At the age of 23, following a UTI episode, my kidneys failed. Very reluctantly, I started off on hemodialysis, which I skipped frequently, refusing to come to terms with my situation. I rebelled against my condition by paying no attention to my diet requirements, surviving on potatoes and hot and sour veg soup for a year. This routine took a toll on my health, and I became anorexic, which resulted in a drastic drop in weight. I weighed a mere 38 kilos! To make matters worse, I had hit a low mentally and emotionally as well, since all my hopes and dreams were shattered and there was no more joy in life.
At this point, my father decided to donate his kidney. But first, I had to gain some weight to be able to undergo the surgery. I had to literally stuff myself with butter and buns in order to gain two kilos. We sold jewelry and land, and with the help and support of family and friends, I sailed through the transplant. However, three days later, I had to be operated upon again to remove a clot that had formed. This post-surgery complication, I believe, limited the life of my graft.
Following the transplant, I kept falling sick often. So my mother took me to Chennai for a second opinion, where I was diagnosed with TB of the lungs. With timely treatment, I recovered and was able to save my kidney. The graft worked well, but unfortunately, lasted only for 10 years. Following the rejection of my first graft, I moved to CAPD. Diseases like type 2 diabetes, TB of lungs, Hepatitis B, and herpes have been my companions over the years. After four years on CAPD, I had to shift to hemodialysis which was done for some time through a neckline and then a perm cath. Even while going through these setbacks and adverse situations, the creative spark in me came to the fore. I learnt and began to perform Salsa dance, wrote a cookbook which I self-published on Amazon, and conducted dance and cooking workshops.
Does that mean my life was all song and dance? Not at all! Trying to always be strong and inspiring for others around me was exhausting! I had finally reached the point of breakdown. Helplessly, I gave up and told God’ “I have had enough. Please take me.” A week later, I got a call from the hospital for a cadaver transplant. Now, it has been seven years since my second transplant.
Over the years, I have battled depression with continuous therapy. My parents have been my greatest source of support and motivation always. On my part, I have lived a full life, worked hard, learnt yoga, performed on stage, travelled, and now have a small jewelry line called Lavender. What people strive to do in a lifetime, I have done in two years. Yet, I do feel afraid and alone sometimes. Living with kidney disease is indeed tough, but every morning when I wake up, I know I am blessed and thank God for another day.