The Pain that you've been feeling can't compare to the joy that's coming."
As someone who has participated in the Kidney March I know what these words mean and they cannot be any more symbolic of the journey. 100km over three days is long and gruelling. There are many aches, pains and strains, blisters, and bubbles, tears and fears, but through all that, the feeling you have when you get to the finish lines is one of the most amazing heart warming experience you will ever have in your life. To walk through the final arches at the finish line and see all of the Kidney March family cheering you on regardless of wether you are limping, jumping, running or falling through is one of the most rewarding feelings I'll ever experience.
Back in 2008, when I was 28 years old I was told that I had an excess amount of protein in my urine from routine lab work which was followed up by a kidney biopsy confirming I had a kidney disease called FSGS. After several failed attempts to keep my kidney function stabilized, it was pretty clear that I was headed strait down the path of dialysis. Not something I had in my plans as I was just entering my 30's, but with a 10 year old daughter, Chanel, and a newborn baby boy, Nathan, my choices were limited and life was about to change forever. Years of dialysis using methods like Peritoneal Dialysis, Hemodialysis and Nocturnal Hemodialysis were all parts of my life. Sitting in the hospital for 4 hours 3 days a week, hooking up at home and doing dialysis over night while I slept, a tube in my stomach then a tube in my chest then needles in my arm, medications, fatigue, it went on and on all while I continued to work full time, and take care of my family.
Luckily in 2013, my was going to change again. On October 16th, 2013, my cousin Nikki donated one of her kidney's to me and my life has never been better. Well, I still have a few issues now and again, but overall I am in a much better position today because of my new kidney. We have since welcomed our youngest child, Nicolas who is named in honor of my donor Nicola (Nikki) who's gift has given me the ability to be a healthy father to my children. Additionally, my monthly blood work lab results are showing no issues / rejection, I am able to exercise frequently (shout out to my OTF family - you guys have all been so amazing over the past 9 months) and I have the ability to do more with my family and friends.
The biggest things aside from all of the physical issues that comes with dialysis, most people don't realize is the enormous amount of frustration you experience with being tied down or dependant on a machine to keep you alive. If it's going to a hospital for 4 hours and sitting in a chair to dialyze, or in bed at 9pm every night (after spending 45minutes to set up the machine), travelling, limiting your fluid intake, dietary restrictions, you never feel like you have the freedom to do what you want. For us lucky enough to get transplanted, that freedom is back and it feels amazing!
I have done a few marches while on dialysis and most recently with my transplant and I can see the difference in how it is now compared to back then. I was able to march last year like no other so I hope you will consider supporting me in my fundraising again for #KM2k17.