First Transplant - October 2010 - Living Kidney Donor
Second Transplant - June 1, 2017 - Living Kidney Donor
I was diagnosed with Lupus Nephritis when I was twelve. I was nineteen by the time I was in acute failure. In June 2010, I was involved in a minor car accident. I was a serious equestrian and was at a competition when I noticed I couldn't catch my breath, but I chalked it up to hot summer days and the stress of competition. Back in the hotel room, I had to fall asleep in the bathtub, propped up. I'm not sure why I didn't take it to be more serious. I guess I just thought it was something related to the accident (which I went to the ER for and was fine) and I was going to take care of it at home. When I didn't get better, I was admitted to the hospital with fluid in my lungs and around my heart. I was started on dialysis that day.
In October 2010, I received a kidney. I was back at Rollins College in Florida in the beginning of January and was back on a horse in December. Unfortunately, Lupus prevailed once again and six years later I was looking into another transplant. I had my second transplant on June 1, 2017.
Kidney disease definitely changed me as a person. Before the first transplant, because of dialysis, I wasn't allowed to ride my horses. At the time, that was my life. I trained for hours a day, traveled the country for different shows and competed in finals for year end awards. Then, everything was taken away from me. I was stripped of my power, my passion and my love of riding. I spent the energy dialysis left me with surrounding myself with my horses. I traveled to shows to cheer on and support my younger sister and brother and did my dialysis treatments in the mornings, but it took away enjoyment. It took away my life.
After my kidney failure diagnosis, my biggest support was patience. I looked for it in everyone including myself (which is the hardest btw). Lupus especially, has a lot of unknown answers. A lot of why and how without any real explanations so the disease itself is frustrating. I couldn't/can't understand how my body could be so sick even after treating it so well.
I was struggling with coming to terms with this life. That I was allowed to live the way I wanted to but I had to do so by tweaking it. I'm very lucky to have a supportive family. Each person plays a specific role in aiding my well being. After finding out I needed this recent transplant, my now fiance became my rock. He went above and beyond to make sure I had everything I needed to be ready for the transplant and to make sure I would be as comfortable as possible after.
Kidney failure has for sure changed my life. I don't take my health for granted. Not that I did before, but everything feels more like an opportunity to better myself-emotionally and physically.
I'm stronger. I woke up from surgery feeling the strength radiate through my veins. Someone gave me another chance to live the life I want. I have their strength in me too, to do such a selfless act.
Some things I want more people to understand are that transplantation is a major surgery that requires major recovery. I was only in the hospital for a few days but I'm still in recovery almost four months later and I will be for the next year. My medication is still being adjusted, my numbers still bounce as I'm regulating to a new body. We need time to heal physically but more importantly mentally. I learned that from my physical therapist who got me back on my feet. Give us time, we are allowed to feel. We are allowed to not understand our emotions while finding who we are again. Having patience with us is still valued.
I worked out almost every day before my surgery. I was back on my feet walking with a physical therapist after two and a half weeks and I credit that to how healthy I kept my body (despite the kidney failure).
I have the most amazing team behind me. Every doctor, surgeon, assistant, nurse, nutritionist, every employee at Mt. Sinai, my lupus doc on Long Island (who's known me since I was 17), my physical therapist, my boxing instructor, my spinning instructors, every trainer that has aided in physical growth, my mom, my dad, my sister and brother, my fiance and his family and every single friend that reached out to me before, during and after and most importantly, my donor. I have a little piece of them in me making me who I am today.
Location: New York, NY