Dancing in the Rain – 3rd Place Winner, 7th Annual Essay Contest

By Jorita Lehman

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Jorita LehmanI was born in 1934 in the middle of the first big depression. We had very little in the way of toys or things to play with. But we always had enough to eat, clothes to wear and love in our house. I was the only child in the neighborhood in my age bracket, so I mostly entertained myself. I learned to watch the birds build their nests, delighted in a rainbow after I had played in the rain, watched the sunsets and only went inside when I was called by my full name. I found joy in the smallest things like climbing a big tree and crawling under the house to hide and drink an Orange Crush that I had charged to my Dad at the grocery store. I was also the neighborhood gossip. I went door to door and repeated everything I heard the grownups say at my house and was rewarded with cookies and milk. So, I can honestly say that I have been living a joyful life as far back as I can remember!

No one lives to be seventy five without having many tragedies in their life. I have had more than my share but I refuse to let them get me down. I always have hope that tomorrow will be better and it always is. When I start feeling depressed, I do something for somebody else. I call a friend, write a letter, say something kind to those around me. I revert to my childhood and start finding joy in all the little things around me. I also call upon my sense of humor to brighten my perspective.When I learned that I would have to go on Dialysis, I was afraid. I could not imagine what my life would be like. My kidneys had been failing for nine years, but I thought at my age I would probably not live long enough for them to completely fail but I was wrong. I was very ill and in and out of the hospital several times in the four months before I was placed on Dialysis. My primary physician was totally misinformed and told me it would be terrible for me. But, I didn’t take his word for it, I got on my computer and started reading everything I could find about the machines. I also called a clinic and asked for permission to go and take a look at the facility and talk to the staff. They were extremely helpful and explained everything to me. One by one by fears were alleviated. The patients were sleeping peacefully or watching television.

I decided I would not let Dialysis define me. I was the same person with the same capacity to find joy in my life. Dialysis was only a small part of my life and so what if I had to be on that machine for the rest of my life. Surely giving up a few hours a week to save my life and to feel better than I have felt in years was not to much to ask.

It has been almost two years since I started on Dialysis. My health has greatly improved. I can drive my car now, travel which is one of my great joys in life and I live a rich and joyful life. I have a wonderful family who are very supportive and I have made so many new friends. I am now a Patient Advocate for my clinic and hope to start a Support group in the near future.

I have a little plaque in my office that pretty well sums up the way I prefer to live my life. It says “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain!”

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