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As far back as I can remember, I have heard this proverb ‘Health is wealth’ but I understood the literal meaning of this only when I had renal failure in December 1998. It was the time when I had just started my career  as a school health nurse. 

I grew up in Leh district of Ladakh where I completed my schooling till 10th standard, and later did my 12th from Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. When I was 13 years of age, my mother noticed a problem with my vision and took me to the eye doctor who later referred me to a physician for further assessment. I was misdiagnosed to have tuberculosis 

and started on TB medicines. My condition deteriorated during the course of the treatment and I had to be referred to PGI Chandigarh. 

After numerous painful diagnostic procedures at PGI Chandigarh, where I was admitted for nearly over a year, I was discharged with a prescription for antihypertensive, as my final diagnosis then was Idiopathic essential hypertension with right atrophic kidney. It was also the first time that I was introduced to kidney disease. I continued with annual follow up at the hospital for a decade, after which my kidneys gave up. It was the beginning of my struggle to regain my health.

My treatment started with several cycles of peritoneal dialysis initially, followed by regular haemodialysis for nearly two years. I have travelled every single path a patient could possibly go around in a 

hospital, and experienced every possible emotion one could feel during this journey. 

I am blessed with a very supportive family whose members came forward to donate their kidney, including my husband who was then my fiancé. But alas! None of them had the same blood group as mine. Later, my father’s 

good friend donated his kidney on humanitarian grounds. Since a complex legal process had to be gone through to obtain permission for live unrelated donor transplant, I had to undergo 

dialysis for around two years till the requirements could be fulfilled and the authorization process completed. 

Finally, after much suffering financially, physically, and psychologically, I got my transplant done in October 2000. I owe my gratitude to the team of care providers who looked after me during those difficult and exhausting times and gave me a reason to smile. I am ever grateful to my father and my husband  without whom I would not have been where I am today. 

I am also greatly blessed to belong to a close knit community. Years ago, when crowd funding was unheard of, I received contribution from each household for my treatment. Even the students at the school where I worked as a health nurse donated their month’s pocket money for my treatment.

My profession as a nurse has been to my advantage while taking care of myself. After transplant, though I have had my share of illnesses, I have always sought timely medical help as I had a good understanding of care and precautions to be taken. I always comply with my doctor’s advise, and I have learnt the hard way not to overthink about the negative consequences of every situation. 

Over the years, I have done a lot of reading on improving one’s quality of life; I have explored different schools of thought in the field of spirituality to better my life, which, in a very big way, helped me in becoming the person I am today. 

Professionally, I have not stopped climbing heights. Though I joined AIIMS New Delhi as a Diploma holder in nursing, I kept pursuing my higher education and went on to complete my post graduation in community health nursing, and now I am a PhD scholar in hospital management. As a nurse, I have been blessed to get opportunities to do my bit in bringing about changes in the health system which I am part of. I have never shied away from any extra responsibility entrusted upon me. Still,  my efforts are on in trying to fulfill my vision of having a health system where every patient smiles despite their ill health. 

Through this journey, I have learned the mantra to a happy life: BE HAPPY JUST FOR THIS MOMENT no matter what … if you are happy NOW, you are living a happy life … just forget about yesterdays and tomorrows. Having said that we must not forget about our care providers’ advice. It is imperative to follow medical advice.

With gratitude to the higher power above for blessing me with this beautiful life, 

– Yangchen Dolma

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