It’s my crown/diamond/whatever you call it birthday on the 25th of November.
Rather than be happy about it, I’ve been desperately avoiding the topic.
Maybe I could be having a quarter-life crisis or something, if those are even possible, but I’m beginning to question what I’ve been doing with my life and what I should be doing. If you know me then you know I love my birthday it is the one most exciting and incredible things that happens every year. Normally I try to drag it out as long as possible, figuring 4 events at least is just not enough.
Yet for some reason this year has been intense, scary and incredible all at the same time.
I’ve been dreading the thought of turning 25 and of getting older for as long as I can remember. Birthdays are fun, but oldness is like a fear of mine, yet every year there it comes – November – 25th!
I wonder if any of you remember me having an 18+1 birthday cause I could not deal with turning 19..
Point is, getting older simply just reminds me of all the things I wish I had done, I haven’t had the chance to yet. I run with fear knowing that I have less time and feeling the pressure that someone at my age should have done more.
Within these past two years, I have seen a different side to myself and prior to these two years, all I did was count till the day I was given the gift of life. Yet now, living for two years, almost perfectly healthy, I think its time to look back and set some goals for the future. I know that despite my internal fears about age, I can’t fight the inevitable, life goes on whether you chose to live it or not.
I think about what 12 year old me would want for 25 year old me and surprisingly somehow almost every single thing that I had dreamed about has come true, although not quite in the way that I had imagined.
SO here I am, about to turn 25 and having a cry about how daunting of a number that is. I decided to do what I do best when stressed, make a list – a list that can turn what’s been an intense November into hopefully something fruitful.
I realized its rude to be sad about getting older when in fact I should really start to give myself and the people around me some credit, cause together as a team we have ‘achieved’ so much:
- 3 months of migraines with no definite explanations
- Sudden high blood pressure- diagnosis of end-stage kidney failure – immediate peritoneal dialysis started (4th April 2010)
- Put on Micky button due to my refusal to eat food (ask me one day and I will explain what this is) – continued school hiding 3 tubes under t-shirt.
- Serious infection resulting in a trip to the ICU – missed High School graduation (2012)
- First kidney transplant with my brother (January 2013)
- Began pre-law school year (2013)
- Rejection of my first transplant (found a way to become practically furniture at Auckland Hospital, continued pre-law classes)(2013)
- Accepted into law school (2014) – doctors insisted I quit University, I said no because I wanted to be like all my other friends, slightly regretting this now.
- Restarting dialysis again – hemodialysis
- Trained to be a self home hemodialysis nurse – freedom (kinda)
- Travelling whilst on dialysis – who would have ever thought I would do that (Malaysia, Australia, South Africa)
- Work up to transplant again – (gain a lot of weight, removal of thyroids, removal of tonsils, so many silly surgeries fit in here somewhere)
- Found 2nd kidney transplant donor – I’ve been blessed enough to have 4 people test to donate to me, sadly none of them actually matched.
- Complete workup for 2nd kidney transplant (gain more weight, learn how to take tablets and not hide them, psych sessions and more nonsense)
- Found anonymous donor through kidney exchange process (ANGEL!)
- 2nd kidney transplant (July 2017)
- Finish law school + recover (start working 2 jobs to show off my new freedom)
- Apply for an exchange trip to USA (against all recommendations) tell everyone I’m going long before it’s confirmed.. go on an exchange trip to USA (also to the middle of nowhere)
- Fall in love with the country, the people and my once again my new found freedom
- Explore the ins and out’s of the US medical system (firsthand.. that was not fun)
- Graduate law school + earn psychology degree (skipped graduation, seriously though… when will I attend one graduation ceremony?)
- Apply for masters of law in USA
- Move to USA, complain about the cold weather (still visit US hospitals for regular checkups and procedures).
- Turn 25 – stops complaining about crazy life and starts to enjoy the fun of it all.
- Future- decides to commit to sharing my story and committing to dedicating my life to service [pay it forward]
The truth is I have not put it all down like this until today. I haven’t shared what this was because a part of me felt that sharing it means bloating about all my achievements yet after meeting new people overseas and beginning to tell my story I’ve come to realize that this list (with so much more that is missing) paints a picture not of success but of overcoming adversity. Rather than be depressed about turning 25 (oh god), I should learn to enjoy and appreciate the mountains that both myself and my family/friends have climbed to get me here… sitting in an apartment in my favorite place, healthy and happy.
Writing things down this way and deciding that there is no way that I can go back or make things better/easier means that I have to focus on what comes next.
I cannot thank my donor, but I can pay it forward and encourage you to understand that living with chronic kidney disease is painful and that you can give someone the world by donating one of your kidneys.
People have told me to talk more about what’s been happening, and the reason I haven’t is because I keep waiting for some happy ending but the truth is I am living that happy ending right now, there is no end and this life will always be a fun and crazy mess – if I keep waiting for some glorified perfect ending I will be waiting forever. So the more I can do now the better and I hope I can make good with the amazing opportunities I have been blessed with. So here’s to 25 on the list, and 25 on the books!