“When one door closes, another opens.” This saying has felt very fitting for Noah and me recently. The door that closed was the townhouse that we rented for six-and-a-half years, and the one that opened was the beautiful door to our first home.
On Oct. 29, after moving all of our things out of our townhouse and making it squeaky clean, we reclined on the living room floor and reminisced about how wonderful it was living there and all of the beautiful memories that we will treasure. A lot happened there since we followed our dream of moving from Pennsylvania to California back in 2010, but it was exciting to know that we were moving on to a new adventure. Closing the door was more emotional than expected. I remember the sound of the last light switch Noah turned off; it sounded so loud in the empty space. We both put our hands on the door handle and shut it together with smiles on our faces and tears in our eyes. We were grateful for our time there and excited for what was to come.
Opening the door to our first purchased home came with a whole other set of emotions. We were so thrilled and still find it hard to believe that the beautiful home we now live in is ours. The day we got our keys and Noah carried me through the front entryway was incredible. Buying a home may not be as big a deal for some, but I was not expected to live past 19-years-of-age, so to be 33, alive, in love, and have our very own home exemplifies that the gift of life allows transplant recipients to experience monumental things. Thank you to my donor, Sally Robertson.
There is a lot of work involved with moving and settling into a new place. Along with all of the joy has come some frustration for me as a patient. I dealt with pain from my PKD kidneys until I had them removed at 18 and I’ve been dealing with chronic pain since 30 because of severe back issues. Those who deal with daily pain understand how taxing it can be, not only physically but also mentally.
All of our family lives on the east coast, so it has just been me and Noah through this whole process. My back surgeon said I shouldn’t lift more than five pounds, so Noah had to move pretty much everything. Also, on the weekend we were supposed to spend our first night in our new home, my health made a show of impeccable timing because I had sepsis and was in the hospital for a couple days. However, dear Noah, with the help of a friend, got the big things moved into our home and slept on a blow-up mattress in our townhouse until I was released so we could spend the first night together at home. He’s such a sweet man!
I’m working on finding balance when it comes to asking for help and taking good care of myself. I want to be a good wife and help as much as I can, but when the pain is too bad or I’m physically unable to do something that I feel I should be able to do, it’s hard to accept. When you have the mental desire, creativity and drive to accomplish things, but your physical capability can’t live up to that, it is tough. I think this will always be a work in progress for me.
I am blessed beyond words to have a supportive husband. However, I think I will always wish that I could do more for him. He has taught me valuable lessons through all of this. If I set my mind on something, or have an idea, I usually like to accomplish it right away. Noah reminds me that “It can wait,” and “It doesn’t all have to be done in one day,” and “It is ok and necessary to relax; and taking care of your health is way more important than getting things done.”
A healthy woman in her early 30s usually works full time, does household chores, takes care of children, makes dinner, and accomplishes other tasks all in one day, effortlessly and with no pain. I wish I could say that I fall into that category, but I don’t anymore.
I’m working on coming to peace with that and continuing to do something I find extremely important: focusing on positives in life. Our new home has been an amazing positive for the past couple months. Our home has a sunroom and a lot of windows, filling the house with beautiful natural light, which is good for the soul and healing. It has a gigantic oak tree in the backyard that I love. We brought our sweet cat, Mister, with us, who was an outdoor cat at the townhouse and he loves being an indoor cat. I feel like this home is perfect for us to share our lives together and create precious memories in the future.
Yes, life is difficult when living with health issues, but I believe there is still beauty to find and experience. You need to be strong, proud of what you can accomplish and proud of yourself, even if it’s just taking a shower on some days. Let’s embrace the life we’ve been given, know when to ask for help, when to rest and recognize the importance of stepping back, and be grateful for what we have.
How do you find balance between asking for help and taking good care of yourself?