Why can’t I be the only one?

First, some bookkeeping. My creatinine has returned to 1.9. That gives me some wiggle room and means the last reading (2.3) was either temporary, or lab error. It has been 2 1/2 years since transplant and I have been stable for most of the last two years.

Having a reduced immune system can be problematic. For example, I have had a cold now for 18 days. However, it still beats the alternative :).

Secondly, I used to say that I was glad it was me who had health problems. It is easier for me to deal with it than I think it would be for many other people. I know, that sounds arrogant. What makes me so special? It also pains me to see others’ suffer, and for me, it’s become a part of life, so I really don’t let it get me down. In some ways, that’s selfish. Let me address both and then discuss why I am writing this.

First, I have been tested and come out the other side many times. Secondly, I would argue, that my attitude is pretty good. I keep a smile on my face through surgeries, biopsies, rejection episodes, etc. It’s the way I know how to deal with and handle these situations. From my experience, few people are able to, or willing, to do that; either for their benefit or the benefit of those around them.

On the second issue (not wanting to see others’ suffer), that is selfish. I admit it. However, there is also a big part of that feeling which is altruistic and good. It pains me not just because it’s hard for me to see those close to me suffer, but because I know how hard it is.

Anyway, and getting on point, my family got bad news this past month. One of my closest and dearest relatives is battling breast cancer. Her mother is battling it as well. Her husband had a tumor removed from his leg earlier this year and we were unsure for some time how that would turn out (thankfully, that was benign). At the same time, their two daughters (7 and 5) were exposed to rabies and had to have a barrage of shots to make sure they stayed healthy.  Needless to say, they have (and have had) their hands full. It pains me to see someone I love and respect in so much in pain. Ironically, I joked with her husband a month ago when I found out his growth was benign (and before we knew about his wife’s troubles). I told him, “remember, it’s my job to be the martyr, don’t you start having health issues too!” He said that I didn’t deserve it either.

I guess I don’t look at it that way. I don’t deserve it, no one does, but I deal with it. That someone deals and how they deal is what makes them who they are and I take pride in the fact that I feel I have done my best through challenging times.

Back to my relative. She doesn’t deserve it either. However, as much as it pains me to see her go through this, and make the decision to have a double mastectomy, and go through the surgery in the coming weeks, and the recovery, etc. I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE PROUD OF HER.

She is showing strength, humility, and perspective, that could only make someone proud.

This whole thing makes me think about what people deserve, don’t deserve, and what makes people who they are.

I argue, often times, that I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t developed kidney disease at 23, and if my father hadn’t dropped dead when I was 25. Or what if I didn’t grow up with learning problems? One can feel bad about things that have happened to them and shrivel away. Or, one can try to find the positive. All those things I just mentioned, helped make who I am today. I am proud of who I am today, and know if not for some of those challenges, I would be in a very different place indeed.

As much as it pains me to see my dear relative suffer, in many ways, this is her moment to shine. This is a defining moment in her life. As wonderful as she would be without having do deal with cancer now, I can only hope that she is that much stronger, wiser, and fulfilled in life, after she defeats this.

Of course, I am not suggesting people get sick so they can “define themselves.” Merely saying make the best of what you have dealt to you.

I am not particularly religious, but do ask G-D for strength in times like these. I ask that if you are comfortable with it, that you ask for my family, particularly my relative dealing with cancer, to have strength.

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