training (which is something I did as recently as three years ago). The last thing I wanted anyone to know was that those days are over.
And I definitely didn't want to admit to myself that those days were over.
That way of thinking, however, gave the disease too much power. So I've been spending a lot of time lately researching kidney disease, and I've also started to be more open about what I'm experiencing. I'm determined to be an advocate, not a victim.
So imagine how cool it was to learn that every Noodles and Co. in Michigan was donating 25% of today's sales to the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan. And imagine how cool it was to send out an email this morning to my staff and student workers letting them know, and having EIGHT of them go to lunch with me and support the cause. Just thinking about it makes me emotional.
As a bonus, I met with someone from the NKFM today and asked about support groups. I was pleased to learn that the foundation has social workers, as I really want -- and need -- to be able to connect with people who can relate to my experience.
It's starting to feel like I'm not so alone.