After receiving the news of my GFR (and after my Nephrologist returned from vacation), we had a little powwow where he shared, "if your kidney continues to decline at the pace it has in the last 3 years, you will need a transplant within the next two years. It's important to prepare yourself for this, but not get all worked up about it." I asked him, "remember when you assured me that things would plateau for a while, after the sharp decline from 80% function to 42% function? Will I see that plateau anytime soon?" "I can assure you, I would never have assured you of such a thing," he replied. Ha! I love how people back peddle when being called out on something. I have endured this with so many people I love. I suppose it's a human thing to avoid responsibility. But my Nephrologist? I choked on my frustration and listened to him tell me when the "finding a match" process should begin. "Not until you reach 22." Oh these numbers! Seriously, putting a number on things like this makes me a little nutty. I could make a story problem for my students using my GFR. "Okay kids, if Ms. R has a GFR of 42 in 2006, a GFR of 34 in 2009, a GFR of 26 in 2010, what will her estimated GFR be in 2012 and when will she need a kidney transplant?" These numbers are really a hard thing to digest. Especially hard because it can make me lose sight of everything else in my life. My music, my dreams, my relationships, falling in love, traveling, starting a family. There's a whole lot that I have hopes to do and being caught in the reality of a number temporarily screws with my perspective.
So, with my passionate (and mighty) Irish heart, I decided to spend the last two weeks shaping my perspective. If there's anything that this has made me realize, it's that I only have an itty-bitty-teeny-weenie bit of control on things in this world. Yes, me, the Capricorn who once believed she could move mountains is giving up the need to control things. I once used to believe I could change things. In fact, I once used to believe I could change people. But after two broken hearts and the delivery of this kidney news, it seems that the healthiest thing for me to do is accept is that I really can only control/change myself, and even that has limitations! I have been handed a time frame of sorts, a detailed list of symptoms that will occur over a period of time, a to-do list that involves finding a kidney donor so that I can live. There's not much control I have over this decline. There's not much control I have over who will be the matching donor. There's not much control I have if my body rejects the transplant. There's not much control I have over having to spend the rest of my life taking anti-rejection medication. But I do have control over one thing.
I have control over the perspective I choose to take as I dive into this adventure. So, after hours of thinking and reflecting. After resurfacing the anger and frustration toward the medical community that failed me. After the break down I had in my bed, alone, realizing I don't have a partner to hold me through this. After the panic of being vulnerable and knowing I will need others. After the guilt of knowing I will need to ask someone I love (or don't even know) for an organ. After praying. Yes, praying (something this Catholic-raised-confused-agnostic hasn't done in a long time.) After hour-long conversations with friends and family, sharing tears and laughter and support and mocking chicken-soup-for-the-soul quotes. After all of this and more, I came to this conclusion: I could look at this illness as a curse. Or I could look at it as a daily reminder of how fragile we are and how fragile time is. I choose the latter perspective. in doing so, I realize I only have room for love in my heart. Move over anger, bitterness, fear, hesitation, grudges, hurt, and control. My heart really only has room for one thing. Love.
Disclaimer: I don't mean to imply that I'm going to walk around with flowers and blow kisses up the world's ass. I'm just going to do my best to keep perspective on what is healthiest for me, and when it comes down to it, it's love. Shake the shit off that I deal with every day, and keep my body free of toxins (especially since I already have a stock pile of waste that my kidney can't filter out.) Of course it's going to be a challenge, but I've always loved a good challenge.