I never thought that I would be one to share my kidney story but sitting in on our first kidney society get together got me thinking about my own journey, the awesome facilitator made the day very enjoyable and I can’t wait to sit in another one of her sessions.
I guess this story starts with a stubbed toe. I went to the doctor with a stubbed toe, which led to gout and then a set of bloods that would change the course of my life. My undetected high blood pressure was the first in a string of kidney failure symptoms. I strongly believe that we as Māori and Pacific peoples need to start looking after our bodies, watching what we eat and how we live. I went from fit and healthy running around after my mokos to dialysis which I stayed on for 9 ½ years.
Although my everyday life had changed dramatically I was still lucky to be able to live a full and happy life, I never thought of myself as sick - kidney disease was something I had, not who I was. I travelled, I worked, I partied, and I was still running around after my mokos.
Of course my story is not without its hiccups, I had a breast cancer scare which resulted in a mastectomy. This surgery meant that I was put to the bottom of the transplant list. I also had issues with my parathyroid, I felt as though my body was getting a bit beaten down and I considered stopping dialysis. It wasn’t until I had a random conversation with a random person in a random waiting room that I was convinced to keep on keeping on. It’s funny how life puts the right people in the right places for you sometimes.
On a Friday afternoon in August 2015, my husband got a call that there was a kidney for me. He grabbed my hospital bag, picked me up from my daughter at work and we got to Auckland in record time, so much so that they weren’t ready for me when I arrived. With the support of my family, my husband, daughter, mokos, siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews I spent the next couple months recovering from my transplant surgery, probably with more babysitters than one needs. It was a long recovery but I made some great connections sitting in the hospital waiting rooms and some great memories with my family bunched up in hotel suites.
I am nearly 8 years post op and through following the advice of my renal team and keeping fit I’m feeling as healthy as ever. Fitness looks a little different than it used to, I went from working full time to mucking about in the garden, walking my grandsons dog, and I am still running around after my mokos. Keeping fit is a blessing in disguise. I feel like my journey won’t be complete until I can thank my donor's family for this gift that I was given. Words cannot express my gratitude.
- Memory Doak, Kidney Society client
*Stock photo used