Yikes. Tonight we find out which one of us three will be the newest addition to the HGTV family. I am a ball of nerves and I barley slept at all last night! I want to wish my fellow finalists, @jeribaitascoe @brooksatwood the best of luck tonight in Palm Springs!
I usually post pretty photos of some sick real estate, and very well dressed interiors to inspire folks to live well. I switched it up today based on an email I got last night from a fan of HGTV Star telling me how much I inspired her.
“Wait. What?” I am an inspiration?
I glanced at my husband as I read the email, and he said “Well – Babe, you have inspired me for the past 20 years of my life.”
That email, and his words inspired me to put a piece of my history to words this morning.
10 years ago to the day I was lying 7.5 months pregnant in a hospital bed at Northwestern University. I have had juvenile diabetes since the age of 6 and it was now taking a toll on my kidneys, and my unborn son. They told me that once I deliver, my kidneys would be in a downward spiral that they could not stop.
5 weeks later – I delivered my baby boy 4 weeks premature. They had to induce the labor because my body could no longer handle the pregnancy. Ayden came in weighing 3 pounds, 11 ounces and he was able to breathe on his own. He would be fed through a feeding tube and kept in an incubator, like the other premies until he was ready to come home. He started eating on his own immediately, and quickly gained weight, he was ready to hit the streets a week and a half later. Me on the other hand – not so good.
By the time Ayden was released my kidneys had 30% of its function left. I went home to an in home nurse that would come and take blood from me every other day, a mother who was there and never left my side while helping me care for myself and my newborn son- whom I was barely strong enough to hold in my arms. Dante, my husband, never, EVER let me see him cry. But he later shared with me that he did every day. He prayed to God not to let him have to raise this child alone.
After a week or so of not having my full capacity of oxygen, and vomiting constantly, I was rushed to the ER. My Doctor told me that if I had gotten there hours later, I would have been dead. He immediately started dialysis. I went 3 times per week and had a port connected to the right side directly under my collar bone.
I weighed 105 pounds, had jaundice of the skin, and at 24 I was on dialysis. I was the youngest patient at the dialysis center. My mom would drive me there on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to receive treatment. I would sit there sometimes with Ayden in a carrier and watch my blood being taken out of my body, cleansed in a machine, and put back in. I hated eating, and living felt like a chore. Dante would keep me fed with Ensure meal replacement shakes and chicken breast. I could only have 12 oz of liquid a day total.
Word had spread of my situation. People started getting tested to be a match for kidney transplantation. Dante, my sister, and another friend of mine were tested – not even close to a match. My old high school friend and neighbor Laura, came through as a blood match. My brother – ended up being the most perfect fit.
After being on dialysis for 5 months, I received the greatest gift of a working kidney on February 4th, 2004.
Then over a year later, I got a phone call that they had a pancreas for me. If this second transplant was successful this would take away my diabetes that had beat my ass for the past 20 years. I received a pancreas on October 19th, 2005. For the past 8 years I have not suffered from any signs of rejection from either organ.
I thank God every morning that he kept me on this earth to raise my child, to love my husband and family, and laugh with my friends. I have learned to appreciate every second on this planet. Yep even the broke, pissed off, and under the bus seconds that we all find ourselves in. I have come so far since illness and depression raged in my body. I am married to my soul mate, raising the most entertaining child in the world, made a career of my passion, and managed to rock it out on a national stage.
Yep – I guess I am an inspiration. An inspiration to LIVE!
God has a prewritten story for all y’all (pointing while in My Tre’ from Boyz in the Hood voice) ALL Y’ALL! So get up and go live your story to the fullest!