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Reena’s Story

She saved my life, she taught me about true giving and gave me a lesson in receiving too.
Back when I was 25, I had some pain in my big toe that wouldn’t let up. At that time, I was an aerobics teacher and personal trainer and this pain was greatly affecting my ability to do my job. I went off to the doctor who told me I had gout. “Gout? Isn’t that something old men get?” I asked. Gout isn’t quite normal in a fit 25-year-old so when I got it a second time, further tests were in order.

The doctor sent me for blood work for two main possibilities: rheumatoid arthritis and kidney issues. Shortly after, I was sent off to see the nephrologist and it turned out I had 35% kidney function at that time. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I didn’t know if my 2-year-old daughter would inherit it. I didn’t know if I would die. I couldn’t take in what the doctor was telling me. Now I see the blessing that was gout.

Most people have no idea they have chronic kidney failure until they are in failure. I had over 20 years where I was pretty much symptom free before things started going south.

For me, the disease was a slow to progress (thanks to following advice of my nurses and doctors and taking good care of myself). But eventually it did catch up.

On March 6, I was given a “new to me” kidney from my cousin (whom I now refer to as my earth angel). She saved my life, she taught me about true giving and gave me a lesson in receiving too. I was extremely lucky. Since my cousin was donating to me, my time on dialysis was short – only 6 weeks. Believe me, it was long enough to know how invasive this is to your life and how difficult it can make having a real quality to life. You’re very tired after, you sometimes get wicked headaches and nausea. The funny thing is just about everyone I met there, no matter how sick, had great attitudes (due in no small part to the fantastic nurses and assistants who work there). It’s inspiring really.

For me, a new chapter in life has begun. Getting a transplant has allowed me to start living again; without wondering when the other shoe would drop; without thinking I was sort of stuck in my circumstances. It has allowed me to start living my life more freely, more in tune with my authentic self and my nature; freedom of spirit.

The Kidney Foundation is doing important work and also research into this disease that affects 1 in 10 people. As a silent killer, someone in your life right now may have it and not even know.