Wake up Call
Have you ever had a life wake up call? I had mine a few years ago.
It seems that I’ve had a defect since birth that has slowly been destroying my left kidney over the course of my lifetime. I’ve known for a while that something wasn’t right as the condition worsened and began revealing itself. So when the test results came in this week I was prepared for bad news.
It turns out that I have almost no remaining function from the left kidney, and options are limited. The good news is that my right kidney appears healthy and up to carrying the full load. The better news is that I have a new, evolving perspective on life.
My situation isn’t life threatening, but it hit home hard anyway. For over five decades I’ve taken my health and fitness seriously, but I’ve also taken it for granted. I’m the man of steel. Indestructible. Something like major organ failure happens to someone else, not to me. I conquer the weight room, run bike and swim great distances, scale mountains. I’m invulnerable.
I’m lucky because I have a backup kidney, but this is a close call beyond comfort. If a kidney can fail, so can something less dispensable like a heart, a brain, a liver, a central nervous system. It’s a notification that we all walk the thin edge with our health, and even our very best efforts at living right provides no guarantees, and that each new dawn with a healthy body is a gift, not a right.
While it’s easy to feel dismay and self pity, and to be sure I’ve had some of that, I’m thinking now of those who have had it much worse than me; my high school friend that overcame testicular cancer, a college friend that overcame colon cancer, former NBA star Wayman Tisdale who lost his leg, and then his life to cancer, the inspiration I got years ago from reading Lance Armstrong’s book “It’s Not About the Bike”.
And even more, I’ve thought about my Dad, who’s over 80, still goes to work every day, and has had both his large colon and his prostate removed without missing a beat. More than that, he still gets excited every day about what he’s working on and seems to continue milking the most from every single day.
I have a client who two years ago at a fairly young age had a sudden brain hemorrhage that almost took her life. After 24 months and two brain surgeries she was cleared to become physically active again and began working out with me. Her resilience and determination has been impressive, and I think now I understand why our paths crossed – she was sent to me as a helpful message about what was about to come in my own life and how to deal with it, and I’m grateful for that.
So the surgeries went fine and my left kidney was saved, abliet in a limited capacity. In the past I may have said that I’ll return to a normal life, but I realized what a shame that would be. This humbling experience would be a waste if I didn’t learn more from it, that life is a gift, that we get one shot, and that it can be over in a blink, without warning, and maybe that leading a normal life isn’t acceptable anymore.
Thank God for wake up calls.