When hearing the words polycystic kidney disease, it is easy to think that we endure a disease that only affects our kidneys. However, PKD is far more than that. We can face issues like aneurysms, diverticulitis and high blood pressure, to name a few. Living with PKD means we are likely managing and dealing with several things along with keeping our kidneys and the rest of our body healthy. Plus, there are patients like myself who have additional health challenges that are completely unrelated to PKD. For instance, I have epilepsy and scoliosis, which has led to multiple back surgeries and chronic pain.
I’ve been able to best endure my array of health problems by finding a positive outlet amidst the trials and tribulations. This doesn’t always unfold right away. When I was fighting for my life on dialysis, it was challenging to find many positives. Post-transplant, though, I found a healing aspect of living with PKD: sharing my story. Helping others along their journey has healed many of my own wounds.
My scoliosis appeared in 8th grade when I was diagnosed with a severe s-curve and needed surgery. I did well post-surgery, until three years ago when one of my lower discs herniated. Since then it has been a roller coaster ride with cortisone shots, 22 months of physical therapy, surgeries, acupuncture and massage. Basically trying all I can to help my back and the daily pain associated with it. Unfortunately, my back is so complicated from the rods, fusion, arthritis, degeneration, disc herniation, instability, etc., that the pain will be a lifelong issue to maintain.
It was not until a year ago that I could find any positives through all of the pain. My surgeon suggested I try Pilates. I was fortunate to find Studio Six Pilates with its amazing instructors, Shelby and Brooke. Both of them and Pilates have been the positive, physically and mentally, through this difficult health trial. Over the past year, they have worked with me one-on-one and have helped me so much. It is incredible to see what my body can do today compared to a year ago in regards to strength, movement and flexibility. I have seen more improvement with Pilates than I have with any of the other avenues I pursued to help gain strength. What I continue to battle is daily pain and finding a balance of doing enough to continue getting stronger, but not too much to set me back.
I’ve been so inspired by Pilates that I’ve decided to start a new journey: the path towards becoming a Pilates instructor. This opportunity unfolded organically and I feel that I am meant to pursue it. I began training at the studio where I take classes. I will need to accumulate 450 hours of comprehensive learning, which includes observation, student teaching, etc., all while learning anatomy and all about Pilates before I can take an exam to become certified.
The fun part of life is that you never know where it will lead. I’m happy to have found positivity through this difficult part of my life. Just like with PKD, I will be able to use my first-hand knowledge and experiences to help others heal, while I myself am healing. It also gives purpose to the pain and a way to give back, which makes my heart happy. I am excited to learn all I can to help myself lead the healthiest life possible, while keeping my body strong, balanced and aligned, and be able to do the same for others in need.
There can be a silver lining to challenges in life. They may not present themselves right away and we may need to search for them, but I believe they are there and that they need to be found to help us lead a happy and healthy life.
What positives have you found through your health journey?