Listen to your body

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-10-46-03-amIn life, we are often encouraged to follow our heart and listen to our gut. It simply means to trust our intuition. I believe this is a big component of caring for ourselves and making wise health decisions. After living with medical issues for so long, we become very in tune with our bodies. As PKD patients, we learn what kidney pain feels like, if we are having a cyst bleed or need to go to the emergency room. It is important to listen to our bodies and know when we need to see our doctor or go to the hospital. For transplant recipients these decisions can mean life or death.

I take the responsibility of caring for my transplanted kidney and my health very seriously. I am a proactive patient and I seek medical attention as soon as I become ill. Depending on the degree of symptoms, I either call my doctor for advice or go straight to the emergency room.

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-10-46-29-amMy health episodes seem to be fast and furious. Just a couple months back in July I woke up early in the morning feeling nauseous. I vomited and had a fever of 101 degrees. Without even talking about it, my husband, Noah, knew what we needed to do and he started packing supplies for the hospital. We know that when I have a fever, my body is fighting something and it is nothing to mess around with. By the time I got to the hospital my temperature was 103.2 degrees. I was immediately taken to a private room where several doctors and medical staff administered an IV, gave me fluids, antibiotics, Tylenol and prednisone to try and help fight whatever my body was battling.

As a transplant recipient, the immunosuppressant medicine that I take weakens my immune system, which means it suppresses symptoms when I am sick. This can make it hard to diagnose and fight illness. Getting ill is serious business and not to be taken lightly. I have had sepsis twice: once when my gallbladder needed to be removed and the other time from an undetected urinary tract infection.

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-10-46-44-amDuring this recent health episode, the doctors were stumped with what happened. My doctors commended me for acting quickly, listening to my body and going straight to the emergency room. I was told I have an “exuberant immune system,” because I got severely ill and then responded really fast to the meds and quickly got better.

Our bodies can be mysterious, yet miraculous. I believe they want to heal, but need our guidance. On many occasions, I have heard of patients not acting quickly because they think they are fine or they don’t feel like going to the doctor or the hospital. We all want the best quality of life possible and sometimes that means doing things that we might not feel like doing. I hope this will encourage you to follow your heart, listen to your gut and trust your intuition when it comes to taking care of your health, because good health is vital to the longevity and quality of our lives.

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-10-47-19-amDo you listen to your body, and how has this helped you along your health journey?



  1. Kim

    I also have PKD and just had my transplant on October 11th. I am doing everything I can to avoid germs! I do have two kids of my own and I am a teacher, so will be around germs when I return to work. I will be extra cautious!
    I have enjoyed reading your stories. Be well!

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Kim!
      Congratulations on receiving the gift of life this month!!!
      With being exposed to so many kids, I am glad to hear that you will be extra cautious. Washing our hands and not touching our faces is very important. We must listen to our bodies and act as soon as we don’t feel well, whether that is calling our doctor or going to the emergency room. Take good care of yourself and your precious kidney! Wishing you many, many, many healthy years with your new kidney!
      Makes me happy to hear that you enjoy reading my blogs…that encourages me to keep sharing, thank you!!!

  2. Liza Mason

    Yayyyyy Valen!


    • Valen Keefer

      Thank you for being such a great friend, Liza! xoxo

  3. Helene Scherer

    My most recent issue of fever & discomfort stemmed from an infection in a tooth that already had a root canal & crown. Luckily, I also have a dentist who is knowledgeable about immunocompromised systems & he got me on antibiotics immediately. He takes particular interest in me as a patient since he’s also suffered from kidney failure in the past.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Helene,
      Wonderful that you have such a caring dentist who knows first hand the importance of taking extra good care of ourselves. Do you take antibiotics before your dentist appointments? I’ve been instructed to do that since my transplant. I’m glad you took care of this recent health hiccup right away and got it under control. Take care!

  4. Wendy Crowder

    Valen I’m so glad you’re feeling better. Being sick is very scary stuff for transplant patients.
    We have to listen to our bodies.

    Keep getting better.
    Thanks for taking the time to share your life with all of us♡

    • Valen Keefer

      Thank you sweet Wendy! It is my honor. How are you and how is your transplant doing? I hope you are feeling well and enjoying your beautiful life and family. Hugs!

  5. dominique

    hi valen boy you are strong with all you have gone thru i give you so much credit. !! im glad you are doing the best for yourself it helps you and others and lets say many that love you and what you stand for. so glad your better ! i tend to panic if i get sick which isnt too often im waiting for a transplant may be not too far off my son is testing yet almost there.. im just so afraid of the drugs and side effects i looked into stem cell thats alot to endure too.. my son matched 4 out of 6 genetic markers so i hope that will help slim down the dosages of meds…thanks for any imput stay strong !!!

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Dominique,
      Thank you very much for your sweet sentiments, they mean a lot!
      So fantastic that your son is testing to be your donor. I hope all goes smoothly and he is able to donate. I can understand your concern with the drugs, but they are a necessity for us to have the best quality of life with a transplant versus being a dialysis patient. We all respond differently to meds and over time they will decrease the dosages. I know many people that lead an active and healthy life post-transplant.
      Stem cell is an exciting thing and I look forward to seeing how that evolves and how it will change the future for transplant recipients.
      My donor was 3 out of 6 antigens. That is great that your son is 4 out of 6. Stay hopeful and keep taking wonderful care of yourself. You are doing a great job! Hugs!

  6. Vicki

    Hi Valen- I loved this post. It is so true. It seems to me that fear is also a driver of not going to the doctor when our bodies nudge us and perhaps pride as in “I can tough this out!” – until our bodies get fed up with our hesitation and have to bludgeon us to go! Living with chronic illness demands powerful surrender at moments – a sign of strength and you my friend are amazingly strong. Thanks for the reminder to listen to our bodies.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Vicki,
      Great to hear from you and glad you enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and for your beautiful sentiments of support. I believe fear is a big factor for some patients. I like your words, “powerful surrender.” I’ve learned numerous times that when I have a fever my body is fighting something and it is nothing to mess around with and I know it needs immediate attention, meaning go to the ER right away. I treasure life and strive to take the best care of my body in hopes that I will be able to enjoy life for a long time. I hope you are doing great and continue to get out and run on the trails. Hugs!


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