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Reality Check April 9, 2009

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Depression, Inspiration.
Tags: , , , , ,

Sometimes life comes along and smacks you hard and unavoidably in the face. Today was one of those days.

We spent the day at a hospital in London, learning about Kidney disease. Aside from all the lectures, we also got to go onto the ward and witness dialysis first hand, seeing the blood creeping from bandaged arm into machine, spinning through the dials and tubes, filtering, bubbling and finally making it’s way back to the arm, refreshed and renewed. At other times in the day, suffers of chronic kidney disease were brave enough to come and tell us their story. All in all it was a harrowing experience.

The day, frankly, was heartbreaking. Here were two young women, with the whole of their life in front of them, yet who were forced to spend their every waking hour self injecting, swigging back cocktails of pills, traipsing back and forth from home to hospital for barrages of tests. One had travelled from Nigeria, only to be stuck in this country with terrible kidney disease, desperately seeking a donor. Now the transplant has occurred, and she waits to see if she will be allowed to stay here. In her spare time, this amazing girl willingly comes back to the hospital where she has endured so much pain, to speak as a volunteer to groups such as us, and to scared, lonely and confused patients facing the same rigmarole she has just survived.

At one point this woman broke down and cried in front of us, cringing with good-natured embarrassment. She wasn’t crying out of self pity, or bad memories – this woman was crying through pride – pride at herself, her faith, the things she and the hospital have achieved. She personally believed strongly in God – and spent much of her time persuading other extremely religious patients that life wasn’t about waiting for “God’s will” – it was about trusting the doctors who were, as she put it, “God come down”.

The second story was just as much as a leveller as the first. This poor girl had life filled with 20 injections of insulin a day, numerous transplants, terrible illness. Now she has had her transplants. She stood before us a healthy 24 year old, a realist, and wildly excited about beginning her life.

Nowhere in this hospital did I spot that horrible tang of despair – although I am sure it nestled somewhere in those dark and airless corridors. What I did see was people celebrating life in the face of potentially insurmountable odds. Peoples so happy just to be here, that problems and niggles faded into non-existence. It put life into a fantastic perspective – I suddenly realise how much time I spend whining, berating what I don’t have instead of celebrating what I do.

I am not saying we should stop moaning, stop wishing for more. After all, ambition can be that which pushes humanity forward, that triggers world-changing inventions, that makes our life into what we want it to be. What I am saying is that what it comes down to, however, is that we are alive. That we are alive, simply and truly, no matter the troubles we had to go through to to get here.

A health dose of perspective goes a long way.


1. Amber - April 9, 2009

Oh hell, yes. Before my husband had his trasplant, I sometimes used to go to dialysis with him, just to keep him company. It really does provide a huuuuge dose of perspective…

2. ElementalGrace - April 9, 2009

I am eternally grateful that I have never been in a situation like that and greatly admire people who face the future with such grace and courage. I found exactly that in the hospice my Dad was in.

In our own, slightly less stressful situations, I’ve often felt that difficult situations sharply focus the mind and force us to choose the sort of person that we are and want to be.

3. Cyndi - So Much More Than A Mom - April 9, 2009

Oh boy, how serendipitous that you found my blog today and led me to this post. Yes, it’s similar to mine, in that you are talking about faith.

However, even more than that, my father was a diabetic on dialysis who received a kidney transplant. He has since passed away, almost 10 years ago. But his 7 years (not an exaggeration) of hell on earth while dealing with the effects of diabetes and then the ultimate failure of the transplant to increase his quality of life, were incredibly painful to witness and to be a part of. Whenever I comment on other blogs or post one myself, about what he was like before he got sick (abusive), as I have done earlier today, something always happens! I swear, he is haunting me. 🙂

A dose of perspective is necessary for all of us. Yes, our problems are still our problems and they are still real, but life could be worse and we all can find a few blessings to count, right?

Love your blog too!

4. mysterycreature1 - April 9, 2009

Sarah, Amber – Both of you are incredibly right – it is wildly inspiring (to keep over using a cliche) and makes you feel very humble. I agree that the tough part sof life can both make us or break us – and they really do make us who we are today.

Cyndi – thanks for the lovely comment.It’s a weird world isn’t it, and such a shame that people have to go through such terrible things. I remain so grateful that I have been ok up til now, and realise just how much I have taken it for granted. It’s an easy thing to do (in a way a wonderful thing to be able to do). I lvoe finding new blogs like yours!

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