When I look back, I'll remember this year as the year I was diagnosed with Kidney Failure. One half of the year is a blur of photoshoots and not feeling well, while the other half was a different me once I knew what was wrong with me.
If you follow me on instagram, you would probably already know of my health struggles by face value. In June I was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease. It was something that happened gradually without my knowledge.
- For months I suffered from weekly crippling migraines that would last for a whole day.
- My feet would swell on a daily basis - but I thought it happened because of a lack of circulation - because I just changed to a desk job and wasn't walking enough anymore.
- I was generally feeling tired most of the time and could take a nap at any given place or time.
- The smell of my breath changed too - Almerick complained that it smelt like fish for months but I thought it was caused by my wedding diet of tuna and salad so I immediately stopped eating that. But months after that change, it still smelt fishy.
- I've always had a hard time concentrating on reading since I was a child but just thought it was because I had a short attention span.
- Frequent hiccups (yes this is actually a symptom!)
- Weekly vomiting on the drive to work
- I even found small amounts of blood in my urine on a couple occasions but chose to ignore it believing it was probably leftover from menstruation.
- Eventually I had difficulty breathing and sleeping
- My blood pressure was through the roof and I started to experience heart palpitations
It's sad because I had all of these symptoms but it never occurred me that they were collectively underlying symptoms of a bigger issue. Kidney failure is a silent disease and can affect anyone at any age. It will be too late when you realise; your kidney function will already be <10% when you start to experience these symptoms.
I remember when I received my biopsy results which confirmed positive for kidney failure Almerick and I just held each other and cried. It was honestly just so overwhelming. His family came to visit me in the hospital on the same day and it was so hard to look into their eyes and smile so we all just cried in each others arms as soon as they walked into my ward. I remember each embrace as they all gave me uplifting words like, "We are praying for you!", "You are so young, you will get better!", "Be strong!" and "You have to have a positive mindset to get better!".
The weeks that followed weren't easy. The doctors were still trying to figure out the cause. According to the biopsy results, the doctors believed the cause was attributed to an autoimmune disease. Unfortunately the nature of that disease is actually very hard to detect so no test I do will tell me exactly that I have this disease until I suffer from another attack where my own antibodies attack another organ. This has been the hardest part to share with my family and friends because it scares me.
I began Peritoneal Dialysis. My symptoms began to subside but eventually my catheter became blocked. It meant that I had to go into the hospital for another operation to clear the tube and insert a central venous catheter in my body for haemodialysis while the first wound healed. At this point, my positivity just snapped and I was so depressed. Heomodialysis required me to visit the hospital three times a week for 4 hours on each visit for 6 weeks.
Once I was diagnosed, my life changed. I decided to put my photography on hiatus and focus on my health. Remembering my mortality has freed me in some aspects of my life. I used to worry about what people thought about me, but I've realised that in fact, people don't care, so I shouldn't worry that much - As a result, I've started doing some things I should've done long ago - colour hair silver-purple and take hip hop dance classes and actually enjoy it.
I'll always want to remember the constant support and love from our friends and family while this was all happening. The friends who are praying for me and Almerick. The friends who gave up their weekends to visit me, who travelled from far to see me in the hospital regularly to keep me company and on the days I was discharged. My best friend who spent her day in the hospital on her days off work from her own hospital. The friends who saw me before and after every procedure and operation. The friends who kept visiting me despite the heavy parking fees! You all know who you are and I am so thankful for all of you. When you spend time with a friend in need, it really speaks volumes about your own character and I'm beyond blessed to be able to call all of you my friends.
Next steps in 2017
A very generous and selfless friend has offered to donate one of his kidneys to me. Both of us are currently undergoing tissue compatibility tests and overall health check ups as part of the pre-transplant procedure. I really want to thank this special friend for giving me hope. Just having hope can change a persons perspective completely and entirely for the better.
Some small things I would like to fill up my time with this year to stop myself from mindlessly refreshing social media..
- Learn basic hip hop
- Put in a regular time (weekly) to learn guitar
- Read more books (at the moment my small goal is to read 20 books this year so the app goodreads can recommend similar books)
- Write more
- Create videos
- Build up and strengthen my relationships
Thanks for getting this far! Let me know what some of your goals are this year - I hope we can find ways to spur each other on.