Life Beyond PKD


Valen took ballet as a child.

As children, we are encouraged to get involved in pastimes such as sports, clubs and hanging out with friends. I recall doing ballet, gymnastics, singing lessons, piano and sleepovers with friends. When you talk to parents, it almost seems like their main job is to drive their children to different activities. As adults, it is easy to get distracted and lose sight of our own interests. We’re busy working and helping others like our family, or if we are PKD patients, busy caring for ourselves.

There are different phases of PKD that can be daunting, like dialysis, dealing with debilitating pain, transplant and the stress of the unknown future. However, through all of these chapters, we deserve to take time for ourselves, do what we enjoy and what brings us joy. As hard as this may seem, there is life beyond PKD, and we need to find it and live it.

I remember my dialysis days mostly consisting of me being attached to the machine and not feeling well. However, I could have done a better job of trying to take my focus off being sick. I’ve learned a lot over the years, and through the stresses of post-transplant living, I know it is important to take time for ourselves. No matter how busy our lives are, if we really want to do something, we can and will make time for it.


Valen enjoys spending time in nature.

A few things that help distract me from my challenges of living with PKD are writing, enjoying nature, walking, Pilates, family and friends. They each provide a different angle of enjoyment and that is important because, sometimes, one activity instead of another is just what is needed. Writing is therapeutic, nature is calming, walking clears my mind, Pilates helps me feel strong and able to exercise since I can’t hike like I used to due to my back issues, and family and friends are good for the soul as they provide laughter, support and let me know that I am not alone.

PKD patients have a lot to think about on a daily basis. We coordinate medicines, doctor appointments and medical bills. We may not be able to do what we used to because of our health. There is extra stress in our lives and our viewpoint is different than others. For those who have chronic pain, it can be exhausting, both physically and mentally. We need and deserve a break from all this worry and weight on our shoulders. Resting and taking time for us is vital on our journey towards the healthiest life possible.


Valen feels support and love from her family.

As kids, hobbies seem to be a given and a large part of our childhood. Let’s not lose that spirit and important part of our journey. I hope you’ll join me in recognizing what makes you happy and incorporating it into your life, because you deserve it. We only get one shot on our individual voyages, let’s make it count and find joy as often as possible.

What hobbies distract you from your health challenges?



  1. Debbe Watchowski-Frost

    I read a lot, to keep my mind busy . I play two games on Facebook. And I ALWAYS have my kindle right near me. I just can’t walk a lot anymore, but I do enjoy sitting outside on most days, we live on a busy road so I enjoy just watching traffic and such.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Debbe,
      Thank you so much for sharing! Wonderful that you have activities that help to keep your mind busy and that you enjoy! What is one of your favorite books? I love being outside…hope you have a beautiful weekend that you can sit outdoors and enjoy your surroundings. Take care!

  2. Philip F. Tomlinson Jr.

    Transcendental Meditation is relaxing for me and helps relieve stress. The Tai Chi for Health program gently energizes me and helps lower my blood pressure. I spend most of my time reading articles and books and play my Native American flute, walk, workout with resistance bands, cook, and enjoy time with friends.

    • Valen Keefer

      Wow! That all sounds fantastic and so enjoyable! I’m impressed, Philip! Thank you very much for sharing. I haven’t tried meditation yet, but would like to. Tai Chi always intrigued me too. The Native American flute is such a beautiful sound. Your friends are lucky to have a fun friend like yourself to hang out with and who they can learn from. All the best!

  3. Liza Mason

    Love this! You are so amazing to me. Thank you for the inspiring note. PKD will not beat us!


    • Valen Keefer

      You’re so sweet! Thank you Liza! It is my honor and pleasure to write and share with you. You are 100% correct, PKD Will Not Beat US! Big love and hugs are being sent your way!

  4. Leslie

    I have a motto, ” I have PKD, but PKD doesn’t have me.” I will continue to do things that I love for as long as I can.

    • Valen Keefer

      I love your motto! Keep that positive spirit and thank you for sharing it with all of us! Take care!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *






Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email