I have seen this quote on FaceBook quite often lately, accompanied by a picture of a person looking vibrant, healthy and beautiful. And I usually say to myself, “WOW, she looks vibrant and healthy and beautiful for 50”. Then I remind myself that MY Fifty is around the corner. How did this happen? Where did 50 years go? How are my second graders getting engaged or married or better yet, having babies of their own. I surely haven’t aged, so how did 50 sneak up on me?
The truth of the matter is, I don’t think I feel fifty, but I do know where the years went. I know that I lived them. I have memories of how my life was and of all of my hopes and dreams for a life filled with laughter and friends and family. I had dreams of traveling the world.
So, where did the years go? They went into teaching hundreds of children. For more than 18 years I lived for teaching. I made it my world. Life revolved around my students and what I could do to make life better for them in learning situations but also life lessons. I don’t regret the passion and drive I had when I was teaching, I just wish I had taken more time for me. More time with family and friends. I think about occasions I missed because I would not take a day off, or opportunities that were presented to me that I passed up. Again, no regrets…I am where I am today because this is where I belong.
Where did the time go? It went to so many unbelievable years working at camp and participating in CNYFTY. Probably the best years of my life. I met the most amazing group of friends and truly felt like I was living my best life; teaching school and working camp!! Who could ask for anything better?
Where did the time go? This is when everything seems to get blurry. You see, my thirties seemed to have escaped my memory. Not the teaching aspect, but the social aspect. Did I become a recluse? Was it anxiety and depression that created a fear in me that stopped me from living my best life? Was it being told over and over again that I am not enough? Was it fear of rejection or of not being accepted? Whatever it was, I made it through to my forties. That’s when things really got exciting. On August 1, 2013 I received a kidney from my brother-in-law, Lee. He gave me a second chance at life and I was going to get back in the game and use this opportunity to live my best life, again.
Well, the Universe had other plans; My body started rejecting my new kidney and as of March 2019, I had to go back on dialysis and continue to go 3 days a week for 4 hours per session. So, the hunt for a kidney begins once again. I am on transplant lists and am constantly in search of a living donor. “How do you get through all of this?” A question I get quite often which has a very simple answer. I either get through it or I die and I am not ready to leave this earth.
So, you see, THIS is MY 50!! I have learned to treasure moments with people, laugh more often and louder than ever before, help others when I am able, and try to live my best life, again. Fifty is MY time and I am going to make the most of it. This is just the beginning!!
What was I supposed to learn today? What was the point of today’s race to pack bags and start our trek across Florida? Did you want to see how fast I could gather my belongings? Did you want to see how fast mom could walk up a flight of stairs to tell me Tampa General Hospital Transplant Unit was calling for me? Did you want to see me cry for the 40 -year- old man who died way too soon? Were you testing my theory that all good things in my life eventually shatter? Well, for the record, I really like this guy I am seeing, so unless you are giving me your blessing, please leave that relationship alone.
I am trying so hard not to lose my faith in you but you are making it very difficult. Remember about 20 years ago when I was married to that abusive man and I go t really sick? Even back then I asked you what I was supposed to learn from what I was going through. OK, OK…you are right…I learned what that lesson was about, and I spent years of my life working with children who suffered from anxiety and did my best to help them through it.
I have tried so hard to be a good person and do the right thing. I know I curse a lot and I would apologize for that but I feel that I use it with justification. Do I not pray enough? Should I call Rabbi Amy more often? What is it that you want me to do? I live my life with such anxiety that I struggled to enjoy the life you gave me.
So, a few hours have passed and I am revisiting this letter. I am not deleting the previous comments because they are real, raw feelings. But I have had time to think and I have had a lot of people reach out to me. If there is one thing I know for sure, I am definitely loved here on earth. The messages of love, hope and encouragement are what keep me going. Kiley keeps me going. Thank you for her!!
God, I want so badly to believe in you! So, I am going to go to sleep tonight next to my niece knowing that someone out there received a kidney today! And like my friend Lisa said, that person needed it more than me and my time will come.
Palm Beach County reopened on Monday. Stores, restaurants, salons and many other businesses will begin to rebuild with the help of our community. I am sure that this is a blessing for most residents in Palm Beach County. I, on the other hand, along with thousands of others are not ready for phase one. I still need to stay home due to my disease. The National Kidney Foundation suggests that transplant patients and dialysis patients continue to stay quarantined due to our weak immune systems. While this is commonsense, it is difficult to adhere to.
So, I continue to go to dialysis three times a week. This is my time to get out of the house. I arrive and wait outside until a nurse comes and takes my temperature. She asks me the same questions before I am allowed to enter the building, “Have you been outside of the country? Any coughing? Fever? Have you been around anyone who is sick?” And my responses are the same, “No, no, no, and no”. I am now alowed to enter the building, well, once I put on my mask. I walk through the lobby and into the main area. I step on the scale and then make my way to my dialysis chair. I learn that a patient died this week. He was a young man, much younger than me. I realize that his death has probably somehow touched every person in that room. I know for sure it hit me really hard. Could I be next? Will my dialysis chair be empty one day soon? All over Facebook The National Kidney Foundatiuon warns of the danger that the Corona Virus can have on your kidneys. It seems that every where I look my kidney disease is in my face, and not in a good way.
In spite of what is happening around me, I have the power to turn things around. With the help of a newly found friend I have been able to spread the word regarding my need for a donor. Finding a match will be difficult for me, as my body has built up antibodies since my previous transplant but, talking with Ned really helped propel the need to get my story out and with that I contacted a local reorter who had interviewed me years ago when I was nominated for the Dwyer Awards in Palm Beach County. Yesterday, I recieved a text from Kristen Chapman, of CBS12, telling me she was interested in my story and asked if I was available for an interview. two hours later we are sitting on the couch and I am telling her my story.
While all of this was happening, MJ Events and Promotions was creating shirts for family and friends to wear to spread the word. (If you are interested in helping me find a donor you can order a shirt/sweatshirt/hoodie at www.stacyneedsakidneystore.com)
Things began moving at a quick pace. Within hours I was interviewed live on FaceBook and then had a quick segment on the CBS12 News.
In the midst of this campaign to find a kidney donor my sister created a fundraiser to help with medical bills, pharmaceuticals, and other expenses that continue to add up. I am truly in awe of the outpour of support I have been receiving from family, friends and strangers. I am blessed that so many people believe in me and I am so thankful to all who have decided to board this train and take this ride by my side.
Sometimes I get down about my illness. I lose hope and get angry, but that, I have learned, is normal. And then suddenly these strangers that I mentioned, are writing comments of bravery and prayers. People I don’t even know!! And I’ll be honest, I click on their profile pic so that I can put a face to the beautiful words they write. I believe that people come into our lives for a reason even if that reason is not clear right away.
So, as Palm Beach continues to move through Phase One of this quarantine, I am ok with staying home and taking care of myself. I know that there is magic happening behind the scenes for me.