Spotted Leopard's Posts (32)

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Overcoming Worry

Hi All!  I am finding myself at the end of my rope.  I feel my joy for life has been replaced by pulling it together for the sake of my family, as I have no joy in myself.   I have been very sick and it seems like it's one snowball after another.   

About two months ago, I thought I had a potential cadaver match.  That fell through as the blood type didn't match up.  Shortly after, my blood pressure chose to bounce out of control.  We are talking 220's,   My nephrologist sent me for catscans, angiograms, etc. to check for adrenal tumors.   No tumor.  So, then she sent me to an endocrinologist, that basically said my nephrologist was reading the report wrong and that while my aldosterone level was elevated, so was my renin level, which cancels one another out.   The 66 aldosterone level was actually more like a level of 10 when renin was figured in.  Naturally, that made me question who was right and who was wrong.  

Then I went to my transplant facility for an annual visit and they confirmed the endocrinologist was right.  Good in the end I guess, but it really makes me question the doctor I see for regular care.

While all this is going on, I have a ray of hope at a potential donor.  We were set to meet next week for tissue matching, but ........wait for it......

I developed a rash Sunday on my leg.  Long story short, SHINGLES!  AGAIN!  

REALLY??????   Does it get any better?

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When It Rains..

...  Yep, pretty sure we can all fill in the blank on this one.  Well, this sums up my week and the week isn't over.  

Yesterday at this time, I was a hopeful transplant candidate.  I had a potential cadaver donor from a friend that had a family member pass.  24 hours of false hope later, I learned that he was not a match.  Back to the waiting game.

And, as if that wasn't enough to emotionally drain someone, I just received back my peritoneal dialysis adequacy and it is  below the required ratio.  SO, I'm not sure what is causing that or how they will treat that, but I'm am seriously feeling over it all today.

Sorry my contributions have been so sporadic.  One of my children has decided to exhast me of all of my social energy, so I've been focusing on her, but today I needed to vent to someone who understands.

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Untamed Voice

Sometimes you just have to say it. You know it's not kind.  You know it's not going to be received well.  But you're voice has to be heard.  I have been in this zone, if you will, lately.  I am so sick of being everyone's ray of sunshine.  I just want to be me and let me be heard.

I have two pre-teen daughters.  One is going to be 12 next month, the other 13 six days later.  These past few months have been explosive.  My mothering techniques...  uh, yea.  I have not been who I should be.  I've been taking new meds and I think they alter my level of patience to NON-EXISTENT!  I realize these are very difficult years in their lives as well, but their attitudes are truly in need of adjustment.  

I feel that I am at a disadvantage in the sense that I can't just be consumed with their needs, but I need to take care of mine, as well.  Sometimes that means taking a nap when they want to go, go, go.  Sometimes that means after being asked for something 20 times in two minutes I MIGHT SNAP!  I feel bad afterward, but seriously, we all have our limits.

I am looking at schooling options for my youngest.  We have homeschooled for 5 years now, but it is not working for my youngest now that her attitude has taken on the "I know everything, hear me roar" mantra.  I just don't have the energy to argue with her everyday about what she knows.  Most recently, she told my other daughter that she wishes she had another Mom.  This was hurtful since we adopted both girls and she sees it as an option.  Sadly, the mom she chose was one off a movie...because those are real, genius!  At any rate, it made me feel like a failure.

I feel like I truly try not to make my health an issue to them, but in all honesty, it does change your personality.  I'm tired, not sleeping well, stomach issues, and ranting to strangers on a computer.  I'm a freakin' nut case.  My husband's answer is, "Let it go"  ....seriously, let the teenage girls go????  WOW.  AND, will you be picking up your parenting degree from Class of Stupid 101 today or tomorrow?  Sorry, I had to vent.

I actually feel better just writing this.  Sorry you had to endure.

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Discovering You

It's not easy going from the normal, everyday way of living to suddenly finding yourself burdened with a chronic illness.   I am fortunate, in that, I did have somewhat of a warning.  Although, the final straw came much quicker than anticipated.   

As I think back to my younger years, the things I once thought were "live or die" issues, are no longer even factors.  My priorities have changed.  Some of this is due to age, but much of it has to do with perspective.  When you hear the doctor say, "Had you been two hours later, you wouldn't be here", going for that night out with friends kinda loses it's importance.  And, if you're like me, you start thinking of those you would have left behind.  What would they say about how you lived your life?  OUCH.  I used to not be a very nice person.  Ok, niceness is a relevant term.  Let's just say, I was used to getting what I wanted, no matter who I had to steamroll to get it.  Thankfully I am no longer that person.

I was not happy being "that" person.  I was constantly on edge, snappy, and out to take somebody down if they crossed me.  Sadly, many people fed into my behavior, which only fed my ego more. Since my illness, I have mellowed a lot.  I simply don't have the energy for senseless rants.  More importantly, I value my life and the lives of others, as I never did before. I often think that while I would love to get "my" kidney, I would rather someone who needs it more to get one first.  I am trusting God to put us all in the right order.  Thankfully, I am doing well on dialysis.  I see many at the clinic that cannot say the same.

I'm not going to sit on my soapbox and tell you it's all sunshine and roses.  Some days, I am my old me and then some, but I really try not to let my illness turn to bitterness.  I am so inspired by those who are going through the fight of their life and still manage to encourage others.  I hope to be that person one day.  

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A Little Humor

I am a pretty serious person by nature.  I wish I could say I'm that fun loving, life of the party, but the reality of it is, I'm quite an introvert.  However, I appreciate all walks of life and can strike up small talk with just about anyone.

Along with this, comes my need for organization.  When life is out of sorts, I feel like I have no control, and I do not like that.  Yet, often due to laziness, fall into this category.  All that to say, sometimes, we just need a little humor to keep the mundane diet restrictions, exercise routines, and doctor appointments from getting us down.

I am blessed to have a few good friends that I've known for 30 + years.  (Yes, I am dating myself.)  While our lives have taken us in separate directions, and our values of life differ greatly, they always know how to make me laugh.  One of them posted this on Facebook:

This made me chuckle.  For anyone who's had to deal with medical professionals for any length of time, I'm sure you can relate.  

Life is serious enough.  Sometimes you just have to laugh.

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Therapy

My neighbor had stage 4 breast cancer.  My heart breaks for her.  She is such a strong individual and has been such an advocate for others with this dreaded disease.  Yet, you can tell when a person has lost desire to fight.  

All this has made me appreciate life even more.  We've all been there.  Those near death experiences where all hope has seemed lost.  Where the weight of the world has left us empty and depleted. Some days it's just plain hard to breathe (literally).  Yet, I've always considered myself fortunate, knowing my destiny could be worse.  This has kept me from many pity parties.  However, part of me feels like I've been belittling my illness.  

I'm not one for sitting with a stranger and spilling my guts.  Although, I'm sure you find that hard to believe as I sit here and talk to you.  There is a sense of anonymity that a computer screen offers. That freedom of knowing you can't put crazy with a face. (wink)  But, we all need some form of therapy.  I have turned to writing many times to serve this outlet for me, but lately, I've been enjoying nature.  There's something therapeutic in nourishing plants and seeing a sense of accomplishment.  With spring underway, I have spent time working in my flower garden, as well as a vegetable garden.  This serves as a two fold purpose to clear my mind and to hopefully, have enough fresh produce to maintain a healthier diet this summer.  I've also started my own little herb garden in the kitchen.  

(I absolutely love that we can post pictures here now.  I am kinda like a pathological picture taker...  just ask my kids.)

So, what is your outlet to therapy?  What do you do when you feel like you're going to have a mental breakdown?  When you are feeling overwhelmed, where do you turn?

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Dear Friend

Dear Friend,

Hope this post finds you well.  We are finally seeing a break in the weather here and enjoying some sunshine!  Our temps are far from normal, but I'll take it.

In my last post I spoke of my wait to receive my adoption records.  Well, they came.  Unfortunately, they provided very little information.  It did, however, confirm that I was ABANDONED.  That word sounds so empty and cold.  While I don't know the details of where I was found, I have a couple of other avenues I am pursuing that may shed some light or offer clues.  Why do I care?  Curious, I guess.  While I know it won't change anything, it's just something neat to know.  (Like most children do.)  I was able to track down the orphanage I was at.  To another close, they are no longer in business. SO, as you can see, I am hitting road blocks everywhere.  Perhaps this is God's way of protecting me from something that would somehow impact me negatively.

On the health front, my labs are good.  I have been able to conquer the phosphorus monster for the third month in a row with levels in the low 3's.  I am very happy about that.  I am trying to psych myself up to get on that elliptical next.  My triglycerides is down to 307.  Not where it should be (below 200), but a far cry from my 597 I was once at.

I still haven't embarked on any writing commitments.  Not sure what direction, if any, that will take.  As we wrap up the school year for the kids, my focus has been on them.

Well, I hope you are doing well.  I've missed all of you and hope to be on more often.

Take Care, 

Spotted Leopard

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While I'm Waiting

So, rumor has it (Ok, my doctor told me), if statistics prevail, I probably have another 2-3 years to wait for a kidney. What to do? What to do?? I could easily become depressed if I consider being on dialysis this long. But instead, I have decided to shift my focus to something positive.... I'm going to search for my birth family!I have limited info other than the agency and given name. However, I did contact the place that facilitated my adoption and they confirmed they had me "on file". Now, what "on file" is going to amount to, I don't know, but I am optimistic that the file will be big with enough info to continue a search. Being that I am a realist though, I am also preparing for a dead end.I have never had a desire to seek out my birth family. Perhaps because the topic was taboo with my adopted parents and out of respect, didn't want to push the issue. I am certainly not looking replace what I have, but would love to find out if I have any siblings. Either way, I'm trusting God to give me what is best for me--be it a birth mom, birth dad, or no one. I just want to close the door and know I tried.It amazes me how many children are looking for their biological parents. I am thankful that one day, if and when, my daughters want to find their birth family, I can provide what they need to find them. Such an important piece to the puzzle.I wonder if this unexplained kidney issue is hereditary? Are there any other illnesses or health issues that I should know about? Do I look like them? I hope to find answers to all these questions and more.
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Survival Is Not Living

I don't think my existence is a mistake. I don't think my illness was given by accident. I doubt that me being adopted at birth was mere luck. I know God has a plan for my life.These are all thoughts that have been weighing on my mind in recent days. As I struggle to do His will, part of my battle is determining what THAT is.As a person with chronic illness it's easy to get "caught up" in survival and forget to actually live. Doctor appointments, planning healthy meals, and exercising are all necessities for survival, but day in and day out if that is all our lives are, we are not living. I don't want to live for doctor visits. I want to go to doctor visits to live!Unfortunately, I've not been doing this. I have allowed my illness to dictate my life. Understand me to say, I know my illness has changed my life, but it shouldn't strip away my desires in life. I don't believe God put me on earth to just be sick and miserable. I feel like I was given this burden for a reason. Possibly to remove me from my self absorbed nature and reach out to others in a way that only someone who is going through it can. I am searching for my purpose.I will continue to ask God for direction as I look for ways to reach others. Perhaps it will be volunteering at an organization. Maybe I will find my ministry in writing. Either way, I want to experience life, not just my illness.
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Before It's Too Late

I don't like writing about death, but lately it seems to be all around me.  The most notable factor to these passing have been their age.  All have been my age or younger.

It started with the 9 year old who lost a year long fight to cancer.  I can't imagine the horror of losing a child, much less the mental anguish that comes from watching them lose a battle to a horrible disease.  I really try not to question God, but in cases like this, WHY?

Next, a 30 year old, gunned down in a home invasion.  What goes through someone's mind as they know they are facing death in such a senseless way?  What do they wish they would have done in life before breathing their last breath?  Who would they have said goodbye to?  What would he have told his loved ones?

Then, a 39 year old who goes to the hospital with mild chest pains, only to die from a massive heart attack two hours later.  He left beyond a wife and three young children.  How do you explain to your children that their Dad won't be coming home from the doctor's office? 

And, most recently, a 30 year old, diagnosed with cancer in January of this year and the family is told to start making funeral arrangements last week.  He will also leave behind a wife and three young kids under 10.

Thankfully, all of these people have accepted Jesus as their Savior and I will see them all in Heaven one day.  However, the thing that plagues my mind, is that two of these people had little/no warning that they were facing their last moments on earth.  This could be or may be any of us.  While I pray that is not the case, only God knows our destiny.

It's easy to get caught up in thinking that we will die before our loved ones due to our chronic illnesses, but the reality of it is, they may not be the case.  I am saddened to think that I would leave behind loved ones to feel the pain of my death.  Yet, the selfish part of me can't fathom dealing with theirs.

I am thankful for the HOPE that I was given when I accepted Christ.  I can't imagine the emptiness others feel thinking this is as good as it gets.  I am not passing judgment, simply sharing my thoughts.  Yours may be different, in which case, we will, respectfully, agree to disagree.

I believe that God wants us to share the gospel with others. It doesn't matter what religious denomination you are or aren't...  the important thing is DO YOU KNOW JESUS?  I believe there are many who have heard of Him, but don't know what He did.  I know I didn't until I was 21 years old.  If there is anyone reading this that would like to know how to go to Heaven when you die, please message me.  I would love to share my belief (NOT religious jumble) with you.  We never know when our last days will be here on earth.  Live life fully with no regrets.

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The Girl With A Smile

It was a typical morning. Waking to get everyone prepared for their day. Breakfast, coffee, clean clothes, and lunches, not a moment passed out of routine. All done with a cheerful smile.The dog waited patiently to be let out as the dirty dishes, from the night before, screamed from the sink. Yet, despite the rat race she ran, life seemed to be spiraling out of control. No end in sight. Despite it all, she continued to smile.Had anyone noticed her sickness? Were they too busy trying to conquer their own agendas to notice that the person taking care of them, needed someone to take care of her? Or, did they assume that because she gracefully wore a smile for everyone that her illness left her emotionally and physically unaffected? Perhaps they WERE fooled by the smile.Friends complaining about icy sidewalks, the driver that cut them off, and the other 110 reasons why they are having a bad day. To which she pleasantly mutters an, "I hear ya" while holding back the words, "If only that were my biggest problem in life!"Her family depends on her to be the one who has it all together. Her siblings and parents depend on her for rides to THEIR doctor's visits and to give them a helping hand with a minutes notice. Again, she fought to smile.Members of the congregation greeted her each week with kind words of how well she looked and how she "didn't look sick". Some people would even say that they were glad she was feeling better, like she was getting over a cold. They truly did not understand, but instead of boring them with the factual details, she politely smiled and gave a thank you.As her illness became a more definitive part of her existence, she struggled to be the person everyone else expected her to be. Her smiles were fewer and further between as were the days that she truly felt good. Had her smiles and pressure she placed on herself to be "normal" backfired? While she didn't want people to feel sorry for her, was her illness going completely unnoticed the only other option?She struggled between two worlds of not wanting people to know she was sick and the other of being accepted as a very sick person who never knew what sort of obstacle tomorrow held. Oh, how she wished she could trade in her efforts to make everyone else's day better for a day in the recliner, with a good book and a heated blanket.While she knew in her heart how much each of these people truly cared, the words were seldom verbalized. It had been months since many even acknowledged her sickness. Yet, each time she saw them she was certain to inquire about their busy week and sniffles. Was avoiding her illness the new way of being politically correct? Was treating her like there was nothing wrong the new way to show concern? She truly wondered what was wrong with these people!After a rash of unkind thoughts, she returned to her motherly demeanor of taking care of everyone and putting her needs aside once more. She was the girl with a smile.
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Letting Go

I'm not sure when it all began, but sometime between about 20 years of age and now, I have become a CONTROL FREAK.  Don't get me wrong, CONTROL is good.  The FREAK... mmm... not so much.  I like organization.  I like structure.  I like habit.  Clutter makes me cringe and ignorance pushes me over the edge.  That being said, put it all together and you get HIGH triglycerides!  We're not talking a little high, we're talking 5-9-7!  Yep, you read it right.  I'm embarrassed to even print such a number, but we're all friends here, right?  

So, what to do?  Well, the first month I found out, I followed a strict diet.  No splurges, salads, and fruit, basically.  I even worked out. My numbers dropped ONE point!  Are you kidding me??  We looked over my other labs (phosphorus, calcium, albumin, potassium) and all were perfect.  They did notice my A1c was 7.2%, slightly elevated, and thought that could have a little impact on my readings.  Yet, are convinced the primary cause would be STRESS.  Well, that just stresses me out all the more, right?  

I am very high strung by nature and am going to have to make myself let some things go.  Not sure what yet, but I have to find relief.  Has anyone had high triglycerides?  What did you do to correct the problem?

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Joy On the Other Side

I know what I'm about to say might not be a belief shared by all. That's o.k. I'm not hear to change your mind. I am, however, here to share what I believe God wants me to share.I stumbled upon this website strictly by accident, at least in my mind. Yet, I think God knew this was exactly what I needed. A support group of others who "get" what it's like to have shattered hope and still press on in this journey called life. A group who sees beyond the obvious. A group that truly knows what it means to live each day like it was your last.Dying. Death. Moving on. The celebration of life. Morbid, no matter how you word it. I find myself thinking of dying often. Because I'm a weirdo?? No....because I'm a Realist. Life is precious and no one is guaranteed tomorrow. As organ recipients/ waiting recipients, our lives are that much more fragile. While I'd like to think we'd all live to be 100, the reality is most of our lives will be cut shorter than if we did not have our illness.I believe in God. I believe Heaven is real. I do not believe anyone of us on earth today has ever seen heaven (despite everyone's 20 minutes there). I believe in a happy place of health and carefree happiness beyond our wildest dreams. I find relief and peace knowing on day I will see Jesus and this will all make sense."For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believe that in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
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It's O.K....

... to be content.Where do I start? If you have read any of my past ramblings, you know I've been in a bit of a funk. My appearance has not been able to keep up with my youthful spirit (wink).Anyhow, I've given myself a little break and took some time to be unplugged. During this break, I have found peace. God gave me this verse: Philippians 4:11 "...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content." This doesn't just mean content when I'm having a good hair day. This means content when I look every day of my illness. Content when those unexpected curve balls head my way. Content when I feel loved. Content when I don't. When it feels like I'm alone on my journey, God is with me and He knows. He knows the emptiness and He understands my moments of vanity are simply me trying to validate my worthiness in life. Although, He has already done that.I sit here with my Bible open, heart humbled, as I anticipate my doctors visit in a few short hours. A few areas of concern keep my mind focused and unable to sleep. Yet, I am learning to be content and accept all that God allows happens for a reason. I hope to never be so shallow in the unimportant, that I miss what He is trying to tell me.Each day is exactly what God ordered. Be content.
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Vain In My Veins

Maybe it's because I've watched Smurfs 2 with my kids for the umpteenth time, but the word in the forefront of my mind...VANITY.I've said it before, I am not a vain person (normally). But lately, I've been overcome by my appearance. Of course, when you bring out the eye of scrutiny, nothing measures up. From my eyelashes being too not there, to my eyebrows not having the right arch, to my hair having a mind of its own...I have been obsessed. I've got bigger issues, I know. And I do know, looks don't make you who you are, beauty is only skin deep, and all that good stuff. I believe it all and also add, being healthy is farrrr more important than looking good. But, having said that, does being sick have to be the equivalent of letting your outside appearance go? Can't you be decent to look at AND sick? I think so (with a little extra work).Have you had to work harder on your appearance since being sick?I'm saddened at the reality of getting old. People I thought of as peers now call me, "Mrs"... REALLY???!!Oh, the drama!
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Future

It sounds silly at nearly 40 years of age to wonder what the future holds for you. I mean, married-check, kids-check, check, house-check..so, what now?First, let me say, I know I am truly blessed. God has shown me more patience and grace in life than I deserve. Why? I have no idea, but am hoping and praying for it to be revealed to me soon. Does He want me to write? Does He want me to be a part of some other ministry? (Yes, I do believe writing can be a ministry.) I don't know.In recent days I have felt like life is passing me by; Like a movie goer staring at the big screen, waiting for the "good part". Problem is, I don't know how this story is supposed to end. I feel like the possibilities are endless. Do I stay with the current plot of housewife and home school mom? Do I embark on my journey as an Internet writer? Or, do I work in some sort of advocacy group for kidney patients or adoption? I hate my indecisiveness.My husband thinks I should write a book. Poor guy is fooled into thinking my life is something people would want to read about. Did I mention my husband don't read? Ironic, huh? I mean, he knows how to read, just not a read-er, unless it has deer heads, snowmobiles, and trucks. It's OK, you can say it, "Redneck!" We often joke how we ended up together. Opposites definitely must attract.Back to topic... now what? I feel like I should be doing something to warrant my time here on earth. I don't think God has brought me through what He has for me to sit here "watching" my own life. So many people would love to live one more day, I want to make mine count.Prayers for guidance.
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Resisting The Urge

I hate commitment. Not "relationship" commitment, but task commitment.I don't know what it is, but about three or four times a year I want to totally disconnect from the world around me. I'm talking stay in the house, cancel the Facebook, nix the Twitter, and avoid the cell at all costs.Why is that?? I know to many it sounds like depression. Honestly, I'm not sure. It's almost like I feel like life has gotten too busy and I need to eliminate things. Yet, none of these things are overly taxing.I used to not be like this. Anyone else notice this since being sick? I find myself resisting the urge to hibernate the rest of the winter.
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Self-Esteem = Self-Worth

As a mother of two preteen girls, boosting self-esteem is a full time job. There is nothing that makes my heart ache more than hearing someone has been unkind to my "babies". While I know they are not perfect, kids can be downright cruel. (Much worse than when we were younger.)I often find myself having to deal with my own self-esteem issues, to avoid my children from seeing some vanity issues I hold. It's hard to teach looks aren't what's important if all of my daily efforts are spent on attempting to improve my appearance. That being said, I do think it's important to teach self care. Exercise to be healthy verses to look like an airbrushed Barbie doll. Dress fashionable modest (don't get me started on today's fashion for little girls). You get my point.But it's hard to be a leader when you struggle with the same issues. My illness has made me humble. I can tell when a bout of illness is coming my way, because my hair takes on a mind of its own, my make-up resembles the artistic design of a two year old, and everything in my closet warrants a "Really???" look of disapproval.This will then resonate to self-worth. No one likes me on these days. I have no friends. I have scars. I feel sorry for my husband who was thrown into this mess. Guilt.It's a slippery slope when it comes to this. Does anyone else deal with these emotions of insecurity since your illness? Chronic
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My Epiphany

Whenever I write a post such as the one I'm about to, I wonder how it will be perceived.  Will I come across like I'm on my soapbox?  Will people think I'm a religious freak?  Or, will my words be just what someone needed?  I hope the latter is the case.  I truly come to you with a grateful heart.  I am not wiser, or more intelligent than anyone and certainly not a theologian, but rather someone who wants to share what God can do.  

I did not grow up in a Christian home.  To be honest, I didn't hear God's name much unless it prefaced a curse word. I am living proof that God can change anyone and I believe He does so for a reason.

I listened to a sermon online this morning about Jehovah Shalom.  The Lord of Peace.  These are words that I needed to hear today.

I will admit, I was a bit disheartened to learn that the transplant wait was longer than anticipated.  Yet, I fully know if it were in God's will I would have one today.  Perhaps my wait is longer to give my PRA levels a chance to decrease.  Or, perhaps God is giving me this extra time for my faith to increase.  I often ask God to reveal His will for my life; Maybe this is what He's doing.

As I left my doctor appointment the other day, feeling a bit sorry for myself, wondering if I could make it, God spoke as plain as day to me.  My husband was on a phone call and as I sat in the car, I looked up and the first and only three people I saw was: 1) A man with a prosthetic leg 2) A young adult in a wheelchair and 3) A man with his arm dangling (possible also a prosthesis or paralysis).  I immediately felt like my situation could be worse. Really nothing had changed in God's plan, I was just hearing it for the first time.

This morning I feel encouraged, inspired, and thankful.  I am excited to see what God has in store over the next few years and how this wait is going to work for good.

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The Curve Balls In Life

I've pondered how to write this post without it coming across as negative or depressing. Instead, I've decided to be transparent and speak from the heart. I am certain many of you have experienced the same feelings I'm going through right now....The feeling of defeat.I had my annual doctor visit with the transplant team yesterday. During my visit, I learned that due to my blood type (O+) and PRA/antibody level, my wait for a kidney will be more like 5-6 years than the original estimated 33 months. Big difference!I feel like I've been doing everything I'm "supposed to": eating healthy, growing spiritually, helping others, and yet, WHAM!I KNOW GOD IS IN CONTROL, but I feel more than defeated to learn how much I am not. Five more years is a long time. I've been blessed with only a few problems since I've been on dialysis. However, for the first time in a while, I feel like I am going to die from this. I am not giving up. I am just having a difficult time accepting God's plan.Sorry I didn't make this post roses and sunshine. Normally, I try to keep a brave face. Today, I chose to speak with sincere transparency and remove the courageous mask so many of us wear.
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