I clearly recall being asked to wait in a dimly lit waiting room whilst my parents were behind a closed door, engaged in discussions with the Doctor. My life was being discussed. The door opened, and I was told 'You may or may not need dialysis'. At 17 I was diagnosed with chronic renal failure.
I finished school, completed a Secretarial Diploma, achieved a Diploma of Dental Nursing, a Diploma in Registered Nursing, a Post Graduate Certificate in Nephrology Nursing and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.
Rod and I married in 1984. To have children was not to be our future. Dialysis and kidney transplants were to be part of our future. Twenty five years of dialysis and three unsuccessful transplants made us ponder what life was all about.
But life is precious and the 'Gift of Life'is even more precious. One phone call in 2003 took us by surprise. The decision to have a fourth transplant was not an easy one. Was this our last chance to hope for a 'normal' life? It was a chance we had to take.
This time there were no complications, eight years on and life is fantastic. No dialysis, the freedom to travel and enjoy holidays together. To participate in the Transplant Games, to meet very special donor families and living donors. To chat with other recipients and hear their own courageous journey is something I treasure. To complete the Rottnest Island Channel Team Swim, with Rod kayaking beside us. To complete a solo swim across Princess Royal Harbour in Albany, with Rod at the finish line and so much more. My life has been enriched through nursing. The opportunity to care for those who, just like me, continue their journey living with kidney failure has been an absolute privilege. And now my chance to enjoy retirement!
Yet throughout the highs and lows, the endless love, support, encouragement and inspiration from Rod, has given me the strength to keep going. Looking forward to each new day, having the strength to face a still uncertain journey, I struggle to find the words to express my innermost feelings of what it means to be given the chance to live a 'normal' life. To say Thank You will never be enough. I am at a loss to explain how it feels to be given such a gift, the chance to 'live' again.
This 'Gift of Life' has made my life complete. 33 years on and yes, life is indeed very different.