Diana’s Blog

January 06, 2017 • Author: Diana L.

In 2004, I was in a car accident while driving home. A young teenage girl turned right on red without stopping and moving at a fast speed. She made our van spin 360 degrees at least once. My only pain was whiplash and sore muscles in my arms, belly and hands. I went to the ER to get checked. The day after, the ER doctor called to check on me and tell me I had extremely high blood pressure, even for having been in a car accident. So I made a doctor's appointment. They found I had protein in my urine as well. This meant something must be wrong with my kidneys.

This led to more urine collections and scans and blood work. In the meantime, I was finishing my last semester of college on campus before I would move home to student teach at a local elementary school. I began to have a lot of anxiety. I thought it was just because of the stress of finishing up school, getting ready to move home and dealing with an unknown cause of health problems.

When I was home student teaching, the anxiety was too overwhelming. I called the doctor because I couldn't take it anymore. When the doctor saw me, they asked me if they had put me on blood pressure medicine. I told them no and thought, "You're asking me? You're the doctor." They told me my blood pressure was even higher than before so they wanted to try some medicine. This medicine worked for a few hours and then my blood pressure sky rocketed. My head pounded, I could feel my heart racing, and I cried for no reason at all. This happened at school in the morning before the students arrived. The school nurse also checked my blood pressure and it was 200 over 100. I had to go home and call my doctor. They told me to just go straight to the ER. This led to an entire day in the ER with lots of meds. They also were able to move up my appointment with the nephrologist because the tests had shown I had some kidney failure. This was a relief because I knew I had an appointment with him, but it was months away.

At the appointment, the nephrologist explained he would need to do a kidney biopsy to determine what caused my kidney damage and failure (and rule out cancer). It turned out I just had kidney damage from many, many years of undiagnosed high blood pressure. He put me on a strict low sodium diet and a handful of blood pressure meds. This greatly helped my blood pressure and anxiety.

My blood pressure and kidney functions were kept stable for 10 years. The kidney functions slowly declined over the years, and I needed to get on the transplant list in June 2014. My dad and three brothers were all tested. My sister was too young. My dad was a perfect match, but high blood pressure showed up a month into the evaluation process. My youngest brother was also a perfect match and very healthy. He ended up not being in a good place to make the decision. Then, I started peritoneal dialysis in March 2016.

In the summer of 2016, I was feeling desperate for a kidney donor. A friend helped me write a short blurb in third person about my need for a kidney. This blurb went in our church bulletin, and I created a Facebook group called, "Find Diana A Kidney!" Many people were tested. One young man from church, who was a mutual friend, spoke with me in person about the process to be tested. He said he was interested. He messaged me and kept me informed of the evaluation process (something I did not expect). He was the one! He was a good match. The process was over, and he chose December 14, 2016 as the date for the transplant surgery.

Everything went exceptionally well (my surgeon's exact words). I am feeling wonderful. My kidney function is fabulous. My appearance is improving: no more swelling, and my skin, hair and nails are healthier. I am incredibly grateful for Steven's generous and selfless gift! It was the best Christmas present ever!