Not to be morbid so soon after my post about fear, but for a long time, I was fairly sure I would die before I turned 60. This was one of the cornerstones of the overly strong mental defenses I developed in my teens and made insurmountable in my 20s. What was I supposed to think with all the diseases I had, including kidneys that only operated at about 50% at the age of 29? And if that were true why bother? With anything?
I unconsciously built my life around that concept. I didn't allow myself to commit to much, not people or activities or work. I never thought about buying a house. I didn't care much that work was a job and not a career. For the life of me, I could not visualize where I would be in five years. I used to tell people it was because every time I tried, everything would change. But it was really because in five years, I could be dead, so why bother to plan?
Then something strange happened. The chronic kidney disease – the one most likely to kill me – started to get better. When I was first diagnosed, I was led to believe that I was most likely on a slow decline toward dialysis and then a transplant if I could get one, depending on how stable I could keep myself. Ten years later, was that not still true?
Generally, it was, although studies were starting to show that if a patient could stabilize their kidney function, they could go on at that level forever. However, there was no evidence that people who reached stage 3 kidney disease ever recovered function.
None of us really knew what was going on. We speculate that I am hypersensitive to dehydration, which makes kidney disease worse, and as I began to exercise regularly, I also began to hydrate better, and my kidneys reacted well. Then again, it could just be that my body doesn't react as everyone else's does. The peripheral neuropathy of my early twenties is all but gone and I was that 0.03% of patients that reacted to amitriptyline with grand mal seizures. Whatever the reason, as my kidney function improved, my worldview began to change.
Maybe I wouldn’t die early. Maybe I would have time to leave some kind of legacy. Maybe I would have time let more people in. Or let any people in. On purpose, that is.
So what now? What do I stand for?
As they say in the title song, most nights I don’t know. It’s no coincidence that I started this blog shortly after I started getting better. Or that I switched employers for a more equal salary and better treatment.
The beauty of it is, I don’t have to know. Not really. Not yet.
It seems I might have time.