Kidney disease awareness speech

Today I was asked to speak at an event to raise awareness for kidney disease. They were also raising funds for Tygerberg Renal Unit. If you’re interested, read what I had to say below. Today was also the first day that I left the house since my transplant! I only went out for an hour though and then came back home. It was lovely to feel the sun against my skin though, even if it was for a little bit. I kept my mask on while there and only took it off for this picture.

If you looked at me today, would you have guessed that three weeks ago, I was in ICU? Or if you looked at me today, would you have guessed that in the last 365 days that I had been hospitalised five times, been on peritoneal and hemo dialysis and about three weeks ago had gone for a kidney transplant? The answer is probably no. One year ago, my life changed. From thinking I had low energy due to work stress I quickly received a reality check and stage five renal failure was introduced into my life. My journey so far has had many ups and downs but I am thankful for them.

The past year has been a challenge in terms of all the new things I had to learn and all the lifestyle changes I had to make. I went from being a perfectly healthy 23 year old to suddenly being a 23 year old with a chronic illness. I had to start dialysis which I started doing at home and at the office. When that stopped working, I was told that I would need to do dialysis at the hospital three times a week. To be honest, I couldn’t think of anything worse. I wanted to avoid this from the beginning but now I had no choice. And guess what? It was probably one of the best things that happened to me. I met so many people and learnt so many tips and tricks that made my journey so much easier. It also put a lot into perspective for me. I met people that had gone through so much in their lives, making what I was going through seem so trivial. I am grateful for the few months I spent at the dialysis unit.

Then three weeks ago, I went on another journey. I received a kidney from my incredible father. I had so much anxiety about this surgery. I was anxious about my recovery and dealing with everything that comes with the kidney and the medication. I remember thinking at one point, why do I even need this kidney? I was so comfortable going to dialysis. I thought everything was fine. I felt fine. So why did I need to go through with such an invasive surgery? Now, three weeks later, I would do it all over again. When I say I felt 100 times better as soon as I woke up from surgery, I am not exaggerating. I had felt tired and drained for so long before my transplant, that it seemed normal. I had no idea what feeling normal should actually feel like. I woke up feeling like a new person. I had energy that I never knew I was missing. I will admit that my first few days in ICU were a challenge. It took me a while to become mobile but once I was, there was no stopping me. I am incredibly lucky that my recovery has gone smoothly and well. My fathers kidney is such a good match that my medication is being kept at a minimum.

There are a lot of ups and downs in this journey and I am grateful for all of them. I am still here today and none of that would be possible without the love and support from my family. So I thank them and I thank you, for listening to me today.

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