It’s All What You Make of It

When I go into the hospital for a procedure, I compare it to a day when I fly cross-country. I go with the mindset that it will be a long day, where I must be relaxed and know that a lot of it is out of my control. I sit back knowing that the odds of things being on time is slim and to just try and make the best of the day. For each day is a gift and it’s all what you make of it.


Last week Noah took me to Sutter Surgery Center to get a bilateral cortisone epidural in my lower back. We sat in a jam-packed waiting room. It had been two hours since we arrived and my name had yet to be called. Each time the nurse opened the door, we all perked up in our seats hoping we would hear our name. We could overhear several individuals who were grumbling about the wait time. There was an elderly woman and her husband sitting directly across from us. She was livid that her name was not called at her exact appointment time. She was loudly vocal in the quiet waiting room about how upset she was that her name was not called at her designated time and how she wanted to leave. She expressed how she was going to voice her opinion so this would never happen again. I was disappointed that this disgruntled elderly woman was making an unnecessary scene. Noah and I were sitting quietly watching a nature show that was on the television and making the most of our time together, because it’s all what you make of it.

My name was eventually called and I reviewed my extensive medical history with the nurse. I got undressed, put on my hospital gown and cap. The nurse administered an IV and I was all set for my procedure. They then called Noah to wait with me, as there was one person ahead of me. Although I was nervous at the thought of needles in my back, Noah and I made the best of the time prior to my procedure. I was fasting all day and we were joking about how hungry I was. So we were taking silly pictures and one of me biting his arm because my belly was growling so loud. The lyrics of a burger commercial were in my head and we were singing it out loud. We were giggling so much that I was wiping tears away. A nurse peeked her head in and said teasingly, “You two are having way too much fun.” Then we showed her some of our photos and she took Noah’s phone out of the room to share with all of the nurses and we could hear them laughing. It was great to have Noah there with me to distract me from my procedure. Noah teaches me that you can make the best of unpleasant times because it’s all what you make of it.


My doctor said the procedure went great and that I did great. The past four months have been challenging. I have been in daily pain because of my herniated and bulging disks. This “hiccup” has taken me out of my normal routine of working and it has been a very low-activity couple of months. The doctors say that only the body and rest can heal my back issues and that it is a very slow process. If I were to focus on all that is going on, it would be very overwhelming and upsetting. I try to just take it a day at a time and not dwell on the big picture of what is happening and the ‘what ifs’ of the future with this issue. Noah has been incredibly supportive. We make the best of each day and still treasure our time together, act silly and make each other laugh. Even if that day consists of me lying on the floor because of the pain. He has provided me amazing support and brightened every day for me. Over the many years of enduring health issues, I have learned that when you are a patient, you must learn patience. And this bears repeating: It’s all what you make of it.


“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” – Joseph Campbell

What is your joy?


  1. Stacy Duncan Kisby

    Hi Valen,
    My name is Stacy and I am a living donor transplant recipient. I lost my kidneys to PKD. It took my Dad at 44 back in 1969, when there was very little the medical field could do to help. My eldest son, Ryan, was recently diagnosed with PKD. He is 31, married almost 4 years to a wonderful girl (whom I know will support him through the challenging adventure) and the father to my 1st grandchild and one on the way. I have a great story to tell and have always wanted to share it with everyone. When I read your posts I just love to see how encouraging you are to people with PKD. It makes me want to tell my story. You’re a beautiful young woman, with such a strong character. This is one thing I know that PKD helps you find places within yourself you never knew were there. You are in my prayers, as is all that go through the trials and tribulations of disease. xoxo

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Stacy,
      Thank you for sharing your family history with all of us. So sad that your Dad passed away so young. Everyone on my mom’s side of the family had PKD and the oldest to live is my mom who is 57. Her mom passed away at 53. Amazing how far the medical field has come since then. I am delighted to hear that you too are a living donor transplant recipient. I am 30 years old, so your son and I are close in age. That is wonderful that you have the desire to share your story. I encourage you to do so because it has been so rewarding sharing my story. It has led me to meeting the most amazing people. Thank you for your kind words. They mean so much! I can feel your positive energy just through your words. Keep that positivity and enjoy every day with your gift of life. I wish you and your family all the very best.

  2. Sharon

    Valen I am always moved by your posts. I to have PKD but I have been fortunate to not have many other complications as you have had. I am 55 years old and just this past March received a kidney from my husband. I feel very blessed, I did not have to go on dialysis before the transplant and I feel so fortunate to have gone through this transplant without any complications besides my husband had a heart attack two weeks after the transplant. He had a stint put in and is doing very well. This of course was my fear when I took his kidney is that his health would be affected.They say he would have had the heart attack eventually anyways so it is not really from the transplant. I still feel some what responsible. I am very grateful every day for the gift of a transplant. I think of you often and pray for your health. I pray that your journey is less painful. I do strongly believe that your attitude plays a huge roll in everything! I have always tried to be positive and look on the bright side. I have children and one has PKD and I would always want to show him that you can live a full life with this disease. I wish you the best. Sharon

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Sharon,
      Thank you for this beautiful message and sharing your story. It makes me so happy to hear that you did not have to deal with too many issues with PKD and had a seamless transition into a transplant. I am so sorry that your husband had a heart attack so soon after the transplant. I hope he is doing well now. You are so sweet that you prayer for my health. That means so much! You can definitely live a full life with this disease and I wish the best for you and your family! Thank you for your support and reading my posts. Take good care and I am thrilled that you received the gift of life. 🙂

  3. Gina New

    I’d like to say “Good for you!!!” Seriously!! I am the oldest living member of my family for generations with PKD. Life is a blessing! I teach children and by the time I get home I’m exhausted. My husband has been my blessing. He knows that teaching children (math) brings me so much joy. When I am home he treats me like a queen. He cooks and we clean together. Life is what you make it. So I wasn’t dealt a Royal Flush. I’m having a wonderful time playing the game! I say, keep enjoying the game – life is good!!!

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Gina,
      Thank you so much for sharing your wonderfully positive outlook on life. I love it. Your positivity is something we can all learn from and I am sure it is contagious to others around you. It makes me happy to know that you are treated like a queen. I feel the same way. My husband showers me with love and I feel so blessed. I say that I was not given the best health, but I am surrounded by unconditional love and couldn’t ask for anything more!

  4. Amy Dixon

    Hey. You discovered our secret to coping with all the medical problems. We’re always making the staff crack up! I am sad for them for the sad things they witness everyday, so I try to cheer them up. Also, when you are patient, not only does it help time fly, but helps all the people around you cope too.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Amy,
      That is so ironic, because I was just saying today that I feel bad for the nurses that have to deal with some of the challenging patients in the hospital, so when they come into my room, I make sure to hold conversations with them and make them smile. Laughter and smiles makes everything easier. I love your outlook.

  5. Cathy

    I hope you are felling better after your latest procedure Valen.
    I love reading your blogs-so many things you say I can relate to.
    Keep up the good work of lifting spirits,informing, and portraying your personal story in such a wonderful, positive way.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Cathy,
      Thank you for this wonderful message full of kind words, support and encouragement. It makes me so happy to hear that you love reading my blogs. Thank you so much! xo

  6. Jackie

    Beautifully written Valen! You show everyone how to live each day to the fullest. You are such an inspiration to me every day!

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Jackie,
      Oh Sis that means so much! You and your family hold such a special place in my heart. I am looking forward to the day that you and I can have a Starbucks date like old times. I hope life is treating you well as you deserve nothing but the best. You are a very special woman with a beautiful soul. xoxo

  7. Deanna Santana

    Valen, you know I agree with so much of what you say but a friend of mine said at the memorial service for her 4 year old daughter, “I know I will be okay because the joy outpaces the grief”. I think we can translate to “the joy outpaces the pain” too! <3

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Deanna,
      That is so profound and so true! Thank you for sharing! Big hugs to you my dear friend! xo


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