Sometimes the very bravest thing we do is survive. This story is proof that you have the strength to get through. Keep going, there is light ahead.
I lived. The bravest thing I have ever done was lived.
As a baby, I was born with spina bifida, one of the most common birth defects. I had spinal surgery less than 24 hours after I was born. They said I would never walk, but by age 3 I did.
That wasn’t the only thing wrong.
I was also born with a condition called renal dysplasia, which causes the kidneys to be as small as walnuts (and stay that way) and forms multiple fluid filled cysts on the kidneys. By the time I was 15, I needed a new kidney, or spend the next years waiting for one on a dialysis machine. Thankfully, my step-dad “stepped” up and donated his kidney to me. This wasn’t all easy going though. The first night, I bled internally and woke up to bags of blood hanging from the IV. After that, I spent 2 weeks in ICU because of fluid on my lungs, and was on a CPAP machine.
The next few years I spend in and out of the hospital every 2 weeks due to infections and rejection of the new kidney. Once my original kidneys were laparoscopically taken out, the infections calmed down a little. I now face chronic rejection because of this.
There was another time when I was also considered clinically dead for 2 minutes because of an allergy to a medication that caused my heart to stop during one of my hospital visits.
My body eventually did get stronger, but my mind had taken a hit.
The next years were filled with seeing councillors because I had developed PTSD from my experiences.
Then my family started to fall apart. First my parents kicked my sister out, then I was next, shortly after my nineteenth birthday and I became homeless.
My best friend took me in after I had spent about 3 weeks couch surfing and sleeping in cheap motels (I had a job at this point, but my parents had taken money from me).
After this point I found a room in a house and set myself up to go to university.
Shortly after I got settled in, one of the most horrible things happened to me. I was raped, in my own room in the place I was supposed to call home. I broke down and was depressed. I had fallen into a spiral of horrible thoughts, flashbacks not only from my medical experiences but from the rape as well (I had been a virgin up until that point, so that was my first experience).
I then met my now-ex-fiancee, whom I was with for 3 years and had a daughter with. Things didn’t work out between us, but that’s alright.
Then another major event happened in my life: I fell down some stairs (three times, all on the same set) and developed chronic pain in my back and legs, and lost feeling in my leg for a year (till this past Christmas). I have been fighting a condition called gasteroparisis, which I was diagnosed with 2.5 years ago after dealing with unpleasantness from my stomach. I also can’t feel my bladder or bowels, so this makes these functions a daily struggle for me (I have to catheterize on a regular basis). I also have to get botox injections in my bladder because my brain can’t tell my bladder to stop spasming ( the spasms cause an excess fluid build up on my transplanted kidney, which causes scarring).
On a daily basis, I struggle with chronic pain, stomach issues, bladder/bowel issues, and mental health issues.
But you know what? I’m also a post-secondary student at the University of Waterloo, I am a mom, a step-mom and a sister. I’m a wife to the most wonderful man in the world.
That’s how I’m brave: because I live, and I’m alive.
The #ShowMeYourBrave Project asks people, “What’s the bravest, scariest, or most intimidating thing you’ve ever done?”. The idea of the project is to share stories of everyday bravery and human resilience to bring us closer together. In sharing, we not only find our voices, but we find support, allies, and others who have faced similar challenges. If you would like to submit your story, we would love to feature your bravery here.